Thrift store shopping can be an exciting adventure. Finding furniture that fits your budget will take some hunting. Most often that furniture will need some repair. A chair that has old upholstery on it is an eyesore, yet with a little work, it can become an object of beauty. Anyone can reupholster a chair. It takes patience, a hammer, nails, a staple gun, and sometimes a needle and thread.

Accent chairs come in all shapes and sizes; reupholstering them will vary according to the type of chair. Covering them with new material, whether that would be covering the total chair or just the cushions, can be accomplished in a few easy steps. When picking out material for the chair, it’s always best to use upholstery fabric. Other types of cloth can be used, but sometimes will present a challenge when trying to tack it down. First thing to do is vacuum the chair well.

Get down into all the cracks and crevices. Does the chair need new cushioning? If so, you’ll have to take off the old material and find out what is underneath. Fabric stores carry materials that can be used to stuff a chair. After taking off the outside material, the cushioning will be revealed and you can stuff using similar materials. Hopefully, the chair doesn’t need new stuffing; refinishing it will be much easier if you can skip that step. The chair can be reupholstered right over the existing material if it isn’t too dirty.

Covering the chair should only take a few yards of material. With a measuring tape, measure the front and back of each side to be covered. The bottom of the chair should be covered with a lightweight piece of material; black is usually a good color. Once you’ve measured the seat, back, and arms of the chair add the lengths up. Round the inches up to the next yard, going over at least twelve inches is recommended.

When purchasing fabric, keep the pattern simple. If there are decorative upholstery tacks on the chair, purchase new ones at the fabric store. There might be a need to do a little sewing when you attach the material. Purchase a good heavy thread that matches the fabric. Most fabric store clerks are more than happy to help when buying these materials.


Now it’s time to get started! The chair itself will be your guide when it comes to adding the new material. First, take off the material from the bottom of the chair. This will expose the area needed to pull the material through. If you keep the old material on the chair, make sure all tacks and nails are removed. The inside of the chair is covered first. Just cut and tuck where needed, just like the original covering.

On seamed edges, use a piece of stiff cardboard about a three-fourths inch wide. Tack the edge of the material from underneath and the cardboard will give you the straight-edged seam. Once the inside back, arms and seats are covered and tacked down move to the outside. Make sure that all material is pulled tight and secured. Follow the pattern that is before you. Sometimes it takes a few tries’ to get it tacked right.

The outside material most often is tacked down with cardboard. Just tack the seam down from underneath; secure it well with nails or staples. Where the back and arm material comes together should be sewn to give it a neat appearance. Once the chair is completely covered, turn it upside-down and tack on the lightweight material to cover the exposed ends. If the chair needs to have decorative tacks on it add them last.

Following the pattern of the original upholstery will make covering that thrift store buy easy. A little patience and a few simple tools will make the old accent chair look new. With a little practice, anyone can reupholster furniture to match the decor of any room in the house.

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