How to Reupholster a Living Room Chair

In the dynamic world of home decor, our furniture plays the lead role, commanding attention and setting the stage for our living spaces. It’s the comfortable recliner we retreat to after a long day at work or the beloved living room chair where we sip morning coffee. But, sometimes, they need a little makeover. In this case, we’re talking about reupholstery.

But why might you want to reupholster a chair instead of buying a new one? The reasons are as diverse as the fabrics in a local upholstery shop. Maybe you love the chair’s design, it has sentimental value, or perhaps you’re seeking a sustainable choice by reusing and reducing waste. Whatever the reason, reupholstering can transform your chair from drab to fab, and we’ll guide you through the process in this comprehensive article.

how to reupholster a living room chair
How to Reupholster a Living Room chair?

Understanding Upholstery

So, what is upholstery, and why does it matter? At its core, upholstery is the practice of providing furniture, particularly seats, with padding, springs, webbing, and fabric or leather covers. However, its significance stretches far beyond the utilitarian purpose.

“Upholstery is the soul of a chair, shaping its comfort, style, and even how it ages.”

The significance of upholstery in interior decoration cannot be overstated. It’s the final flourish, the colour on the canvas, that ties a room’s aesthetics together. Choosing the right upholstery can make your chair a standout piece or a subtle complement to your decor.

Remember, reupholstering isn’t just about choosing a fabric you like; it’s about understanding the chair, the room, and the atmosphere you want to create. 

When Should You Reupholster Your Chair?

The decision to reupholster your chair comes down to a blend of practical and aesthetic considerations.

First, let’s tackle the practical signs your chair may be calling for a revamp. These can include worn-out fabric, outdated patterns, visible stains, and saggy, uncomfortable seating. Sometimes, a chair’s frame may be sturdy, but the fabric has given up the ghost, making it a prime candidate for reupholstery.

On the aesthetic front, if your chair seems like a relic from a bygone era and doesn’t match your evolving decor style, reupholstering it in a fabric that complements your current design scheme can seamlessly integrate it back into your living space.

Another significant factor in your decision should be the cost-benefit analysis of reupholstering versus buying new. Consider the chair’s initial cost, the quality of its construction, and the sentiment attached to it. In many cases, especially with high-quality or sentimental pieces, re-upholstering can be a worthwhile investment. For more details on this analysis, please feel free to look at our blog post on the subject.

Materials and Tools Needed

Armed with a bit of knowledge and the right tools, reupholstering your chair can be a rewarding DIY project. Here’s a detailed list of materials and tools you’ll need:


  • Upholstery fabric: This will be the new skin of your chair, so choose wisely. We’ll guide you on this in the next section.
  • Batting: This cotton, wool, or polyester filling adds cushioning to your chair.
  • Upholstery thread: A strong, durable thread designed to withstand the wear and tear of use.
  • Piping or cording: For a professional finish around the edges.


  • Fabric scissors: For a neat, precise cut of your fabric.
  • Sewing machine: To sew the parts of your fabric together. If you don’t have one, hand-sewing is possible but will take longer.
  • Staple gun and staples: To fasten your cloth to the frame of the chair.
  • Upholstery needle: For sewing through thick materials and around corners.
  • Pliers and a flat screwdriver: To remove old staples and fabric.+

Safety should be your priority when using these tools. Always ensure you’re using sharp tools correctly and wearing safety goggles when needed, especially when removing old staples and fabrics. 

Choosing Your Fabric

Choosing the right upholstery fabric is like choosing the perfect outfit for an important event – it can significantly elevate the charm of your chair and tie your room together. Here are some factors to consider when making this choice:

  • Durability: Consider the intended usage of your chair. If it’s frequently used or if you have children or pets, go for heavy-duty fabrics such as canvas or leather.
  • Style: Does the fabric’s style align with your room decor? Remember, your chair can either complement your room or be a bold statement piece. Both can work perfectly when done right.
  • Colour: Lighter colours can make a room look more spacious, but they may show stains more clearly. Darker shades may be better for high-traffic chairs.
  • Care: Some fabrics are machine washable, while others require professional cleaning. Keep this in mind, especially if the chair will be exposed to spills or pet hair.

There’s a plethora of fabric types to consider, from natural to synthetic, each with its own set of pros and cons. Cotton is durable, comfortable, and easy to clean, but it may not stand up to heavy wear. Leather is strong and easy to maintain but can be expensive. Polyester blends can offer a good balance between durability, ease of cleaning, and cost. You can learn more about different fabric types in this article.

The Reupholstering Process

Now that we have the perfect fabric in hand let’s dive into the process of reupholstering your chair. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Step 1:

Remove the old fabric: Use your pliers and flat screwdriver to carefully remove the staples or tacks holding the old fabric in place.

Step 2:

Clean and repair the frame: If necessary, now’s the time to fix any issues with the chair frame.

Step 3:

Cut the new fabric: Using the old fabric as a template, cut your new fabric. Don’t forget to leave extra for seams and attach it to the frame.

Step 4:

Sew and staple the new fabric: Sew your fabric pieces together as required. Then, starting from the middle and working your way out, staple your new fabric to the frame.

Step 5:

Finish the edges: Using piping or cording, finish the edges for a polished look.

Aftercare for Your Newly Upholstered Chair

Preserving the allure of your newly reupholstered chair involves regular care and maintenance. Routine vacuuming, on-the-spot cleaning for any spills, and engaging professional cleaning services as needed are essential steps to keep your chair’s fabric fresh and vibrant.

Taking preventative actions, like employing fabric protectors and avoiding exposure of the chair to direct sunlight, can significantly prolong your upholstery’s durability. In cases where you have excess fabric from the reupholstery process, consider keeping it for future minor repairs. For instance, small tears or loose threads can often be mended with a swift hand-sewing task, using these pieces of fabric to ensure a perfect match.

By integrating these practices, you ensure that your reupholstered chair remains in top-notch condition, flaunting its fresh fabric for an extended period.


You’ve now traversed the fascinating journey of reupholstering a living room chair. From understanding when to reupholster and choosing your fabric to learn the process and the aftercare, you’re well-equipped to breathe new life into your beloved chair.

Remember, reupholstering isn’t just about refreshing a piece of furniture. It’s a statement of personal style, a testament to sustainability, and a celebration of craftsmanship. So, are you ready to embark on this creative journey?

We’d love to see your reupholstery projects and hear about your experiences. Share your stories, pictures, or any questions you might have in the comments below. Let’s continue to build a community that celebrates creativity, craftsmanship, and chairs that tell stories!

FAQ: How to Reupholster a Living Room Chair

Q1: Can you explain what upholstery means? 

Upholstery involves outfitting furniture, particularly seats, with essentials like padding, springs, webbing, and either fabric or leather coverings, often including cushions. This process revamps your furniture, enhancing its aesthetic appeal and extending its lifespan.

Q2: What are some care instructions for my newly upholstered chair? 

Maintain the fresh fabric on your reupholstered chair through consistent vacuuming, swift cleaning of spills, and periodic professional cleaning. Usage of fabric protectors is recommended, and positioning your chair away from direct sunlight can prolong the lifespan of your upholstery. If you have excess fabric post the upholstery project, you can use it for minor repairs.

Q3: What is the typical duration required to upholster a chair? 

The timeframe for upholstering a chair depends on factors such as the intricacy of the chair’s design, the complexity of adding elements like a seat cushion or a dust cover, your proficiency, and the time you can allocate to the project. Depending on these variables, it could range from a few hours to several days.

Q4: How much does it cost to upholster a chair? 

The expenses linked to upholstering a chair can fluctuate based on elements such as the fabric’s cost, if you opt to do it yourself or engage a professional, and the chair’s design complexity. Undertaking the upholstery project yourself often proves to be a cost-effective method to rejuvenate your chair.

Q5: Can any chair type be upholstered? 

Indeed, nearly all chair types, including armchairs, dining chairs, wingback chairs, and more, can undergo the upholstery process. The basic steps include stripping the chair down to its wooden frame, making sure the fabric is taut and has a clean edge when applied, possibly applying piping for a finished look, and attaching the dust cover under the chair seat. However, the procedures and difficulty level can vary depending on the chair’s type and design. Extra care should be taken for elements like chair legs, which can make the process more complex.