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Recover Old Chairs – For Less than $5

on March 15, 2012 by Jami Balmet 14 comments

When my husband and I got married, we had nothing! We had both lived on campus at our University for one year (I was in a dorm and he was in an apartment) so we had nothing of our own!

We were fortunate to be blessed by so many gifts from friends and family. We got a bed from my mom, a couch set from his parents and a wood table and 4 matching chairs from my dad.

The table and chairs have serves us well the past few years but the chairs seemed a bit outdated. They had these old yellowy mold looking seats and while I was thankful to have great wooden chairs, I was ready for a change in the seats.

Before and After-Recover Old Chairs
So the realization hit me one day that I bet I could recover them. I grabbed a chair, flipped it over and sure enough the seat unscrews. So here’s how to do it:

Recovering Old Chairs

1) Gather Your Supplies

I knew that I wanted these chairs to match my dining room. I wanted a nice deep red design. So I kept my eyes peeled for cheap fabric or a nice tablecloth.

At goodwill one day I came across the perfect deep red tablecloth with a beautiful design in it for $6.99, and it was half off that day! I snagged the tablecloth for $3.50 and was able to re-do all my chairs.

You will also need scissors, a staple gun, and a screw driver.

The Supplies-Recover old chairs
2) Unscrew the seat cushions
This was simple and easy. Just turn the chair over and unscrew!

Unscrew the seat cushions-Recover old chairs
3) Staple on the New Fabric
Now you are going to cut the fabric and take your staple gun and staple to the back. I did a LOT of staples along the back just to make sure it was secure.

4) Screw Back on
Screw the cushions back onto the chair, and you’re done! You have brand new looking chairs!

The end Product-Recover Old Chairs

These look great in my dining room now and they look like I bought them that way!

MY New Dining Room-Recover Old Chairs

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  1. Those chairs look fabulous. We have a really OLD dining room table and chairs, we’re talking at least 100 years old, old…ad my aunt recovered the chairs, because the old fabric was getting worn out. It looks great!!!! It only cost pennies, because she did it herself..Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  2. Your chairs look wonderful. I have 6 chairs sitting in my garage. After seeing how easy this is, I need to try it.l

  3. Oh, this takes me back to our first year of marriage. Like you two, we had nothing. A friend gave us their old dining room set, and Mark assured me it was nice. I didn’t want fancy, but I certainly wanted something that looked half way decent. I had what you have pictured above in mind when Mark said someone was giving us something…Alas, that was not what arrived. My dining room table looked like a chunk of wood from 1970s, and the chairs? They were like mint green and had WHEELS! Jami, I sat down on the stairs of our apartment complex and cried. hahahaha! I’m not a dramatic person, and I don’t cry….at least rarely do. So you know this must have been a BIG deal. Anyways, long story short, I mustered up the courage to tell Mark that I didn’t like them, but I promise to make them work. We went out and bought material, and we set to recovering them. At least they weren’t mint green anymore. And I put a table cloth over the table. Ohhhh, the memories of being a newlywed! We laugh about it now around our very nice and modern dining room table. 🙂

    • LOL! The chairs sound awful, I mean..Wheels?? lol, sounds like Mark did a good job in redoing them a bit! Glad to hear that you have a nice MODERN table! We will upgrade one day too 🙂

  4. I have some tired looking wrought iron chairs. I covered the seats in an olive green upholstery fabric, but now I want to modernize them by making a cover to cover the backs so you can;t see the ironwork, Will either use a vaery similar fabric or something contrasting that will go with the room decor.

    • Good idea! I have thought about trying to paint our chairs or do something with the mesh on the top…I hate the mesh…it looks so old lol. Share with us if you cover the whole thing, I would love to see how it turns out!

  5. We only just recently bought our second piece of furniture together (after being married 6 years) – we’ve had the UGLIEST couch that was given to us when we were married, and always put off replacing it even though it was dog. ugly. And you couldn’t even recover it inexpensively because the way the cushions were shaped. We finally used some of our tax return this year to buy a real couch, lol. And I love how you re-did your chairs! I love the way the design on the fabric slants across – good job!

    • How great! Yeah we have a really beat up looking couch! It’s super comfortable still (but it’s 20 years old! We got it from my in laws) but it’s really old looking. I look forward to the day that we can replace it 😉 But I have a feeling this will be in a few more years lol.

  6. Our first table and chairs–which was all we had for many years–was an old metal gardentable, with a piece of plywood painted black on top. It was round table; my husband had used it for years beforehand as well. Our chairs were folding chairs.

    In the living room, we had an old futon for a couch, and when we people would come to visit, we would bring the folding chairs out from the kitchen so that we had enough chairs.

    We have recovered kitchen chairs in the same way as you did, since, but we used a heavy vinyl, so that they could be wiped off when the children spill on them.

    Another thing you could do is to paint the table and chairs all the same color (just take those seats off again). At first I thought that’s what you were going to show–chairs painted white, and a table to match. If you wanted to make that change later, you could try that, too. With the style of your table and chairs, it would give it a very Swedish look. If you’ve never seen the blog Miss Mustard Seed, you can check it out for some similar looking chairs in her dining room.

    • Awesome! I love hearing stories of couples being frugal!!! Especially when first married it’s easy to compare yourselves to older couples who have all nice furniture. But really, you don’t have to have all brand new furniture! Your house if about you and your husband and the love you share! That should get anyone through their first few years of living frugally when first married 😉

      Great idea about the vinyl!! I need to start looking for some vinyl and recover them again in a couple years when we have little kids!

      And I have been toying with the idea of painting the table and chairs…it just makes me nervous 😉 I have been thinking either paint them black or white…I can’t decide! Thanks for the great ideas!!