DIY: Chair Makeover

Last summer, while preparing to move into our new home, I designed and planned our future master bedroom. We selected and ordered our new furniture, I designed a DIY headboard and bench, I chose the paint colours and curtains. But, what I did have a problem with was an empty corner beside our window. I knew that it was in desperate need of an accent chair. But, paying $199-$299 for an accent chair that, let's face it, I'll never sit in, seemed excessive.

So, I decided to redo an old chair myself. Sure why not? I've never upholstered before (we did a DIY headboard in our last house, but that's far from being considered upholstering). But, I was positive that I could do this.

On to Used Ottawa and Kijiji to find a stellar chair to redo. I wasn't looking for anything in good shape by any means. Just something with good bones that could look like a completely different chair when I was done with it. And, I came across this...

This cane barrel chair was love at first site, I tell ya! The seller was asking $40, but I got it for $30. A complete bargain by my books. I'm sure that my husband thought I was nuts when I sent him the ad. I mean, let's be serious - the pink velvet was a huge turnoff and the brown wood was far from what we were looking for. But, I had a vision. So, off to work I went.

And here is the AFTER...

I don't have many in-progress pics, but I can give you a rundown with what I did. I first had to remove the existing seat and back of the chair. The seat was no problemo - I just unscrewed it from the frame. The back, on the other hand was stapled in, with hundreds of staples.

Once the chair was just a frame, we sanded and spray painted the chair in glossy black, and then set with a glossy clear coat.

Then it was onto the actual upholstering step. And let me tell you, there hundreds of staples that I had to remove from this chair. It took several hours and a very cramped hand, but I got it done. I was able to reuse the foam, but I didn't want the back tufted, so I just stuck batting into the holes. I used the existing fabric as a template to cut out my new fabric.

Once the fabric was cut, I just put the chair back together in the opposite way that I had taken it apart (remembering how you took it apart is key here). The back and seat were finally put back together. At this point I applied the nailhead trim for an elegant look.

So, what do you think? Have you ever bought a hideous piece of furniture and made it over to look like a million bucks?

(You'll see more of this chair in my master bedroom reveal on Wednesday.)


  1. Wonderful! This is very inspiring and motivating, Katherine.

  2. That's a crazy coincidence. They could be cousins:)I didn't get it, but I hope someone did cuz it was a steal at $20 and see how nice you can make it! Love your refresh of the chair. Glad to meet you and your blog Katherine. PS. I used to live in Ottawa too!

  3. SO gorgeous...well done! It would be perfect in my living room ;>)

  4. Great job! Looks awesome! I have a pair of chairs like this except the backs are not upholstered. Mine are a nice shade of avocado green faux velvet.

    1. Thanks Amy! Ooh avocado green faux velvet! Nice! Hopefully you'll get some inspiration to redo that chair of yours - the process isn't too bad, especially when you can admire the finished product!

  5. WOW! GORGEOUS! Love the transformation! Totally NAILED IT! Beautifully done!


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