The entire time Jesse and I have been dating, we’ve eaten our home-cooked meals at our coffee table. Aside from the rare occasions when we’d carry all our dinner supplies down to the shared pool area at our old apartment complex and dine outside, we were exiled to the uncomfortable, high-top counter bar or the couch during meals. It drove me absolutely crazy. You can imagine, then, how excited we were to find a new place in Atlanta that was big enough to house a dining set. You can imagine how much more excited we were to go exploring in my parents’ garage for pieces we could take with us and found this midcentury table and chairs.
The set came from Chelsey’s house and was left there by the previous owners. Chelsey upgraded to a larger table that could accomodate more people, so the set made its way to our family “storage unit” at my parents’ house. I loved the diamond detail, the lines of the chairs and the overall size of the set, but the fabric on the seat cushions was a little nasty and not all the seats were attached properly. I smell a DIY project! Let’s begin, shall we?
I’d looked online and started pinning fabrics to use to recover the chairs but didn’t really find anything that I truly loved. And then I took a leisurely stroll through IKEA when I spotted this awesome print in their fabric section. All my favorite colors in a bold print that had a bit of a retro feel to it. And affordable. Done. I bought 3 yards to be safe, but ended up having a ton leftover. Any thoughts on what I should do with it? A skirt? Pillow?
After removing a few screws to detach all the seats, I started ripping out upholstery staples using a flathead screwdriver. I swear, if I never rip out another upholstery staple again in my life, I’ll be a happy camper. Turns out there wasn’t just one layer of fabric to remove. What I assume is the original fabric was hidden under two other layers of upholstery. It made me wonder how many people’s bums had graced these chairs before ours? What kind of meals were served at the table? What conversations were had? I love how old furniture holds mysteries like that…
The holes on the wooden plank of the seats that secured them to the chair frames were mostly stripped wide open after being reattached with screws multiple times. The helpful folks at Lowes pointed me to some wood filler that might make it possible to re-screw through stripped holes. With some painters tape to cover the holes on one side and wood filler to fix the holes, we were ready to go.
You can image how, um, “used” the original padding under the fabric looked (“EWWW” doesn’t even describe it) so I went to Walmart in search of new foam for a nice, cushiony seat. With an easy trace and cut, new seat cushions were born. SO EASY!
If you’ve done this yourself before or read any tutorials on recovering chairs, you already know what comes next and how surprisingly easy it is. Find an area of the print you’re using that you want to have centered on the seat. This step doesn’t matter if you’re using a solid fabric, but if you’re using something like a chevron or striped print, you want to make sure all the lines are facing the direction you want them to when you’re done, so be mindful of that.
Arm yourself with some upholstery staples and a staple gun and streeeeeettttccchhhhhhhh your fabric around the chair seat and cushion. Staple the corners first (and really, you can’t stretch it too tight at this point. Pull as hard as you can.) and then the centers of the edges.
Pull tight and staple. Pull tight and staple. Pull tight and staple. Work around the seat, making sure that any creases or overlaps in the fabric happen UNDER the seat and not on top. This is a lot easier than it sounds. You can’t use too many staples. Just keep stapling, just keep stapling. When you’ve made it all around and the top of the seat looks tight and smooth, trim the extra fabric underneath around the staples. BAM! you’ve got a beautiful new seat cushion. Repeat for each chair!
I forgot to take photos of the entire stapling process and finished cushions before I attached them back to the frames. I took the two surviving screws that had once kept the seats on the frames and tried to find comparable new screws at Lowes for all 4 chairs. Some brass wood-working screws did the trick and screwed securely into the wood-filler-filled holes in the bottom of the seat. Success!
I really loooove the way the fabric pops against the green walls that were already here when we moved in. They just happen to go with really well with each other, and all of our other mis-matchy pieces from our previous apartment, my parents’ garage and my other family members’ houses seem to come together in real harmony in our big open loft space. For my first time recovering chairs, I’m really, really pleased! More importantly, I’m excited to have a place where we can enjoy a meal together, without having to hover over the coffee table.