January 18, 2020

This post is from our Stagg Design project archives and originally posted in August 2014. We hope it gives you inspiration and some tips for tackling that next project! xx- Team Stagg

There is just something about walking in your home after a trip that just feels oh so good.  I had such a great time at Market and feel so inspired, but I’m ready to get back to my routine… and my own bed:)

Today I’m walking you through a simple chair cushion upholstery.  This works great for something like a barstool or kitchen chair that has great lines but bad fabric.


The chairs currently around my dining table fit this description.  Believe it or not, they are actually folding chairs I found for $7 for a set of 6.


They were in absolutely perfect condition, with the exception of the cushion fabric, which I knew was an easy fix.

Folding chairs are usually so unattractive and kind of cold that when I saw these, I was sold.  I never intended to keep them out all the time, but when I sold my old dining table, the chairs were sold along with it and I found myself needing an easy solution until I was ready to invest in exactly what I wanted.  These babies did the trick.

First, I selected some fabric.  Because in the big picture folding chairs are often abused, spilled on, and kept in storage, I wanted something really durable.  I headed to my go-to Home Fabrics and started scouring vinyl options.

I know, I know, vinyl can be so bad.  But it can be pretty good too, if you find a nice, soft, buttery piece.  I found a pretty good gray option and knew it would work well.


Ok, now on to the re-covering.

I unscrewed the cushions from the bottom of the chair.  They all came out pretty easily.  I always keep the loose screws in a little baggie labeled with a sharpie to keep things organized.

The cushions all had a cardboard type cover on the bottom, along with instructions for setting them up.  I love vintage furniture.  Old furniture makers were so considerate!

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The cardboard backs came off pretty easily.  I set them aside and started working on the cushions themselves.


Next comes perhaps my least favorite part: removing the old fabric.  To do this, I used a razor blade and flat head screw driver, a set of pliers, and a bowl to keep all of the old staples in.

There’s no easy way to do it, folks.  I use the flat head screw driver, or the razor blade if the staple is in too tight, to wiggle some space underneath the staple, then the pliers to pry them out.


Sometimes they are in so darn tightly that I have to stand on the cushion and use all of my body strength to pull of the cushion.  Just make sure if you use this technique, you have something soft to land on behind you once the staple finally comes free.  I’ve also been known to send a staple flying into the great beyond and then spend several hours crawling around on my hands and feet looking for it.  Always a good time.

Your fingers will be sore, but once this part is over, it’s smooth sailing my friends.

Before you take the old, likely smelly, crusty fabric out to the trash, you need it.  I always use old fabric as a pattern for my new fabric.  If it fit before, it will fit again.


I usually use a pen to trace the old fabric onto the new, then cut it out.  Just like that, your new fabric is ready to go on.


I use the same cushion, and same seat base, if at all possible.  It’s a huge pain to replace either of these so if they can be salvaged, go for it.  Luckily these babies were in perfect condition.


When you’re ready to staple, lay down your new fabric, pad, and base on top.  I usually start in the center of one side and gently pull the fabric where I want it to be, then use a staple gun to secure it down.  I use a rubber hammer if needed to make sure the staples are flush and all the way into the base.

Next, do the spot exactly opposite.  Work your way out to the corners, but don’t go all the way yet.  Pull the fabric taut, but not so tight that it pulls and puckers.

For the corners, it’s sort of moving the fabric around and stapling it in the most smooth way.  It just takes practice to get it down.  I trim away any excess fabric so it doesn’t bulk.

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I put the cardboard backs back on using staples.

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Once the cushion is fresh and re-covered, just use the screws you set aside to secure it back into place and bam!  Like new!

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I’ve got some fun stuff coming up here this week– including how to build your own built-in shelves around a fireplace.  Hint: the family room is finished!  It’s one of my favorite projects to date.

In the meantime, check out a fun project I did with Glidden and Home Depot: how to paint fabric pillows using latex paint.  It’s cheap, easy, and cheap, and easy.  It’s over on SheKnows.

Have a wonderful start to your week!


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  1. Heather says:

    Hey Jen–was just watching your awesome pillow tutorial on SheKnows. Wondering what size of pillow cases you used and where you found them at. I’m getting ready to move into a new house and want to spruce up my decor with some new pillows and thought your tutorial would be perfect. Thanks for all the amazing ideas!! Love your website and Instagram.

    • Jen says:

      Thank you so much, Heather! They are 20×20 and I bought them at Ikea. Thanks for reading! Tag me on your finished project!

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