DIY Chair Makeover- Easy Step by Step Tutorial!

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A Step By Step Tutorial on How To Copy this $7 DIY Chair Makeover!

I’ve been a bit M.I.A. for the last week or so. A new school year has started for my husband and daughter so we’ve spent the last two weeks taking it easy before the mad rush started.

So, that means I have tons of projects I need to share! My DIY desk chair was actually a project I did back in July but I realized I never shared anything about it.

I snagged this old wooden chair at a yard sale for $7. And I’m quite proud of myself for the fact that this chair did not sit in our garage for a year or two before I finally decided to refinish it. Thank you very much, Jeremy!

(Usually he has to complain about the amount of junk in his garage and harass me for a few months before I make the time to go out there and do it.)

I have one of those built in desk areas in my kitchen and have been on the lookout for a bench or chair to go there. This chair fits the bill perfectly!

This was probably one of the most rewarding, not to mention easiest, DIY projects I’ve ever done. You get to see instant results and this can all easily be done in one weekend.


  • Random Orbital Sander (We use this Black and Decker one.)
  • 8 hole coarse (40-60) grit sandpaper discs (Similar one here.)
  • Your choice of stain. I used Fusion Stain and Finishing Oil in the color Cappuccino. (I ordered mine through The Treasured Home.)
  • Cheap foam brush to apply stain
  • Foam Padding- I used this 3 inch foam from JoAnn’s leftover from another project.
  • Batting- Here’s a link to what I used.
  • 1 yard of fabric (Find a similar blue farmhouse ticking fabric here.)
  • Staple gun (Here’s one similar to ours.)
  • Spray Adhesive (You can find what I use here.)

Step 1- Remove the cushion.

The first step for DIYing this chair was to remove the cushion. I knew I wanted to replace not only the fabric but the foam cushion as well.

I made sure to keep the wood base that the foam and fabric were attached to. The wood was in fine shape and you won’t be able to see it anyway once it’s recovered! Plus it’s already the exact size and thickness so no reason to make this job any more work than it needs to be.

K.I.S.S. I’m sure everyone remembers this KISS acronym from grade school but in case you don’t, it stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. These are words I live by. I didn’t really get the importance back then, but boy do I try to apply it to every facet of my life now. Everything from cooking dinner, meal planning, budgeting, parenting, cleaning, to Home DIY. Just keep it simple! It makes things easier to stick to when you can do it on autopilot. Just my two cents.

Step 2- Strip/ Sand the Chair Frame

As you can tell from this photo, the finish on this chair had been on there for a long, long time. A lot of it had already worn off so I knew I didn’t need to worry about messing with stripping off the finish/ varnish.

If your chair’s finish is in better shape than mine, here’s a link to a great tutorial on how to strip varnish from a chair!

For the sanding process, I grabbed my handy random orbital sander and attached a coarse grit sandpaper disc to it. Note: If you are stripping the varnish off your chair, just use a medium or fine grit sandpaper to sand. I’m using the coarse grit to remove what little finish was already on my chair.

And then, just basically go to town sanding. It took me approximately 30 minutes, give or take, to sand this chair down to the raw wood. My only regret is that I didn’t invest in a mouse sander for all the hard to get to areas. We’ll probably be investing in one of those soon.

Time to stain!

Now we’re ready to stain! I used my new favorite, Fusion Stain and Finishing Oil in Cappuccino and applied a light coat with a cheap foam brush from Walmart.

I let it set 10 minutes per instructions on the can and then wiped the excess stain off with an old rag. You only want to wipe the stain off in the direction of the wood grain.

Then you let it cure for 3 days (the absolute hardest part) before use.

See where I used this same stain on our coffee table makeover here.

Recover the cushion

While you’re waiting for your stain to cure, let’s move on to recovering the cushion. Start with the plywood base that we saved.

  • 1.) Measure and cut your foam to size and then adhere to plywood base with spray adhesive. I use this stuff here and love it. It’s pretty pricey but lasts a long time and you can use it for many, many projects.
  • 2.) Spread batting out on the ground or work surface. Flip foam side of cushion down on top of batting. Pull batting taut on one side of cushion and staple to plywood on underneath side. (Find a more in depth tutorial here.) Repeat until entire cushion is covered in batting.
  • 3.) Now, onto fabric. Place right side of fabric on work surface. (Right side means the side you want showing.) Then lay cushion foam side down on top of wrong side of fabric. (Wrong side means the side you don’t want showing.) Then, just repeat the same process as what you did with the batting, except focus only on the sides. Leave the corners undone for the moment. We’ll focus on that for the next step. You want to make sure your fabric is pulled very taut and want to flip the cushion over periodically to see how it looks. ***It’s very important if you’re using a pattern to make sure it’s lined up the way you want and can be a little more difficult to get even.***
  • Since my fabric was striped, I centered one striped line in the middle and made sure that as I was stapling my fabric, the other stripes were staying straight. Meaning, I had to make sure the same tautness was used on every side. If I pulled one side too tight, the stripes started getting a little wonky. So I would have to readjust and loosen that tautness a bit. It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is, I promise.
  • 4.) Wrapping the corners gets a little tricky. In a way, it’s like wrapping a present. Only, you just have to worry about the part that people see. The underside of my upholstery projects look like a bloody massacre. I have staples placed haphazardly all over the place. It’s all in figuring out how to pull both sides of the corner in, manipulating the fabric in a way that looks good on the side that shows, and stapling it all in place.
  • This part takes the longest for me. Sometimes I have to pull out a few staples and try it again. Don’t be afraid of messing up!! You can always fix it.
  • 5.) Now time to reassemble the chair. Make sure to pay attention to how the chair cushion is attached when you are initially taking it apart and hang on to whatever screws were used. All of that makes this part pretty simple! We just screwed it back in and it was good to go!
DIY Wooden Chair Makeover
DIY Wooden Chair Makeover
DIY Wooden Chair Makeover

So there you have it! Easy, peasy, cheap! Since I already had the majority of the supplies, the only thing I had to buy was the chair ($7) and the fabric ($10). Bringing my grand total for $17! Not too shabby!

For a more in depth tutorial on how to upholster, check out this post on how we upholstered our DIY playroom window bench.

If you want to save this project for later you can pin here:

DIY Wooden Chair Makeover

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