Give Your Chair a Chic Redo

Don't bother buying new! This easy (and fun) project lets you redo your chair without breaking the bank.

reupholster chair

1. Take apart the chair. Using a screwdriver, remove the screws from the underside of the cushion and lift the seat out. Sand the frame (as described in step 2 of "Paint a pretty bureau," p. 148), using a softer touch on the sharp edges so you don't wind up rounding them off.

2. Paint in layers. Stir primer, then apply with small, 1" and 2" brushes. After the chair is dry, apply paint in a medium or dark shade, such as gray; this will be the accent color. Allow it to dry completely, then brush on a top coat in a lighter hue, like white; let dry. Now you're ready to distress the chair.

3. Give it a rubdown. Focusing on areas that naturally receive the most wear, rub off small patches of the top coat with steel wool, letting the base coat show through. To protect the finish, lightly sand with 220-grit paper and apply a coat of polyurethane; sand again, then apply a second coat (optional).

4. Cut to fit. Remove the old fabric, batting and foam padding from the seat and discard, saving the wood board. (If the padding is in good condition, you can reuse.) Cut out a piece of newspaper 1/8" larger than the board on all sides. Use it as a template to cut a new piece of foam. Next, make a template 2" larger than the board on all sides; cut batting and fabric to that size.

5. Staple in place. Stack fabric (face down), batting, foam and board. Attach the fabric to the underside of the board with a staple gun; pull tight and fold down the corners as if you are wrapping a gift. Now cut a template that's 1" smaller than the board on all sides; trim a piece of felt to this size and staple it to the seat bottom, covering the raw edges of the fabric. Secure the seat to the chair frame with screws.