Chair Upholstery Ideas


So you want to upholster some furniture you bought at a secondhand shop. The frames are in great shape, but the upholstery needs some help. You know the basics of upholstering, such as saving the old pieces to use as patterns and which types of fabric to buy, but you need some different ideas. There are so many variations on upholstery that you won't have difficulty finding just the right decor in your home.

Nontraditional Fabrics

  • Change the upholstery fabric. Instead of using traditional fabrics, use leather or a vinyl fabric instead. Either works great when the furniture will get a lot of use. If something spills on leather or vinyl, you can simply wipe it off with a damp rag with no harm done to the fabric.

Fabric Colors

  • Upholster your chairs or couches with more than one color or print of fabric. This usually works well if you use one color for the front of the chair and a deeper shade of the same color for the back. Make sure you use the same type of fabric, just different colors. Also, make sure to cut out the fabric going in the same direction--with the grain of the fabric. Apply the fabric to the chair with the nap going in the same direction.

    Using two colors of fabric offers a more modern look, but you do have to be careful not to make the upholstery look mismatched.


  • Cut out two pieces of fabric to cover a cushion for softer lines. Cut out two pieces for the top and bottom of cushions, along with a strip to go around the edge for a boxy and more modern look. Add cording in between the layers of the fabric to give it a tailored look.

Spray Paint

  • Try upholstery in a can if you do not have sewing talents. It might sound unusual, but there is a product you can use to paint over the outdated, ugly or stained upholstery. It works best with chairs because you need to move them around a little. Paint your furniture outside, and plan to use several cans. Use newspaper and masking tape to cover any wooden parts of the furniture and spray away. Remove the cushions and paint on both sides. Unscrew and remove the cushions from dining room chairs if possible. Use the spray paint only on chairs where the fabric is still in good condition.

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  • Photo Credit old chair image by MAXFX from
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