How to Reupholster Furniture

I’m like MacGuyver with my staple gun. It’s one of the items I’d bring with me if I was stranded on a desert island. Among the many great uses, upholstery is a fast and very satisfying project. I learned how to upholster from my mother who in turn was taught by her father [who at one point in his early career apprenticed for an upholstery shop.]

I recovered this footstool for Jack’s tree house on Sunday and it took me just under 10 minutes, start to finish. How satisfying is that! And that includes me taking the time to photograph it as I went along. So grab a tired piece of furniture, some new fabric and your staple gun and follow my easy steps:

Decide if the fabric on top needs to be removed or can be overlayed. Normally I remove it, but in this instance I’m going to overlay it because the gingham I’m using is thin and not ideal for upholstery. It will benefit from the ‘bulk’ of the upholstery fabric I’ve chosen. 

This is what the stool looked like before:

So this is how to do it:

Remove the portion you’re going to reupholster [if possible.] It’s not essential, but it makes a faster and easier job of it. I removed the top [four screws on the bottom.]
















  Overlay the fabric on top of the stool as it would be centered on the piece. Be mindful of pattern repeats and even lines. Off center/crooked fabric won’t look very nice!













Staple the fabric around the sides, a good half inch away from the edge. Pull the fabric taut as you do this, but be sure to not pull the pattern off center. Fold the corners like a present, the first fold on the triangle… the second fold pulled straight.


 Trim away the excess fabric on the outside of the staples.



Reattach to the base and check for any threads that may need to be trimmed off.










Isn’t it lovely? Now I wonder if I should have painted the legs white? Hmmm. Perhaps on another day. Jack wants to use it now!!

Once you give it a whirl and realize how easy it easy, I hope you give it a try too. I’ve reupholstered lots of chairs and stools in my house. Sometimes I hot glue braided trim on top of the edge to add a nice finish, but otherwise the technique is the same. Here are a few of the items I’ve recovered to inspire you…

My Victorian Chairs

The seats on my two matching Victorian chairs popped out by removing four screws underneath. Centering the pattern was the trickiest part, and there was a lot of fabric wastage as a result. I’m not complaining–I bought the bonus fabric that matched my curtains on eBay for a song. Actually, the chairs were an eBay bargain too. They look great, right? I don’t think they look DIY!














 My Bathroom Chair

I found this chair next to the dumpster behind a grand hotel. It had very ‘hotel’ fabric on it, so I recovered it with some remnant fabric I have. It’s perfect for our bathroom. I absolutely love being able to sit and chatter with Jack while he takes a bubble bath. The trim was applied using hot glue. My hot glue gun is another favorite DIY gadget! Doesn’t the chair look great?



  1. Dina says:

    I’m very inspired. Thank you Meg!

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