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Hit Refresh: Sitting Pretty

Before you toss those old chairs, consider giving them a dust-up with the help of pretty new upholstery and a glossy coat of paint.

red and blue recovered bentwood chairs
These red, white, and blue chairs don’t feel Fourth of July, thanks to the modern geometric Schumacher fabrics.

Take a Seat

Before you commit to making over any chairs, be sure they have a removable seat (most should). If you don’t have any chairs at home that you want to use, check out your local thrift stores. We got these vintage bentwood beauties secondhand for a steal!

Once you have your chairs, remove each upholstered seat by removing the screws from the underside of the seat. Next, use needlenose pliers to remove the old fabric and staples. If the seat is in need of more cushioning, trace the edge of the seat onto batting, then cut it out and set your seat aside.

Paint & Prep

Next, pick your paint colors to coordinate with the fabrics you’ve chosen. We mixed and matched our fabrics (Schumacher Dazzle Ship Velvet and Pennant lI) and paints (Valspar Posh Red and Indigo Cloth) so that they felt cohesive without being a matching pair. Sand down your chairs and prime them, then paint away! We chose a super-glossy finish for these chairs for a little bit more drama.

Staple Center

Now comes the trickiest part of this DIY: stapling the fabric to the seat. Start by tracing your seat 2 to 3 inches larger than the actual seat so that there’s extra to wrap around and under.

Next, lay your fabric face-side down with your batting, and then your seat on top of it so that the underside of the seat is facing up. Grab a heavy-duty stapler with 5/8-inch staples and begin by wrapping one side of the fabric up onto the back side of the seat and securing it with two to three staples.

Do the same thing with a piece of fabric on the opposite end of the piece you just stapled, making sure to pull the fabric taut as you do. Continue stapling opposite sides, all the way around, until the fabric is fully secured.

Time to Dine

After the paint on your chairs dries, it’s time to install your new and improved seats. Set each on its base and screw them in the same way you took them out. Now you’re ready to dine in style!

“Supply shortages over the past year have challenged us to breathe new life into old pieces, and that’s not a bad thing! These chairs come out looking brighter and fresher than ever with a few easy and inexpensive updates.”



white bentwood chairs before repurposing
These bentwood chairs were in great shape for being vintage—they just needed a little love!

By Hannah Baker | Photograph by Kelsey Hansen | Before photograph by Jeni Wright

This article originally appeared in the Holiday 2022 issue of Drew + Jonathan Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s home and lifestyle magazine.

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