Drab to Fab Chair Makeover

The last couple years I’ve had the privilege of speaking at a few different Home + Garden shows and expo’s. This weekend I’ll be speaking at the Cleveland Home + Remodeling Expo, along with a great lineup of speakers…including Jonathan & Drew Scott from HGTV’s Property Brothers, Matt Fox who you’ll remember from HGTV’s Room by Room, and Deek Diedricksen from Tiny House Builders.

Drab To Fab Chair Transformation tutorial

The Expo also asked me to participate in their Drab to Fab challenge where several bloggers/businesses volunteer their time to each transform a thrifted chair, then Expo visitors can vote for their favorite, and if they like it also bid on it! The proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity, so it is fun project with a great cause!

Chair - before

This is the fancy little chair I found to transform. It was a $20 find from this amazing salvage shop I discovered in Mentor Ohio, City Salvage & Design. That place was magical! It’s a good thing I didn’t discover it sooner, otherwise I’d be a lot poorer with the truck loads of items I’d probably bring home.

Ready to learn how I transformed this bad boy?

I admit, I hate to paint such a pretty cherry wood, but with all the knicks and scratches it is a good option. I’m starting with this beautiful grey Vintage Farmhouse paint I also bought from City Salvage & Design.

Chair makeover - the paint job

Typically I would distress the finish a bit for a nice farmhouse vibe, but I don’t know what style of home this chair will be going to live in, plus if they have children it is likely to obtain some “roughing up” naturally. I’ll go ahead and finish it off with a furniture wax.

Furniture Wax

The original wood seat was water damaged, and cracked. I cut out a new seat bottom from some plywood, and a thin 1/4″ plywood piece as a chair backing.

New chair seat and a backing

A twin sized egg crate mattress foam for $11 makes for great padding, especially since I’ll be tufting a back for the chair.

Chair makeover - eggcrate foam

In order to create a diamond tuft on the chair backing, I need to create a template on the thin plywood sheet I cut for it. As I usually do when making a template for diamond tufting, I used a pegboard over top the plywood to mark where each hole should be to make up a diamond.

Pegboard template

When I made my diamond tufted headboard, and a diamond tufted dining room bench, I drilled holes through the wood. This time, since this tufted chair back will show through the design on the back of the chair, that isn’t going to work. So instead I’m attaching eye hooks to each mark to do all my threading from.

Chair backing - eye hooks

Now just to cut my material to size that will go over the egg crate mattress foam.

Chair backing - layers

For the tufting task, you’ll need waxed thread, and curved upholstery needles in addition to your covered buttons. Want to learn how to cover buttons? Check out my full tufting tutorial here.

Tufting Materials

I use the curved needle to thread through the eye hooks.

Chair tufting - needle and waxed thread

Pull the needle through, then one of the thread pieces as I remove the needle.

Chair tufting - pull thread through

Place the button through one side of the thread, then tie it off several times on either side. Finally clip the excess thread.

Tufting a chair

The tuft lines will come naturally as you add each button. I simply pinch them to add a little definition as I go.

Tufting a backing for a chair

Once the tufting is done, I flip it over on the back and trim any excess fabric.

Chair backing - trim extra fabric

I needed to staple a fabric backing in place since this tufted inlay will show through the design on the back of the chair.

I won’t go into detail about how I wrap the chair seat itself, since I’m pretty sure there is a much better technique than the one I am employing. My gift wrapping skills aren’t half bad, and I think they come in pretty handy here…however this is an area I admit I could use the extra technique and practice.

Recover the chair seat

The last thing I did was embellish the chair with a few decorative nails to cover up the nails to attach the inlaid tufted piece, and voila!

Chair backing with DIY tufted inlay

Not half bad right?

Chair Makeover - designed backing

Stunning DIY Chair Makeover - before and after

It cost me under $30 total materials, and about 1 hour of work (not counting drying time).

Hope to see you voting for this little guy at the Home + Remodeling Expo! Don’t forget to come here me speak on the main stage at 3pm Friday, and a repeat at 3pm Sunday (March 18th & 20th). See you there!

Like this, love this -1200 x 100

10 Comments on Drab to Fab Chair Makeover

  1. susan yoder
    June 9, 2017 at 7:28 am (3 years ago)

    What an ingenious chair idea! Your blog is amazing! One question that I’m curious about: what made you use nails to place the new tufted back onto the chair instead of screws? Wouldn’t the screws have secured the back into place a little better?

    • Ursula Carmona
      June 19, 2017 at 11:08 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you! Great question…screws would probably make it even more secure, but it would also twist the fabric going in and has the higher possibility of messing up your fabric backing.

  2. Sharon
    May 23, 2017 at 10:28 am (3 years ago)

    Nice project. I think I would have stopped with the seat padding. That back looks a bit tricky.
    Where did you buy the egg foam padding?

    • Ursula Carmona
      May 31, 2017 at 12:40 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks! I got a twin sized egg crate foam padding for $11 from Walmart.

  3. Christine Cook
    December 19, 2016 at 3:24 pm (4 years ago)

    I just can’t get over the before and after! Such a great job!! Pinned!

  4. B.Dillinger
    May 18, 2016 at 11:33 am (4 years ago)

    You are a seriously super fab chica! And a true DIY queen. May I ask if its possible going forward to include a list of all materials used at the top or bottom of post? Personally I like to be able to have easy to reference shopping / checklist.

    • Ursula Carmona
      May 19, 2016 at 8:15 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you! You are super sweet! Whenever possible, I will try to add a materials list…occasionally I find local items and thrifted items, but other than those… 😉

  5. sandra
    March 28, 2016 at 4:53 pm (5 years ago)

    Just beautiful and such an amazing idea! I saw you in an article in the March 2016 BH&G mag and I was so impressed that on the same day I came to check out your website. Your DIY inspires me, thank you!

    • Ursula Carmona
      March 28, 2016 at 5:44 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you so much! You are so sweet, and I’m so happy you stopped by!

  6. Catilin @ The Delighted Dwelling
    March 16, 2016 at 9:15 am (5 years ago)

    You are amazing!! Maybe I will see you at the home show this weekend.. and Ill be sure to vote for your chair!!


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