We have the neatest dining room table, from the Hubster’s parents. I just adore it! It has an integrated leaf, so I don’t have to store it (and remember where I stored it!). It’s exactly the right size for the 4 of us (with the periodic addition of my mom at the table), but with the leaf, it easily seats 6! I’m really fond of that table…
The chairs that we got with it? Um, not so much. They are standard ladderback chairs with a cane seat. Narrow seats with even narrower legs. Like, can be tipped easily. And SO uncomfortable. So, for the last few months, I’ve had a mission to find new dining room chairs. On a budget. That were comfortable. And did I mention, cheap?
Now, I was totally willing to find 4-6 different chairs – I’m eclectic and could totally make that look work. I’d seen a few here and there, but wasn’t sold on any of them. Then I was on one of our local Facebook yardsale pages (aren’t those things just the best things ever??) and spotted a table and chairs for sale for $50 OBO. Now, don’t put OBO (or best offer) unless you really mean it. That table set stayed on the page for several days – almost a week. I’d spotted the chairs with it almost immediately. And they called to me. We absolutely didn’t need the table – we have the one from the Hubster’s parents, as well as an additional ‘kitchen’ table we use for crafts downstairs. But the chairs! Oh, the chairs.
So, after the set had been on the group for several days (I waited!), I messaged the gal, asking if she’d sell the chairs separately. She agreed!! She was very apologetic, explaining that she had young children and the chairs were in bad shape (stained, etc). But, I knew I could recover them (I’d done this in the past with other chairs). She sold me the chairs for $20! For those of you who don’t want to do the math, that’s $5. Per. Chair. YES! <fist pump>
The hubster brought the chairs home and I fell in heavy like. Yes, they were stained something fierce. But that was all cosmetic. Structurally? These things are sturdy.
So, my first task was to find fabric to recover them with. As you know, we live in a tiny town. As in, no craft stores with awesome coupons to make fabric affordable. As in, we have a WalMart (doesn’t everyone??) with okay fabric choices. As in, we do have a lovely fabric shop, but I am not in a position to be able to afford shopping there and feed my family. As in, I needed to get inventive.
I volunteer at a local thrift shop one day a week. I SO enjoy it! I went in there hunting down fabric. I found a few ideas – including a men’s suit coat! Hmm…then I mentioned my furniture find to my mother. Turns out, she had a stash of fabric from crafts with my daughter. Perfect! Between what I found and what she had, we were covered. (See what I did there?)
The second task? Figure out how to remove the seats. If you’ve never recovered chair seats like these, don't worry. It is super simple! With the removal of just a few screws, the Hubster and I were well on our way! We did find lots of leftover food scraps and crumbs from the previous owners – that’s part of buying used. We just cleaned the chairs up and moved on.
So, the tools you need for this project? A staple gun, staples, and scissors. See what I mean about simple? It also helps to have a screwdriver (to pull up mis-placed staples and for removing the seats) and a hammer (for the staples that don’t quite go in far enough).
Lay the chair seat out on a flat surface and cut your fabric large enough to pull to the bottom of the seat so you can secure it with staples. Now, the only part of this project that really has instructions is this – pick a side to start on and tack one staple in place. Then put a staple directly across from that point, pulling the fabric taut. After the first two staples are in place you can continue to secure the fabric along the sides, stapling as you go, working towards the corners. But stapling the opposite sides is key – it helps avoid uneven pulling.
The hardest part for us was our “helpers”. Desi seemed to think we were doing all this for him, and he was very grateful. Lulu was just happy we were in the floor. Silly pups!
Okay, the corners…I don’t have a perfect way to do them. I took each one individually and just pulled the fabric until I was happy with it, then stapled the heck out of them. Remember you can alway pull the staples out and re-do. This is a very beginner-friendly project!
For fabric choices, I try to find sturdier fabric than just a cotton. Our WalMart has a line called “decorator’s fabrics”. This is what you’re looking for – a thicker, sturdy fabric. Is that what I used? Um, not exactly. I used what I had available, and I fully accept that they will not last long. I’m figuring I will need to re-do them in about 6 months or so.
I also re-covered each seat in a different fabric. I was actually kind of disappointed that all my chairs matched so I wanted to make them mine in some way. So, I used 4 different fabrics.
End result? I love them! They’re sturdy, huge chairs with personality. They fit the table just perfectly and make me so very happy! And since the fabric came from a thrift store and my mother’s stash, the finished cost per chair (including the cost of the chair) was less than $6 per chair.
When I’m looking to recover them, I’ll look for a thick fabric, which runs about $8/yd at the ‘mart. I think three-quarters of a yard will cover each chair, which is very reasonable.
So, the moral of this story is…when you see a deal on a sturdy chair but the cushion isn’t in the best shape? Grab it! Chances are, recovering the cushion will be a snap!