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How to Upcycle An Old Wooden Chair in 5 Simple Steps

How to Upcycle An Old Wooden Chair in 5 Simple Steps image How to Upcycle An Old Wooden Chair in 5 Simple Steps image
March 26th, 2019

Dreaming of breathing new life into a piece of furniture that has seen better days but the thought of how to upcycle a chair seems too complicated? We had a chair sat around and wanted to do something with it. That’s when the light bulb moment came. Working in a DIY and fabric shop, we should’ve realised sooner we can use the products sold in the shop to upcycle a piece of furniture, document the progress from start to finish and inspire others to do their own project learning how to upcycle an old wooden in 5 simple steps, the easy way. Please note – by no means are we D.I.Y. experts! Far from it, however, the vision to transform the chair was there and we were keen to see the process through and write about it. 

Update: March 2019 - Some of these products are discontinued and no longer available. If you are interested in upcycling please come in to our Cirencester store and we can recommend alternatives. 


Original Wooden ChairIt started out as a humble old wooden office chair thrown into the upmost depths of the attic gathering lots (and lots) of dust! Feeling sorry for the quite boring looking, old office chair, it was decided unanimously this would be our first upcycle project. We figured there are lots of people out there who have never upcycled before and would love to know how to upcycle an old wooden chair without fuss.


Before even touching the chair for a revamp, it was photographed at all angles and designs were drawn up for a brand spanking new makeover. As a fan of mood boards to get the brain juices flowing, it’s a terrific way to get all the ideas flowing down on paper (or digitally!). Using the mood board and superimposing imagery onto the chair made it easier to see how the upcycled chair may turn out. Although the final chair had a change of fabric choice from the original design.


Upcycling Project Moodboard

Once the design was chosen it was getting to grips with the products required to transform it from drab to awesome

Video Walkthrough



Tools & Requirements (these can be found in our Cirencester store)

  • Chosen Fabric (Home Furnishings department)
  • Crown Quick Dry White Primer paint (DIY department)
  • Crown Solo Black gloss paint (DIY department)
  • Sandpaper or sanding block (DIY department)
  • Paint brushes (DIY department)
  • Pre-paint surface cleaner Sugar soap (DIY department)
  • Industrial stapler (DIY department)
  • White spirit for cleaning brushes (DIY department)
  • Black thread (Home Furnishings department)
  • Needle (Home Furnishings department)

Step by Step Guide

Upcycling Chair Step 1 

Being quite impatient, probably like most people, the worst bit is prepping the chair ready for the transformation. This chair was mighty dusty and needed a thorough clean with the pre-prep surface cleaner (sugar soap) getting rid of all the dust and grease gathered over the years! Luckily, the chair pad was easily removable too so the frame and pad was completely cleaned.Chair Step 1 Photograph

Once complete, next job was to sand the chair using the sanding block. You could use sandpaper, whatever your preference. Remove the chair pad first and put to one side. Sanding the chair, removed the varnish and enough top coat for a smooth surface ready for priming. A quick wipe down with a damp cloth removed all the loose dust from sanding.

Painting – the messy part! Before the chair is painted in black gloss, it requires two coats of primer so the gloss will adhere to the primer paint easily and give an overall polished finish. The paint primer we used was quite runny, catching the drips as we painted. Once dry, a second coat was applied and left to dry completely.

Now it gets more exciting as the chair starts to come to life! Crown Solo in shiny black gloss finish was applied to the chair. After an hour and a few streaks at first, the chair looked completely different. Once dried, another coat was applied to make sure all the white primer is completely covered and the chair looks ultra-luxurious with the high gloss black finish. The gloss paint was very runny and although I was aware of this, there were still a few drips to catch!

Deciding what materials to use when there is such a vast array in the fabric department was really difficult! What’s more, having an idea of what you would like in your head is sometimes awkward to convey to someone else!  However, rifling through the patterns and bundles upon bundles of fabric I found the 2 fabrics I wanted. These fabrics clashed on purpose in complete contrast with one another as this chair is a statement chair and deserves a flamboyant fabric against the super glossy black paint.

One fabric chosen was a monochrome geometric pattern and the other fabric was the Enashaw Dakota design in the colour oasis. I was torn between the peacock blue palm print or the mustard velvet yellow which was in my original mood board design. Decided on instinct to go with the peacock blue vibrant colours of the Dakota design.

Measuring the fabric was a little tricky as the aim was to have the division of the 2 fabrics at a diagonal angle on the front facing side of the chair pad with the fabric tucked on the underside of the chair and stapled down to the frame of the seat pad. Remember, if there is a particular part of the fabric you really want, make sure you cut the right piece out when you are cutting the fabric. I specifically wanted the palm print of the pattern on the chair so ensured this was prominent. Once the material was all cut out, the 2 pieces were sewn together inside out and then turned over to reveal how it would look on the chair pad.

Before stapling the material to the underside of the chair, the material had to be pulled tight across the front of it to ensure a snug fit and then the edges of the material folded over to ensure it finished off neatly underneath the chair base. It’s easier to grab a helper to hold the material for you when you use the staple gun. Luckily mine trusted me not to staple her fingers! Working from the centre of one side of the chair base, first staple secured that side of the material and then tightening the material over the chair base the opposite side was secured with another staple. Next, with assistance still, all the edges were stapled securely, pulling the material tight as we did so and leaving the corners till last. The corners were the trickiest, I am not going to lie! It’s a little fiddly to fold the corners and tuck them in whilst keeping the fabric edge neatly tucked in at the same time as stapling together. Don’t worry you’ll get there.

The best bit, getting the seat onto the chair pad. We used the old pad and worked the fabric over the top so it was difficult to fit snug. Instead the chair was drilled back on from the underside to secure it back in place.


Finished Project

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