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You Can Re-Upholster, Trust Me

It all started about 10 years ago. I had this shitty little Ikea chair that was the definition of blah. Beige seat cover, light beige wood. The structure of the chair was fine, but it was just so boring. My parents had given me the chair for my desk and I probably whined a little that it was an ugly chair. To which my mother responded, so, you’re crafty, fix it. That was the first chair I rehabbed. Before I did that project furniture was this magical mystery, I had no clue how it was put together. But I figured out how to pull it apart, I sanded and re-stained it, and lastly printed some fabric that would become the seat. And its still my desk chair. I’ve re-done the seat again to go with my current office set up but its the same chair from 10 years ago!

My desk chair in its current incarnation

That one project gave me such a feeling of power. If I could take a cheap chair that I didn’t really like and pull it apart to recreate it as something I loved. Wow. The possibilities felt endless. I’ve never not been on a budget so when we moved and could have another chair in the living room, I turned once again to this empowering practice. Finding exactly what I want is hard. Add to that money being an object and its pretty impossible. The chair I finally ended up getting was this high backed chair with rattan wings and this very dated floral fabric. For $40 (plus the seller delivered it to me) I felt like I could make it work. It was the most ambitious project I had taken on to date.

The before picture of our living room chair

I pulled it apart carefully making sure to take pictures along the way of how it was put together and saving pieces that I might need to later. I also invested in an upholstery staple gun, I had been using just a standard staple gun up to this point but now it wasn’t going to cut it. After I knew how much fabric I was going to need I went and purchased this very bright yellow brocade at Hart’s Fabric. They have an amazing selection, I am real lucky to live so close to them. Putting it back together was a challenge and there are a few parts I could have done better (namely the back. The pieces got a little warped when I pulled it apart) but it still looks pretty good and for what I paid, I got everything I wanted. It is such a powerful feeling to look through Craigslist and Goodwill and see furniture people gave up on and know you can turn it into something amazing. I’ve now re-upholstered two chairs for our living room and I’ll be showing you how I re-upholstered a stool today.

The after picture of our living room chair

I've been hinting that I have something a little special planned in my last two blog posts and today is the day you get to see what I've been working on. As I said I'm going to show you how I reupholstered a stool I got from Goodwill but instead of what I usually do in my blogs: photos and written descriptions, this time its a video. This is less a 'how to' and more a 'you can' video. Each piece of furniture is its own challenge, and I’m still getting better but this video is meant as an encouragement to start.

A big thank you is in order for my husband who set it up and edited the whole thing so I look less goofy. Check it out below if you're interested in seeing the re-upholstery process or if you'd just like a good laugh as I awkwardly talk about staples.

I’m self taught, kinda just figuring things out along the way but we live in a great time for the ‘self taught’. There are so many resources at our disposal so consider this encouragement to try. Start small. The seat of a chair. Start looking at the way furniture is put together. Start with something of no value and little importance and know that if you mess it up, its no big deal. Though, I bet you’ll surprise yourself.

If you catch the bug like me and want to get deeper into this, I just got this book: Spruce by Amanda Brown. In the few pages I’ve been able to read I can already tell this book will be so helpful. Brown is so knowledgable, and gets into details far beyond anything I’ve done so far. Good luck! And I want to see your re-upholstery projects! When you post just use the hashtag #babelroseDIY

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