Re-Upholster a Chair

I found this stool with stow-away steps discarded on the curbside.  It was black  and rusty metal with orange upholstery that carried a lovely bouquet of mildew.  I was drawn to it immediately because my grandmother had one just like it and seeing this one brought back a rush of nostalgia in me. I knew I had to rehabilitate it. 
To re-upholster a chair or stool like this, you need:

The first step was to sand off the rust on the metal and then paint with a white enamel.  I painted it on with a brush (2 coats) because that’s what I had (I’m a big fan of working with what I’ve got), but using a spray can (like this) would be better. 

And then, there’s my dog. The hair! Oh, the hair.  She gets a little over excited sometimes. And clumsy.  She knocked over the whole thing (wet paint) while in hot pursuit of a rogue ally cat.

So, since I had no turpentine I had to let the enamel dry completely, then I decided to sand it down and leave it with a distressed look.  Better than a hairy look.  

I pulled the upholstery off the seat and scrubbed off the mildew. I used a homemade disinfectant spray that is non toxic and works like a charm.  I let it dry in full sunlight.
Disinfectant Spray Recipe
1 part white vinegar
1 part rubbing alcohol
1 part water

I traced the seat on a piece of foam and placed it on the wooden seat, then flipped both together upside down on a double layer of vinyl tablecloth.  If you have a higher quality vinyl (like this) than what I had, a single layer may suffice.  

I pulled the vinyl over the edges to the back, and stapled them, taking care to cut away the bulk at the corners.
I gently pulled the upholstery tacks out of the back rest, and saved them.

The back rest was now in two pieces.  I covered each piece with spray glue and placed them on the vinyl. I wrapped the vinyl around the pieces and stapled them in place on the one side, and only glue on the other (because it was too thin for staples). 

I put the pieces back together and replaced the upholstery tacks.  I put all the pieces back in their respective places and I have a brand-new-to-me chair.
All-in-all, a pretty easy project, especially if you do not need to repaint the metal. 

This particular chair is great for use with my standing desk (for when I don’t feel like standing). We also use it for hair cuts. I’m not a hairdresser, but I cut my family’s hair, and this chair is a great height for that. It’s also the reason why I wanted a wipe-able fabric.  
Have you had any re-upholstering adventures? Link to them in the comments.

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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