Reupholstering Dining Chairs

Last fall, I was looking for a new set of dining room chairs and came across these on Craigslist. I immediately loved the simple midcentury lines and was even more excited when I saw them in person and they were sturdy and in great shape for being at least 50 years old.

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We had just refinished a (very heavy) (very dirty) (very detailed) antique oak table we found on Craigslist.

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The table is so beautiful, but I knew the look could go country really fast if I didn’t balance it out with more modern pieces. I was really inspired by photos I had seen of eclectic homes where classic or rustic wooden tables were paired with minimal or modern chairs.

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Our chairs were made by Consider H. Willett, a Louisville furniture company that was in business from the late 1930s until 1962. Apparently, Willett furniture is prized for its finish. While the finish was indeed beautiful, the dirty brownish-maroon tweed cushions had seen better days and the foam was as hard as a rock. I have recovered chair cushions before, and I don’t mind the job, so I decided to do it myself. I really wanted something sleek, neutral and easy to care for. Black was the first color that came to mind and I never really wavered. Here are some images that supported my decision to go for black cushions:

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My only difficulty was deciding whether I wanted to buy leather or vinyl. I ultimately decided on vinyl because I know the wear and tear that our furniture sees with our crazy coonhound Leia (and G now, too!), and I didn’t want to invest a ton of money in something and then have to worry about it all the time. With the vinyl, I can just wipe up spills with anything I have handy (read: usually a baby wipe) and not have to worry about staining or scratching.

Here are a few pictures of the cushion recovering process. First, I pulled out all the staples holding the old upholstery on. I found multiple layers (and many more staples) underneath. I made sure to take a lot of pictures of how the fabric was stapled to the seat and the back (especially the back of the chair, where the staples could not be visible). I used the old upholstery as a template to cut out the new, and used the boards underneath the disintegrating original foam as templates for the new foam. I used spray adhesive to attach the new foam to the boards, and then stapled the new fabric in place using my pictures as a reference. On the sides of the chair backs, I used large matte black upholstery tacks to hold the fabric in place and add a subtle detail to the otherwise minimal chairs.

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And, the finished product:



I loved how they came out, and we still love them now, almost a year later! I see these chairs being in our family for a long time. Here are a few photos from the past few months:

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