How to Recover a Chair | Victorian Chair

Are you wondering how to recover a chair with new fabric? This beginner-intermediate reupholstery project is for you!

Let’s get started!

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Pinterest graphic showing before and after of recovered antique chair

thrifted antique victorian chair

This is the Victorian-style chair that I found while out thrifting. The wood-carved details stole my heart.

I’m a sucker for this style of a chair!

The upholstery wasn’t in bad condition but it was faded.

how to remove upholstery tacks and staples

I used my upholstery tack remover and pliers to pull out the tacks. Afterward, I ran the shop vac all over the area I worked in and even beyond. Those small tacks can go all over the floor and they really hurt if you step on one!

tools used for removing old tacks in furniture for reupholstery

BTW, see that cute white tray in the image above? I made the sweetest little project out of one just like it! You’ve got to see this upcycle!! Check it out here:

The Easiest Upcycled Wooden Tray Makeover

The upholstery batting was still in good shape so I didn’t remove it. The wood frame was in great shape too. There were a couple of areas that had to be glued and clamped but nothing serious at all.

antique victorian chair after old fabric has been removed and ready for reupholstery

As I said, the fabric was in great shape and I didn’t want to just toss it aside. I have plans for those scraps of fabric and I will be sure to share that tutorial here as well.

I used my sharp scissors to cut off the welting. By doing this, I also cut off most of the upholstery tacks.

how to restore wood furniture without sanding

Even though the hand-carved wood frame was in amazing condition, I wanted to restore the original dark color.

But I didn’t want to have to sand all the wood down and reapply a stain and then a topcoat.

close up of damaged wood on antique victorian chair for blog post on how to recover a chair

Here’s an easy solution: Howard’s Restor-A-Finish. I chose the color Dark Walnut.

This stuff works like magic! Brush it on, and wipe off the excess!

That’s it!

Howards Restor-A-Finish being applied to damaged wood on antique chair

I used a small artist’s paintbrush to apply so that I could control the product easily. Remember, the batting is still on the chair and I didn’t want the Restor-A-Finish on the batting.

Once I applied the Restor-A-Finish to a section, I used a blue shop towel to wipe off the excess.

The Nitrile gloves helped to protect my manicure! Haha! Who am I kidding – I don’t get manicures!!

Still, I wanted my hands to be free of the dark finish.

Lady wiping off excess of Howards Restor-A-Finish on wood surface of antiuqe chair for a blog post called How to Recover a Chair

Look at the results! Howard’s Restor-A-Finish is an amazing product to keep in the workshop. It brought the wood back to a color close to the original without sanding!

wood frame on antique chair after using Howards Restor-A-Finish

how to recover a chair seat and back

Attaching the new upholstery fabric is fairly straightforward. I go into detail in this four-part series:

Victorian Reupholstered Chair Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four

If you want to learn to recover a chair, I suggest you start with one not that difficult. Instead, choose a chair that is simpler like the one in this post.

The one above has more sections to it but the principles are still the same.

And here she is! Isn’t she lovely??

staged shot of restored and reupholstered antique chair with vintage stroller and wall art

The dark restored wood next to the light-colored grain sack reproduction fabric is so pretty together!

reupholstered antique chair staged with home decor items for blog post How to Recover a Chair

I love the look of one era mixed with another era of furniture.

The Victorian Era would have had ornate fabric like a tapestry or maybe hand-stitched needlepoint.

close up of reupholstered chair

farmhouse grain sack fabric

But this farmhouse-style grain sack fabric looks amazing.

At least in my opinion! What do you think of mixing styles from different eras?

top view of fabric used in reupholstery for a blog post on how to recover a chair

how to recover a chair with piping or trim

The raw edge of the fabric was trimmed in my favorite jute trim. To me, it’s the contrast of two styles that blend so well together.

Applying the jute trim is as simple as using a glue gun and moving around the piece in one continuous piece of trim, gluing as you go.

close up of jute trim on reupholstered antique chair

The softly curved back goes beautifully with the grain sack stripe.

view of back of gorgeous antique chair that has been reupholstered in grainsack style fabric

list of supplies

Here is a list of supplies I used for this project. You will also see the link below for those items. Shopping through my links helps to support this blog and all the free tutorials we offer you!

  • needle nose pliers
  • upholstery tack remover
  • scissors
  • shop vac
  • Restor-A-Finish Dark Walnut
  • Nitrile disposable gloves
  • pneumatic upholstery gun
  • upholstery staples
  • air compressor
  • grain sack style fabric
  • braided jute trim
  • glue gun and glue sticks
close up of seat on chair that has been reupholstered with grainsack style fabric in a blue stripe

Did you see the amazing carved detail at the back of the chair? I love details like that!

close up of carved wood frame on reupholstered chair

The back of the chair is just as lovely. The graceful curve of the chair provides a nice recline for the sitter.

back view of reupholstered victorian style chair

casters for the win!

And of course, casters make everything better! Funny fact about the two casters on this chair: they don’t match!

One is black and one is white, both porcelain.

Look closely at the image below the close-up shot and you’ll see the two of them!

close up of caster on furniture makeover project called how to recover a chair

Since this chair is neutral in color, it will go in a variety of home settings. It can be tucked away in a corner and pulled out when needed. Or it could go in a guest room to help your guests feel welcome with a place to sit.

antique chair staged with home decor for blog post on how to recover a chair

how to recover a chair without sewing

So what do you think? Could you recover a chair with simple lines like this one? Let’s chat about it in the comments!

Thanks so much for joining me for this tutorial on how to recover a chair. I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.

Also, be sure to check out the other posts I have for you on how to reupholster. Check the menu at the top under “Textile Tutorials” where I share lots of other reupholstery projects!

Feel free to pin any of the images to your Pinterest boards for future reference!

Pinterest graphic showing before and after of recovered antique chair

Thanks so much for joining us for this post! Join our journey so you don’t miss any fun projects, tutorials, and inspiration we share with you each week! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We share even more inspiration on Pinterest!

Until next time…

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  1. Love the way this turned out! Beautiful!

  2. Oh my goodness you are talented. I’ve done a few upholstery jobs and decided it wasn’t my thing. Fantastic! 🙂

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Do! Upholstery is one of my favorite types of projects, especially on the older pieces!

  3. Your work is so beautiful, Cindy and I agree with you the mix of two different eras adds a whole new dimension to the finished product.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      That’s so sweet of you to say! Stop back anytime to see our projects – we love sharing our tutorials 🙂