Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Saving Money Buy DIY: Reupholstering Dining Chairs

I have mentioned a few times that we recently renovated our house.  We needed an over haul on the bathroom, the house needed repainting through out, Miss 13's bedroom needed updating, all ceiling lights needed replacing to energy efficient ones, and most of the furniture *had* to go.  This obviously all costs a lot of money.  So one way to dramatically cut our final costs was to do everything ourselves! 
 Yes, our weekends disappeared into a haze of jack hammering, being paint splattered and chaos, and it took about 6 months, but we literally saved tens of thousands of dollars.  We estimated we saved $30,000 just in the bathroom alone.  You can see bathroom pics HERE.
One of the recent updos was replacing our out dated dining table wooden chairs with something more retro inspired.  So I purchased the above Eames replicas online.  (Ignore the messy kitchen).  I loved them when they arrived but unfortunately they were complete and utter duds.

To start with, the white seat is actually an ultra thin covering of white paint over black.  So you just have to tap these the wrong way with a nail and the white comes off. 
Second, mess doesn't really wipe off them.  You would think being plastic they would be just wipe downs,  but NOPE.
Thirdly, it won't take a weigh over 80kg.  No where on the website does it actually state this.  So my husband and a couple of other visitors actually split and cracked them.

COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY and I was so upset!  What to do??  Well, buy chairs that were made to LAST forever and are still rock strong 50 years later.  So I searched for a few months before finally finding a matching set of 8 Chiswell teak chairs from the 1960's.

But they were an icky blechhy color! 

No problem, I'll just get them re covered by an upholsterer!  3 quotes later and I can't get a price for under $120 a chair!  $120 a CHAIR!  And I even picked a plain white vinyl which was the cheapest.

We had zero experience recovering anything and had no idea how to do it.  But my Mum said it was easy....so it must be easy!  A quick search on ebay got me more than enough white vinyl for a total of $87 delivered.  Dear husband already had a staple gun but we needed an extra $11 worth of staples from the hardware store.......and we got into it.

He is so cute.

I'm not going to lie.  It was a witch with a capital B of a job.  The back rests are curved and we had serious meltdowns trying to get that vinyl crease free across the curve.  I still shudder thinking about it.  It would have helped had we actually KNOWN what we were supposed to be doing.  And yes, by the end of chair number 7 we had got the hang of it and it looked pretty darn good! It took us 2 days but we saved $900.

The finished 8 chairs!
I still prefer the look of my pathetic Eames plastic ones, but these are so much more comfy....and SAFE to sit on.
Anybody else tackled the world of DIY upholstering?


  1. Great job! I love a furniture revamp and am always amazed by how much you can save by doing things yourself. I have to say that the one time I did do some upholstering I think I got more stables in my hand than the chair but I was mighty proud of my handiwork anyway.

    1. THanks Brooke! No staples but my hand was ready to fall right off. Then seize up for 2 days afterwards. So glad this job got finished!

  2. Nope, not yet, but your chairs look fab! :)

  3. I really want to recover some cheap dinette chairs I have, but have chickened ou so far. Your chairs look fabulous!


Thanks so much for commenting! I read each and every one, even if I am slow to respond sometimes!