Recovering our Dining Chairs

When we moved to South Carolina (a year ago last week), we were given a very special gift from Audley’s grandmother; the beautiful mahogany dining room suite that belonged to her and Audley’s grandfather.
This is a gift that all of us have dearly treasured as now both of his grandparents have passed away.

Over the last several months we have slowly been chipping away at a few projects in the dining room and kitchen as we try to make this house our home.  It has been a slow process with all three kids heavily involved in church & school activities that keep me busy, as well as Audley traveling for work, but I have managed to strip wallpaper, paint and attempt to do a little decorating to pul these to popular rooms in our house together.

One of the projects in our dining room included recovering the chairs that accompanied the dining room table.  Recently Audley and I were able to take a rainy Saturday and knock this out.  With both of us working, it didn’t take long at all and I love my “new” chairs!

I have managed to steer clear of recovering anything over the years, generally by getting my mom to do most of the work  help, but this time Audley and I tackled these chairs on our own.

It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought!

I know you have seen a million posts on recovering chairs, but I just wanted to share our version.  Maybe you will see something different in the way Audley and I have done this that will help you out.

Audley started off by removing the seats from out chairs.  As he took each one off he numbered the seat & the chair frame to match so that he knew the pieces would line up when we put them together again.

The hunter green fabric that was covering the chairs has been there at least since Audley and I were dating, 18 years ago, so you can imagine the use these have seen over the years!

As Audley continued to remove the seats from the chair frames, I began to remove the staples using a basic staple remover from the fabric we were replacing.  Some people chose to leave the previous fabric and cover over it, but honestly your best results are achieved when you create a smooth and clean look by removing the extra staples and heavy material.

Now I did chose to leave the original fabric that was on the chair seat.  It was a thin fabric with minimal hardware.

For the new fabric, I picked out a black and cream toile.  I love toile fabric, even if my poor husband doesn’t care for it.

It’s just a little bit, so maybe it won’t be too overpowering or feminine for him.

The toile also matches the curtains that I have on my French doors in the dining room.

I’ll be honest with you, I wasted a lot of material.

The beauty of toile is that there are many scenes throughout the fabric and I wanted a different one for each chair.  We bought 3 yards of fabric for our six chairs, then arranged each seat with a unique scene.

I did save the scrap material, though.  There are plenty of things that I can do with it down the road.

After deciding which scene I wanted to cover each chair, I went to cutting them out.  I left the seat on the fabric as I cut so that I could be sure that I had plenty of material to pull around.

cut fabric laying over a chair seat

I discovered that covering a dining room chair is a whole lot like wrapping a present.

We centered the scene we wanted on the seat, then carefully flipped it over.

Audley and I worked together to staple the material to the chair.  We did the back of the seat first, so that we had an “anchor” to help us pull the fabric tightly as we continued to attach it to the chair.

I used a staple gun for our project, but you can use tacks for the material as well.  Be sure to press down firmly when stapling the fabric to the seat so that the staples go in all the way.

Trim any excess fabric as you prepare to attach each side.  I know some people like to trim the fabric after they have fastened it to the seat, but I feel like I had a cleaner cut by measuring and cutting before I stapled the fabric down.

Pull the fabric tight before stapling it so that you don’t have a chair that is loosely covered.


We saved our corners for last, pulling them together tightly and making sure it was smooth on the top before adding a couple of staples to hold it firm.



After the chair seats were covered, we matched them back up with their bases and reattached them and now I have an almost completely decorated dining room!

Hopefully I will be ready to show you the finished project in the next couple of weeks!

8 thoughts on “Recovering our Dining Chairs

  1. Hi Jen, I love your toile. I have black and white covered toile parson's chair in our kitchen and I never tire of it. Covering dining room chairs is a simple thing and makes such a big impact but you are right. It really helps to have someone help you do the pulling and tugging while stapling. I was just looking at outdoor fabrics this morning as my deck chair seats need to be recovered this Spring. 🙂


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