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How to Reupholster Furniture

How to Reupholster Furniture

If you have furniture with a good structure but fabric that doesn't quite hit the mark, you don't have to give up on it completely. Furniture can be easily updated with fresh upholstery – and you can do it yourself at home.

As long as the bones of the furniture are still sturdy, a little bit of new fabric, attention, and creativity can go a long way.

Reupholstering a couch or chair is a great way to give life to old furniture. It can also give you an outlet for changing the colour of fabric if it doesn't match a renovation or new colour scheme. No need to toss out that red couch you bought a couple years ago, just because you've changed your aesthetic to earth tones!

Upcycle for Modern Furniture

Whenever we talk about modern furniture trends, year on year the ideas surrounding sustainability are always present. A huge part of interior design trends is recycling and upcycling to be sustainable and environmentally conscious.


Whether that means using recycled materials, choosing a furniture manufacturer with green practices, repurposing furniture, or even upholstering an old piece, staying modern doesn't have to mean buying brand new furniture every six months.

Reupholstering furniture is one of the best things you can do to revitalize furniture that is old, off trend, or that you're just plain sick of. It might seem a little bit intimidating, but with a little bit of prep and some spare time, DIY reupholstering for couches or chairs is definitely something you can do.

Reupholstering a Chair or Couch – Step by Step

What tools do you need?

You'll need a few things more than what you might have lying around in your garage. For most reupholstery projects, you'll definitely need:
• new fabric
• powered staple gun
• sewing machine

You'll likely also need a hammer and screwdriver to take apart the furniture in order to remove and redo the fabric, as well as maybe some new batting (stuffing) for the cushions.


1. Remove the old upholstery
This could be easy or more time consuming depending on the piece of furniture you want to reupholster.

In the case of a dining chai, you can just remove the staples on the backing and underneath and pull the old fabric through to remove it. In the case of an armchair or a couch, you'll have to do some flipping to take out staples from underneath and the back, as well as taking the fabric off the cushions.

If you don't want to save the fabric, feel free to get messy (but keep in mind, you'll need to use the old fabric as a template for the new fabric). If you want to repurpose the old fabric, take care in where you cut and how you remove the staples to prevent shredding and tearing.


2. Take the couch or chair apart
In the case of a couch or large occasional chair, you'll likely have to take apart the furniture. First, remove the arms, then the backing if necessary. Take care not to damage the stuffing, cushions, or structure.

3. Cut your fabric
Using the old upholstery as a template, cut your new fabric. This is the easiest part, since you can literally just use the old fabric shapes and sizes on your new fabric! Make sure you don't miss anything.

When in doubt, give yourself more fabric to work with by making the cut out a little larger than necessary. You can always cut this out after.

4. Sew the fabric pieces together
Grab that sewing machine and practice those sewing skills! Sew the various pieces together as they go together. Sew cushion covers, skirts, pillow covers, arm pieces – anything that is required to stay together.

You may also need to sew zippers in the case of seat covers for a couch.

5. Use a staple gun to attach the new fabric to the furniture
One section at a time, attach the new upholstery. For cushions, you can simply stuff the old batting or stuffing into the new covers. Easy!

For the backing and seats on couches and dining chairs, you'll have a bit more work. Feed the fabric over the batting pull it through equally on all sides. This is particularly important if you have patterned fabric – ensure you aren't distorting the pattern by pulling unequally!

You'll want to use a heavy duty staple gun to attach the new upholstery to the structure to ensure that it holds and doesn't tear the fabric. Reupholstering furniture is straightforward, but you don't necessarily want to have to do it again in a few months!

6. Attach new fabric from the inside out
It's best practice to attach the upholstery from the inside out. Start with the seat, the inside arms, the inside back, and then any remaining upholstery on the outside. This makes it easy to ensure everything is aligned properly and attached securely.

And you're done! For most projects, you can do this in a day. Now you've got some brand new modern furniture in your space.


Don't Give Up on All Your Furniture!

Sometimes, you just need to toss out that old chair or couch to make way for something brand new. But sometimes, all it takes is a little DIY to turn an old piece of furniture into something brand new.

Sustainability, upcycling, and recycling are some of the most important ideas to work around when it comes to interior design and is a principle of modern design and modern furniture. If you're redecorating a space and can reupholster even one piece of furniture to give it a longer life, give it a shot.

Reupholstering furniture is not as hard or daunting as it seems. Visit the fabric store, grab your thimble, and start experimenting with some DIY in your space! Get started on your own modern furniture today.