When we bought our house Tony was very specific on his expectations for a dining room table. It needed to be ornate, and it needed to be huge (or at least have multiple leaves so it could become huge). We found our table and chairs on Craig’s List, which I talked about here when I refinished the top.
First, let’s talk fabric. I expect these babies will get some serious use between now and whenever I forget how much work it was to recover them (Read: a LONG time from now!) so I wanted to pick something durable. I also needed something super affordable, because I was ordering 18 yards or something crazy like that! So last April or May when I got an email from one of the online fabric stores about indoor/outdoor fabric being marked down to around $6 a yard, I jumped on it! We’d used indoor/outdoor material on our giant ottoman, and it’s been fabulous! Charlie has knocked over full glasses of water and the liquid just pools on top until you can wipe it up. I knew it would be great for a dining room.
But then I let the 5 foot spool sit in the corner for 6 months. I was intimidated by this project. Despite my past experience recovering chairs, I knew these would be tough. (Though not really harder than the drop cloth arm chair, I guess.) I was right, though. It was hard.
First, I couldn’t quite figure out how the seat backs were attached. Honestly, I’m still not sure how they were attached initially. I used my little upholstery tool to pry the seat backs off, which was relatively easy once I got started. They just sort of popped off of the little nails that were holding them on. Then I used the same tool to pry out the staples holding the fabric to the thin plywood backing. There were staples every quarter inch or so. That’s a lot of staples! They had to come out though, because the original fabric was very thick, and I knew it would be too thick if I just put the new fabric over the top. That part went pretty well. I used the pneumatic staple gun – fantastic!! Redoing the first seat back probably took about an hour for staple removal, fabric cutting, and re-stapling. One down, 11 to go! Eleven? Yeah, each chair has a separate front and back!
The really tough part came in when it was time to reattach all those seat backs, simply because I couldn’t do it by myself. I’d hold the seat back up and get it into position, then cover it with a towel and bang on the corner with a rubber mallet. The seat back had originally been held on with these little nails, and the nail heads were all still sticking out about a quarter inch. (This was my area of confusion. Did they shoot the nails through the plywood, foam, and fabric after they were put together? If not, how did they get the nails to stop part way into the wood frame? Who knows!) My hope was to restick the wood backing to those nail heads. It worked for some of them, but the others were supplemented with hot glue. Anyway, I could kinda-sorta do the front of a chair on my own, but the seat backs angled the other way, so I’d sit on the floor to pound and Mom would hold the cushion from the top.
We finished all the seat backs, then I tackled the cushions. The original upholstery had little stitches sewn in each corner, which is one reason I left the seats for last. I’ll do just about anything to avoid having to sew. In the end, though, I was able to fold and staple the fabric so as to avoid the need for sewing.
I didn’t take a picture though. Sorry! I was working on these while waiting for our new camera, so I snapped a few cell phone pics, but that’s about it.
The backs of each cushion had a little notch cut out where the cushion fits into the frame, which also had some stitching.
By cutting the fabric in the corner and applying some super glue… Then pulling a bit, stapling, and repeating a couple more times… I was able to avoid sewing here too! So this was the end result!
I knew I was going to recover these chairs from the moment we bought them, but I hadn’t noticed just how dingy the original fabric had become until I put this crisp cream and grey next to it! Even Tony commented on the difference!