Our Epic Dining Room Chair Makeover

By | December 14, 2016

Who Needs Pottery Barn? DIY for $60 a Chair

What better way to celebrate the launch of a blog named “Money Under the Cushions,” than to write about an epic money saving makeover to dining room chairs. Chairs with cushions? Money Under the Cushions…? Yes? Brad and I can’t even sew on a button, but we successfully reupholstered four dining room chairs (we still have two arm chairs to complete).

If you’re looking for a step-by-step tutorial, I’m working on it. Expect it to be long and detailed. Consider this an introduction, and my simple hope is that it inspires you and gets you excited about trying your own DIY project. It can truly save a lot of money, and is infinitely satisfying.  And seriously, if I can do this, you DEFINITELY can!

It Started with a Dream…

A dream to have six awesome dining room chairs to compliment the new dining room table we purchased after our wedding. We were not chairless. Indeed we have these wonderful forever “they don’t make ‘em this way anymore” farmer type chairs. They just didn’t go with our new table. Or any table that either one of us owned prior to getting married actually. See?

See? NIce Chairs.

      Fully functional.


Where did these chairs come from anyway? 

What We Wanted


Pottery Barn Calais Chair

THIS! They’re from Pottery Barn of course. We wanted six of these dining room chairs in Sierra Red twill fabric, because, well, a regular ol’ neutral color just wouldn’t do. The chairs made my synapses fire when I visited the store and sat in one. However, the fireworks quickly fizzled when doing the math, as ONE chair cost $499!!! Multiply that by six, add tax and shipping and we’re talking more than three thousand dollars!!!


My deal-getting self could work it down to about $1850, but I guess I’m not ready for $2000 chairs. I’d be afraid to spill something on them…though at that price they should clean themselves, right?

We didn’t like the less expensive alternatives which included sturdy, but boring taupe or tan, or wobbly, weak frames, or weirdly colored and textured fabric. Not willing to settle, and with other priorities, we resigned ourselves to using our chairs for the foreseeable future.

As luck would have it, when sniffing out cool articles to share with readers I stumbled upon a wonderful chair makeover tutorial by Bless’r House.

DIY? Reupholster chairs ourselves? For a FRACTION of the cost? My head exploded a little and a new obsession born. Poor Brad didn’t stand a chance. He was in by default. I’ll save the gory details for the tutorial. Here’s the abridged version.

What We Did

We found six wonderfully hideous, but very sturdy wood chairs on Craigslist and bought them for $100. Here they are.


For some odd reason we never captured a pic of all six chairs at once!


Oddly enough the previous owner had just put this fabric on.

After gathering all materials it took three weekends to complete four chairs. Two weekends were spent prepping, painting and letting things dry. The third weekend was the actual reupholstering. Here’s a breakdown of the materials used and the costs:

Chairs – $100
Fabric – $80
Spray Paint – $8
Stain – $12.50
Foam Chair Pads – $35.95
Foam Mattress – $19.99
Foam Batting – $19.98
Poly Fill: 9.60
Spray Glue – 15.98
Scotch Guard – $14.98
Ply Grip – $29.99
Decorative Nail Tacks – $15.99
Staples – $4.99

Other materials that weren’t necessary, but were used for aesthetic reasons and were just lying around the house so it cost nothing: scrap wood, wood putty, landscaping netting, and a mattress cover.

Tools We Used:

Jigsaw (convenient, but a hand saw will work in a pinch)
Sander (convenient, but sand paper will do)
Magic Marker
Staple Gun (not pneumatic)
Mallet (hammer will work)

Grand Total: $367.95 or $61.33 per chair!

How’d We Do?



Now Instead of Neat and Functional…


Yes, old friends. It was lovely while it lasted.

We have “Class-say” Dinner Party Time!


Each morning these chairs make us smile.

Okay – so maybe this was only epic to us. I mean, we’ve never reupholstered anything so we’re quite proud. The chairs aren’t perfect. There’s some tweaking to do to make them even better, but we love, love, LOVE them.

Would you be interested in a tutorial blow-by-blow of how we made it happen for your own DIY project? Have you reupholstered before? How’d it turn out? Thanks for reading!



10 thoughts on “Our Epic Dining Room Chair Makeover

  1. Andrea

    Wow!!! Those are beautiful! We’ve reupholstered dining room chairs before, but we simply covered ugly fabric with a neutral one.

    1. MUTCs Post author

      Hi Andrea! Thank you! You know, it would have been even cheaper if we used a neutral colored fabric, because there are a TON of awesome, sturdy upholstery grade options at a great price, but as you saw in the pics, our walls are also neutral colored. We brought home neutral fabric swatches and it just didn’t work. So colored fabric wasn’t the original plan, but we’re glad we did it. So glad you’re here!

  2. HoosierSeamstress

    Ooooh, they are pretty! I love the red with that beautiful table. My husband and I were going to reupholster a “simple” recliner with straight lines (not big poofy curves). Thankfully, the chair was free, because we just gave up in disgust after several months. I think chairs like these would have been a better way to start reupholstering. Way to go–you saw it through!

    1. MUTCs Post author

      Thank you, HoosierSeamstress!!! I’m wondering. Can a recliner reupholstery project ever be simple? I shudder even thinking about it. 🙂 I’ll tell you something. Had those chairs been free, who knows what would have happened (or not). When we paid for the chairs I felt a slight weight on my shoulders like, “Okay. We’re committed now.” lol I’m so glad you’re here!!

    1. MUTCs Post author

      Hey Barefootrouge! So glad you’re here! Thank you!! Fozzy is awesome isn’t he? I figured, let’s go all out and try out some GIFs. haha.

  3. TJ

    Wow, really amazing chairs! I’d be interested in seeing the process you guys went through in order to complete this. I’ve thought about taking on other types of DIY projects but have always felt overwhelmed by the prospect of it. So many folks are doing DIY these days, some make it look easy others make it look to daunting to try. I’d love to hear about how you guys paced yourselves and managed to do this given your other responsibilities.

    1. MUTCs Post author

      Thank you, Tynisha! So glad you’re here! And thanks for the feedback. I’m already working on the format for the “tutorial.” I”m thinking of breaking it up into four sections over a few of weeks so I can do a thorough job. Stay tuned! It never felt daunting, or overly hard, though there we definitely pieces that were a serious pain in the neck. There were also parts that I did while sitting on the floor with the TV on. It was certainly a process that tested my patience at times (patience is not one of my strong points :)), because of the learning curve associated with doing something new and the preparation. But it was also extremely satisfying!

  4. lisabinar

    I love a good DIY! But spray painting is about as far as I have gone. However, you guys have done a great job on the chairs.

    1. MUTCs Post author

      Lisa, thank you so much! So glad you’re here (I recognize your email from my blog list). 🙂 Yeah – this was a biggie for us. It’s hard to imagine doing anything bigger.


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