Have you ever looked at a gross old chair and gone “I could fix that?” Despite having never reupholstered a chair before, despite having never taken apart a chair before, it doesn’t matter—you saw someone do it on HGTV.
Welcome, my friend, to the world of Dumb DIY.
Last week fellow LD writer Angela and I decided to tackle the task of reupholstering her mother’s old, tired dining room chairs. The result was… shockingly well-done.
STEP ONE: THE CON
The first step is either finding some free chairs or convincing your mother to let you use hers. Maybe ply her with wine first. However, be aware that when experimenting on someone else’s chairs, it will result in an extremely long time in the fabric store trying to find a fabric that is suitable to the owner of said chairs.
STEP TWO: FUEL UP
After your grueling fabric store trip, you need to get food in your stomach to prepare you for the task to come. It is also a good idea to provide refreshments like sweet tea for the thirsty help. It will take longer than you anticipate. You will not be home by 6 p.m.
STEP THREE: ATTACK?
The first thing we did was (tediously) remove the previous fabric and pull out all the old staples by hand. Eight hours later, my mother informed me that this was not necessary. I’m still going to maintain it made life easier.
We pulled the staples out using a hammer, tiny screwdriver and pliers. You absolutely need the pliers and screwdriver. Otherwise your life is pointless. If you have a younger sibling around, delegate this task to them.
Note: We later learned that you can buy a staple remover specifically for removing staples from upholstery. Home Depot has them for $5.
STEP FOUR: TAKE A BREAK
Around this time your arms will go numb from pulling staples out. Take a break to watch Mike Rowe stick his hand up a cow’s vagina on “Dirty Jobs.” Avoid questions from aforementioned little sibling regarding semen.
Now is a good time to thank your help and offer them aforementioned sweet tea.
STEP FIVE: NAIL THAT BITCH
Measure out your fabric accordingly. We did six chairs, and got 3 ½ yards of fabric. Spoiler alert, we actually needed four. Lie the fabric out, pull it up, and staple.
Note: Do not use a floor staple gun.
As you go, you will get smarter about the process. Stretch the fabric out as far as it can go while stapling to ensure a smoother finish. If you have two people, have one person apply weight to the seat while the other staples.
Be sure not to close your eyes while attempting to staple the fabric to the seat, especially if your partner has their hands there holding the fabric tight.
Note: Try not to rip your last pair of American Eagle jeans while doing this.
STEP SIX: SHOW OFF YOUR (SURPRISINGLY) GOOD JOB
Around this time your mother will finally come to investigate why it sounds like someone is being beaten. Be sure to show off only the best of the cushions. Plying your mother with wine (again) here also helps. Sit around for a good half hour patting yourselves on the back and talking about how easy it is.
STEP SEVEN: CRY BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT REMOTELY DONE
You think you’re pretty badass right now, huh? Well you’re not. Because you’ve hit the worst part: reassembling the chairs.
“But getting them apart was so easy!” you say. Yeah, no. About this time you will realize that you should have made some indication of which cushions go with which chair, because as you will soon realize, the screw holes aren’t all uniform and won’t match up.
Spend about half an hour attempting to assemble one chair. Realize you have put the cushion on the wrong chair. Disassemble. Cry.
Hopefully at this point your father will come to investigate, giving you a list of how you are assembling the chairs wrong. If you play your cards very carefully, you may be able to get him to assemble the rest of the chairs for you.
If not, invest in wood glue.
Have you ever done a dumb DIY? Share your best success or greatest failure with us @litdarling!
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