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How To Reupholster An Armchair

How To Reupholster An Armchair

Reupholstering an armchair is a lot simpler than you may think, and we are ready to give it a go!

As featured in Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99) Photography by Debi Treloar.

When it comes to reupholstering a chair, especially an antique armchair we can easily get the fear that its difficult, time-consuming and that we will mess it up. So more often then not we will be very quick to find a professional to do it for us. Think again, as it's not as scary as you think and as long as you have the tools and guidelines, you are good to go. Think of the satisfaction you gain from upholstering an armchair yourself.

Here at Rockett St George, we have realised its something we would all like to know how to do, so here will do our best to guide you through the stages of upholstering an armchair in your favourite fabric. Follow our step by step guide on how to reupholster an armchair below.

How to reupholster an armchair - Step 1.

Choose your chair. You may have a chair you have had in the family for years that has been passed down to you and you want to give it some love and a modern makeover. Maybe you want to reupholster an antique armchair with a sympathetic material that brings it back to life. Whatever the chair, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you love it!

How to reupholster an armchair - Step 2.

Choose your material. As you would expect, this part is the most fun and you need to make sure you can live with it and also consider the room it's going in, and if the colours will work. Fear not, you can always redecorate a room to fit with your new upholstered chair! Shop around for material, get some samples and don’t rush the decision making. When measuring for the amount of fabric you can either measure the current chair at all parts - arms, seat, back and front - or wait until you have removed the old material and take measurements from that.

Step 3. Removing the fabric

At this stage, you must assess the chair and look where the joins and pinning are currently. We recommend you start from the bottom, as usual, this is where the original upholstery would have been finished, so you are working backwards from here. If you need to remove some of the chair's frame, then use a flat head screwdriver and hammer to gently pull apart.

Tip: As you remove different panels of the chair label them, so this will make it easier when cutting new pieces and knowing where they go.

Continue removing each piece until you have just the frame of the chair left. At this stage we advise assessing the batting and foam, you may want to replace these.

Read on for the next stage of how to reupholster an armchair.

Step 4. Cutting your new pattern

Layout your new fabric face down on a flat surface with the old piece of fabric laid on top. You can now use this as a template and start cutting out your new piece. You may have more that one template depending on ho may parts the chair is made up of.

Tip. If you are using a patterned fabric make sure you align it central to the template before cutting.

Step 5. Attaching the fabric

Now you are ready to start re-attaching the fabric to your armchair. Follow in the same way you removed the old fabric, starting from where you previously ended. Tuck the fabric as it was done before and staple it in place to secure. Once you have completed this stage you are nearly there. If you have legs or additional wooden parts you have had to remove to get to the fabric, now is a good time to treat these and give them some love before replacing. This may be with a lick of paint or some staining.


The main tips to take away before starting your upholstering of an armchair are:

  1. Try out some fabric samples before committing
  2. Record the steps as you remove the original parts to make it easier to put back together
  3. Keep all the staples hidden for a cleaner finish

You are now ready to give it a go, and we can't wait to see your results!

For more chair inspiration, check out our 'Dare to Chair' board on Pinterest.

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