DIY Chair and Headboard Love

I love seeing poor, sad and ugly furniture transformed into a work of beauty with your own DIY hands, don’t you? Check out the amazing transformation from Chantelle at Thousand Square Feet! Here is here post:

Goodbye Ugly, Hello Beautiful (DIY Armchair Redo)

Here is the ugly orange chair I bought at the MCC thrift store this past summer for $35.

Here is the gorgeous chair that will now grace my bedroom (once baby and all her stuff moves out. Kind of like a celebratory I-finally-have-my-room-back chair!). Can you believe the difference?! Unbelievable! I am still in awe.

One more time, just for effect! I am LOVIN’ it!

Now, I know that zebra print material may not be for everyone. It is a bit bold. A little sassy. A tad unconventional. But it is oh-so-me! The hunt for the perfect zebra print upholstery material was an adventure, that is for sure. I looked in stores and online but nothing was quite right. I decided to try a fabric store on the other side of the city, a bit of a longer drive. And this lovely, this beauty, this unbelievably fantastic print was calling out my name. What you cannot see in the picture – well, what you cannot FEEL in the picture is the texture. So soft. Slightly fuzzy. When my 6 year-old touched it, he said it felt just like a zebra! Not sure where he has been touching them but that gives you an idea. What do you think??!!

When I saw the price of this beauty, I was a little hesitant. $25 a metre. A bit more than I was comfortable with. I walked around the store and saw other inferior prints but this one kept calling to me. Begging me to bring it home. And I knew if I left it there, I would always be disappointed for not taking the PERFECT fabric, the exact one I was looking for. Turns out it had just come in. Was, in fact, a special order. And it was all for me! I took my 2 metres, paid the price and have not looked back since!

The process of redoing a chair, such as this, is easier than you may think. Well, for this chair, anyway. The most important thing to remember is to mark all your fabric pieces as you are removing them (they are your template for your new fabric) and take lots of pictures to help you remember what goes where.

That being said, to start removing the fabric, you need to remove the welting (called welting in upholstery projects, piping in sewing projects). Find the end, grab it with a plier and pull!

Once you have removed all the welting, you need to take out all the other staples holding the rest of the fabric on. You will discover that they use about a bazillion trillion staples to hold everything together (well, I may be exaggerating just a wee little bit). And your hand may get a little blistered. Maybe do a little bit each day? That’s what I did. And my hands survived. A flat-head screwdriver and a pair of pliers will be your best friend. Try to refrain from swearing as it can get a little . . . frustrating. ☺ Try not to gouge the wood excessively. Wood filler can only do so much! As you are removing the fabric, try not to tear it. Mine was old so it tore easily. Try to be as gentle as possible. The old fabric is your pattern. As you are removing all the fabric, you will gain a much bigger understanding of how it all goes together in the end.

Once all the fabric is off, you are left with a beautiful wooden shell, so full of possibility! I was so pleased to finally get to this point! And I knew exactly what I wanted to do. You can leave the wood as-is or you can sand it and spray paint it the color of your choice. Mine was black. I used a black satin finish. I sanded it with a electric sander until most, but not all, of it was bare wood. I painted it. When it dried, I could totally tell where the patches of bare wood had been. UGH! So, I waited until it had dried 24 hours then resanded it with 220 grit sand paper, by hand. I filled all the holes, nicks and chips with wood filler. I painted it again and VOILA! A beautiful even finish.

Now, the time came to make that first cut into the fabric. I was a little hesitant. After all, that speaks commitment. You cannot turn back once you make that first cut. You can only plunge ahead. So plunge I did! I cut the piece for the front side of the back first. Then I had to carefully line up the fabric for the seat cushion so the design would be even and straight – a little tricky but it worked perfectly. To avoid this issue, choose a fabric without a obvious need-to-make-it-straight-or-it-will-look-funny pattern.

On another note, I decided to make the cushion for the chair different from the original. The original had a box cushion connected to a flange. The flange was then stapled to the chair. Though I was confident I could recreate this type, I found it a little too . . . fussy. Plus it created extra hiding places for crumbs, dirt, etc. I changed that to a simple fabric-covered cushion like you find on many dining room chairs. I liked this look better and it created less crevices for debris. Plus, it was easier and used less fabric!

So, here is the old cushion still attached to the chair.

Here is it stripped down to the frame.

I used the old foam that was in the cushion but covered it with some new quilt batting, two layers thick. It gave it that new plumpness. Then I covered the whole cushion with the zebra print and attached the fabric directly to the wood frame with lots of staples. I wouldn’t want to disappoint the next person who decides to recover this chair (you know, when I die, cause while I am living I will never change this chair!) with less than a million staples. ☺ The cushion will be attached to the chair frame at the very end with screws.

Once the cushion was done, I attached the back of the back of the chair. You know, the part you see when you are behind the chair looking at it. Just remember, when you are standing in front of the chair looking at it, you will see the WRONG side of the fabric. Also, remember to use staples. Lots of them. I tried using the air nailer with staples but they are not designed for fabric since they were so narrow. I reverted to the staple gun. Not as fun but at least it worked. Also, this chair had a little groove or channel all around it where you were to put your staples in – sure made it easier.

Once the back was on, I started on the arms. Now, the original design had fabric that went from one side of the arm, up and over the wooden arm, and down the other side of the arm. Uh. Yuck! (And yet I have a big comfortable arm chair covered in fabric that I love. So, the fabric-on-the-arm-disgust is only directed towards this particular chair.) I decided to change the design slightly. No fabric on top of the arm. Instead, the side of the chair looks remarkably like the back of the chair. So, put the fabric WRONG side facing the inside of the chair, the RIGHT side of the fabric facing out. You will totally get what I mean when you try it out. (The green stripe is a nylon webbing that provides some stability to the back of the chair. I just reused what was previously there.)

This is the old arm. I don’t love.

This is the new arm. I love!

Once the outside of the chair was done, I started on the inside. Now, you may have noticed that the inside of the arms is not zebra print fabric. Well, that was totally intentional. Okay, so maybe not completely! Way back in the beginning, I had planned on making the seat cushion the same as the original and leaving the arms completely exposed with no fabric on them whatsoever. That was my original intention and I bought fabric with that in mind. Once the chair was stripped, I decided fabric on the arms was necessary or there would be a huge gap between the seat cushion and the frame. Not so good. So, I changed the design of the cushion and added fabric to the arms. However, I did not have enough to cover both sides of the arms with the zebra print. No big deal. I love the look of chairs that have more than one type of fabric on them. I decided this chair would do well to have plain black on the inside of the arms. So, I went and got some black vinyl. I like the contrast between the fuzziness of the zebra print and the smoothness of the vinyl. And I think it gives the chair a slimming effect. Okay, I am just joking about that one! I think it might have been a bit overwhelming for everything to be zebra so the black is perfect. Let’s just say I planned it that way the whole time. ☺ So, when attaching the vinyl, obviously you make sure the RIGHT side of the fabric is facing OUT. Staple to your hearts content.

Next came the trickiest part. Tufting the back cushion. With the seat cushion, you can tuft it once it is attached to the cushion frame which provides some stability and the fabric is already smoothly stretched and attached in place. Not so with the back cushion. You need to tuft it before attaching it to the chair. So, take your back
cushion, cover it with your quilt batting and your fabric. Make sure the fabric is centered over the cushion and start to tuft. I won’t explain that process here. Basically you are sewing on the buttons. I will explain tufting in another post really soon. However, I did want to say that I made these adorable buttons using a button covering kit. Don’t you just love the fuzziness?

Once you have all the buttons on the back cushion, attach it to the chair. Make sure you are pulling the fabric tight to remove any wrinkles and ensure a smooth finish. Staple, staple, staple.

Finally, you need to cover up all those staples with something. Originally, it was the welting. I choose not to reuse the welting but used nice trim instead. Rather than using more staples, this was hot glued on. I started where the arm meets the back of the chair, went along the arm and down the side of the front of the arm. I did that on both sides. Then I applied the trim on the back. Start at the bottom of one side, go up one side of the back, along the top of the back and down the other side. Once again, when you are looking at the chair, it will all make sense. Just remember, you are covering the staples. That is the point of the trim. Cover the staples and all is good.

Tuft your seat cushion, put your seat cushion on the frame, screw it on from underneath and YOU ARE DONE! Isn’t it fantastic? I have the desire to redo more chairs but was slightly concerned about where to store them in the meantime. Well, remember that property we bought that has a house trailer on it? Can you say storage shed??!! ☺

Once again, just to remind you what can happen with a little hard work, some paint and some beautiful fabric:



WOW! Now that’s a chair makeover! Great job, Chantelle! Thanks for sharing! You have me looking around at all of my furniture. Hmmm….

And then as if that wasn’t wow enough, she has an amazing DIY headboard to share too! Here is that post:

DIY – Upholstered Tufted Headboard

We haven’t had a headboard in our room for a few years already. We do have a metal canopy bed that is currently in the garage because it is just not working for me decoratively at this time. So, I just had 2 frames above our bed. Not so pretty. Well, the pictures are nice but the whole look was just a little – pathetic. Agreed?

I decided a large, tall upholstered headboard would be perfect! And I could make it myself. Talk about going from Boring to Beautiful! So, here it is, the BEFORE and AFTER!!

Making an upholstered headboard is really quite easy. Trust me, anyone can do this! First of all, for supplies, you need a piece of 3/8″ plywood cut to the size you desire (ours is 48″ tall x 62″ wide – 2″ wider than the bed width and nice and tall!), enough 2″ foam to cover the plywood, quilt batting to cover the plywood plus about 4″-6″ overlap on all sides, fabric in the same size as the quilt batting. To hang the headboard, you need a piece of 1×4 wood that is about 48″ long, plus 2 smaller pieces, about 4″-6″ each. Find a few screws and a drill, a staple gun and some staples and you should be good to go.

First off, take your 48″ 1×4 piece of wood and cut it at a 45 degree angle the length of the wood, splitting it almost in half, into 2 pieces. What you are making is a french cleat and it will be used to hang your headboard on the wall. This is an image courtesy of

This requires a tiny bit more work than using picture hanging hardware but you will be so happy you did. It makes a very solid headboard that won’t move on you. This is what that piece of wood looks like from the end. Make sense? You will end up with 2 pieces that look like this even though you will only cut one piece of wood. Attach it to the headboard in the appropriate location, towards the top, maybe about 4″ from the top. Now, when attaching them, drill from the front of the headboard through to the back of the headboard. After all, if you drill from the back to the front, you will have little screws sticking out of the board and into the foam. Going from the front to the back ensures no screws sticking out plus it will be much more secure. If you look closely, I first attached it from the back to the front (the wrong way) and had to clip off the screw tips. Then I added screws from the front to the back like I should have done in the first place.

Next, take your little pieces of 1×4 wood, the ones that are 4″-6″ big and attach them closer to the bottom of your headboard, on the back. These will act as spacers so attach one on each side, about 4″ in from the side. Attach it in the same manner as the piece of wood you did at the top, going from the front to the back. Now the back of the headboard should look like this (notice the long 48″ piece at the top and the two spacers at the bottom corners):

If you plan on tufting your headboard, mark the locations of each button on the back side and drill a hole at each mark. Make your hole larger rather than smaller. It will make the tufting easier. (And, yes, that 18V Dewalt baby is MY drill!)

Now to the foam. Cut the foam to the size of the plywood. Apparently an electric knife works great but I just used scissors. I wasn’t too concerned about it being perfect because the batting will cover a multitude of sins!

Just lay the foam on the wood and the batting will hold it in place. Some people suggest using spray adhesive to adhere the foam to the wood – I tried this and it didn’t work. Maybe I used the wrong stuff?

Next, lay your quilt batting over the foam and wrap it around the wood to the back side. Staple it in place, making sure it is nice and tight and smooth. To make this easier for me, I laid the headboard on a cedar chest so I could lay underneath the headboard and staple it this way. That way I could see that it was tight and smooth. Some people just flip the whole thing upsidedown and work on it that way but then you cannot see the top. Your choice.

Finally, the fabric! I choose a black vinyl as leather was too expensive. We have a nice leather storage bench at the foot of our bed and I wanted it to match. Plus, vinyl is easy to clean. When attaching the fabric, make sure it is straight and centered then put one staple in the center of each side, on the back. Work on one side at a time, stapling from that center staple out to the corners. Does that make sense? Your corners will be the most difficult part of the whole thing. Pretend it is a present and take it from there. It will take a bit of playing around but once you get one, you will know how to do all of the corners. I cannot explain what I did but I can show you two pictures. First I did this:

then I did this:

It created a nice smooth corner. Congratulations! Your untufted headboard is complete!! Yippee! Stand back and admire it with pride! You just need to hang it on the wall. Take the other 48″ piece of 1×4 that you did not attach to the headboard and attach it to the wall. On the headboard, the straight side of the wood (as opposed to the side with the 45 degree angle) is on the top. On the wall, the straight side will be at the bottom. Those 2 pieces of wood will fit into each other oh-so nicely. Make sure to use a level to make it nice and straight. We hung ours so the bottom of the headboard hung below the top mattress by about 2″. Make sure to screw into studs – the last thing you want is a headboard falling on you in the middle of the night. Granted, it is padded but, really! That would be some sort of rude awakening!

Once you have that cleat in the wall, hang your headboard and VOILA!! YOU ARE DONE!! Ain’t she purdy?! So, here is the untufted headboard. Nice. Really nice. It would be just fine like this for some people but for me? I need some tufting!

This next part is not hard, just time consuming. I wouldn’t recommend starting it at 10 at night. Not that I know that from experience or anything! In order to tuft, you will need to gather a few supplies. You need some upholstery thread, a long upholstering needle, buttons with a shank and some finishing nails.

First off, mark the front of your headboard with the same marks the back of your headboard has. I just used washable marker since I was working with vinyl. You can use chalk on non-vinyl stuff. Cut off an 18″ piece of thread, fold it in half and thread your needle.

Going from back to front, push the needle through the hole you drilled and try to find the mark you made on the front of the headboard.

Push the needle all the way through and pull it off the thread. You should now have the looped piece of thread on the back side and the 2 ends of the thread on the front side, like this:

Take that same needle that no longer has any thread on it and push it from the back to the front, but push with the eye of the needle first. I know, it is backwards but it is so much easier doing it this way than trying to go from the front to the back and finding that same hole drilled in the wood. Know what I am saying? Once again, try to find the same hole you made in the first place. It may be a little tricky getting through the quilt batting but I know you can do it. Don’t push the needle too far, just enough to see the eye on the front, like this:

Now, with the needle just sticking in there, take your thread and thread your button on it. I wrapped it through the shank twice as it is less likely to break. Now, take the thread and pass it back through the eye of the needle.

Push the needle to the back and take off the needle. Now you should have thread that looks like this:

Take your finishing nail and tie the thread onto it. The finishing nail prevents the thread from pulling back through to the front. Try to tie it as tight as you can. If you can have a helper pushing on the button from the front, that would be really helpful. If you are doing it by yourself like me and it is 1 o’clock in the morning and every one is sleeping, tie it as tight as you can then start to twist the nail. By twisting enough times, you will tighten the button and it will sink farther in. Twist too many times and you will tear the thread and have to start over. Or so I discovered!! ☺ Next time, I think I will try using wire instead of thread. It will be stronger and I can sink those buttons even deeper for a nicer tuft. As it is, this will be just fine for now.

Repeat for all your buttons. Finally, an upholstered tufted headboard! B.U.Tee.Full!

Once I had that new headboard up, I really wanted new bedding. Something black and white all over. Since that costs a lot of money and I have not found one that I really REALLY like, I settled on getting three new pillows. It cost less and the room still looks fantastic.

I would definately do this project all over again. And, in fact, I just may. After all, when we get to the new house, our baby girl will need a bed of her own. And what an easy way to make something super pretty for so little. I guesstimate this headboard cost about $125. Pretty good when you look at what it costs to buy them in a store. Plus, there is the satisfaction of doing it yourself. So, one final time, here is the before:

The after with no tufting:

The after with tufting (and new pillows!):

It’s fabulous! Chantelle, you deserve a round of applause and a show off feature! Thank you for the tutorials, pics and tips!

What do you guys think? Did she have you at “good-bye ugly chair” too? How about the headboard dessert? Delicious! 🙂

21 thoughts on “DIY Chair and Headboard Love

click to read what friends are saying...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.