How to Makeover A Thrift Store Chair on A Dime – A Tutorial

I recently went to one of my favorite thrift stores, that is now downsizing and moving locations which you can read about here.  But before they started downsizing my husband found this rad chair just hanging out with a bunch of other older furniture.  He said to me, you said you wanted to DIY a chair and make it over.  And I said yes, yes I did.  So we bought this one for $5!

Now, upon tearing this chair apart we realized that it is not a vintage chair.  It might be considered vintage Ashley Furniture but who knows.

The point is, you don’t have to only DIY Vintage Chairs.

You can totally makeover and upcycle whatever chairs you want.  If you find what you are looking for then just do it.  What I loved about this chair was 1. It had really cool lines in it.  I love weird lines in my furniture and in my decor.  2. It had real leather wrappings on the chair. 3.  This chair is beat up and a little chippy and I like that.  I might paint this entire chair next year, but for right now I really feel this chair fits in my home just the way it is, after being reupholstered of course.

The before and After on this chair isn’t that dramatic.  I know, but

I don’t think  a makeover has to be that dramatic to be successful.

What we did to make this a classy piece of furniture was really easy and really cost effective too.  That is why this is part of my Make Your House A Home On A Dime Series.  The only thing I personally had to buy out of stash was the fabric and staples.


  • Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Rags
  • New upholstery fabric.
  • Staple Gun
  • 5/16″ Staples for staple gun
  • A screwdriver or drill may be necessary depending on your chair.

How To:

  1. Take your cushion off of your chair.  My chair had screws that had to be taken out in order to get the cushion off.  Your chair may or may not need you to remove screws.

Before and After Chair 8

2. Clean your chair parts. If you have a wooden chair, First clean you entire chair thoroughly with Murphys’s Oil Soap with a dish of soapy water and a rag.  Next vacuum your cushion thoroughly.  Now, this cushion looks way worse than it actually was.  This cushion was firm and didn’t smell bad at all.  Because of this I decided to just recover the cushion as it was after a thorough cleaning.

Before and After Chair 9

3. Let’s Talk Fabric. I am using an upholstery fabric from Hobby Lobby.  I think I paid maybe $8 for a yard and still have enough leftover for another project.  I liked this greenish grey because it fits the darker colors in my house and I do think it made the chair upgrade to classy.  Also, I have a 2 year old and a 6 year old and as much as I maybe would have liked a lighter color or a more delicate fabric I didn’t want to worry about it getting stained tomorrow, you know what I mean?  This stuff is durable.

Before and After Chair 10

4. Prep your work station. Lay your fabric face down and put your cushion on top.  Give yourself at least 5″ of fabric all the way around the cushion when folded on top.  You can always cut the excess off at the end.  Be kind to yourself and give yourself a lot of fabric to work with.  Get your tools too: scissors for trimming, staple gun, staples.

Before and After Chair 11

5. Cover your cushion. Pulling your fabric taught over the edge, place a staple in the middle of one side. Repeat until all 4 sides are stapled in. Next, choose your first side, pull fabric taught and staple from middle staple to outside, pulling fabric smooth and taught for each staple until your reach 2 inches from corner.  Repeat until all four sides are stapled down.  Check the top of your cushion.  If you are satisfied with your work, continue on to the corners. pull fabric tight over corner 1 and staple. Fold fabric over to one side to make a pleat and staple. Repeat with pulling over from other side to recover the same section and staple. Repeat this process for all remaining corners.  Cut away excess fabric. ( Remember: no one will see this underside.  It is all good)

Before and After Chair 12

Before and After Chair 13

6. Reinstall your cushion to your chair and you are good to go my friend!

Before and After Chair 14

I am so excited about this chair DIY.  It checks all the boxes for me. I got to thrift it, upcycle it and DIY it to make it my own.  This really fits inside our house.  After Christmas I will share how this chair is incorporated in our front room when I take Christmas down and decorate with some of the things I bought during my Thrift Haul last week.

Remember, DIY doesn’t have to be extravagant to be effective.  I did this and you can do this too. <3

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