This little french style chair is so versatile and often changes places in our house. It has spent time in our lounge and guestroom and currently resides in the master bedroom. I wanted to try my hand at upholstery and didn't want to spend too much money. The idea being that if I messed it up the loss wouldn't be so great if I practised on a cheap buy!
I found my little French style chair going cheap on ebay and decided it would be perfect. Unfortunately, my ‘before' photo turned out really blurred so I'll describe it to you instead. The wooden frame was dark brown and the tapestry-like fabric covering the back and seat (what was left of it) was dark red with a flowery pattern – you know the kind of thing. The whole thing was filthy dirty and I couldn't wait to start stripping it down. Here's how I did it:
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French Style Chair Makeover | Part One - Removing the fabric
If the fabric on your chair is really worn and dirty, it's so tempting to just rip it off and throw it away immediately. Don't do it! The old pieces can be used as templates when it comes to cutting out the new fabric for the covers. I tried to keep the fabric as intact as possible when stripping it off the frame. To avoid any mistakes later, I used a marker pen to label where the pieces came from, ‘front backrest' or ‘seat' for example.
My chair had copper coloured nailhead tacks around the edges of the material as a trim and at first, I thought I might re-use these. Then I decided to change them for silver which turned out to be a good decision when most of the old ones ended up being bent in the removal process.
I used a flat head screwdriver to lift the tacks away and most of them came off easily in long strips. This surprised me because I thought they were all nailed down individually. It certainly made for easier removal though, as only every fifth tack was actually nailed down.
How to remove the staples
After the tacks were gone I could see the fabric and batting were tacked on with what seemed like zillions of staples. At first, I tried to use the screwdrivers to lift off the tacks but this ended up in me almost damaging the wood and was also very time-consuming. Then I bought a handy little tack remover (this one is even better) and this worked like a dream and I was able to quickly pry the staples away. Some of them broke or only came out on one side and I used a small set of pliers to pull them completely out of the wood.
Just when I thought I had finished, I removed the fabric and saw that the batting underneath was also stapled on separately. I won't lie, I almost gave up at this stage, I would never have thought that such a small chair could have so many staples! Seriously, now I know why professional upholsters charge so much!
The bottom layer
Underneath the layer of cotton batting was a wad of padding which almost fell apart in my hands. I knew I would have to replace it so I carefully set it to one side so I could see how much new padding I would need later.
Underneath the padding on the seat was a thick foam cushion and this was actually in quite a good condition so I decided to keep it. I also kept the padding on the arms for the same reason.
Once the fabric, batting and wadding were removed from the French style chair, the next step was to paint the frame and that's coming up next.
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