Your Bum Will Thank You

I’m baaack!  Fevers are gone (for now) but we’re heading to the doc anyway because Seraphia broke out into a rash (I think it’s a fever rash – roseola)…it’s never ending with kids I guess.  But, this cheers me up:dandc 016light
The desk and chair I’ve been working on for the past two weeks are DONE!  If you missed it, you can read all about the desk here.  For the chair, keep reading.  :)

The previous owner of our home left this old chair in the backyard shed.  It’s upholstered cushion was all nasty-nast and so, needing a chair for the desk in our guestroom, we dusted off the chair, took off the cushion, and sat it with the desk sans cushion thinking we’d put a new one on any day.  Well, that any day turned into almost four years.  I’ve literally had to tell every guest we’ve had, “Oh, and don’t sit on the desk chair.  There’s no seat.”  That’s because I was smart and put a pillow over the empty space to make it look like there was seat…perfect prank chair, not so perfect if you want happy, healthy, injury-free guests.  So anyway, free chair, moral of the story. 

It’s looking a ton different than the day we drug it out of the shed because we painted it and paired it with a brand new, upholstered seat.  If you’re looking to revive a chair yourself, read and learn.

First things first, prep.  If you’re planning on painting a chair but it has a slick coat of poly or any sort of sheen to it, you’ll probably have to sand it down first.  Depending on how glossy that baby is, you’ll have to sand less or more until all the shine is gone and you’ve got a good matte base to paint over.  Our little chair just had the slightest sheen to it, so I gave it a quick, light sanding with some medium-grit sandpaper (I used an electric sander because I was feeling especially impatient but a piece of sandpaper coupled with your hands would work just as well).  Then I primed it with white, Rustoleum spray primer (cheapest at Wal-Mart).  I used white primer because I was going to paint it white.  If you’re going for a darker color, it’d be better to use a darker primer like gray.

chair prep

After the primer was dry, I gave the chair a few thin and even coats of white spray paint (satin sheen, Valspar from Lowe’s).  After running out of spray paint and having to back burn this chair for a few days until I got more, I finally finished.  Moral here:  Always make sure you have enough spray paint for the project and even if you think you do, double check people!

Next up, the seat.  If your chair has no seat, like ours, you’ll have to cut one out.  If it does, like our dining room chairs, well, lucky you.  To make a new one, you’ll have to cut a piece of wood to size.  It’s as simple as making a quick template out of some printer paper and using that as a guide or doing like we did and tracing the outline of the old seat onto a piece of new wood.  Always set the new seat on your chair just to make sure it fits before you go to town on it.  You don’t want to go through all the work of upholstering only to find out it’s a tad big or too small…that’s kickyourself worthy.

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I made one little alteration in the name of character to our chair seat since the seat back sank back further than the sides - I had Anthony cut notches in the back of the seat so all sides of the upholstered seat touched all sides of the chair.  The arrows in the picture below show what the heck I’m talking about:
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The old seat cushion just went straight across from side to side, leaving a half-inch gap between the back sides of the seat and the upright part of the seat back.  With the notches cut in, the seat looks a lot more tailored.  See?
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I’m pretty sure the notches are my fave part.  I love the perfect fit.  :)

So, let’s back up.  After you’ve cut the wood for your seat, you’ll have to cut a piece of foam for cushioning.  I use the white, dense stuff…???…can’t think of what it’s real name is but I got mine at Hobby Lobby and I bought a three inch thick piece.  I use it instead of the light yellow or green foam because I think it’s cushier and my bum likes cushy.  :)

To cut the foam, trace your seat onto it…
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like so…
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and then cut it out.  The cushioning I use is really hard to cut and you can’t take your scissors to the whole thickness at once (for the three inch thick stuff anyway), so you’ll have to cut it in layers.  Just stick your open scissors into it and clamp down over and over and over… dandc 006
This is probably the worst part of the whole process.  Your hand will get dented and tired and little pieces of fuzz will be everywhere but it’s worth it, I promise.

Next, round off your corners and edges just by going along and cutting diagonally along them.  (In case you’re wondering, the sharpied “T” stands for top.  With the chair seat not being perfectly square and the notches, I wanted to make sure the foam matched up with the seat the way it was dry fit to.) dandc 008

This picture might explain what I mean by rounding the corners and edges a little better:
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See how the top corners are rounded?

Now grab your staple gun and the fabric you’re planning on using to cover your new cushion.  Smack your cushion and wood seat together on top of the fabric, which you’ve made sure is laying under your cushion STRAIGHT – so important!!!!  It’s not as big of a deal with a solid fabric or even a random patterned fabric but with geometric like mine, so, so important!  Starting with the middle of the sides and making sure your fabric is super tight (I knelt on the seat while stapling), start stapling towards the corners. dandc 009

I didn’t get a lot of pictures of this process, sorry.  Anthony was helping me (it’s a little easier with two people – one pulling fabric and one stapling/taking pictures) but the needlets stole him from me and I had to finish on my own…

So anyway, staple until you get to the corners and just pull the corners until they’re snug, twisting and tugging (but be careful not to pull too hard over the corner edge or you’ll rip them!).  Check to see what they look like from the top of the cushion and staple when you’re happy.  Don’t worry if the fabric looks like a total wreck underneath, it won’t be seen.  :)

Here’s a closer look at my finished corners:
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And here’s what the underside of my seat looked like after I was done pelting it: dandc 011

You may or may not want to cut off any excess fabric.  I did.  Here’s how it looked after that: dandc 012

Last, attach your seat to your chair.  Most chairs will have pre-drilled holes so it’s as simple as replacing the screws you took out to remove the old cushion (if there was one).  Ours didn’t.  Anthony attached it using a couple of L-brackets and that was that.

All done.  Have a seat and re{freaking}lax.

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And my favorite part about the whole shebang:
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The matching seat and drawer liners!  So cool, right? 

Now for the saddest part of the entire thing ---> We’re selling this set.  :(  We recently purchased a new desk because of a little scuffle with a Rugs USA groupon and so this one no longer has a place in this casa.  But, on top of that, I’m starting a new little furniture rehab endeavor to add a few drops to the account a la bank and this is the first of hopefully many pieces I’ll be sad to see go. 

But, I’ll get over it…eventually.

.           .           .

Any seat cushion making going on out there?  What about chair painting?  Painting?  Cleaning?…that’s what I should be doing…or stopping S from chewing on the lamp electric plug (unplugged obviously)…priorities…

P.S.  It’s party time and it’s been awhile since I’ve linked up to one so I’m ending the drought and linking up with Not Just A Housewife, Ginger Snap Crafts, and Watch Out, Martha!


  1. Love the matching seat and drawer liners. It's like wearing cute undies, just for you to know about, but it makes you smile. (And before you go correcting me that you wear bargain basement gitch, Fruit of the Loom knock offs with polka dots that coordinate with your coloured jeans are totally cute!)

    1. Haha! That's the best analogy! So true! And yay for Fruit of the Loom's! Haha! I've actually got quite a collection of cute undies off the clearance shelves at Old Navy...and I'll stop there as that's probably a little tmi...just sayin'. :)

  2. That coral is fabulous! I love when people paint furniture such bright colors. I haven't seen too many coral pieces either, which makes it even cooler! Great job with the chair also! It coordinates beautifully with the desk.

    1. Thanks Angela! Coral definitely felt a little bit risky to me and in the end it paid off!