DIY

Learn How to Upholster a Chair ~ Cane Wingback Chair Makeover

May 8, 2015

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

Helloooo! I’m Jen, from Fresh Crush. Let’s start our Friday with a happy dance! I am so thrilled to be here, with all of you ‘Designer Trapped’ fans — I mean, what’s not to love, right? I know I’M a fan… and now I get to take my turn on this crazy-talented, contributor train, with my very first post for the DTLB team!

Fresh Crush

There is a makeover ahead… specifically, a thrifted, high-back, winged, cane, chair makeover. Yep, it’s as fun as it sounds.  This post contains some affiliate links.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Here’s how she started out. A little rough and worn — dings and scratches aplenty. The caning was sun-bleached, and the fabric felt, “of an era” (and it was a little gross). I needed to unify the wood and caning, and punch up the energy on the fabric a notch… or, two.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

I need to tell you, I am not an upholstery expert. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl, when it comes to this stuff. So, I KNOW, if I can do this, so can you. Don’t overlook those craigslist gems you’re a little scared of — especially with some of those prices! But here is a few things I looked for, just to make sure the job didn’t get away on me.

The wood and cane wingback. At first… intimidating. But at closer inspection, it made for the easiest reupholstery project. If you can upholster a rectangle, then you can handle this chair. All the fabric slips around all 4 sides of the chair back, for easy stapling, and then all that staple mess gets covered up by a nice solid backer piece, in your coordinating fabric.

An easy seat. When inspecting, I tilted it over and could see exactly where the previous fabric had been attached. Full access to stretching the fabric over the old seat, and stapling underneath, means, no need for chair dissassembly.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

Price. If I’m trying something for the first time, I would never rip apart a $500 chair, plus invest in all that fabric. If it’s not worth the risk of a project fail, and you can’t talk the price down to something you're comfortable with, walk away. (I paid $75 for this chair).

Details. Like all that pretty tufting. I knew after getting the old fabric removed, I could work backwards, using the previous placements and techniques. Not to mention, there was quality metal hardware, attached directly to a good wood frame. As long as I removed it carefully, I knew this could all get reused in my makeover.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

First things first. Let's get that chair frame taken care of! The weather was still pretty disagreeable when I was attempting my little makeover, so I tarped up my garage floor and it worked great!

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

To make sure I was getting great durability, I first used a primer, and then followed it up with a matte black spray paint. (I used Rust-Oleum's, Ultra Cover spray paint and primer, in Flat Black) Why matte over glossy? Just personal preference — our living room is pretty casual, and a bit transitional… I thought gloss could end up looking a bit too “fancy”, especially with the dramatic high back of this chair.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

Now for the fun part! Fabrics! After about 2 hours of shopping FOREVER, and scanning endless bolts of fabric (I can be a little dramatic when feeling impatient), I settled on a cool ikat, mock chevron, and a solid, super dark, denim-like fabric. And, here's a tip: don't be afraid to use the reverse side! That's exactly what I did with the chevron — there was too much white on the right-side (you can see a bit of it, in the photo above)… so, I flipped the script and used the back-side which had a heavier chevron stripe and a lot more blue.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

The back of the chair was EASY. The most effort was actually put into my new fabric covered buttons. The old tufting twine was tied but not knotted, so I actually reused that too! All that was left to do was lay down my chevron fabric, use my new buttons with the old tufting twine, and pull through the hole already in place, then staple my fabric edges down around the back. EASY! (Just make sure you have enough fabric to account for all the tufts, and still reach around back).

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

I decided to lose the tufting on the seat. I used some fiberfill to add some more cushion, and bulk it up a little. After draping my new seat fabric, it was all about the staple gun.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

My biggest challenge with the chair was applying this back piece. However, I found this video from Kim's Upholstery super helpful! She taught me how exactly to use all that metal hardware, to get a nice clean look for the back of my chair.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

One final trick — because I had an exposed wood frame at the front of the chair… it meant exposed stapes, where I attached my fabric (and that just wouldn't do), so I used my trusty glue gun and applied some black ribbon across the front of the chair, to hide the staples. Easy-peasy. And there it is! Not too shabby for the first kick at a tufted wingchair, right?

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

All the pretty curves and details of this chair, make me crazy (in the best way)! The painted cane really adds such a fun casual detail, and lets the light shine through.

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

And, just for fun-zies, let's take this chair for one last spin…

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

I would love for you to share this post on Pinterest or Facebook!  That way, you can refer back to it later AND inspire your friends at the same time!

This caned wingback chair makeover is AMAZING! Come learn how to upholster a chair with the detailed tutorial from Fresh Crush for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body!

Fun makeovers, are my jam! I hope you liked this one — you might want to pop over to Fresh Crush, and check out my, Vintage Camp Trailer Makeover, or my Easy Ceiling Fan Makeover!  You can also find me on social media:  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Twitter

Incredible, in and out, Vintage Camper Makeover, by Fresh Crush. Update your ceiling fan to something beautiful with a drum shade, and this easy tutorial by Fresh Crush.

 

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  1. Valuable info. Lucky me I discovered your web site unintentionally, and I’m stunned why this twist of
    fate didn’t came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  2. Jessie says:

    Hi!
    I have recently purchased 2 of these amazing chairs and have been searching for hours trying to find a DIY that could help me and I’ve FINALLY stumbled upon your blog. I am PUMPED! Thanks so much for the great step-by-step instructions.
    One question: about how much fabric do you need? I loved how you did the different fabrics and would love a breakdown :) Thanks SO much!

    • Tasha says:

      Unless you have the exact same chair I doubt it would be the same amount. I recommend you take the measurements for your chair to the store and they should be able to help you. Good luck!

  3. Amanda says:

    I am SO happy I found your tutorial! My best friend and I just bought two of the exact same chairs at a thrift store the other day and we’ve been trying to decide how to reupholster ours so this is perfect!! I love that you used two fabrics and also your decision to not do the tufting on the seat cushion (I may borrow that from you because I think both the back and the bottom tufted is a little too much for my taste). Thanks for your great instructions!!! I can’t wait to get started now!

  4. carol says:

    Very nice! Great step by step instructions. You’ve given me motivation to tackle a similar project waiting for me in my attic. Happy to have found your page!

  5. Erica Sooter says:

    Oh my goodness, what a FABULOUS transformation! The new colors and fabrics are just perfection. I’ve always been a bit afraid to reupholster anything, but I might have to try it now!

  6. Wow – I seriously love this chair! The shape, the fabric choice, the paint color – all of it! Well done
    !

  7. What an amazing job Jen did..hard to believe that was her first run! I love her painted cane chair with updated fabric!!

  8. Jo-Anna says:

    What a beautiful transformation! I’ve never attempted to cover a chair, but have always wanted to! I love that you can choose your own fabrics to match your home! Gorgeous project!

  9. I love this so much! What a great transformation. I would totally feel overwhelmed tackling something like that. It turned out amazing!

  10. What an awesome chair Jen!! I love that you can see through the pastel floral hideousness and see what it could become.

  11. You and your “fly by the seat of your pants” self totally knocked this one out of the park! Amazing tutorial and even I might be able to follow!

  12. Heather Heather Haynes Thibodeau says:

    LOVE that chair! Way to go Jen!!

  13. Kristi says:

    Jen, this is AHHHHMAZING! I’m absolutely intimidated just thinking about upholstering furniture! Definitely feeling inspired my friend – it’s gorgeous!

  14. […] my lovelies! Exciting news… you can find me over at Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body today, for my very first contributor […]

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