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DIY: How to Update Old Chairs

By in Home Ideas, Home Maintenance, Interior Design, News


Second-hand shops and garage sales are treasure troves when it comes to chairs that need a little TLC. You may even have chairs in your home that have seen better days and are ready for a makeover. Updating old chairs can be as big or as little a project as your budget and energy dictate. It’s entirely up to you but at either end of the scale, the results can be well worth it.


Breathing new life into an old chair can be as simple as giving it a coat of bright paint. This is an ideal cost-effective way to spruce up metal and wood chairs. Prep the chair by sanding away any old layers of varnish and paint. Priming is also usually a good idea so the new paint has an even surface to grip onto. You could also choose not to paint the chair but varnish it instead if the wood looks good.


Another simple way to update a tired chair is to add a slipcover. This can be pre-made which will work for many standard chairs, but if you’re handy with the sewing machine custom-made covers look great and aren’t too difficult to make. If this sounds like too much effort, then try draping fabric over a chair, and tying it at the back for a more casual slipcover.

New Legs

If your chair has removable legs, this can be a great way to update it. Simply add a new style of leg to give it a whole new look (or you could also paint the old legs for a paint dipped look).


Reupholstering isn’t the simplest option nor the cheapest undertaking, but the results can be stunning. The important thing is to make sure the chair ‘good bones’ and that all the springs and structural elements are in good nick. If you don’t want to go down this track, another option is to recover any removable cushions or seats. All you need to do is remove the cushion or seat, cut the fabric to fit, staple gun it into place and put in back in.

Throw Cushions

This last option doesn’t require much effort except to make the decision on what new throw cushions you want. But it’s surprising how the simple act of just swapping out the cushions can instantly freshen up a chair. You could even add a throw rug if the chair has a lot of flaws that need disguising.


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