Simple Tips for Reupholstering Furniture

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Home décor can be enhanced by reupholstering old furniture pieces. Whether it is a family heirloom or a thrift store find, antique furniture pieces can be made unique with these straightforward tips.

1. Bring Your Furniture to Life

Reinvigorate old furniture with bold, luxurious fabric that complements or contrasts the piece’s silhouette. A French paisley pattern that echoes the curves of a stool’s legs or a bold graphic print that contrasts clean lines can both achieve the desired effect. This project is perfect for splurging on a beautiful silk or unique pattern. Custom upholstering can add depth, texture, and color to any space.

2. Choose Wisely

When selecting furniture and fabric, consider a few tips for a winning combination. Choose furniture first, and match the fabric to the piece. Look for a sturdy, decorative frame and a removable seat cushion. Consider pieces like ottomans, footstools, side stools, piano stools, dining chairs, and small benches. Imperfections, like nicks and blemishes, add character to vintage furniture. Use the furniture’s shape as a guide for selecting fabric. For rounded edges, choose ornate paisleys or florals. For square or rectangular pieces, geometric lines work best. Get creative with where you look for furniture, such as flea markets, antique stores, and garage sales.

3. Measure Materials Carefully

Choose upholstery-grade fabric for durability. The options are endless, so let your imagination run wild.

Upholstery Tips for Home Décor

Here are some tips to help you choose and use upholstery fabrics for your home décor:

  • Test the fabric: If you’re unsure whether a fabric is suitable for upholstery, try this basic test: hold the fabric swatch from two diagonal corners and gently pull. If it maintains its shape, it’s suitable.
  • Consider bold colors and textures: Don’t be afraid to choose fabrics with bold colors, vibrant patterns and interesting textures. They can add warmth, depth and interest to your space.
  • Explore different textiles: Many different textiles can be used for upholstery, including cotton rugs, wool rugs, batiks, tweeds, and even embroidery and crewel work.
  • Measure twice, cut once: When upholstering furniture seats, make sure the fabric is large enough to cover the top and wrap over the sides. Cut with an extra allowance to ensure a secure fit.
  • Splurge on occasional fabrics: You don’t need a large amount of fabric to upholster a seat, so consider splurging on a more luxurious fabric with a special design or thread count.

Upholstery Basics

Once you’ve selected your fabric and a furniture piece with a removable seat, you’re ready to begin upholstering.


  1. Flip the furniture piece and locate the clasps or screws that hold the seat onto the piece. Use a screwdriver to remove the cushion from the piece.
  2. Remove the existing fabric from the foam cushioning and check if the foam needs replacing before reupholstering the cushion. Check for yellowing color, dirt, large tears, and holes. Measure the foam piece or take it to the craft store and purchase a new piece in the same size. You can buy a larger piece and use the old one as a template to cut out with a utility knife.
  3. Cut the fabric to the right size and lay it right side out over the foam and wood base. Adjust the fabric to your liking and begin to pull it from diagonal sides around the sides of the wood base.
  4. Secure the first corner on the bottom side with your hands as it gathers slightly.
  5. Secure with either a commercial flat stapler or hot glue. Stapling is recommended to ensure longevity, but glue can be used before stapling to ensure the perfect placement.
  6. Fasten the remaining corners to the underside of the seat.
  7. Reinsert the seat screws and place the seat back on the piece. Firmly press the cushion against the wood frame.
  8. Stand back and admire your newly upholstered piece.

Get Expert Advice

Some furniture pieces require professional upholstering, especially if the piece is entirely covered in fabric or has upholstered seat backs. Consider these tips when looking for an upholsterer:

Find an upholsterer that comes highly recommended, especially by professional decorators and designers. Observe samples of their work and examine the edges for clean lines and straight piping. Discuss your project in detail and bring fabric swatches to support your ideas.

Upholstering is an excellent way to bring a unique, personalized décor piece into your home. Whether it’s an heirloom armchair or a one-of-a-kind textile, mixing the old with the new enriches your space’s personality and deepens your home design.


1. What tools do I need for upholstering?

When it comes to upholstering, you’ll need a few essential tools. These include a staple gun, staples, scissors, a tape measure, a hammer, pliers, and a screwdriver. You may also need a pair of needle-nose pliers, a rubber mallet, and a webbing stretcher depending on the project. It’s important to invest in good quality tools, as they will make the job easier and ensure a professional-looking finish.

2. What kind of fabric should I choose for my upholstery project?

The type of fabric you choose will depend on the project you’re working on. For furniture that sees a lot of wear and tear, such as sofas and chairs, it’s best to choose a sturdy, durable fabric such as leather, canvas, or a heavy-duty upholstery fabric. For decorative items such as throw pillows or curtains, you can choose a lighter weight fabric with a pattern or design that complements your decor. Always make sure to choose a fabric that is appropriate for the intended use.

3. How do I remove old upholstery?

Removing old upholstery is a necessary step in any upholstery project. To do this, start by removing any decorative elements such as buttons or trim. Then, use pliers or a staple remover to pull out any staples or tacks holding the fabric in place. Once the fabric is removed, you may need to repair or replace any underlying padding or webbing before starting on the new upholstery.

4. How do I upholster a piece of furniture?

To upholster a piece of furniture, start by measuring and cutting your fabric to size, leaving a few inches of extra fabric on all sides. Next, begin attaching the fabric to the frame of the furniture using a staple gun, starting at the center of each side and working your way out to the corners. Make sure to pull the fabric tightly as you staple it to ensure a smooth, wrinkle-free finish. Once the fabric is attached, trim any excess and add decorative elements such as buttons or trim as desired.

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