How to reupholster vintage diner chairs, step by step! A labor of love for this 60 year old family heirloom.
This project was an absolute labor of love, but I love how it turned out! This vintage dining set belonged to my grandparents. They bought it over 60 years ago and raised 7 daughters around that table! When my grandmother passed away I received the set to use in my own home.
The original color of the chairs was a darker blue, but my grandfather reupholstered them to a mustard yellow in the 1970’s and that is the color that I remember the set being. We would sit around this table and play games with my cousins when I was a child. My grandmother cut out her sewing patterns on this table, pay bills, and write letters. She wrote many many letters and was a big fan of “snail mail”. There are so many memories associated with this set, not just from me, but from all of the family members on that side of the family!
When I received the set 4 years ago it was in great shape overall, but I could see a few areas that would need attention down the road. There were a few nails popping out of the top of the chairs and one chair had a tiny rip in the seat. There were also a few stripped screws on a couple of the chair backs. I tapped the nails back into place and that bought us time as I decided how to approach restoring them again.
When I was ready to take the plunge I started by taking each chair apart, removing the upholstery tacks, and examining the wood underneath.
It was tedious, but not hard.
We fixed any areas that were stripped and replaced all of the screws.
We also replaced all of the nails with screws so that they wouldn’t work their way out of the tops of the chair backs in the future.
The HARDEST part was deciding on a color for the new vinyl! I liked the mustard color, but couldn’t find any vinyl that was the same shade. I ordered a bunch of samples, and would definitely recommend doing that before purchasing 10 yards of fabric or vinyl online. None of the samples looked like they did online! I contemplated red, gray, and even some sparkly hues, but in the end, I settled on a beautiful sea foam shade. I ordered 10 yards from Fabric.com for about $8/ yard.
After fabric, new upholstery nails and screws, and chair leg caps, I ended up spending just over $100 to cover 7 chairs and a booster seat!
Each chair took me about an hour and a half to do. If I didn’t run into wrist problems I could have set aside a couple of days and finished them all, but all of the time spent pulling out nails and tacks took a toll on my hands and wrist. I ended up being in a lot of pain and even had a hard time sleeping through it! So I slowed down and worked on one or two chairs a week.
It was all worth it though, just look at the shiny chair!
THIS STOOL! Such a favorite of mine as a child, and all of the grandkids. Many fights were fought over who got to sit on the stool during mealtime. Ruby has now claimed it for herself and since everyone else is too big to sit in it, she doesn’t have to share.
I think of my grandma every time I see this table. It is truly a family heirloom and I hope that I can keep it in the family at least another 60 years.
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