Vintage Cane Barrel Chair Makeover

I was nervous about this project because this was going to be my first attempt at this type of upholstery.


These older cane barrel chairs are super comfy. I also knew they would be super cute once they were updated.

I worried that I the project would not turn out like the picture in my head as I have never reupholstered chairs like this. The only way to learn how to reupholster is to just dive in and try it! 

Yes I searched Pinterest and read several tutorials on how others have reupholstered these chairs.  I felt a little more confident so I decided to take the chairs apart.




I have to admit the hardest part of this chair makeover was taking the chairs apart. Trying to get the upholstery and all the staples out took some time. Luckily Bob helped me take apart the three chairs, that was a big time saver. Bye old green fabric!








The chairs needed a good cleaning. These chairs were cleaned with Fusion’s TSP alternative. Now that the funk was gone, they were already looking better. 







The chairs needed to be primed. I tend to use BIN primer/sealer on older furniture pieces. Older wood furniture has tannins. What are tannins? Tannins are natural occurring compounds found in many plants (including coffee, tea and grapes/wine) and in wood.  Wood tannins will seep to the surface once the wood is painted. Once the wood becomes wet with paint, the wood pores open and the tannins seep to the surface and through the paint. Red colored wood is the worst culplrit.

I painted the chairs with Fusion Mineral Paint in Casement white. Once the chairs were painted, I loved them! Now I am really hoping that I can do these chairs justice with my amateur upholstery skills.



I used the old fabric to cut out the new upholstery for the chairs. The fabric I chose has white stripes that need to be centered down the middle. This is probably not the type of fabric one should use on their first upholstery project. The white stripes were a little difficult but I figured it out.





I used a piece of quilted fabric to cover the the tufted back. I needed to reuse the cardboard backing but I did not want to tuft the back. I used hot glue to attach the fabric to the backing. 




I used hot glue to position the fabric on the chair prior to stapling. I decided that repositioning with hot glue was easier than repositioning after the fabric had been stapled. Since this was my first attempt, I am pretty much winging it at this point. Hot glue did work well to hold the fabric in place.





Bob helped me staple the fabric onto the chair. It is definitely easier to staple the fabric with 2 people. 

I was trying to avoid adding cording to this chair. Cording just felt a little outdated for this chair and this fabric. We decided to hot glue the back of the chair to the chair. If we stapled the back on, then we would need cording to hide the staples. The hot glue worked great! I used the Gorilla Hot Glue sticks.





My first attempt at upholstery isn’t perfect but I am pretty happy with the result. This chair is a big improvement from the green and brown cane chair. The big test was sitting down in the chair. It is comfortable and the fabric all stayed in place! I am super happy with the chair!




I thought I would be a pro but the second and third time I attempted this process.

Again I picked a fabric that had a specific pattern. I used the same process as above. These two chairs proved to be difficult because I did not allow myself enough excess fabric. I thought I had enough excess fabric until I went to pull the fabric around the bottom of the chair. While pulling and stapling and stretching, I ended up with slightly misaligned seat fabric. The seats are the most difficult part of the reupholstery process. Once again, I did learn a lot (give yourself plenty of extra fabric to use to pull on because you can always cut it off in the end.) Also, self taught upholstery can be done, just don’t expect it to be completely perfect on the first try!


























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