Your old dining chairs may no longer be in fashion, but that's nothing a basic makeover can't fix.

Re-upholstering your seats in a contemporary fabric and giving the timber frames a quick coat of paint are inexpensive and as easy as 1, 2, 3 - even for the DIY novice. Our two dining chairs required less than one-metre of fabric and we've gone for a classic French stripe canvas. The geometric stripe pattern is easy to handle, while the canvas is a hardwearing option.

The result - a modern vintage chair with personality and panache. Are you ready to get started? We'll guide you.

Before you begin

Although old, our dining seats were in reasonable shape because the original vinyl fabric had weathered well, keeping the inner springs and foam intact, and making it easy to re-upholster directly over the top. If your chairs have lost their spring or the foam has seen better days, and you don't feel able to fix them, a trip to the upholsterer for a simple re-foaming would be worth the investment.

Choosing a fabric

You can afford to choose a bright and colourful design when using such a small amount of fabric. Such a choice can add a dramatic statement to a room without imposing too heavily on the rest of your interior scheme. Here, we've gone for a canvas stripe. Whatever you choose, be sure that it is a heavyweight, hard-wearing upholstery fabric, as light fabrics will slip and slide, and be difficult to staple.


1. Old seat - Unscrew the seat from the chair frame for easy measuring and stapling.

2. Sharp scissors for cutting.

3. Tape measure - A soft seamstress tape measure is best.

4. Fabric - A heavy upholstery fabric is easier to handle, particularly if you aregoing for a pattern or stripe, as lining up your pattern with accuracy is important.

5. Chalk - For marking out measurements.

6. Staple gun with staples - A heavy-duty staple gun is best and can be found at hardware stores or Spotlight. Look for rustproof staples.

7. Pliers - To remove old staples or staples in the wrong place.


Step 1: On a flat surface, turn over your seat (wrong side facing up) and measure the length, width and depth. Record the dimensions and take them with you when choosing your fabric, so you buy enough.

Step 2: Lay your fabric out flat. Using chalk, mark the dimensions onto the wrong side of your fabric (pattern or colour facing down), ensuring you add the depth dimension to your measurements, plus an extra 3cm on each side for folding and stapling. If you are working with a pattern, align your seat onto your preferred section of pattern.

Steps 1_4

Step 3: Using scissors, cut your fabric along the chalked line and place your seat (wrong side facing up) in the centre of the fabric, ensuring you have adequate amounts of fabric on each side for folding and stapling.

Step 4: Beginning on one of the longer sides, fold over your fabric and secure a staple into the centre point. Once the centre staple is secure, staple outwards towards each corner, stopping 2cm-3cm from each corner point. Repeat on each four sides, pulling the fabric tightly to prevent bulging.

Steps 5_8

Step 5: Once all sides are stapled and secure, fold the fabric on one corner inwards, flattening to form a diamond. Then, cut away approximately half of the folded piece of fabric. Don't overcut or you will not have enough to staple into a neat corner fold.

Step 6: Neaten the corner by folding one edge of fabric over the other, making sure there are no gaps or bulges.

Step 7: Once the corner is smooth and all of the edges are tucked away neatly, staple the fabric securely. Use your pliers to pull out any staples that have missed their mark and re-staple if required.

Step 8: Repeat Steps 5 to 7 on each corner.