Thursday, July 9, 2015

How to Reimagine a Waiting Room Chair

I got two of these chairs from the Restore a few years ago. 

I painted and recovered one of them.

I liked it better, but it was still giving off a "waiting room" vibe. It was also extremely difficult to strip down, so I didn't bother doing the other one right away and I just set them aside for a bit.

Fast forward a few years and I fell in love with this Meloni Armchair from Home Decorator's.

As I was looking at the structure of it, I wondered if I could add on some wood and upholstery and use my waiting room chairs as the bones for something similar.

I sanded, primed, and painted the bottom part of the legs. I also stripped off the fabric, mostly cutting it off since it would be covered with the new fabric.

Another problem with these chairs is there is no bottom support, just some stretchy material. They didn't feel sturdy at all. So, I took a scrap 1x12 and drilled it in the bottom. It feels nice and strong sitting on it now!

Next, I started beefing up the bottom. I had a bunch of scraps 1x4s left over from my Bonus Room beams, so I used those, but any width would have done the job.

For the front and back, I drilled the boards in using a Kreg Jig.

I drew a line of chalk to help me even up where my side boards would go.

Then I drilled boards into the sides all the way up. I used a jig saw to match the curve of the chair.

One side done.

Two sides done.

 I also wanted to create an inner arm piece. So, I temporarily removed the two boards on each side
and marked where to cut the inside pieces.

Once they were cut, I drilled them into the chair from the front and back of the arms to make sure they fit. Then I took them out again to begin upholstering.

I used a layer of batting under my fabric. And started with the seat.

Then I moved up the back

and over the top.

Then I took the inside arm pieces and stapled my batting and fabric on the bottom and side (the part the touches the back of the chair), but left the top and other side open to staple to the arm once it's in place.

Put in place.

Then I pulled the fabric and stapled it in place.

I cut a little hole in the fabric where the screws needed to go.

Once I got both of the inside arms done, I could drill the side pieces of wood back into place.

Then I could upholster the sides.

Now I could add some leather strips with nail head to cover my staples. I know this is going to sound weird, but I got this pleather dress on clearance for a few bucks at Target and decided to cut it up and use it for the arms.

I decided to use a strip of nail head trim (affiliate link) from Amazon. There's a hole to nail a tack in every fourth one. It took one roll per side.
I cut some batting the width of the arm. Then I cut the pleather one inch wider, so I could have 1/2" to fold over on each side. I  just pinned them in place.

I marked with chalk where to staple on front so the nail head trim would cover the staples.

Then I stapled them in place, removing the pins as I went.

The nail head went in easily on the wood that I added, but the original wood was extremely hard. I had to drill some pilot holes as I went along. Since the fabric was in place, I had to pulse the drill (much like a blender)--two short pulses counterclockwise, two short pulses clockwise as I pushed in a little. This kept the fabric from getting caught and ripped in the drill bit.

Back view


  1. What a great transformation. I enjoy reading all the details.

  2. Okay ... now that's vision! You are talented! Well done!


  3. ok, now THAT is smart and creative thinking, right there!

  4. What a beautiful transformation! #merrymonday

  5. Emily,

    That is an amazing transformation of a waiting room chair! You outdid yourself. Guess what! Your's was the most clicked entry from last week.

    Catching you!

  6. Wow! What a project! You did a great job! I would have never thought it could look so good!

  7. You went beyond and above, Its beautiful. Congratulations!!.

  8. I pass up these chairs all the time because I can't figure out what to do with them. I think my mind is officially blown! Featuring you this weekend on our weekend roundup up of great blog posts with a link back to you :) Love it!

    1. Our post featuring this amazing makeover went live this morning. Feel free to share on social media and thanks again for a great tutorial and makeover :)

  9. That is one major reimagine! Great idea and even better execution!

  10. Wow, you are a braver woman than I! I've considered reupholstering before, but I'm too timid! Yours goes way beyond that, and so impressive!! Thanks so much for sharing on Merry Monday!

  11. Emily, what an amazing transformation!!! I can't believe its even the same chair! Thanks so much for sharing at Dream. Create. Inspire. Link:). I hope you will join us again this Tuesday night!

  12. I am totally blown away by this chair makeover. You're one of my feature picks for this week's MM party and I hope you can join us again.

  13. You are crazy!!! In a good way of course! Really amazing job! I love it! Greetings from Slovenia! :) :)

  14. This is over the top amazing - absolutely unbelievable !!!
    ( I had to giggle because I cut up a dress once to upholster something with LOL )
    Saw it over at Savvy Southern Style - congrats on the well deserved feature !

  15. What an amazing did a fantastic job! Love the style of the chair.