How I Transformed A Not So Pretty Desk Chair

Fabric and Slipcovered Office Chair

This is my desk chair.  It was in a photo on a previous post I did about organizing my creative space.  You can find more in my post, here, Getting Organized.   A few of you asked me if I were going to do a post about the chair.

So I decided, why wait - here is Desk Chair 101.

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Here is the chair as I am taking the simple slipcover I made for it off the back.

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You can see the typical office fabric on the back, not my style. I kept the polka dot fabric on for the photo, but that has the red fabric underneath.  I bought the chair because it was the right price and had lots of cool ergonomic features that I wanted.  I knew the minute I got it home it would be getting a makeover.

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I keep a stash of  leftover fabric from previous projects and this black and white check and polka dot are from that stash.  I didn’t have enough of each to do the seat and back in the same fabric so I picked both since they coordinated.   You can see the slipcover I took off for these photos draped over the arm.

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 I made the slipcover with my circa 1950′s Singer.  I am not a sewer, but this machine given to me by my mother-in-law works like a charm.  I like the surprise of a little detail, so I added striped piping.  I didn’t use a pattern, I just took the back measurements and made a “pillow case” style cover to slip over.  The back of the chair is slightly curved and I wanted it to look fitted, so I kept putting it back on and pinning it, sewing more until I was happy with the fit.  A rectangular or square back chair would be easier.

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For the seat, I un-screwed it and took it off the chair to make it easier to cover.  I simply cut the fabric to size plus extra to wrap around and staple to the underside of the chair.  I made sure the fabric was  taut and lined up as I stapled.  I am a display designer and our motto is “Whatever you can’t see can easily be faked or not so pretty”  I did try to be a bit neat by folding the fabric under as you would a hem so no unraveled  threads would show.

 How to cover an office chair with fabric

Much better than the office fabric underneath.  When it gets dirty it is easy to take off and clean.   I should tell you that any fabric would do.  The polka dot on the seat is silk.  The check is cotton duck cloth.

I am adding to this post.  Heather from My Frugal Family left a comment about her chair having a plastic back and not being able to cover it.    The following photos are of the chair I have on the opposite side of my partners desk.  It is from IKEA with a plastic back.

DSCN6651 If you have a chair that looks like this, you can still cover the bottom in the same way as directed above.

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For the back, if back doesn’t come off –  pry the plastic back away with a screwdriver or putty knife and push fabric in to secure  – or

DSCN6659 Depending on your chair you can unscrew the back and carefully pull the plastic back from the upholstered front.

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Then cover the upholstered side and snap the two sides back into place, then screw the whole thing back onto the chair.

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There are 4 of these snaps. Line up the front and back and place on a hard surface and press hard until you hear all 4 snap back into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    That is an amazing transformation, and oh-so-cute… I would have never thought to fix up one of those horrid awful office chairs, thank you for the inspiration! (Now, I’m off to learn to sew, apparently, LOL)

  2. says

    I love that you like me feel everything should be pretty not just functional. I did something like this a few years back, but mine was more of a slip cover for both pieces. The funny thing is the seat cover had fringe around the bottom and my girls would steal it and wear it as a wig, I should have stapled that bad boy down. Live and learn, live and learn. Thanks for the lesson, I will know better next time.

    Cha Cha

  3. says

    THis is such a great idea for an office chair! Why do they make them so very ugly!??
    I love the polka dotted fabric too!

    blessings
    mary

  4. says

    Very cute! Thanks for sharing. Now I just need to get busy recovering our old grey beast of a chair!…if I could only get him not to moan and squeak so much. :)

  5. says

    Hi Everyone – Thanks for the comments. Dawn, if you don’t have a sewing machine, you could try using fusible web to make the slipcover. I once made chair back slip covers this way. You would cut the fabric the same, but instead of running stitches along the seams, you lay in the fusible tape along the seam line and press. It works very well, but you can’t add piping doing it this way.

    Diane

    • says

      I cannot for the life of me get the chair cushions off the base of the chair. So, I will use your idea and just make a slip cover for the bottom. If it looks good, I will post a picture. *smile*

  6. says

    I love this and have the same chair. Ive wanted to cover mine too. But looking at yours, well I dont have a staple gun but I think Id put elastic around the edge and slip it over the seat. It should stay put then I think.

  7. says

    Heidi-
    I think you should just do it. He might love it, or if he is like my husband, he won’t even notice the change right away. You could drape the fabric over it for a few days until he gets used to it, then make the covers.
    Diane

  8. says

    I jumped over from Friday Follow and noticed this post, great idea! I can’t wait to try it out myself!
    Love your blog!

    -Andrea
    Pumpkin Tart

  9. says

    what a cool idea. I have a pretty office with a not so pretty chair. its an office chair amidst my frenchy stuff!? I will have to do a slipcover~thanks for the idea! ANd thanks for coming over to my place.

  10. Tamara says

    Thanks so much for posting this.. I’ve been avoiding doing anything to my chair for fear it would turn out looking worse than the hole in the seat and the ratty arm rests. I “recovered” my chair this morning and it looks great. :)

  11. Mary Alice says

    Love your blog! I just recently discovered your blog and I went back and read every post. This post was extremely helpful as it gave me an idea of how to recover an office chair that is in my sewing room. The seat was stained and no amount of cleaning was budging that stain. Argh! I’ve wanted to recover it, but could not figure out how to recover the backrest. Your ‘pillowcase’ idea was brilliant and it was the solution I needed. I began to recover my chair last night and I’m 90% done – just need to put the trim on now, but I wanted to thank you.

  12. Jennifer says

    My mom has an old office chair she keeps trying to give me… I have pretty fabric… and a staple gun! *squeal* I’m going to have a pretty, new chair soon!! Thank you!!

  13. Cheryl says

    I love the combination you used. I was thinking you could also make a elastic edged seat cover that pops on and off for cleaning (similar to those round covers made for bar stools).

    • says

      Hi Cheryl – that is a great idea. Right now I am redoing my studioffice and the chair is going to get new fabric. The seat has held up well, but is getting dirty. I am not the best sewer, but I am going to try to make an elastic edged cover. Thanks for sharing the idea. XO

  14. Amber MacNeil says

    This is FABULOUS!! I need a desk chair and wanted something with flair, but without the “flair price”. Now I’m just going to buy a regular desk chair and do the fabric myself! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

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