DIY: Office Chair Makeover with Fabric

Fabric and Slipcovered Office Chair Makeover

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 was going to do a post about the chair.

So I decided, why wait – here is:

Office chair makeover 101

office-chair-makeover-tutorial

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

White and black polka dot fabric being added to a red office chair.

You can see the typical office chair fabric on the back, not my style. I kept the polka dot fabric on for the photo, but that has the red fabric underneath, too.  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.

Removable cover on office chair

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.

Black and white checked fabric cover.

 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 (inside out) and pinning it, sewing more until I was happy with the fit.  A rectangular or square back chair would be easier.

under side of seat showing staples
How to staple fabric to the seat

How to Cover the Seat on an Office Chair:

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.

How to Cover an Office Chair with a Molded Plastic Back:

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.

office chair with new fabric cover

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

Close up of the back of an office chair seat.
How to take the back off an office chair so you can cover it with the fabric of your choice.

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

How to take the back off an office chair.

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

covering the back of an office chair

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

covering the bottom seat of an office chair

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.

Update:

If you would like to see how I made my chair over again in green and white fabric check out this post: How to Make Over an Office Chair   I used paint and a throw rug…YES a throw rug!

How-to-cover-an-office-chair

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41 Comments

  1. Karen Cokton says:

    My chair is plastic anyt ideas? The cover that came with the seat has a rough fabric that has caused chaffing in other chairs I can sew just anout anything I just want it to fit and stsy on

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Karen – Can you make a cover for it – like an elastic shower cap kind of cover that will fit snug over the seat with the elastic going around the edge and under the chair cushion. Doing something like this would get rid of the look and feel of the existing fabric.

  2. Great post Diane! I must do this for my black office chair in my sewing room. I’ve been in the process of freshening up my space using lighter and brighter colors. It really helps pick up your mood. I like how you mixed different fabrics, great idea, thank you for sharing!

  3. Dana Dement says:

    I saw your post after I saw a slip cover design in a book about making your own , it took me couple times of looking through the book to realize it was an office chair. This one has a skirt, I am going to do both my chairs, I have one chair at my sewing machine and one at my desk, I am making them the same but slightly different for a little more interest. I have a sewing business and can’t wait to see what people will say when they see them. I love your polka dots. Your ideas are an inspiration. Thanks , Dana Dement

  4. Alicia Badillo says:

    I would like to get more of your great ideas.

  5. Terry Elwood says:

    “sew” simple, but such a great idea. thx for the inspiration. I will need to follow you and your DIY ideas.

  6. cathy crichton says:

    I too covered the ugly old computer chair in my office but I went a step further and I used elastic on all pieces including the arm rests. This enable me to take it off and wash it as necessary since my cat likes to sleep there when I’m not in the chair!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Cathy – Great idea to cover the arms. I have a cat, too and know how they like to cuddle on a soft warm surface and then leave all their hair behind.

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  8. 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!!!

  9. 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).

    1. 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

  10. 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!!

  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. 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. :)

  13. amy @ maison decor 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.

  14. Chair Covers says:

    You really come up with great solution for those office chair. I really love it and ill try it right away.

    Thanks

  15. 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

  16. a fan of anything chocolate says:

    Just found your blog and love this chair cover idea and it’s in my favorite color!

  17. Diane at InMyOwnStyle 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

  18. Heidi@TheCraftMonkey says:

    very cute! i wonder if my husband would mind if i girlie up his ugly desk chair…i guess i could use more masculine fabric, but what fun would that be! :) LOVE it!

  19. I am a sucker for polka dots. Great thinking on the slipcover for the top half! I think I’d have to do that, as well, since my top doesn’t come apart, and has a plastic back, and arms. I am sooo tempted to try to recover my chair soon!

    Please feel free to add these to Talented Tuesdays at My Frugal Family!

    http://theherberfamily.blogspot.com/2010/01/talented-tuesday.html

  20. 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.

  21. Diane at InMyOwnStyle 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

    1. 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*

  22. I love the fabrics you chose!! The office chair looks so much better.

  23. Simply Susan says:

    Why didn’t I think of that?!?! Very creative!

  24. pk @ Room Remix says:

    I’ve been considering doing this with my office chair for sometime, and now you’ve reinspired me. Great job!

  25. 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. :)

  26. What a clever and creative fix to the duldrums! Thanks for sharing.

    Deborah

  27. This is a very good idea. I love the way they turned out. I could use something like this on my office chair.

  28. Love it. What a cute idea and great fabric choices… mishelle

  29. Oh I so totally love the dots and checks! This is great!

  30. it’s so cute, I’m totally going to do that to my old office chair!

  31. Cute makeover! I think my sewing chair will like it too. ;)

  32. 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

  33. 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)

  34. 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

  35. Angie Knowles says:

    What a smart idea for an office chair! I would love for you to link up to my Slipcover Show-off party later this evening.

  36. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Love it! They always put such ugly fabric on these chairs. You think they’d catch on and make them a little nicer. I think you came up with a nice solution!