Makeover Parsons Chairs

Parson Chair DIY Makeover - UsingWhatYouHave.com

This might not be my usual quick and easy project, but for me it was definitely worth dedicating the better part of my weekend to makeover parsons chairs using light gray fabric and dark stain on the wood legs.

DIY Tips to Makeover Parsons Chairs

My cat, Snickers, likes to watch me work on my DIY projects.  She has this cute habit of sitting with her hind legs bent on one step and her front legs straight on the lower step – relaxed in the back and party in front.

Cute cat picture - UsingWhatYouHave.com

Background to Makeover Parsons Chairs

I had picked up the set of dark brown vinyl parsons chairs for $10 each and they were in perfect condition.  Five years later I may not like the fabric (which is showing signs of wear) and the wooden legs are more red than my other furniture, but the size, shape and modern clean lines go well with style of other furniture in the house.  They must still be in fashion since they are still selling them at the At Home store for ~$100 each.  Score!

Vinyl Parsons Chair Before

Refinishing the Parsons Chair Legs

After disassembling the chair to remove the legs and separate the back from the seat, I started with the legs.  I sanded them using medium grit sandpaper on a mouse sander, followed by a quick hand-sand with fine grit sandpaper.  The finish did not need to be fully removed because I was using a product that was designed to go over an existing finish.

Refinish wood chair legsI wanted the legs of these parsons chairs to look great and have a long lasting finish, but I probably could have saved some time by doing less prep work.

Reupholster the Seat

Removing the upholstery from the seat was easy.  I don’t usually measure, instead I put the seat on top of the fabric and cut around.

To make it look as professional as possible, I decided to sew the seams at all 4 corners.  This is done by placing the fabric good side down on the seat, then putting one staple down each side to hold the fabric in place while putting 3-4 pins in each corner.

Upholster dining room seat

Pinning then sewing with precision ensures a perfect fit.  I trimmed the excess fabric and put in a ton of staples.  Easy!

Dining room chair makeover

Reupholster the Back

The back of the seat was well made, and I considered just covering the existing fabric instead of removing it, but in the end I decided it would look better if to remove the old fabric.  It took some effort to remove the old fabric – particularly the piping in the back, but I am happy with the choice to remove it.

Preparing to upholster dining chair

The seat back is done in 2 steps: front with sides and back panel.

Front with Sides

This required two seams – one at each top corner, done using the same method as outlined in the upholstery of the seat.

Parsons chair upholsteryThis was then stapled onto the frame with a small neat row of staples – these will be covered by the back panel.

Back Panel

I used cardboard tape at the top of the back panel to get a very straight line.  I had not used it before but it was very easy to use.  One tip is to use a 45 degree angle at the ends of the cardboard strip for the best fit.

Upholster dining room chair back

Again I used a lot of staples, which would need to be covered by the trim.

Dining room chair upholstery - grey

Apply Trim

I had expected to use nail head trim, but I could not figure out how to get the tacks to lay flat, so at the last minute I switch over to the piping.  I used piping to create double sided trim.  This was applied using a glue gun.  Andy and the kids had picked up a heavy-duty glue gun for me a few months ago, and this was the first time I had a chance to try it out and it worked great.  I definitely went through a lot of glue to ensure the trim stays put.

Makeover Parsons Chairs

So it was quite a bit of work to do, but I got exactly the look I wanted for the dining room chairs.   I am so happy every time I walk past the room now and see the light grey parson chairs with the glossy dark stained legs – so much better than worn vinyl and scratched wood.

DIY Makeover Parsons Chair - UsingWhatYouHave.com

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