The Little Things: 45 Minutes to New Dining Room Chairs

Craigslist has simply failed me lately. I don’t know if I’ve used up all my cosmic mojo on cooking  a healthy baby (in which case, fair trade), but despite watching it like a hawk for 3 weeks, I’ve failed to find one listing for dining room chairs or patio furniture that hasn’t sold within 20 minutes. So when I stopped by JoAnn Fabric on Sunday in search of a Halloween doormat, I thought I’d take a spin through fabric — and found myself a nice and easy way to update our sad dining room chairs.

All home decor fabric was on sale for 50% off, but of course, not the bolt I chose. Nonetheless, I brought home my 2 yards, made my sick and feverish husband some toast, and spent about 45 minutes working off the anger from yet another ignored email to a Craigslist wicker chair seller, and yet another seller who had sold her perfect piece within a half hour of posting.

It’s not that the chairs before were awful, but they’re mismatched and chippy. They worked fine in my singles apartment two places back, but for our quietly evolving adult home, they lack a certain style — especially when framing our delicious, custom farmhouse table. But since I still haven’t decided on a dining room chair, we must make do with what we have. Because dining room chairs are mad expensive, and I don’t have room for error on this one.

By “mismatched,” I mean mostly, “covered with all different fabric.” And by “covered with all different fabric,” I mean, “hasty and ugly and stained.”


Exhibit A. The chair at the front was my grandmother’s which I painted and covered back in 2004. A single job, it stood out nicely. Then, when I acquired the four basic chairs you see flanking the table here back in 2009, I wanted to paint them that same blue — but against the yellow IKEA fabric (seen on the chairs to the left front and right front of the photo), it came off looking too primary. Over the years, I repainted three of the chairs white, leaving the fourth one inexplicably turquoise.


Then, I covered the seat of that back chair in a vintage yard sale scarf I’d found.

In different rooms — like they used to be — the different fabrics and paint jobs weren’t a big deal. Today, all gathered around the same table, they just don’t work.

Enter my staple gun and a hasty “wrap and staple” upholstery job that is about as skilled as I get. Essentially, I removed the old fabric using a butter knife as a staple remove, cut the new fabric to size and (after ironing) wrapped the new fabric around the seat and stapled around the edges. Tuck the corners in like a present, and you have a passable — and much appreciated — update.








True, I did one of those “leave the before pictures a mess and then clean up and style the afters” to offer more impact. But I think you’ll agree that the matching fabric makes even the funky paint issue bearable for the time being.

Why do I love this fabric? The mustard yellow works with both the white and turquoise chairs (because, let’s be honest, it’ll be a while before I get to painting those), and the green rug and pillows over in the adjoining living room. The gray works with our walls, and the dark brown with the table and the living room sectional.

I barely even care that it wasn’t on sale.



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