How to Reupholster a chair: DIY Chair Upholstery With Cowhide
This fun and relatively easy DIY reupholster chair project will add a little pizazz to any room! Learn how to reupholster a chair the simple way by following this tutorial.
Pull up a chair and see! 🙂
Let’s talk about reupholstering that chair – with cowhide leather!
Specifically, we are going to use an Ikea cowhide rug, known there as the “Koldby”.
To make it easier for you, download the printable instructions and supply list for this project by clicking below⤵
Before I delve into the how-to, here’s what you’ll need to complete this “DIY reupholster a chair” project:
How To Reupholster A Chair – Supplies Needed:
- upholstery staple remover
- tack remover
- carving knife
- quilt batting
- foam in desired height (we used 2″ for this project)
- cowhide or leather (we used a Koldby IKEA rug, but you could definitely use a smaller and even more budget-friendly option, like some of these)
- pneumatic stapler, electric stapler (this is my current favorite staple tool) OR hand-powered staple gun
- hot glue gun
If you’ve followed our DIY blog for a little while, you’ve likely met Margaret. She’s our little kicked-to-the-curbside, busted and rusted chrome chair rehab project.
Here’s what she looked like the day we picked her up in our furniture ambulance (AKA the minivan)…
…a bit on the forgotten and forlorn side. Just a smidge. 😉
It was definitely one of my favorite reupholstered projects to date! If you found your chair in a similar rusty situation and need to show it some love, take a look at how to remove rust from chrome. You won’t believe how easy it actually is.
But, today we’re gonna talk about how to reupholster a chair with a cowhide leather rug.
Public Service Announcement – I’m sorry in advance to the vegetarians and animal lovers out there. I get it. I kind of struggle with using this material a bit myself. At the same time, with the beef industry being so huge in this country, I feel like using all of the cow is better than letting some of it go to waste.
I completely understand, and respect, however, if you are opposed to using animal hides in your home.
Once again, if you’d like free printable instructions and the supply list for this DIY chair upholstery project, grab them by clicking below⤵
There are lots of tutorials out there on how to upholster or reupholster a chair (and other furniture), and I think finding the right tutorial depends heavily on the type of chair you’re working with.
This DIY chair upholstery tutorial is really meant to just give a few hints and tips about working specifically with cowhide leather, as that can be a little different than using regular fabric.
How to Reupholster a Chair With Cowhide Leather
You may be wondering how to reupholster a leather chair. I am going to walk you through the process for this DIY reupholster chair project so you can get the basics.
Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of every single step, but I do mention everything I did to help you through the process.
Step 1: Remove the Old Upholstery and Make a Template
I did not get pictures of this process because the yellow fabric was so disgusting that I wanted it gone as quickly as possible.
Step 2: Cut Your Foam for the Cushion(s)
Sometimes, you can re-use the existing foam from your chair. But, in this case, our foam was gnarly and smelly and super icky. So, we opted for new foam, and luckily, I had some from previous projects.
If you have to buy foam for your DIY reupholster chair, this will be the most costly part of your furniture reupholstery project. If you have some to re-use…do it.
Use your template and trace the size you’ll need for your new foam. Above, you can see I didn’t have a large enough piece on hand to cover the whole seat, so I’m splicing two pieces together.
Below, I’m using the old seat back foam as a template for the new foam. Eeek. Super grody. I didn’t even want to touch it.
The best way to cut upholstery foam is with an upholstery knife…Apparently, some people call this a “turkey carver“.
In our house, my husband is the turkey carver, and this tool is for cutting foam.
But, to each his own.
Here we are, at the scene of the crime. My kitchen, AKA “Heather’s DIY Chair Upholstery Clinic”.
Step 3: Wrap Your Foam in Batting
Usually, batting is less expensive if you buy it as a quilt batting. I wrapped my foam in one layer of batting, smoothing it out, and securing with hot glue here and there to get a nice shape.
This step will also serve to help hold your foam together nice and tight to make the upholstery part easier if you had to piecemeal pieces as I did.
I don’t have a picture of this, either, but you can see the product I used a bit in the image above.
Step 4: Use Your Templates to Cut the Cowhide Leather
I used an IKEA cowhide leather rug I found on Craigslist to make this project extra-thrifty.
Then, I simply searched the cowhide for the section I wanted to showcase as the seat and cut that section using my DIY seat template.
Cowhide Reupholstery Tip:
When you cut cowhide (I just used regular old scissors), be prepared for a big mess. Hair will fall off as you cut. Just have your vacuum ready – all will be fine.
Oh, and cut in your PJs (as above). This helps with the results- I’m sure of it!
Step 5: Iron the Cowhide Leather to Remove Wrinkles
As you can see in the image above, this cowhide upholstery was a bit wrinkly. Those wrinkles would have shown on my seat if I didn’t address this prior to upholstering – that would have bugged me every time I looked at the chair.
To remove the wrinkles, I ironed the backside of the hide. I used a high heat setting and a wet cloth between the hide and my iron.
Step 6: How to Upholster a Chair – Time to Attach the New Upholstery!
Luckily, we have a couple of different “power” stapling options here. I’d definitely recommend one of these tools in order to make the project quicker and easier.
If you don’t have a powered stapling option, you can certainly staple upholstery with a simple hand-powered staple gun as well.
The key to getting a good unwrinkled finish on your cushion is to HEAT THE HIDE with the iron as in the step above just prior to upholstering. This allows a little give and stretch in the hide and will help you get a nice, smooth finished product.
Since the cowhide is very thick, it’s much harder to work with unless it has been heated up. I kept the iron on, and heated it up, little by little as I went.
This part was a tad awkward to do, but it really helped get the cushion smooth.
Step 7: Finish off the Bottom of the Chair
To cover my staples on the bottom of the chair, I chose to cut another small piece of cowhide, and simply hot glue it into place.
Voila! Cowhide and seek this chair out now because she’s a beaut!
The cowhide leather and the chrome make a great pair, don’t-cha think?
Thanks for stopping by!
If you don’t need to know how to reupholster a chair now, pin this post for later! And if you try it, leave a comment (or better yet, a photo) on the pin! That helps others know whether they want to try this project, too!
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