Inside-Out Office Chair Makeover

Confession time -- I committed an impulse purchase at the fabric store. I know, I least impulse-buy something returnable, Alison! But these funky-fresh giraffe-print threads were saying REALLY nice things to me, and we got to talking and turns out we have, like, eight things in common, bought four yards.

I drove that fabric home and started test-driving it in different rooms. I was suddenly face-to-face with the grim reality that any room I put this fabric in immediately transformed into a tribal celebration of the nations. The pattern was just too bold. At some point, between the fabric store and my house, this particular fabric transformed into an attention-sucking vortex, overpowering all other elements in the room, forcing you to eat, drink, and sleep giraffe. And from that point forward, I couldn't even think about making even a small throw pillow out of it. Just casting my glance in the general direction of the room this fabric was stored in caused me to slip into its magnetic blackhole of long-neck-ed giraffe-y-ness.

But, you see, my friends, family, and countrymen....I have had a breakthrough.

It all happened one Friday afternoon, as I was chatting with my friend, Dani. Let me back up, and first explain that there are a handful people who get to experience, live and in person, the amazing awkwardness of my interior monologue: myself (obviously), Brian, my dog, and a small sprinkling of close friends, of which Dani is one. And let me tell you, interior monologue was most certainly the theme of that week! Dani and I share an office at work when we're not telecommuting, so she and I are pretty used to hearing nonsensical thoughts and ramblings from each other. But this particular week, I was exhausted AND chatty, and consequently, my side of the conversation was sort of like a four-year-old explaining how the TV works, coupled with random outbursts akin to a car backfiring, and me trailing off mid-sentence once I realized I was actually speaking out loud. So, that's the state of mind I was in when the breakthrough happened.

So, as Dani and I were wrapping up the day on Friday (from our respective homes, chatting over Instant Messenger), I lamented to her my impulse purchase. We cracked jokes, laughed and moved on. I'm not sure what inspired me to do what I did next, but somehow it happened -- I walked to my craft room, grabbed the giraffe fabric and turned it over. I was met with a soft canvas-y fabric with an ever-so-subtle giraffe print pattern.

{stunned silence}

I ran back to my desk and typed to Dani, completely interrupting whatever we were just talking about.

Alison: DANI!!!!!!!!!!! the fabric looks GREAT inside out!!
Dani: yay! look at you!
Alison: holy cow, I'm excited. Come on, weekend, I've got IDEAS!

And that's how the adventure began.

I had pinned this tutorial some time ago, with the hope of eventually recovering my office chair. I really need to buy a new office chair with better back support, but it's sort of low on the priority list right now. So, for the time being, I'm happy with giving it a quick makeover. And my reinvented giraffe fabric was the perfect fabric for the job!

As I was preparing to snap the "Before" picture of my chair, Aybee kept plopping herself down in my lap. Apparently, when you sit on the floor in my house, it's like hanging a "Vacancy" sign on your lap.'s her perfect little face. Look at that sculpted brow and upturned nose! And her delicate Disney eye! She's a masters class in dog-design, that's for sure!

{scooting Aybee away}

Ok, here's my chair, pre-makeover. Nothing too extraordinary. It's just a chair that's happy to be a chair.

If you have small children reading this blog, you may want to have them avert their eyes for this next picture.

Step 1: Chair dismemberment (graphic, I know, but it's a fact of life we must ALL deal with at one point or another). Make sure you pay attention during this step, because you're going to have to do this in reverse later on.

Step 2: Lay your fabric out, front-side down (or in my case, front-side up). Turn the base of the chair upside down and place it on the fabric. Cut your fabric so that you have enough to pull over the sides of your chair cushion.

Step 3: Pull the fabric tightly around the cushion, and staple it to the base of your chair. Make sure you feel around the bottom of the chair to ensure you're stapling into the wood frame.

Step 4: Admire your chair base and shower it with many compliments. Ooooo....ahhhhh.....

Step 5: Feel around the sides of your cushion for the screw holes. Using a sharp knife and / or scissors, cut a small hole in the fabric to expose the screw holes.

Step 6: Repeat Step 5 until all screw holes have been exposed.

Step 7: Lay the back of your chair front-side down on your fabric. Trim your fabric so that you have just enough fabric to pull around the edges, however, make sure you leave plenty of fabric at the top end of the chair  so that you can wrap both sides of the back. Pull your fabric tight and staple it into the frame on all sides except for the top.

Step 8: Fold the long edge of your fabric back around the cushion.

Step 9: Bust out your glue gun. I didn't really have a plan or technique in mind when I did this part....I just started folding and gluing. Glue all of the way down the edge of the fabric, folding it under as you go. Repeat on the opposite side.

Step 10: Find the screw holes and cut them open, like you did in Step 5.

Step 11: Reassemble your chair.

If I was smart, I would have continued gluing along the bottom edge of the seat back. For some reason, I thought it would be ok to staple the bottom.

I ended up creating a (wait for it) BELT for my seat, to cover the staples.....get it? A seat belt (wacka wacka!).

Here she is, ladies and gents! My "new" office chair.


P.S. I'm linking up here:

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  1. Seeing how it turned out, I guess, it wasn’t a bad purchase on the fabric after all. I wonder what Dani’s opinion when she saw this pretty good transformation. I agree with you, though, that the kind of chair has poor support on the back. I was given a similar chair in our office, and I always find it hard to lay my back. I always prefer a bit smaller fabric or mesh chair.

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  2. This chair is really very comfortable to seat. i was looking for something like this.

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