Recovering Dining Chairs and Dealing with Discontent in Our Homes

I'm sharing a surprising and super thrifty source for blue toile fabric that I used to recover my dining room chairs as well as a tutorial of the easy process and a frank little chat about dealing with discontent in our homes.

It wasn't too long ago that I recovered my dining room chairs in black houndstooth. While I loved the fabric, it did make my dining room look darker with my black table and chairs. I was craving a lighter look, and when I found this blue toile fabric I knew it would be perfect.

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Home decor is kind of a love/hate relationship, isn't it? For awhile we love the choices we made, the colors and style we chose. But after awhile, we can start to regret those choices or color or style and wish we'd made different ones! For some of us, our homes are dated and do need an update. For others though, we just get tired of what we have and want all new stuff! We see what others are decorating with and we want what they have.

Recovering my dining chairs started with a feeling of discontent.

Dealing with discontent in our homes

For most of us, the truth is that discontent in our homes is a state that we're always in! Like anything else in life, it's easy to fall into the trap of coveting what others have or wishing we could change everything about our homes with just the snap of a finger. The reality is that most of that is just being human and wanting what we don't have!

So how do we deal with discontent in our homes?
We can get mad and hate everything we own, but do nothing about it. We can spend thousands of dollars and go into debit buying new things that we'll like for a short time until we start to hate our stuff again. Or, we can spend some time thinking about what we truly want in our spaces, and try to work with what we have to achieve that...and only thoughtfully purchase items that fit with our goals.

I was disliking my dining room furniture. I wanted a lighter colored farm table, with maybe white chairs instead of the dark color we currently have. However, I was unable to find anything that would work for our smallish space and after scouring Craigslist, FB Marketplace and even Ebay for several weeks and coming up empty, I realized I needed to rethink my plans for this space.

My discontent had to do mainly with the dark feel of the furniture, not the furniture itself. I had recently moved our black hutch to the main wall of the dining room, so when you looked at the room, you saw a lot of black. 

Remember what you love about your stuff
This dining room set has served us well for the 8 or so years that we've owned it. There are three leaves that open up the table to 9 feet so it's large enough to have everyone around the table when we have a crowd. It's a solid wood set, and I love the caning on the chairs. The farm table of my dreams doesn't expand, it's long and narrow. The reality is that a table of that size wouldn't fit well in this modest space. 

After mulling it over for awhile, I decided to keep what I owned and make some do-able modifications to lighten the space. The story behind how we acquired our dining set is unique and funny and part of our story now, which is another reason to keep it and work with it instead of replacing it. You can read that story here.

Let it go
When I made the decision to work with what I have, I also needed to stop looking for something new and different. To stop scrolling Marketplace and even take a little break from social media. My discontent didn't go away until I embraced what I already had and got excited about the changes I'm going to make to our existing dining set! Use that discontent as a motivation to do something that is within budget and time constraints. 

Here's what I'm thinking for this room. The hutch is a beast (and I'm not 30 anymore!) so it will stay black. But I think I want to either paint the chairs white (or at least the two end chairs), paint the table apron and legs white, and do something to lighten the top of the table. Refinishing the huge table was a major project several years ago (you can read about that here), and I know I'm not up to completely refinishing it again. But I'm going to experiment with my Restoration Hardware technique using just paint and wax on one of the table leaves and see how I like it. I don't want it to look like a painted tabletop, I want it to look more like light, raw wood.

All these plans to lighten and brighten led to changing the fabric on the dining chairs. The blue toile fabric I used is actually a tablecloth but it was enough fabric to recover all six of my dining room chair seats. I love the farm scene with the sheep, horses, trees and dogs. I knew it would be so pretty in my dining room. I love collecting and displaying white ironstone and blue transferware dishes in this room, so the blue toile felt like a natural fit. It's got a bit of a vintage, old world vibe.

You can find the toile tablecloth I bought on Amazon here. It's actually gone up in price a little since I bought it, but is still a fantastic price for a 52"x70" piece of fabric!

Recovering dining seat cushions in blue toile

I have recovered so many dining chairs, and each time it's like getting a brand new chair! New fabric really makes all the difference and it's really easy to change. You can read my step by step tutorial for recovering chairs here. You'll also be able to read the story of how we acquired this dining room set for a rock bottom price. 

Today's post is a little refresher on recovering dining seats. 

Normally when I buy a second hand chair, I like to remove the previous owner's fabric and replace it with my own. But in the case of these chairs, we had to build new seats from scratch, from the wood bases to the foam and batting. When I reupholstered them with the houndstooth fabric, I just applied it right over the old black and white chevron fabric that was our original layer.

However, now there were two layers of fabric (with all the staples), and I was using a lighter fabric over a darker one, so I needed to remove both layers of fabric that I had previously attached to get the best outcome. Believe me, I tried to get away with only removing the houndstooth, but the chunky black chevron showed through the toile, so I was forced to remove that layer too!

Removing fabric from seat cushions is not a difficult process, just a little time consuming. There were a lot of staples holding all those fabric layers in place! A LOT of staples! I used a flat head screwdriver to get under the staples and loosen them and then pulled the staples out with pliers. Interestingly, you can see a faint outline of the black chevron on the batting even after the fabric was removed!

I threw away the chevron fabric because it was stained, but saved the houndstooth in case I ever want to use it on the seats again. The pieces are already cut to size so it would be easy to staple them back on.

Here is how the seats looked before I covered them in the blue toile fabric with my staple gun.

I had my son help me remove the seats from the chairs, and I prepped all the seats by removing the previous fabric layers.

I set up a little pressing station on my dining room table and got this project knocked out in about an hour. I cut the blue toile for each seat and then ironed the fabric well because it had creases from the packaging. When I cut it, the edges curled a little, so I pressed them flat. I love using my Cricut EasyPress for ironing jobs because it's fast and covers a large surface. Plus it's great for everyday ironing as well as crafting like this pillow and this fall tee!

I had just enough fabric to cover all six chairs in the blue toile. I already love the lighter feel that these cushions give our dining room and dining chairs.

Before reattaching the seats to the chairs, I set them up outside and sprayed them with stain guard to protect them from stains/spills and make them easier to clean should one happen.

Let's face it, there are bound to be spills, and I'm sure these seat covers will get dirty eventually. It's so easy to recover the chairs that I'm not worried about it, and in a couple years I'll probably be ready for a change anyway! I love how affordable it is to recover dining seat cushions.

I'm curious to know what you think of my plans for the table and chairs? Any suggestions to lighten my tabletop?

And more importantly, how do you deal with discontent in your home?

Most of the time, all you really need to move from discontent to contentment in your home is to make a few changes to start enjoying your home again! Start small... paint a room, recover your chairs, hang something you love on the wall, start a collection. You get the idea!

FAQ's for recovering dining chair cushions

  1. Do you need to wash the fabric first? The answer is, it depends. If I'm using an upholstery fabric, which is thicker and denser than regular fabrics, then no. Upholstery fabrics are generally not machine washable anyway. If the fabric I use is canvas drop cloth or another washable fabric, then I would prewash the fabric.
  2. How do you remove the seats from chairs to recover them? It's very easy. Flip the chair over and you'll see a screw in each corner holding the seat in place. Use a drill or screwdriver to remove the screws and the seat will pop right off.
  3. How do you keep the fabric seats clean? Before I reattach the seats to the chairs, I protect them from stains by spraying with 2-3 coats of stain guard. The stain guard repels stains and makes it easy to blot a stain clean if one should occur.
  4. How often should you recover dining chair cushions? It really depends on personal preference. If the seats look dirty or I'm just tired of the fabric and ready for a change, I'll recover them. Generally in my home, it's been about every 2 years. But if the fabric is holding up well, there's no need to recover them.
  5. How much does it cost to recover dining chairs? That depends on how many chairs you have and what fabric you choose. I choose fabrics that are on sale, and have been able to recover all six of my dining chairs for around $20 each time.
  6. How much fabric does it take to recover dining chairs? Again it depends on how many chairs you have and how big the seats are but generally, I would plan to purchase 2-4 yards of fabric to cover the seats. It's always nice to have a little more than you need so you have extra if one seat gets dirty.

I hope this tutorial was helpful!

bringing beauty to the ordinary,


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  1. I love the material you used. I am partial to the white chair with the new fabric, but it does look very nice on the black chairs as well.

    Denise TX

    1. Thanks Denise, I appreciate that! I am still trying to decide about the chairs. I'd like to paint them all white, but I've had a lot of shoulder pain and tendonitis and not sure I could physically do it.

  2. Looks beautiful. I feel like using that beautiful fabric in your hutch behind your white ware would make it pop and breakup the stark black/white (I used cardboard cut to size and covered with fabric so that I can change it anytime I want). Just an idea ❤


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