before & after: reupholstered wingback chairs

This is a great project to open with today; the loveliness of these chairs can inspire you to tackle your own re-upholstery projects, and this afternoon’s Upholstery Basics post on coiled seats can show you how to get started! After snagging these chairs for only $8 (!), Heather made a brilliant upholstery decision by pairing a bold lime zigzag fabric with a softer neutral pattern. I love the explosion of print that peeks out from behind this chair — more chairs should contain surprises like that, don’t you think? Great job, Heather! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

See more of Heather’s zigzag upholstered chairs after the jump!

Time: 2 weeks

Cost: $500 for the pair

Basic Steps: A friend spotted these wingback beauties at a garage sale for only $8 a piece! She called and told me that I needed them, and she was right. They had belonged to one family since the 1930s and were in great shape structurally, but the upholstery had yellowed and was in dire need of replacing. I saw the citrine-colored chevron at a local discount fabric store and fell in love. It took me a couple more visits to settle on the wood grain/paisley pattern for the front. I second guessed my choices about 20 times after purchasing the fabric but decided to stick with it.

I’ve reupholstered smaller chairs myself but knew that this job required an expert. I found a small family-run upholstery shop about 20 miles outside of town that was much cheaper than those in town. The drive was worth it. They recovered both chairs and restuffed the down pillows all for $410. Aside from being so well preserved, these chairs are very comfortable and are a great place to plop down after a long day. My style of decorating tends to merge traditional elements with modern pieces. I love that the lines of the chairs are so traditional, but the fabric is playful and keeps our formal living room from feeling too stuffy.

If you’re wanting to recover a piece of furniture, whether it’s something you’ve had for years or found recently at a flea market, make sure it is structurally sound before you invest the time and money to reupholster. Call around to find the best deal on upholstery. In my experience, it can range anywhere from $30 to $60 a yard, depending on the shop. If you’re leery of picking a bold fabric, try using it for the back of the piece where it’s not as visible. You could also have custom pillows made in a bold fabric and use a more neutral fabric choice for the piece itself. — Heather

  1. very cute! Love the pattern mixing on such a traditional piece, looks great!

  2. Julie says:

    Wow! Those chairs are beautiful…and what a bargain! Love her fabric choices and combination which really transforms and modernizes the room.

  3. Molly Cooper says:

    Holy smokes, brilliant! Those wingback chairs were begging for a lime chevron pattern!

  4. Hollis says:

    I loved these! What a great garage sale find too. Where are those beautiful, sparkly pillows from?

  5. Nora says:

    Where did you get the chevron fabric and also that fabric for the leafy rectangular pillow? I love it!

  6. Kristina says:

    Love this, the shape the pattern! Want. It. All!


  7. Jessica says:

    Wow! LOVE these chairs!

  8. another Molly says:

    The chairs weren’t the only ones begging for lime chevron…I’ve been looking for that fabric for MONTHS for my own project — Heather, who makes it?

  9. sarah says:

    $8? Seriously? That’s just silly!! Great job, love the zig zag!

  10. Gabby says:

    I heart wingbacks, and these came out beautifully redone — great price on the reupholstery job! The lime green is great — perhaps a little bold for my personal tastes. I would have probably done the whole chair in the more neutral fabric and done pillows in the chevron fabric, but … that’s just me, because I’d be a little scared! *LOL* But, it looks great in your room. I also love the limey green leaf pillow. Great color choices!

  11. Rachel Tatem says:

    I love winged back chairs!

  12. Katie says:

    Wow these look so great, what a fantastic idea! xo

  13. Hollis, the pillows were from Urban Outfitters last summer:( West Elm has a great silver “frosted” pillow cover right now though. Molly, I got the fabric at a discount store in my neighborhood. They have a plethora of chevron choices right now. I’ll do some research and get back to you.

  14. tracy a says:

    i can hardly believe you got those chairs for 8 dollars each. 8 DOLLARS?!? flabbergasted….and although i don’t think i would have made such a bold choice myself, your end result is playful and very cute (cute, ahhh, maybe not the word i’m looking for, but you know what i mean). congrats on the updated look!

  15. 8 dollars! You did a great job! Agree love the zig zag!

  16. dinah says:

    ok this pattern mixing is just GENIUS.

  17. Oh my goodness. I love how this turned out!

  18. Am I crazy? I like the before chairs!

  19. April says:

    I am in LOVE! These aren’t chairs – they are perfectly stuffed, whimsical, dream puffs! The pattern pairing is a heap of adjectives – smart, unexpected, whimsical, and reserved. This is just lovely! Kudos to your genius eyes

  20. Addy says:

    the chairs were prettier before!!!

  21. Lisa says:

    Love the mix of patterns (the surprise element).

  22. Kim Paige says:

    $410 to reupholster both including nail head trim…wow, that’s amazing. where do you live?

  23. Tami M. says:

    Looooooove! I have a wing chair that I was planning on having reupholstered, and I’m so glad I saw this first. Will definitely “steal” your idea for mixing two fabrics. Thanks!

  24. Emily says:

    Great way to update the chairs…love the green palette as well

  25. marianne thomas says:

    these are beautiful – who did you use to re upholster the chairs

  26. Kelly Neuman says:

    Can you give me idea’s on putting buttons on my wing chair.

  27. george says:


  28. Nancy Burns says:

    I have two wing chairs that I just can’t decide on the fabric I love the inside fabric along with the chevron where did you get the inside fabric and what is the company that makes it? thanks Nancy

  29. Thanks for writing this one. I am just getting started on a chair that looks almost identical to the one in the picture except mine has worn and torn fabric and the upholstery foam is completely shot so it is a major job. This will be my second upholstery project so I am hoping it comes out better from what I learned on the first one. I did find the foam I needed at and also my wife found a great local fabric that we are using. Luckily we aren’t looking at spending as much as you did on yours but hope it will turn out okay. Will drop a line when we finish with some photos.

  30. Jaselyn says:

    are these chairs for sale by any chance!?


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.