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


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


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


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

another Molly

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?


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!

Heather {The Lovely Cupboard}

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.

tracy a

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!


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

Kim Paige

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

Tami M.

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!

marianne thomas

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

Kelly Neuman

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

Nancy Burns

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

Harold Compton

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.