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Armchair Makeover Inspiration – Our Top Upcycled Armchair Ideas

We reckon an armchair is one of the first upcycling projects most people want to have a crack at. But it can also be the most daunting.

So we’ve compiled some inspiration below to get your upcycling juices flowing.

We also have two guides on offer once you’ve decided on what you want to do with your chair. The first guide is about ‘having a go’ at reupholstering an armchair and the other about how to paint one (see below).

Here are our top picks for ideas to upcycle your old and worn out armchairs!

Surprise on the Side

We love this idea to upcycle an armchair from just fine to just wow.

This is a great project for using up fabric remnants from other projects that are eye catching and fabulous but maybe not hard wearing enough to be used as upholstery fabric for the seat area of the chair.

This idea from Oh Everything Handmade is to use this eye popping fabric on the sides and the back of the chair. It certainly makes this chair a statement piece.

We love it and we think the same principle could be used on the sides of a sofa or the back of a dining room chair to add some surprise factor and personality.

If you aren’t an upholstery pro try adding some decorative nail strips or other trim to cover any unsightly staples or using fabric glue instead of staples (though this might need re-touching sooner than if you used staples).

Personality on Display

Photo: Vinterior

This is a similar idea to the one above but in reverse, for those of you who want to make an even bolder statement.

This will require a bit more of the expensive fabric, especially if you have more than one chair to do, but what an eye-catching statement.

We’ve found some similar fabrics to try this with here:

Brave and Bold

Photo: Martha Stewart

Already have an armchair with velour, velvet or leather upholstery in good condition?

Try painting the legs and adding a throw cushion with a matching or contrasting pop of colour.

Go bold or go home we say! Want this yellow? Try this one we found.

We picked a spray paint, to use this you’ll want to put a garbage bag or tarp over the chair, turn it upside down and tape around the top of the legs to keep the rest of the chair covered and safe from your bold paint choices.

Then just spray and let dry. Instant makeover!

If your velour or velvet isn’t the colour you would like then try painting it – see the item below including a link for how to do it.

Paint it Perfect

Photo: Ayr Brushed

You don’t always have to remove old upholstery to achieve a dramatic transformation.

You can paint many fabrics including velour and velvet – what you are essentially doing is dying the fabric as most techniques advise watering down the paint a bit.

So this won’t work if your upholstery is ripped, torn or bobbled, but if it is otherwise in good condition and you just want a change of hue then this could be the way to go.

This fabulous velour chair was painted from a dated and dull brown to this gorgeous teal blue.

Alison West from Ayr Brushed has provided us with a tutorial for how to do this.

So head here to see the dramatic before and after photos and the step by step guide. We warn you hands will get dirty with this one!

Classic Grey & White

Photo: The DIY Mommy

We love this grey and white makeover from the DIY Mommy, it went from brown wood and orange upholstery to soft whites and greys.

So unlike the bold ideas above maybe you have a chair that was bold in its time that needs a bit of modern toning down?

Grey and white is a classic and we suspect it will stand the test of time longer than some other colour choices.

In Black and White

You read it in black and white folks, you don’t have to go colourful to go bold.

Pick a houndstooth, stripe or geometric print in black and white and stand out from the crowd.

We think a black and white armchair revamp would be perfect for a study or an office setting. There is something about bold black and white to focus the mind and make you feel productive!

Here are some of our black and white fabric finds:


So you really are a committed Upcycler?

Then why not go the whole hog and use leftover fabric remnants and scraps to makeover your armchair in a patchwork design.

If you group your fabric scraps into colour families or fabric types you can make something that is patchy but still cohesive. There are just so many ways you could go with this it’s hard to pick just a few to show you.

Hopefully your inspiration will take over from here.

Leave Your Stamp On It

Want to leave your mark without a complete overhaul? Try using a stamp and some fabric paint to make your chair uniquely yours.

From second hand Ikea bargains to antique French chic, there is always an opportunity to make it your own.

One tip is to blot your stamp on a paper towel (kitchen roll) first, so you don’t get too much paint on the fabric.

Here are some fun stamps we found you could try this with:

The Shape of Things

We love the shape of these scalloped and shell style chairs.

This is just a reminder that if you see something this shape at a charity shop, thrift store or garage sale, nab it! Done up in pretty modern shades these unique chairs sell for big price tags.

The Oroa chair on the end is $1000+!

Too Good to Sit On

If you are truly an artist and you like the painted chair idea but your not keen on a solid colour, let your throne be your canvas!

Problem is you might have a really hard time convincing your guests its okay to sit on it after!

We think a statement piece like this would work best in a setting where you are really trying to impress – like a boutique wedding dress shop, a jewellers, or an art gallery.

These chairs just scream opulence and whimsy at the same time. This one is definitely not for everyone and picking the right fabric paint for the job will be essential.

If you are working with multiple colours we suggest working with one colour at a time and letting it all dry before moving on to the next to try to avoid as much colour bleeding as possible.

But there is a reason the folk who make these chairs are called furniture artists – it really is a unique artisan skill.

All Sewn Up

Maybe your artistic leanings are more of the thready variety? If you are a dab hand at embroidery you could try creating one of your masterpieces directly on to an armchair.

Or embroider some cheap upholstery fabric before use to make it extra luxurious and one of a kind.

Of course you’ll need to be careful when sitting on it not to let a bracelet clasp or pocket zipper get caught and pull out the threads from your beautiful creation.

And we don’t recommend this idea if you have cats…far too much scratching temptation!

End with a Bang

As with any upcycling project our motto is always – go for it! If you can imagine it, why not try it?

We think upcycling and repurposing is 50% eco-friendly and 50% self expression. You only live once, so why not have a mad paint splattered chair or go pop art fabulous?

We would love to see what fantastic creations you’ve come up with.

Leave us a comment or pop over to our Facebook page and join our community group Upcycle My Stuff – Share My Stuff to share your brilliance with like-minded upcyclers from around the world.

For more upholstery tutorials check out these posts:

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Monday 11th of November 2019

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