56. How to Recover an Office Chair

How to recover an old office chair

If you’d like to skip straight to the creative project and learn how to make a bird feeder from a fir cone scroll down to find Blue’s paw print salvagebox.co.uk - Blue's paw.

This episode is subtitled: ‘It’s Beryl’s first week…’

‘Oh, Jenny, you frightened the life out of me!’ said Mrs Lucas.

‘I’m so sorry,’ I said, ‘I didn’t mean to startle you.’ I’d seen her go into Teacups so I rushed in after her. ‘I just wanted to thank you for that old office chair,’ I said.

‘What?’ said Mrs Lucas, ‘That old piece of junk? Glad to see the back of it. Just gathering dust in the garage.’

‘Actually, it looks great now I’ve recovered it,’ I said, and I was just going to invite her to pop next door to see it after she’d had her tea and cake when I overheard someone say, ‘I wouldn’t ‘ave a cheese scone, love. They weren’t made fresh this morning.’

I looked up and saw Beryl, with her Teacups apron askew, nudge a gentleman customer conspiratorily before she carried on wiping tables. Oh dear, I know it’s only her first week but will we ever get her customer service up to scratch?

It was out of earshot of Kim (who was lifting fresh batches of fruit and cheese scones out of the oven) but well within range of the walking group on a nearby table. The leader of their gang tapped the side of his nose and said in a low voice, ‘Better take note of the local knowledge.’

I winced and scurried away to pass on the bad news in the kitchen, horrified by the impact that one careless untruth could have on our business. Beryl is going to need watching at all times but thank goodness I’m usually next door in Tulips.

Joan was despatched, with the brightest of smiles, to the man’s table to make amends.

‘What can I get for you, sir?’

‘I was going to have a cheese scone but-‘

She cut him off mid sentence to say that a fresh batch was just emerging from the oven and would need to spend a couple of minutes on the cooling rack. I then saw a little nod from the leader of the walkers. Phew.

‘Well saved, Joan!’ I congratulated her on rescuing the situation when she came back into the kitchen.

‘What are we going to do about Beryl?’ asked Joan.

‘If anyone can whip her into shape, it’s Kim,’ I offered, neatly distancing myself from the problem.

‘Yes,’ said Kim, ‘but I just hope she doesn’t think she deserves any special treatment because she’s my mother-in-law!’

salvagebox.co.uk - Blue's pawLet’s leave Kim to worry about Beryl while I show you the office chair. What do you think? I was thrilled with the result – even though I know the new colour doesn’t go in my room!

Here it is before I started, looking worn out, grubby and neglected.

How to recover an old office chair

The first thing I did was brush off all the old cobwebs and dust. Then I vacuumed the upholstery. And after that I gave the plastic bits a good wash with soapy water.

How to recover an old office chair

I found some very old car dashboard cleaner in the shed and used it to bring the black plastic back to life.

How to recover an old office chair

The chair looked 10 times better after these cleaning steps.

How to recover an old office chair

But on close inspection the upholstery was very worn in places so it definitely needed to be recovered.

How to recover an old office chair

I started to take it apart so I could remove the seat and the back and apply the new fabric. I took photographs as I went and carefully lined the screws up on the desk with notes describing where they had come from. You’ll thank me for this tip when you come to put it back together. Don’t get cocky and think you’ll remember – I took out 22 screws before I’d separated the back and the seat!

By the way, this chair has a moulded plastic back that popped off with a bit of leverage using a large flat screwdriver. And it did pop back into place without any problems at the end.

This is a picture of under the seat where I removed the first eight screws.

How to recover an old office chair

Now for the fabric. I’ve been lucky enough to acquire some curtain/upholstery samples recently. You know the hangers used in shops to display the full range of fabric available to you in a particular collection? Well, when that collection is withdrawn, the sample fabrics are often available for free or very cheap (I’ve never paid more than £1 for one) and this one that I picked up recently contained an amazing amount of fabric. I couldn’t believe my luck. Here it is on the hanger (I’ve folded it up so you can see more of the range).

How to recover an old office chair

And once I’d dismantled it my pile of fabric looked like this (yes, all for £1!) and the largest piece was perfect for recovering the chair.

How to recover an old office chair

The principle for covering the back and the seat was the same, so my photos below are a mixture of both.

Firstly, cut out a piece of fabric large enough to cover the exposed parts plus overlap all round. I measured the existing blue fabric and cut out a piece slightly bigger, ready to staple into place with a staple gun. You don’t need to get the shape exact because you can cut away the excess later.

How to recover an old office chair

Staple in the middle of one side, then pull the fabric taut and staple in the middle of the opposite side. Do the same for the other two sides.

How to recover an old office chair

Work outwards from the middle of each side, leaving the corners until last.

How to recover an old office chair

Pleat the fabric and pull it taut before adding the staples.

How to recover an old office chair

When all of your staples are in, trim the excess fabric.

How to recover an old office chair

Make sure none of the holes are covered by fabric. You can see that I’ve cut a notch out to reveal a hole on the left hand side of this picture.

How to recover an old office chair

Now, refer to the notes you made and photographs you took when you dismantled the chair and put it back together again!

How to recover an old office chair

All I need now is to find a good home for this chair in a room it doesn’t clash with.


  • I found this video very useful from Onlinefabricstore.net
  • It’s very important that you take photographs as you dismantle the chair and label the screws so you can put it back together easily.

Salvaged Items:

  • Old office chair
  • Fabric samples

I really enjoyed working on something on a larger scale this week. Hope you like the results. Let me know what you thought of it and don’t forget to share your own upcycle projects with us on Facebook.


There is a new episode every Thursday but if you’d like a little reminder so you don’t miss out then please subscribe to our mailing list. Rest assured we won’t share your details with anyone and you can unsubscribe at any time.


Please follow and like us:

8 thoughts on “56. How to Recover an Office Chair

  1. I love the material Jenny. Pity I haven’t got anywhere to have a chair like this. I can’t believe you got enough material in a sample to completely cover the chair.

  2. What a transformation ! …and you have a unique chair which is much more fun than the monotone colours office chairs usually come in .

Leave a Comment