How to upcycle an old worn out armchair

After a while, even the best armchairs start to get worn out and old looking, and generally a little bit shabby about the edges, so then starts the fun process of spending your weekends looking around furniture stores in drab-looking retail parks.

However, it doesn’t need to be like this; you don’t have to get rid of a perfectly comfortable chair just because aesthetically, it’s not up-to-par anymore. Before you splash the cash, it is time to think of both your wallet and the environment!

How to upcycle an old worn out armchair, Zazzy Home

Instead of throwing away and replacing it, why not upcycle the chair into something which will better suit your life now.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to upcycle an old armchair into something both unique and practical for your household. Not only will it save you money, but it is a great project for those with a passing interest in DIY.

  • What do you need?
  • An old armchair in need of a makeover
  • Some basic tools [depending on what route you take]
  • Screwdriver/plyers/hammer
  • A saw
  • Wood glue clamps [if required]

You don’t have to use all of these, but using the most basic ones will give you a better chance at achieving a successful transformation!

Step one: 

The first step is going to depend on the condition in which your chair is likely to be. Once you have assessed this, picking a route to go down will be more straightforward.

How to upcycle an old worn out armchair, Zazzy Home

If the chair is in relatively good condition [i.e., not too worn], taking off some or all of the fabric which covers it and re-covering it with new material is a good option. This way, you get a brand new-looking chair without having to buy any fabric!

Even if your only upholstery tool is a staple gun, it’s still possible to do this yourself without professional assistance. Just be careful not to cut into the wood or metal framework when stapling on the new fabric! If you can get someone else to help, you would be advised, but don’t worry about doing it yourself – just take your time and be careful.

If you’re not sure how to do this, a simple google search will yield plenty of results on how to reupholster a chair; just look for the type of chair [i.e., office chair], followed by instructions on how to cover it with fabric. There are rife videos online which can help you too!

Alternatively, if the material is ripped or badly worn [some examples shown at the end] there’s no need to worry as covering it would make the chair look worse than before. In this case, you should follow the upholstery tutorial above, but replace the fabric that was originally used with something new and exciting!

After all the staples have been secured in place, give your armchair a thorough shake to make sure everything is nice and snug.

How to upcycle an old worn out armchair, Zazzy Home

Step two:

If you wish to repaint the chair, now would be an ideal time to do it! Most paints should take around 24 hours after application to dry completely, so if that’s true, then apply your paint or other finish of choice as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once dry, you should give the armchair another shake – you can’t be too careful! If not satisfied with the positioning of the fabric/paint etc., this is probably your best chance at fixing it before putting on whatever other decoration you have in mind!

Step three:

Depending on what look you are trying to achieve will depend on which step comes next. However, all routes overall will involve some sort of upholstery work, so any advice given here should be taken with this in mind.

If you wish to stick with the original fabric used, or if it is still in good condition, but you simply prefer the look, then great! If not, now would be a good time to choose something new. The simplest way of doing this would be to find an appropriate color match for your chosen fabric/paint etc., at your local DIY shop or online!

Alternatively, if that sounds too mundane for you, why not try upcycling the armchair into something completely different? A bedside table would probably come first to most people’s minds – resulting in plenty of storage space next to your bed. This can be achieved by building a new frame to support the armchair – or even just attaching new legs to it!

Step four:

Attaching any new decoration is arguably more important than all of the above steps put together! This will bring your armchair from looking spruced up to be completely different. Again though, there are numerous routes you can take here. If, for example, you have painted your armchair bright pink, then what better way to compliment it than by attaching some nice bright green buttons? On the other hand, if you’ve just reupholstered with dark red fabric, then black buttons would be another good option – or even gold ones if you want to go for a more luxurious look.

You can also replace the buttons with brand new ones if you wish – not just in color but also in size and design! Just remember that armchairs of this type often have up to six of these, so it’s always best to bring the number down just enough to compliment your armchair of choice.

Step five:

Well done for carrying out this armchair upcycle project on your own! If you did get someone else to help, then they will probably deserve some recognition for their help, too – after all, armchairs are heavy pieces of furniture, and you would need plenty of strength to carry one on your own! A small token such as a ‘thank you’ card or flowers [a bouquet of armchairs?] should suffice.

Also, don’t forget that armchairs upcycled in this manner also make great additions to other people’s houses too – you can even sell armchairs upcycled like these as they will be sure to attract plenty of attention! If you decide to do this, it would be best to establish your armchair’s value beforehand and consider adding a ‘sold as seen’ disclaimer on the armchair itself. Happy upcycling!


Claire is a blogger, writer, and designer with a passion for making the most out of any space. She's worked in interior design and maintenance for over a decade, and has learned how to make the most of even the smallest room. Claire shares her expertise, where she offers tips and tricks for creating beautiful, functional spaces on any budget. When she's not blogging or designing, Claire enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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