DIY in a day: Fix up an old chair

Take an old-fashioned chair from rogue to vogue in a few simple steps


Upcycling chair before Chair-upcycled


  • A chair with a wooden seat frame
  • Paint stripper
  • Fine- and medium-grain sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Wood filler
  • 1 litre high-gloss enamel in your desired colour
  • Tracing paper
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Coloured webbing (available from fabric shops)
  • Upholstery tacks (two per strip of webbing)


  1. If applicable, remove the seating board and cushion from the chair.
  2. Remove the paint with paint stripper if required.
  3. Lightly sand the entire chair with the medium-grain sandpaper. Wipe off any dust with a damp cloth.
  4. Patch any holes or rough areas with wood filler. Allow to dry and lightly sand.
  5. Apply a coat of enamel and allow to dry thoroughly.
  6. Sand with fine-grain sandpaper, paying special attention to any drip marks.
  7. Repeat previous two steps a couple of times until a high-gloss finish is achieved.


  1. Trace the interior edges of the seat on a piece of tracing paper and include precise measurements of the sides (as well as the depth from the top of the seat to the support struts) or take your chair to a hardware store that cuts wood and let them measure it for you.
  2. Have a 4cm-thick frame cut from balsa wood or hardwood that fits into the seat area.
  3. Paint the frame the same colour as your chair.
  4. Measure the width and length of your frame and cut strips of webbing allowing for an extra 8cm of webbing on each side (totalling an additional 16cm per strip).
  5. Starting with width of the frame, fold the first webbing strip’s additional 8cm in half and tack it to the underside of the frame. Use two tacks – one on each edge of the underside of the frame.
  6. Stretch the webbing over the frame and pull it as tightly across the frame as possible.
  7. Fold over the webbing on the far end and tack it to the underside of the frame, maintaining the tautness.
  8. Repeat along the width of the frame, leaving about 1,5cm between the strips.
  9. Repeat steps 5–8 along the length of the frame, but now weave the strips over and under the webbing that are forming the warp.
  10. Insert the frame into the chair.