LazyBoy Makeover: How To Reupholster A Recliner

3 years ago

Two Broke Wives

LazyBoy Makeover: How to Reupholster a Recliner
The recliner used in this project has been in my family for ages -- it's been dubbed the "sick chair."  It's been through a knee surgery, an ankle surgery, countless colds, bouts of the flu, and even cancer.  Magic comforting ability? Behold the power of a well broken in recliner!

When Nick and I moved into our house, my gram let us retire the chair and give it a healthy home.  My gram & mom recovered it once already -- and did an awesome job, it just didn't really mesh with the colors/decor in my living room.  I'd been telling them for ages that I was going to re-cover it -- telling, or threatening

This was my first reupholstery project.  The ottoman was due mainly to the efforts of my mother, so to go solo on this was a little intimidating.  Nonetheless -- I did it!  It took me about 3 months to find fabric that I really liked.  Strangely enough, I found it online.  I highly recommend checking out Premier Fabrics. They have great patterns and are more than reasonably priced.  Not going to lie, it was a little scary to order fabric online -- but their pictures are true to form.

So without further ado, here's how to reupholster your own!

What you'll need:

-Seam ripper
-tack remover
-7 yards of medium-heavy weight fabric
-staple gun (electric if this is a solo project)
-hot glue gun, extra glue sticks
-sharp scissors
-covered button kit
-upholstery needles
-waxed button thread
-patience, lots and lots of patience


+ Take apart the main pieces of the chair -- the back sits in a track and comes off fairly easily.  The seat is a bit trickier.  Flip the chair so that you have access to the underside of the seat.  Mine was attached by screws in two places on either side of the frame.  Tip: Take pictures as you go, that way you can look back to see how things went together.  Also, keep all of your hardware organized.  Fun fact: I found a half eaten chocolate bar and a plastic fork in the chair -- whatttttttt?

Recliner before reupholstering

recliner seat removal

recliner back cushion removal


+ Cut enough fabric to recover whichever piece you are working on.  I did a piece at a time. The advantage of removing the old fabric is that not only do you achieve a smoother finish, you also have something to trace.  Once I had all the pieces cut out I ironed them before stapling them on.

+ Staple the hell out of it. Start in the middle of the frame and work your way around, pulling the fabric tight as you go.  When you get to the corners, pull the center of the corner tight and staple that first.  From there, fold and staple until you achieve the look that you want.  I opted not to remove the original (green) fabric on the seat cushion, but I did remove the original fabric everywhere else. 

Re-covered back cushion

 Re-covered seat cushion & kick plate

+ Use your hot glue gun to re-cover cardboard pieces. Surprisingly, there are quite a few cardboard pieces in a recliner. Mainly the kickplate and the back baseboard.  I also used the hot glue gun to attached the outer side pieces, and other places where I couldn't use staples.

Recliner arm detail

+ Assemble your buttons.  Covered button kits vary in size.  I chose ones that are about the size of a quarter.  The kit utilizes pieces of the same fabric so that you have a more professional look, the directions are detailed on the back of the package -- quite possibly the easiest part of the whole ordeal!

+ Use an upholstery needle (I used an 8-inch needle) and wax coated button thread to tuft the cushion (if you're going for that look).  The waxed thread is sturdy so it doesn't break while you're pulling it tight.

+ Put everything back together!

Recliner base, re-covered

recliner arm


+ Kick back and enjoy your blood, sweat, tears hardwork!

 Re-covered Recliner

I love the end result -- it fits.  If you have any questions or need more instruction, please let us know -- we'd be more than happy to help!

Xoxo, Kate
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