DIY: add upholstered cushions to chairs

add upholstery to chairs

So my last blog post I told you how I painted my mismatched kitchen chairs.  It was hot, and really, REALLY messy.  But worth it to see my little yellow beauties in the kitchen every morning as I drink one(ok, three) cups of coffee.

  But, for me, anything worth doing is worth overdoing and really stretching it out.  So I thought  if I added some upholstered cushions to the two chairs that didn’t have any they would look charmingly mismatched instead of like  2 pairs of free mismatched chairs I threw together.  And I needed some cush between my tush and the chairs.


  • medium density fiberboard cut to size
  • clamps
  • fabric
  • foam
  • spray adhesive
  • 4 carriage bolts and nuts per chair
  • drill gun with 1/2″ bit
  • staple gun and staples
  • scissors

I had my MDF cut to size at the Home Depot since I live in an apartment and don’t really have the space for a power saw.  I dream of a garage workshop the way some women dream of walk in closets or rooms of their own.  Actually, I dream about those, too.

  Clamp your board to your chairs and mark 4 places where to drill your holes.  Check to make sure you’re not going to hit anything on the bottom of the chair.

add upholstery to chairDrill through your board and the chair.add upholstery to chair   I sanded my corners a little and taped them off with duct tape so they wouldn’t tear through the fabric. Lay your board on top of your foam and trace the outline. Use scissors of a utility knife to cut it to size.add upholstery to chairsPut your board back onto the chair and insert the carriage bolts into the holes.add upholstery to chairsCoat your foam with the spray adhesive and put on top of the board.  Give it a good press down and let it dry for a while.add upholstery to chairsOnce your glue is dry, cut your fabric to fit the cushions.  Give yourself at least an extra 2 inches on each side.  Don’t forget to factor in the height of the cushion.add upholstery to chairsStaple into place and trim the excess fabric off.  Put the cushions back onto your chairs and screw in place with the carriage nuts. Done!add upholstery to chairsA view of the finished chairs in my kitchen.add upholstery to chairsAnd what they started out looking like.add upholstery to chairsTo read about how I painted them click here.  Or just go back one post.

33 comments… add one
  • Jack Feb 22, 2016, 6:06 pm

    Chairs are amazing, I love this colour!

  • John Gioia Nov 2, 2015, 5:25 pm

    Looks like a great plan! Would you mind explaining how/where to find foam for the seat? What thickness is best? Any suggestions on websites for ordering the foam? Thank you!

  • Dena Bee Oct 6, 2015, 12:35 pm

    Love it. Now what if you also wanted to upholster the back? Would the fiberboard be necessary? I have a chair that already has a seat cushion but I want to cushion the back and it is curved. I’m trying to figure out how to do it.

  • Shelley Aug 20, 2015, 1:11 pm

    I love what you did to the chairs, wished I would have seen it sooner, I have already done chair seats ,but would like to do a strip on the back od chairs, my backs are wooden X ,have any ideas?

  • Kelsey Aug 5, 2015, 12:20 pm

    Hi there! Where did you get this fabric? It is adorable!

  • Eddie Barack Jul 3, 2015, 4:08 am

    How thick should the fiber boards used be? Kindly let me know as this interests me so much. I want to try it out!

  • Karen Jun 24, 2015, 7:53 pm

    My home depot folks said their saws only cut straight lines not angled ones and my chairs seats are wider at front than back. Any ideas how to best cut mdfb? Type of saw? Can’t wait to get to work. I’ve got everything ready to go but the board!
    Karen, Monrovia, Ca

  • Ched Feb 16, 2015, 8:31 pm

    What is the thickness of the fiberboard that you used?

  • Kathryn Whitaker Feb 13, 2015, 10:43 pm

    This was absolutely brilliant. I originally planned to sew cushions to our office chairs and then saw this. We followed it to the “t” and man, I am loving how the chairs and stools turned out. Your tutorial was really fantastic. Thank you St. Pinterest for allowing me to find you!

  • Ebony Jan 18, 2015, 12:27 am

    Can I do the same on the arms of a wooden captain chair?

  • Michael Nov 4, 2014, 1:56 pm

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! I was sitting in my “new to me” desk chair this morning thinking about how it’s actually a pretty sturdy chair and that I should just add some DIY love and make it pretty. Now I know exactly what to do!

  • Ellen Sallas Sep 28, 2014, 11:11 am

    Wow — you have blown me away. I can’t wait to do this, and your blog has made it possible. I will see what else you can teach me!! Hugs, DIYNewbie-Ellen in AL

  • amy Sep 12, 2014, 1:45 pm

    Thank you so much for this detailed how-to. My husband and I combined our skills and redid our Ikea chairs (with a washable vinyl to deter toddler messes) and they look amazing!

  • Haleigh Jeffreys Jul 22, 2014, 1:43 pm

    So glad I found this post! I have three chairs that are the traditional bow back chairs that typically come with your oak pedestal dining tables. I’ve refurbished them with Annie Sloan chalk paint and they look great but I am running into a problem. I want to add cushions just as you did, but your seats were squared off. I’m trying to figure out how to shape off my cushions.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Natalie Jun 27, 2014, 6:54 am

    Lovely set of chairs! Just out of curiosity, how much fabric did you need for this project?

  • Christy Mar 7, 2014, 2:17 pm

    I have 2 antique chairs that are wooden and seats are coming apart because it’s like the basket weave / Raton stuff. I’m not good w/ correct names of fabric but would appreciate any ideas???

    • krista Apr 30, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Christy- it sounds like those chairs are in need of some attention. You could definitely turn them into upholstered chairs. Just make sure the wood you attach the foam to is bigger than the opening left by the old rattan, and that you have a place to attach the carriage bolts to. Good luck!

  • melissa Feb 8, 2014, 10:56 pm

    i am so excited i found this pin! i have these chairs and was searching specifically for cushion ideas for them! what kind/brand of foam did you use?

    • krista Feb 10, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Melissa-I used foam I found at Walmart. Nothing special, really. It’s comfortable, though!

  • diysushistyle Jan 1, 2014, 8:37 pm

    That is great! I have a chair that doesn’t have a cushion and now I will know how to do it!

  • Francine Jul 5, 2013, 5:58 am

    Thank you so much for this idea and excellent tutorial! Now I know how to get nice comfy chairs for my craft roon/office.

  • Colleen Jul 4, 2013, 9:20 pm

    Really love how your chairs turned out and how you made them look more like a set, great choice of colour and fabric!

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