Using Leather to Revitalize an Arm Chair


Phew! It’s been HOT out there this summer… and things got that much hotter when I learned that the item for this July DIY Challenge is….. LEATHER! For real. Genuine, gorgeous, 100% upholstery leather from The Leather Hide Store. Oh! And this month, you’ve got a chance to bring some of this amazing upholstery leather fabric home for yourself πŸ™‚

Naturally, I gravitated towards my favorite type of project and decided to use my leather to revitalize an arm chair we’ve had kicking around the house for a couple of years.

Here are the other supplies I used for this project:

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Oh! And this of course is a Monthly DIY Challenge. Every Second Wednesday of the month we get together with other bloggers and create something using the same product or theme. You can check out all our previous challenges here.Β 

This is what the chair looked like Before. We paid $10 for it and later learned it’s actually a vintage, Canadian-made piece from the 1960s. Go figure. It had been sitting in some guy’s work shop and was covered in spray paint and it looked like it had been ripped apart by some sort of metal object. It was also recovered very badly in awful synthetic vinyl. But the wood part was lovely, so it was immediately clear a reupholstering job would rescue it.Β Leather Chair BEFORE

First things first – I needed to unroll my leather. I ordered this amazing tan colour and it was even more beautiful than I could have imagined. When you order from The Leather Hide Store, every piece is uniquely tanned, cured and cut – so every bit of leather has its own personality and style.

A) it was REALLY hot out (and that almost never happens where we live) and B) this leather piece was ENORMOUS! So I did the first part of my project outside under the shade of our back yard apple tree. Also, it was the only place I had where I could unroll the entire piece of leather all at once!Giant piece of raw hide leather

See? Told you it’s HUGE!!!

Oh ya. I also took the chair apart… and giggled when I saw what was beneath the gross vinyl. Clearly this chair had been beautiful in its day, but someone got a little knife happy? I’ll let your imaginations run wild on this one πŸ˜‰Recovering a chair with leather

Then I got down to cutting my leather. I basically measured my seat and the top of the chair out by placing them directly on the leather and tracing around them with a piece of white chalk. I made sure to do this on the wrong side of my leather and with a light hand.Mark your cut lines using chalk Recovering a vintage chair with real leather

Two observations! My leather matches Buddy, who is sitting on my shoes because ‘no shoes allowed when you’re perched on a beautiful piece of leather’ annnnnd… can you imagine a leather rug? How luxurious! It was comfy to sit on for sure.

Okay. Now to the recovering part. This chair posed a couple of significant challenges. For one, the top part is exposed on ALL FOUR sides, which makes creating seams and folds that much more intricate and difficult. Secondly, the vintage nature of this chair means its construction is impeccable and for an amateur like I am, that means it was easy to take apart, but NOT EASY to put back together. The sides of the chair are actually channels that sit in the chair legs, so I had to be super diligent when creating my seams and stapling my leather to make sure I was reducing every last bit of bulk I could.

I started by wrapping the top piece and folding down the sides and trimming the excess. The original upholstery was tacked on the bottom face of the top piece, so I followed suit. Stapling first to hold the leather taught after folding the seam down.Create a visible seam with leather upholstery

Then, I went back with a flat-head screw driver and carefully pulled out the staples and replaced them one-by-one with silver head upholstery tacks. This ensured my leather stayed put and nice and tight.Use staples and then replace with furniture tacks

For the sides, where the seats had to fit into the channels, Dan helped by pulling the leather even tighter and creating a long line of staples where the wood seat would slide back into the chair.
Tools for upholstering with leather

The bottom part was a bit easier because it only shows on three sides, so I was able to just wrap the leather, fold the corner seams, and staple the excess on the underside. We reassembled the chair – and there you go!Reupholster a vintage chair with leather hide

It looks BRAND NEW! I’m totally digging the vintage vibe it has and I’m really happy we decided to keep it and bring it back to life.How to upholster with leather

It fits really well in this corner of the sunroom and is the spot Dan likes to sit with his coffee and iPad on weekend mornings.Peonies with leather chair in the background

New office seating nook with leather chair

I love the way it plays off my DIY Log Side Table and for a final touch, I decked it out with a neutral-yet-sparkly toss cushion that I think completes the look, don’t you?Leather chair makeover with silver studded back How to recover a chair with real leather

And who doesn’t like a good before and after comparison? πŸ˜‰Leather Chair Before and After

Because this is a Monthly DIY Challenge, here are all the other links to inspire you to tackle a project using leather!

AND Now it your chance to win some Awesome Upholstery Leather Fabric for you!! Fill out the Rafflecopter Widget below. Good luck!

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Here are some other Furniture Makeover Posts you Might Like!

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This post was sponsored by The Leather Hide Store. It may contain affiliate links. View our full disclosure and privacy policy here. If you’d like to know more about sponsoring a Monthly DIY Challenge, please contact us.

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Hi! I’m Erin and I wrote this post!

I’m a former broadcast journalist turned DIY blogger; I love all things paint, and power tools. My husband and I work on DIY Passion to share our commitment to inspire others to see beauty in the every day. I love dogs, cats, Han Solo and pie – probably in that order. If you’d like to chat about working together, please get in touch and sign up for our email updates.

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