Before and After: $1 Thrift Store Desk Chair
I love the Habitat for Humanity Restore closest to my house. They have tons of furniture, and it starts at a pretty decent price then discounts by 25% every single week until the item is gone.
I was browsing the store about two months ago when I first laid eyes on this chair.
There were four of them, clearly some kind of dining chair set, priced at $10 a piece. I investigated them pretty closely, since I knew I’d need to procure myself a desk chair for my office eventually. But I walked away. It didn’t seem very office-y, and the back cushion looked hard to reupholster. Plus, I was really there for a desk, which I had already decided to purchase and haul home. Did I really need a desk chair too?
Two weeks later, the chairs were still there, now $5 each. I laughed a bit to myself but walked right past, intent on purchasing something else that day. I think I bought a fake plant, since goodness knows, I can’t keep a real one alive.
A full month after I first spotted the chairs, I returned to Habitat and two of the four chairs remained. Now priced at a single dollar each, I had no excuses. I hadn’t found a suitable desk chair in the month I'd casually browsed, and it was getting to the point where I actually needed a chair. Plus, the castors, metal, and wood of the chair were in pretty good shape; the cushion was the only thing that was particularly sad, and that was pretty easily remedied.
So, finally, I bought the chair. For a dollar. A single dollar. That’s it. In fact, I paid in cash and everything, since I couldn’t justify pulling out a credit card for a single dollar purchase.
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The $1 Thrift Store Desk Chair Remodel
The remodel was actually a pretty simple one. The wood actually screwed right off the chair, making it pretty easy to spray paint. I felt pretty accomplished after I spent 30 minutes spray painting and was already halfway done with the remodel.
The Seat Cushion
Reupholstering the cushions was a bit trickier. As it turns out, blush colored faux suede is a bit harder to find than I was anticipating. I ended up ordering it from Amazon (here.) I got two yards just in case I screwed up, which is more likely than you might think, given that I am terrible at sewing.
The seat cushion was pretty easy. I tore out the staples and ripped the old stained fabric off. Turns out the cushion was pretty stained too, so I covered it with some leftover batting from my barstool project so that the dark (probably coffee) stains didn’t show through my fabric.
Then I wrapped the seat with my new fabric and stapled it in place.
The Back Cushion
The back cushion, as I anticipated when I first saw the chairs, was by far the most complicated part of the project. My sewing skills are mediocre at best, so I knew from the beginning that this would be a stretch.
I cut the old fabric away, and was left baffled by the buttons which seemed to be very securely stuck in my cushion. Luckily, my mother was sitting nearby, and her 1950s era school sewing classes came through for me when she went “Oh, those just screw off.” Sure enough, with a bit of twisting, they came right off.
I re-covered the buttons with the ultra-official method of hot glue.
The old fabric that I’d cut off seemed perfect for making a new pattern, but it was actually kind of crumbly and making a mess. I just ended up tracing the cushion on my fabric, adding a 1/2” or so to account for the sides, and cutting it out. I did this twice, so I had a front and back panel to sew together.
With right sides together, I sewed the panels together. I also tried to sew some ribbons on to them so that I could tie the cushion to the chair. I did this completely wrong the first time (mediocre sewing skills, as mentioned), and ended up ripping out stitches and resewing the ribbons so that they’d ultimately end up on the outside of the cushion cover (not the inside… where they were after my first attempt…)
Finally, I threw a zipper on the bottom and called it day. I’d tell you more about that, but I am 99% sure I did it wrong.
I then put the chair back together. It was so exciting to see the final product!
Super cute, no? And it cost me right around $30 total for the chair, fabric, ribbon, and zipper. Considering there is no way I could have purchased a new desk chair for that (I think they start around $60) I am thrilled. And it’s actually pretty comfy. I thought about adding more cushion to the seat, or putting in an ergonomic pillow back instead of the cushion that came with the chair, but I decided it was comfy enough without those things.
It looks great next to my desk (which is also a Habitat remodel, check it out!) and I am so excited to sit and work every time I have the opportunity. It’s actually causing me to find reasons to work at my desk, which is fantastic and I hope lasts forever.