A Brass Chiavari Chair Upholstery Makeover

Today’s post is another home DIY tutorial, sharing how I upholstered a vintage chair. This is a great beginner’s project as it requires minimal tools and can be done in under an hour! It also features one of my personal unicorn secondhand finds… a solid brass Chiavari chair. Keep reading to see how much I paid for the chair and how I cleaned it up & recovered the seat for under $15! Plus, stick around to see a roundup of similar chairs, if you’re looking to replicate this project yourself.

I actually ended up with two of these chairs- one lives in my home office and the other near my back entry (that one is perfect for a catch all and holding our car keys). Sarah has shared her own chair upholstery post before, and plenty of other upholstery and textile tutorials. Her upholstered bed and faux fur lumbar pillow are some of my personal favorites. Check them out if you’re in the mood for some DIY decor projects that feature pretty fabrics!


Linked below are all the tools & supplies you’ll need for this project. My first stop for secondhand items is always Facebook Marketplace, so keep your eyes peeled for potential upholstery projects!

Step 1: Select a Chair

Like I mentioned, I had been searching for a brass Chiavari chair for some time and had a few local listings saved on marketplace. They were priced around $500-$800 per chair, so I hoped that a better deal would come along if I was patient. In the midst of my budget office makeover, a listing popped up for $600 for two chairs. While that was still much cheaper than any others I had seen, I still didn’t want to pay $300 per chair. They had been listed for over a week, so I took a chance and offered $450 for both… which was accepted! My mom still thinks I’m crazy to spend $225 each on chairs that I don’t plan to sit on, but I view them as a combination of a sculptural side table meets decor… so the price was worth it to me.

I actually really liked the fabric shown in the listing pictures, so I was planning to keep the chairs as-is. When I saw them in person, the striped fabric was bunching and sagging. It was also quite dirty and stained. The chairs had clearly been re-upholstered before with a silky material, and while beautiful- wasn’t withstanding the test of time. I decided to recover the seats and selected a heavier duty fabric from Etsy for the project- I only needed 1/2 a yard to cover both chairs.

Step 2: Remove the Seat

Removing chair seats is usually super easy! This one just had 4 screws (one in each corner) holding the seat through braces on the bottom of the chair. I used a drill to remove them, but you could also just use a screw driver and some elbow grease.

Step 3: Remove Old Fabric

The staples holding the striped fabric were easy to remove with some needle nose pliers. Underneath, I found the seat covered in a brown corduroy fabric that was still in good condition. So I decided to keep that on the seat and just cover it back up with my fabric selection. Had it been worse for wear, I would have removed that layer as well.

Step 5: Staple & Reattach the Seat

After a quick vacuum and spot clean, I simply laid my fabric face down (paying attention to where the pattern would line up) and centered the seat (also face down) on top of it. I started from the center of each edge, pulling the fabric taut and stapling the fabric down. At the corners, I wrapped and folded the fabric neatly, to avoid excessive fabric bunching. Once the fabric was secured, I trimmed any excess and screwed the seat back into place.

I also took a minute to wipe down the brass, but decided against polishing it. I like the look of a good brass patina, and the metal was in really good shape. If the chair you are working on is wood, you could take minute to polish it or revive it with some restor-a-finish.

Vintage Chair Roundup

Click directly on each vintage chair below to be redirected.

brass chair with red seat // wood with printed seat // gilded wood chair // wood with ivory seat // turned wood with woven seat // woven seat chiavari // brass with orange seat


Are the chairs comfortable to sit on?

I’ll be honest & say that these aren’t the most comfortable chairs. I use them as side tables, but they would work as additional seating in a pinch!

Do you think brass will look dated?

I think solid brass is a timeless material that will always be in style. But I also love to mix metals… you’ll find brass, polished nickel, and bronze/matte black throughout my home!

How did you select the fabric for this project?

I have some pillow covers in my bedroom made from this same fabric, so I took the opportunity to repeat a design decision with these chairs for cohesion. It also happened to match my office drapery and lumbar pillow perfectly!

Thanks for reading & for all of the kind comments on my home office makeover! I hope this post provided helpful information if you decide to tackle an upholstery project in the future. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below!

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  1. Good morning! Congrats on scoring a coveted unicorn…and a pair no less! One of us winning keeps all of our hopes alive.😉 This project contains two of my favorite elements-gorgeous fabric and not sewing. Ha. I adore the print! I noticed it on the pinboards in your office reveal. Reminiscent of Raphael by Sandberg (a longtime love) and fantastic with your drapes! As for the chairs themselves, who could resist that sculptural gleaming glory? I’m interested to know more of their history. I’ve seen the style featured in posh wedding receptions, but I had no idea that authentic pieces were actual brass! I suspect comfort was not the primary goal.🤣 A stellar accent though! You certainly have been knocking out the design projects! Your place must really be feeling like *home*. Are you heading into the landscape for spring or maintaining momentum inside? Perhaps a nice break to enjoy your progress? Whatever you’re planning, thanks for sharing! Cheers to a great day, Jordan!💜

    1. Jordan Thomson says:

      Thank you Peggi! Amen to pretty fabric with no sewing…haha! Our house is feeling more and more like home, which keeps me motivated to knock projects out. We have been trying to do some projects outside, but the snow (!!!) has been cramping our style. Fingers crossed that this weekend we finally get some real spring weather. Have a great day!

  2. Good morning! And hellloooo stunning chair!! How? How do you manage to score such amazing finds? My FBMP algorithm is fine tuned, but my area would never generate something as stupendous as this. You have the luck Jordan! The fabric you selected is beautiful, and compliments the chairs so well. This looks like a fun project. I have four chairs that need recovering myself; this is my reminder to start looking for fabric. Do you have any favorite Etsy shops? These turned out stunning, and are a wonderful addition to your spaces. Thank you for sharing and have a fantastic rest of the week!

    1. Jordan Thomson says:

      Hi Lauren! I spent 2-3 years searching for a chair like this, and then suddenly, multiple listings popped up within a week or two of each other! My luck definitely ebbs and flows. I hope you are able to snag some good finds soon! This was actually my first time purchasing fabric on Etsy, and I was really happy with the quality. Otherwise, I usually shop at Joann Fabric or local upholstery shops. I like to see the fabric in person when possible. Have a great week & weekend!

  3. Good Morning Jordan!
    I’m always learning here on the blog. I’ve tackled a chair reupholstery in the past and your right it’s surprisingly easy. However, I’ve never heard or seen a brass chair before and not at all familiar with this gorgeous vintage style Chiavari. So very cool and incredibly pretty. And the fabric you used is beautiful 😍 when I saw your office my eyes were drawn to that chair. I mean everything is beautiful in your office but that chair was so unique, what an incredible find and you have two of them, my gosh that’s wonderful! I think you got them for an awesome deal. Yay! Such an interesting piece of furniture ❤️
    Thanks for sharing Jordan, you have impeccable taste, style and incredible eye. Did you study design too? If not, you’re a natural and I adore your style. No pressure but you must share more 😉 Hope your day is shining bright and your week is going great! Cheers

    1. Jordan Thomson says:

      Thank you so much, Colleen! I hadn’t heard of these chairs either until a few years ago, but instantly became obsessed. I didn’t study design, but thank you so much for the compliment! We have had a few snowy days here, but hoping for a sunny weekend. Have a great day, Colleen!

  4. I’ve never seen brass chairs like those – they look amazing – great find & good job!!!

    When my sister was furnishing her home she was on the hunt for a set of six dining room chairs to use with a Duncan Phyfe table that our father had refinished. In the meantime she kept purchasing interesting orphaned dining room chairs that she would refinish and reupholster the seats – usually in stunning colors and wild fabrics. Very inexpensive projects – everyone wants sets of dining room chairs so orphans are cheap, a quart of pain was plenty for each and often fabric remnants were used.

    The chairs are scattered around the house and serve as impromptu side tables and additional guest seating as needed. And yes, she eventually found a set of six chairs for the dining room table.