Reupholstering a child’s recliner

A while back we picked up this ugly hideous child’s recliner from an estate sale.  Looks don’t scare us.  We are up for the task!

Recliner Before

I wasn’t joking when I said it was hideous!

The recliner mechanism was about the only thing that worked on this chair ( and barely at that!!).  The foam was pretty much gone and the springs in the seat were sagging and broken.  This weekend we set out to tear off the old upholstery and redo it with the kiddo (hereafter known as “the project manager”).

Aryn ready to tear it up

She is excited to get to work!

We spent most of Friday evening pulling staples out of fabric, finding old candy wrappers, earrings, a barbie size milk jug, two quarters, an Olympic USA pin and a broken watch, all of which she wanted to keep.  Since this was a no-sew project, Dave (The Seamster) was tasked to remove the recliner mechanism.  Not a problem for him, since being The Seamster wasn’t always his main gig.  By the end of the night, we had the hideous recliner stripped down to the frame.

Aryn cruddy springs

Note the crappy springs, one of which was broken and GONE!

Saturday we ran out to Joann so she could pick out fabric.  After strolling through all the home decor fabric we moved into the outdoor fabric.  After our summer vacation in Galveston, we’ve been redecorating her room with a “beachy” theme.  We looked at some shell and nautical themed fabric, but I didn’t think it would update the chair.  It’d look more like a miniature version of a Golden Girls chair.  NOT going to happen!  We compared a couple of blue and white graphic patterns and finally settled on Richloom’s “Bindis” pattern in the color scheme “Summer.”  This little recliner took 3 yards of fabric and we had none left over.  After that we hit our local Lowes to pick up some spring hardware.  When we got home, the project manager made sure we were back on task with the chair!  Dave installed the springs and we put new jute webbing in the back.

Recliner new springs and webbing

Chair guts!

We covered the springs with burlap, the original seat did not have it, thus, when the middle spring broke, it poked through the seat.  NOT comfy!!!!!  We cut new foam for the seat and back rest, covered it with fresh dacron padding and stapled the new fabric on.  At this point it was really starting to look like a chair and the project manager couldn’t wait to test it out!

Seat tester

Needless to say, she gave it her stamp of approval!!!

Next we moved on to the base of the recliner and wrapped the existing arm foam in fresh dacron padding.  We always add the extra layer of dacron padding to make it softer and fuller, even when we install new foam vs. reusing the existing foam.  We stapled the fabric onto the inner arms and installed the recliner mechanism and reattached the seat section to the base.  Now it’s starting to look like a real chair again!  

Recliner seat installed2

Can you see it coming together?

We stapled the fabric on the outer arms and installed the foot rest on the recliner mechanism.  Next, the project manager did some finish work and trimmed back strings and excess fabric.

Recliner finish work

Hands on management right here!

We sat it back upright and finished off the back.  The front arm panels were demolished in removal and we had to rebuild them, but this was enough work for two days, especially when working with a 6 year old.  Seems we  could have done it in half the time, but this was not “our” chair, it was “hers” and she was the project manager.  Gotta do what the “boss” says, right?  Fortunately for us, the project manager had waited long enough to sit in her chair!!  We carried it up to her room and she ended the evening kicked back watching TV in it.  She loved it so much she slept in it.  That’s what management does, sleeps in recliners, right??  Sunday morning, it was her reading chair.

Reading recliner

Reading break!

The front arm panels needed to be redone but since it was a hot glue project and not so child friendly, we waited till we could do that without the project manager.

The hideous recliner is not hideous anymore!  See our project gallery below for the details.

before and after

Project Gallery:

Sharing at: MissMustardSeed’s

2 thoughts on “Reupholstering a child’s recliner

  1. Monica

    Hi, this turned out great! Did you by chance write down any of the measurements for the fabric pieces?? Thank you,


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