makeover in a month | slipcovered desk chair

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Decorating, Furniture Makeovers, My House, Office, Room Makeovers, upholstery makeovers26 Comments

If you missed part one of the Makeover in a Month series, where we installed and painted paneling, you can catch up HERE.  In this post, I’m continuing my office makeover by sharing my slipcovered desk chair.

If you’re observant, you may have noticed that a few desk chairs have come and gone from my workspaces over the years.  I have a terrible time finding one that is comfortable, but doesn’t look like something from the set of Star Trek.  The vintage-style desk chair that is comfortable for long days on the computer has been elusive.  It’s been a struggle that has resulted in purchasing and passing along half a dozen desk chairs over the years.  The bright side is that my kids are always excited to claim my latest reject!

When Jeff and I both had to work from home and I was sitting in my studio chair all day, I knew it just wasn’t going to cut it.  It never was the most comfortable chair, but that fact was amplified when I was sitting in it for longer periods of time.  I ordered yet another desk chair, THIS ONE had amazing reviews (4.5 rating with over 2,000 reviews), traditional lines, and I was very hopeful.  Unfortunately, my bad luck with office chairs continues and this one is not as comfortable for me as it is for all of the reviewers.  It didn’t feel like it had enough padding and something about the mechanism is a little off.  It is just a little tippy even though all of the screws are tight.  I’m so frustrated with office chairs that I am ready to hurl one out the window.

Instead of going down the rabbit hole, looking for another desk chair, I decided to try to make this one work by adding foam to the seat and, in order to hide my modifications, a slipcover.

slipcovered office chair | miss mustard seed

I already had all of the materials on hand, so I just went for it.  I cut 3″ upholstery foam to fit the seat, topped it with batting, and upholstered it in some leftover linen I had from another project.  Initially, I was going to make the slipcover out of some antique European curtain panels, but I ended up using that fabric to slipcover the chair in my studio (I’ll show that in another post) and I used a hemp sheet for this chair.

slipcovered office chair | miss mustard seed

I did use remnants of that panel to upholster the arms, though, and I love the subtle embroidered detail…

slipcovered office chair | miss mustard seed

The slipcovered desk chair turned out so cute and the padding helps a lot with the comfort factor, but I would still like to try to fix the mechanism and maybe make a few more modifications.  Basically, I feel like I need to just design and build my own office chair at this point.  Does anyone else have this problem?!

Maybe I’m just asking for too much!

Anyway, I absolutely love how it looks…

slipcovered office chair | miss mustard seed

This is a project that my mom and I worked on together and it was a huge help having an extra set of hands on this one.  Because of the arms, it needed 20 ties!  She cut, ironed, and pinned the ties while I pinned and sewed the back, seat, and skirt.

slipcovered office chair | miss mustard seed

slipcovered office chair | miss mustard seed

slipcovered office chair | miss mustard seed

If you want to make a similar slipcover, it’s a modified version of THIS TUTORIAL.  I show how I make ties HERE.

In the next Makeover in a Month segment, I’ll show how the wallpaper above the paneling turned out!

Be sure to check out the room makeovers happening by Leslie of My 100-Year-Old Home,   Melissa of The Inspired Room,  and KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms.

makeover in a month | slipcovered desk chair

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26 Comments on “makeover in a month | slipcovered desk chair”

  1. I think that the problem is that our bodies weren’t meant to sit for long periods of time. The uncomfortable feeling is your body telling you to get up and move around. The general advice is to get up and move every 20 – 30 minutes. I know it’s hard to disengage and do that when one is really into a project, but you can’t blame the chair for you don’t. Many neck, shoulder, wrist, and back problems are caused by the modern problem of sitting too long and doing repetitive actions.

  2. I have horrible luck with desk chairs. I found one that I loved because it had a height-adjustable lumbar support (instead of just lumbar support that adjusted for depth) and was only something like $200, I have a long torso and the small of my back isn’t in the right place for most desk chairs to be comfortable. Of course, that model was discontinued and I’ve been looking for something similar that doesn’t cost the earth ever since. I bought it at one job, loved it and used it for years, and when I changed jobs and was told I could get a new chair, I turned down one that cost almost $800 for my cheapy chair.

    Yes, it is important to get up and move around but there are some chairs that just don’t fit a person’s body and can make sitting for even a few minutes uncomfortable.

  3. Perfect timing! I’m working on a slipcover right now and you inspired me with the arms. I’ve followed you for some time and can identify with your creative and entrepenueral spirit! POST IDEA- I’m 29 with a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old at home full time. I’m a stay at home mom brimming with ideas and love for creative and diy projects. I do projects whenever I can and even have a small Etsy shop but often get frustrated with how much I can’t do because of the demands of being a mom of littles and wife and taking care of the house etc. I know your business was birthed when your boys were in diapers, I’ve read early posts. Looking back now what would you say to yourself as a young mom…any tips or regrets? I know they won’t be young forever but it feels like it right now! I get being present and enjoying the little years but creativity is how I ‘cope’ and blow off steam. Love to know your thoughts.. Thanks!

  4. It looks like you now!

    My desk chair is a solid oak 1940s office chair with arms, the classic type. It does not roll or swivel. With or without a pillow at the back, it is comfortable for HOURS and you can curl up in it a million different ways because it is roomy. I bought it for $10 from a garage sale back in the early ’90s and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  5. What a lovely makeover! I love vintage desk/office chairs but it is rare to find one that isn’t worn out. Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. This is beautiful and the attention to detail on the arms is so sweet. And what an extra added bonus that you made it with your mom.

  7. Looks so pretty! My desk chair is an old rocking chair with a fully upholstered seat and back. The chair came from our family farm. As long as I or my mother (who grew up there) could remember, this chair was stored in one side of the milk house, a glorified shed. It had to have been there at least 75 to 80 years! It was filthy, obviously. It had, at one point, mice living in the upholstery. It had mud dauber nests attached to the wood design on the bottom and arms. I just felt it would be perfect for my office! I pulled it out, removed all the upholstery and stuffing, which I burned. I then cleaned and oiled the wood and brought it back to my house. I did a couple of minor repairs on the springs, then took it to an upholsterer and had it re-cushioned and covered in a heavy duty muslin. I made a gray slipcover out of linen, using your tutorial and was so happy with the result. When I finally sat down in it, it was the most uncomfortable chair I had ever sat in! I had pulled all the mouse infested upholstery and padding off without sitting in it so I had no idea. Maybe that’s why it had been banished to a shed for so long. My great grandparents weren’t the kind to get rid of anything so when I came along years and years later, after they were gone, there it was waiting for me! Since then I have added a cushion to the seat and a small lumbar pillow which makes it comfortable. There is something nice about rocking back and forth while working. I will always have this story with the chair and laugh every time I think of my great grandmother banishing the chair to a shed.

  8. The best chair ever, for a woman to sit in for working at a desk, is a secretarial office chair. The support is great and most importantly, it is not a heavy chair. Most desk chairs are designed for/by men and are too heavy and hard to move around while you are seated—and a large chair is not proportioned to a woman’s size. Women have few choices in desk chairs made specifically for them, and a secretarial chair fits our bodies better. The one I use is similar to this one, but there are many variations of this style to choose from—Boss Office Products Perfect Posture Delux Fabric Task Chair with Adjustable Arms. Just google it and then be happy you bought it. (I recovered mine in a sweet fabric and it is still going strong after 20 years of sewing, painting, drawing, designing while sitting comfortably.)

  9. I really had to laugh at what you had to do to that chair! I personally have spent (HOW) much? on office chairs, vintage chairs over the years that have poked me in the bum, not been ergonomically correct, too short, too tall, etc…..Then, I’d sell, donate, remake, or just toss out what never worked. I have that same foam cushion here, covered with fabric to make it presentable. Yours looks lots better than mine though! We seem to think so much alike, Marian! I love your posts!

  10. I have an extremely bad back and could never find a chair to sit in at my computer. My friend was having a yard sale and had an older heavy duty wicker chair with wide arms. It had some pink paint sticking out with the white. I really like it and it is the most comfortable chair I have ever had. I put in a back cushion. Thought about putting rollers on it but never have. My hubby has an Ethan Allen desk chair and it is very comfortable. It is, of course, all wood and he put a pillow on the seat. Just some thoughts. Hope this chair works for you.

  11. Hi! If the chair is pitching forward, check to see if the seat is attached to the center post backwards. It’s an easy fix to remove the screws and flip the seat around. Your slipcover looks great!

  12. I love your slipcover! It makes the chair look so lovely. I often wish I new how to sew, but I do have a mom that sews and is willing to help me with small projects. Thank you for the inspiration!

  13. Nicely done! Now it doesn’t look too “industrial” and is comfortable to sit on for long periods! Way to go!!

  14. I have found that what are called steno chairs, steno for stenographer, are the best fit for me and I suspect many other women. First, they have no arms so if you are short waisted you are not forced to keep your arms raised to an uncomfortable height. The seats are also easily adjusted for shorter legs, the backs provide great support and they roll readily on hard surfaces. If you are using one on carpeting I highly advise getting a floor protector made of hard fiberboard. You might be able to find a vintage model, but, if not, you could also slipcover a steno chair as you have this one. I love the fabric on the arms.

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  16. Hi Marian: Like always adorable. I had the same problem and since I kind of work and live in my office this is where I do everything from design work, reading crafting and TV watching I too was on the office chair yo yo. I recently purchased a higher back Hooker leather chair with a separate cushion. Yes it was more expensive then most desk chairs but I got so tired of trying to find something that didn’t feel like I had a stick up my hind end I was happy to pay the price and it is top grain cowhide. I’m sure it could be ordered in fabric too. You might want to check it out.

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