Diamond Tufted Back Chair Refinish Project…

As I do, I was having a little hunt on Kijiji one weekend morning and I came across this really beautiful old upholstered diamond tufted back chair… it was the shape that caught my eye… and that diamond button tufting!… oh my!… I sent the email… got the response that it was still available and with cash in hand I was in the truck on my way to pick this looker up… This was going to be a fun refinish project!

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A couple weeks of evening and weekend work, and a trip to the upholster and I now have this diamond tufted back chair treasure to feather our nest… take a read and peruse the photos to see how I turned a filthy pink dark wood chair into this sun weathered beach castle beauty!…

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I started with a vacuum to remove any loose surface dirt… this one was dirty… on the trip from back to truck into the house left my hands in a filty state!… once I had it in the house it was time to tear it down so I grabbed up the pliers…

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I relied on two types of pliers for this project… linesman and needle nose.  I also took out a small nail bar… to help pry up the staples…

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I removed and set aside the cushion… that could go right to upholstery as is and they’d create a new cushion cover… starting from inside the chair I grabbed the bottom edge of the double piping with the linesman pliers and gave a tug… it lifted fairly easily all the way up and around the inside edge of the chair…

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If you’re stripping a chair be mindful of all of the staples in the piping if you grab it with your hands to pull it out of the chair once you’ve lifted the end out with your pliers… I worked all around the chair and pulled all of the piping off of the chair…

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Once the piping was out of the way of the first panel I wanted to pull out I went in and removed any staples that were hanging on from the piping removal…

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…then I begun working on the diamond tufted back section… working around pulling the staples up out of the pink fabric…

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I mentioned staples… there were a lot of staples… A. Lot. Of. Staples… under the stapled pink fabric layer the fluff layer was stapled…

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…and then the foam was stapled…

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Even the straw layer was stapled!… I worked at this section one evening… removing staples around back and forth from each layer as I worked my way down through…

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I keep the button tufting intact… leaving all of the layers together and buttons in place… the bottom of this diamond button tufted panel was secure into the inside of the chair so I got to work on the outside…

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Removing the piping an then attempting to pull the fabric off without too much plier assistance at first… you can see the rips of pink fabric left behind…

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If you’re stripping a piece that you will be refinishing yourself take some photos along the way to remember the order of the layers…

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…and how any little finicky details were handled in the original upholstering…

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I find I always learn neat things about building when tearing down old furniture…

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…like how this front edge piece lifts up to secure the fabric of the seat and how the same piece secures the front edge panel of fabric…

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I set the wood edge and fluff aside to bring to upholstery… then the weekend hit… the weather was great and I got outside on the patio to finish stripping the chair of fabric and fluff!…

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I wasn’t expecting the straw layer at all!… it was neat to find…

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Now having all of the outside layers of fabric and fluff off I pulled out all staples… creating as fresh as possible surface for the upholsters to work with…

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I find that a combination of the needle nose and linesman pliers, and small nail bar make a great arsenal against the army of staples!… the nail bar helps to pry up the staples so that you can get a good grip on them with the pliers.

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Releasing the diamond tufted back panel was a little tricky as the fabric came inside and wrapped up around the chair…

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Fabric and fluff removed and set aside to go to the upholstery in case any of it was usable for the reupholstery work – TIP! if some of the pieces you remove from your chair are still in decent shape there may be the opportunity to reuse them in the chair which should result in some cost savings from not having to purchase new foam or fluff!  A portion of my chair foam was reused during the reupholstery process after it received a good steaming and layer of dacron wrap.

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Once the chair was defabriced and defluffed it was back into the house until I had time to get back to work on it… it went a full week without getting worked on…

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Then the weekend hit and the weather was nice enough, again, to work outside!… So out we went on the patio with sand papers in hand!…

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The chair frame was in pretty great shape… originally I’d thought that I would paint the frame but wondered how easily the stain would lift with a hand sanding… It would be amazing if I could get the wood to look like a weathered/bleached beachy wood finish…

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To my surprise the original clear and stain sanded away very nicely… and dings and dents were left intact with stain which would work perfectly with the weathered look I wanted to achieve…

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I spent a few years working as a sculpture for a local fabrication company and thats where I developed my feel for using palm sander sand papers for hand sanding… they’re durable from their fabric like back… I’ve found that they hold up well to being folded over and unfolded and folded again… I also have a selection of grits on hand as I have a palm sander 🙂  I started with 150, and worked up through 180 and 220 to remove the majority of the stain and then to create a smooth finish…

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I also gave a quick sand to the area where the staples were removed to cut down on any splinters that were kicked up from the staple removal… this made handling the chair easier for me and the upholsterer…

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Oh yeah… the daisies… I wasn’t really a fan of these on the chair… I found they gave the chair a real 80’s feel and I wanted a more timeless look… only I wasn’t sure how they were attached… what if I wrecked the arm of the chair while pulling them off? I figured if it wrecked the arm I could find a replacement wooden decorative medallion that I could put back onto he chair in their place…

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Sanding the arms took the most time as I worked around the curves and into the grooves… I was nervous to get right into the daisy removal so I did a little sanding first… you can see below where I’d test painted before sanding as I was deciding which route to go…

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…okay then I jumped on the daisies… using a butterknife to see if I could pry them up I could only get them to move a little… I needed some leverage… but careful leverage as I didn’t want to dent the wood… I ever so gently used the small nail bar to pry at the daisy… POP!… it came off… well most of it… it did leave a little wood behind… and nails!… each daisy was glued and tacked into place with three little nails…

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I used the pliers to pluck out the little nails as the nails didn’t have heads so I couldn’t get them with the nail bar… then I concentrated the sanding on the wood and glue left behind by the daisy… once I made it down through the layer of glue the sanding could continue evenly over the whole area…

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I also stopped and taped up my fingers at this point… gripping and sanding can wear on your skin and I found that a little bit of medical tape kept my fingerprints intact!…

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I worked my way around the chair and into all of the nooks and crannies… though as you can see I did leave traces of the original stain behind as it would help add to the overall added look of the piece… darker in nicks and scratches, and some groves…

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I’ve always enjoyed tedious tasks that I can fully immerse in… its like a sort of meditation for me… I sanded for hours on the patio and when I was done it felt like only minutes had passed.

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Once stripped of stain the chair got a good vacuuming to remove any sawdust and it was back into the house until the following weekend when I could devote a chunk of time to painting up the wood…

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Now if I was going to paint the chair I wouldn’t have stripped it at all… I would have plucked off the daisies, filled the little nail holes and then just got to work painting… but because I wanted the weathered look I embraced the holes left behind from the daisies and left them as they were… I’ve always loved to see traces of previous times…

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With FAT Paint in Skyline and Cast Iron, my Cling On brush, a jar of water, tupperwear lid as a palette, and a clean rag I got to work watering down paint and washing over the wood with the grey… For this wash I dipped the very tips of my bristles into paint then into water and pounced my brush on the tupperware lid… then a second light dip into the water and onto my little palette… I worked with more water than paint to create a dark grey water… I brushed it over the surface working wiping away any major drips and blotting the wood with the rag… it looked much darker when wet so I let the coat dry fully before going in with a second coat…

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Once dry you can see how light the grey wash was… if you want a dark wash then work with a 1:1 paint to water, if you would like it lighter then work with a little more water than paint like I did… After the wash coat of the Skyline dried I did a second wash coat with FAT Paint’s Cast Iron… I wanted to bring in brown hue and Cast Iron was perfect for that…

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…and of course Oliver was around to help!…

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After the paint washes dried I coat the wood in a coat of natural wax using a stencilling brush… I find that the stiff bristles help to get the wax into all of the nooks and crannies… I let the wax sit for a few minutes and then came back in and buffed with a piece of fluffed up cheesecloth…

The next morning I used FAT Glaze in both Raw Umber and Black in the groves and details around the chair to bring definition to those areas…applying and wiping away the excess and applying and wiping until I was happy with the result… the thing to remember with the glaze is that it is going to dry much darker… if you’re uncertain of how it will look create a test board so that you have a clear understanding of how the product darkens…  Once my glaze was set in the groves and details I gave the whole chair a coat of white wax to add one more layer of weatheredness to the wood…

As the diamond tufted back of this chair was above my current upholstery skill level… for now… I relied on my seasoned upholster to redress this darling chair…

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While my chair was out for upholstery I received progress shots!… Carlito knew how anxious I was to see this refinished project come together so he kept me up to date with action shots!… I was bursting to get it back once I saw his diamond tufting progress!

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The fabric on this chair… now I went a little unconventional… I picked up a 12′ x 15′ canvas painters drop cloth from Home Depot for the upholsterers to use as the fabric to recover the chair… The canvas was stiff when I got it out of the package so I tossed it into the washer and dryer and it came out beautifully soft!… it’s thickness did made the diamond tufting a little more tedious than a normal upholstery fabric would have but it still came out incredible!… so natural and unpretentious looking!… the perfect fabric for the weathered wood…

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Chris picked up the chair from the upholstery shop on his way home from work… I was sitting by the window like a kid waiting for Santa Claus!… I ran out to the truck when he got home and get we got it in, dropped it in the kitchen, and I unwrapped it right there!

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I am beyond thrilled with the combination of wood and canvas… this diamond tufted back beauty now lives in a sunny spot in our living room… and has been well received by our two fur babies… one of which claimed it immediately by kicking me off and hauling down quite the nap in it…

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Let me break down the cost and time for you…

Project Cost:

Chair: $120

Canvas Drop Cloth: $50

Reupholstery: $350

Sandpapers/Paints/Waxes/Glazes: $30

Total: $550.00

Project Time:

5 hours to strip fabric and pull all staples

8 hours to hand sand all wood back to natural

2 hours to paint wash, wax and glaze

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Fur baby… and Lacey approved!… and the Pickle loves it too!

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What do you think!?… how would you have refinished this chair for your space? Leave me a comment below!… I would love to hear your colour and fabric combination ideas!… If you would like to receive these blog posts right to your inbox pop your email address in the little subscribe box at the top right hand of this window and hit submit… then whenever I publish a blog post you’ll get it sent right to your inbox!… and if you want to see projects in the works check me out on instagram here!… I’m always sharing shots of projects in the works before they make it into blog posts – a little behind the scenes action 🙂



24 Responses to Diamond Tufted Back Chair Refinish Project…

  1. Tina says:

    STUNNING!!!! I love this chair…you absolutely nailed it
    I can’t wait to try the drop cloth ideal, thanks for sharing…enjoy

  2. This is an absolute stunner. Pinning this to my Gorgeous Chairs board! Thank you so much for sharing so many details – its inspiring!

  3. Denise Collins says:

    I have a chair very similar and I could not decide what I wanted to upholster it with. You inspired me with the drop cloth. Was the 1 all you needed?

    • Lacey Haskell says:

      Hi Denise! I’m not sure for how long the drop cloth will hold up so reupholstering this for myself for our home is a bit of a test that I felt it was worth doing 🙂
      I’m thinking it will hold up though as it is a thicker canvas fabric! The upholstery guy sent leftover canvas home with the chair! I’d purchased a 12′ x 15′ drop cloth!… and it was even used to cover the bottom of the chair! 🙂

  4. Sherry Darlington says:

    This is perfect! I have two chairs that belonged to my best friend that has passed away. I always loved them in her home so her husband gave them to me. While they were gorgeous in her setting they don’t work in mine. Weathered wood & canvas will!

    • Lacey Haskell says:

      Oh wow what a treasure to have in your life Sherry! and to make them fit your decor is a great way to ensure that you’ll use them for years to come in memory of your friend – thats really beautiful! Thank you for sharing that with me xx

  5. Cindy says:

    Great bob, looks so inviting and comfy! I love it!

  6. Sandra Crosbie says:

    Stunning, stunning, and more stunning. And WOW. Beauty personified.

  7. Beve says:

    Stunning!I love it!thanks for sharing.

  8. Patsy Shaffer says:

    This is the most beautiful chair I’ve ever seen! Great job!

  9. Linda says:

    Absolutely Love this chair and idea. I’ve got three canvas drop cloths already, two to make grommet curtains (I’m going to draw the music from a song I learned on the piano on them) with and another to upholster an old chair from my grandparents. All this for my little library! You’ve given me encouragement because mine is not so complicated. Have the chair upholsters removed and now will work on the wood. Not a fancy chair, just a deep emotional attachment and now you’ve provided me an example of how the wood and canvas can work together!

    • Lacey Haskell says:

      Awe Linda that sounds so lovely! Please come over to the Feathering My Nest Facebook page and share some photos of your canvas creations and your beautiful little library! xx I can’t wait to see!

  10. Mary Rudolph says:

    You did a fantastic job, it looks beautiful.

  11. sj says:

    Not straw, maybe dried moss, but no way straw, it is courser, not suitable.

    • Lacey Haskell says:

      turns out it coir – a straw like filling make from the husks of coconuts! 🙂
      It went back into the chair – with some new fluff on top – its great!

  12. Christina Maze says:


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