How to upcycle a chair without sewing

Soften the lines of a classic mid-century dining chair with look-at-me upholstery: a cheat’s version made from repurposed cushions.

Bunnings magazine, June 2020

Tools and materials

120-grit metal sanding sheet

240-grit abrasive paper

Clean cloths

Cushion covers to fit your chair

Cushion insert

Disposable gloves

Drop sheet

Liquid beeswax

Masking tape

Mini paint roller kit

Quick Grip 50mm spring clamps

Rust converter (we used Bondall Ranex ‘Rustbuster’ rust converter)

Safety equipment


Spray paint (we used Dulux ‘Metalshield’ epoxy enamel spray paint in Flat White)


1. Disassemble the chair

Working on a drop sheet, remove the seat and back. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws from the frame. Tip: Treat rusty screws with rust converter to reuse when reassembling the chair.

2. Paint the ferrules

Wear gloves, glasses and a mask suitable for sanding and painting. To paint the metal chair tips (ferrules), apply tape around the timber legs and lightly sand the ferrules with 120-grit metal abrasive paper. Wipe clean. Spray the ferrules with white paint, holding a cardboard offcut behind to avoid overspray. Apply two coats, leave to dry after each.

3. Sand the timber

Remove tape and smooth over the timber frame with 240-grit abrasive paper. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

4. Apply beeswax

Apply liquid beeswax over the frame using a clean cloth. Leave to dry for half an hour then buff all over in a circular motion with another clean cloth.

5. Add cushion covers

Position cushion covers over the seat and backrest. Cut open a cushion insert and use the stuffing to pad inside the covers. Fold the covers towards the underside of the seat and rear of the backrest, clamping with spring clamps. Staple the open edges of the covers to the underside of the seat and rear of the backrest.

6. Reassemble the chair

Find the screw holes under the seat and at the rear of the backrest, marking them with a pen. Reassemble the chair by pushing the screws through the holes in the frame and the fabric, tightening them into the seat and backrest with a screwdriver. 

Photography credit: James Moffatt

Want to upcycle more around the home?

We’ve got a great D.I.Y. to upcycle your bedside tables.

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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