Makeover — Ribbon Upholstered Chair

by Diana Durkes

We are in for a treat today, when furniture makeover and upcycler specialist Diana Durkes joins us as a Contributor. Diana gives “New Life to the Tossed and Found” at her blog, Fine Diving in Chicago.


I’m a plaids and stripes kind of person. Something about vibrant colors arranged in sensible lines and angles will have me forever gravitating to a vintage kilt or a store full or ribbon.


So when I came across a photo of these striped chairs, the idea of combining all kinds of ribbon for an upholstered piece stayed near the top of my inspirations file.


Shortly after, I sized up a rescued orphan chair as the perfect shape to try out the ribbon design. The seat and back were in excellent condition once the old upholstery was removed, and the chair’s generous seat and back proportion made it easy for a DIY upholstery project.


To start the chair rehab, I removed the seat and back from its wooden frame. I used an orbital sander to take off the old finish and rehabbed it with a thick coat of Minwax Ebony stain.

photo4Next, I removed the old upholstery fabric and cording from the chair’s seat and back. With a yard of medium-weight cotton, I traced around each piece to make a template for the outer ribbon upholstery. I bought approximately 20 yards of grosgrain and satin ribbon in varying widths from a local fabric store. I pinned the ribbon in overlapping lengths on top of the cotton templates I previously cut. Using a sewing machine, I zigzagged them in place.


When the chair seat was completely sewn, I used a staple gun to attach it to the seat cushion. Doing the same to the chair back was a challenge since I lacked a long-nosed upholstery stapler, a tool now on my wish list. I switched to plan B and took the chair to an upholstery shop for their assistance. They stapled the back and glued on the double row of black cording.


Diana DurkesThe project makes a comfortable desk chair in my home office. In high-low comparison, the total spent on it was a fraction of the cost of the object of my inspiration.

The original, a product of Dransfield and Ross, retails for $2,300. The DIY chair, though of unknown origins but much TLC, cost $150 for the ebony stain, ribbon, cotton fabric, staples and upholsterer’s labor.

Diana Durkes is a creative recycler and a confessed alley shopper. She gives a makeover to one found item each week, and publishes the before & after on her blog, Fine Diving in Chicago.

How’s that for a Makeover?

And what furniture have you rescued and resuscitated? Send your Before and After photos with a description of your Makeover to

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15 Comments for “Makeover — Ribbon Upholstered Chair”

Thank you, this is a great idea. Gives me a chance to indulge in my chair collecting sickness.

Love your idea! great effect:) greetings from Poland

[…] A colorful chair with the cushion made from ribbons placed on a reclaimed chair @Re-Nest.  DIY full directions here […]

Love this idea! My brother-in-law is an upholster, and I plan on getting his help to do a chair like this. Would look great in the shop window too! Thanks so much for the inspiration.

Hi Debra,

How cool that your brother-in-law is an upholsterer. I am jealous. Diana did a fabulous job with this project, I agree.

Have fun and please come by anytime,
— Kathy

Hi AK and Doris,

So glad you clicked over. AK, I think I have your sickness too. Do you renovate any of your chair finds? Please email me some of your own Before and Afters if so.

Doris greetings back to you and to Poland!


[…] never occurred to me to use ribbon upholstery on a chair, but it did to Diane Durkes at, who turned this beat up chair from […]

Them chairs are very nice , I have done a few chairs and a have got pictures before and after try to send you .
Greting Lukas

[…] many of you adored our Contributor and Furniture Makeover Expert Diana Durke’s ribbon-upholstered chair. What other ideas inspire […]

[…] Durkes about using ribbon to upholster old and worn furniture and bring it back to vibrant life.  I absolutely loved the effect of the multi-colored ribbon as a stand in for fabric.  I had […]

[…] to help get you inspired:Office chair makeover ~ Craft RookieBathroom chair makeover ~ My Pink LifeRibbon upholstered chair ~ Home WorkshopSwedish modern chair makeover ~ Alicia B. Designs$5 yardsale chair makeover ~ […]

I can’t tell you how excited I am to find this post! My mother-in-law and I saw this chair in a show room and became obsessed with it. I have decided to attempt to recreate it for her for a present. Thanks for the inspiration and guidance!

PS. I know I am almost a year late.

I am so glad you found it, Meg!! Please share with us photos when you are done….I (and I know Diana too) would love to see them!!

And not to worry!! This and all our projects live on online — no time limit to design inspiration.

Create on,

I love this chair! You have done a fabulous job. I found your blog searching the web!

[…] this chair beautiful? Diane from Fine Diving in Chicago shares a tutorial for making this lovely Ribbon Upholstered Chair on What a great way to use ribbon to add a little spice, not to mention elegance, […]

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