Channel Back Chair ~ An Upholstery Adventure

Today I’m excited to be able to show you a project that has been brewing in my mind for about 2 years, until this month’s themed makeover assignment was “chairs”.  It’s safe to say that to get something done for myself is never at the forefront of my agenda, but this time I FINALLY got a piece of furniture done for me!!  This is my first makeover for myself since my free TV armoire 3 years ago, which brings me to a total of 2 pieces for us. Enter in this vintage channel back chair.

I picked up this sweet piece at a garage sale for $3…eeep!!  It wasn’t something I had planned to tackle at first because I loved that original fabric.  I even tried to clean it – mistake.  It made the color bleed and it looked even worse.  After that, I stuck it in the corner of our bedroom and used it quite frequently.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

That gorgeous chenille fabric was so utterly dirty and had been worn with love all over.  See those holes in the seat up above?  The seat was originally tufted and missing several buttons, and my kids and cat also had a hayday with this chair.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

The back panel was the only part in decent shape.  My kids loved to crawl behind it and rub the raised surface of the fabric because it was so soft.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

I told my husband that this winter when the snow was flying outside, my little ol’ self was staying inside to work and planning to tackle two chairs.  One of them was this one, a channel back chair.

Mind you, I have no formal instruction on upholstery, but somehow it just makes sense to me.  I’ve told the story before of my great-uncle, a renowned upholsterer, who was requested at times to be flown to different cities to do custom work. My grandfather would help him, and I wish I could have picked their brains on tips & tricks, or better yet, watch them work. That’s where I claim I got my passion for it. I mean, who else would make their hands look like they got in a cat fight for a piece of furniture? tsk.

My inspiration for this chair came from my love of deconstructed chairs, particularly the ones I found on Pinterest. Hmmm…what do I mean by deconstructed? Well, just that…a chair that’s pretty much down to bare bones, looking well-loved, rustic, and oh so full of character.  My pinterest board has oodles of examples for you.  Take a look so you see what I was after.

When I purchased my yardage, I had every intention of selling this chair in my shop, and doing a white linen front with beige back to create a light, airy feel.  However, I just couldn’t get myself to do the white on front because nobody who owned children or pets would purchase something like that.  I switched it up and went with beige on front.

Off goes the old and on with the new!  This is reality…big mess.  Toys everywhere, tools and batting strew here and there.  That’s all part of the fun!

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

It wasn’t until halfway through that I reasoned with myself that I just couldn’t sell this chair I had come to love.  It’s so comfortable and the lines just draw me in.  That’s when I got a little more relaxed and started to enjoy myself.  By the way, did I tell you I had to have this project done in two days in order to meet this month’s themed makeover deadline…whew!!

I can’t tell you the number of times I was making mistakes that were easily reversed, but I was living up to my mantra, “Haste makes waste”.  However, I’m so stinkin’ excited that I can keep this chair and it was done by me.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

It’s original place was in the corner of our bedroom, so that’s where I put it, but my intention is to have it in our family room once it’s done.  I’ve already told the cat I will wipe out 8 of her 9 lives if she touches it.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

The legs and arms got sanded, but I’ve left them with all their quirky marks and a hint of stain.  I like the aged look and it adds character, as well as tells a story.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

The white back really adds dimension and gives that eclectic feel as well.  The upholstery tack trim was a must in my book because I didn’t want too clean of chair.  Most deconstructed styles leave ragged edges and as much as I would have liked to do that, I wouldn’t want to tempt my kids (or my cat) with unraveling.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

Can you believe the difference??  Just look at the seat height.  If you sat into this channel back chair, you would have a near heart-attack because it sunk.  I would warn my guests to be careful when sitting in it for fear they would freak out.

With new padding, batting, and the complete works, it is now the most comfortable chair in my house.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

I adore my channel back chair and can now say I’ve reupholstered something for myself and my family. For those of you that loved that original fabric as much as I did, never fear!  I’ve saved the salvageable remnants for another project for me – I couldn’t throw it away!  I’ll give you a hint…I love to sew. {wink,wink}

For those of you interested in tackling a project like this, I have yet to fully read the book (who has time to read a book with 6 kids these days?), but there are great tips and photos to get you started.

This was a fun themed makeover, and if you’d like to see the past month’s posts, just click below.


Farmhouse Style Feed Sack Chair by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces



To get these DIY tips & tricks in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!

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Before you head out, I would love for you to enjoy more chair eye-candy from my friends also participating in the themed makeover.

$3 Garage Sale Channel Back Chair Gets Deconstructed Makeover by Prodigal Pieces

More projects like my channel back chair makeover:

Outdated becomes 2 new projects with a bit of DIY style. See it here by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comVintage Empire Chest Gets Country Charm Makeover with Queen Anne's Lace Flowers by Prodigal Pieces |

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  • [email protected]

    I am amazed at your skill! You did an incredible job on this piece and I’m so glad that you are keeping it for your own home instead of selling it.

    February 19, 2015 at 7:28 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Paula! It was quite a chore because of my lack of time, but I am very pleased with how it came out. 😉

      February 19, 2015 at 8:29 am Reply
  • Claudia

    I’m a follower from IG and had to come take a look. I have a very similar chair I’ve been wanting to redo but I’ve never upholstered anything so I’m scared 🙁 especially with the grooves in the back. Do you have any videos with a general step by step or could you point me to something to watch. I’m a visual learner so maybe watching how to would scare me less 😉 This looks beautiful so I’m inspired to do something similar with my cat attacked chair I got from a friend. It’s got such good bones I won’t let my husband make me part with it!! Thank you, fun to Ollie you for inspiration!!

    February 19, 2015 at 8:51 am Reply
    • Larissa

      It can be daunting, but tearing apart is how you learn it’s put together. I’m very visual as well and found when I was learning to take pictures during disassembly and make notes to refer back to when putting on new upholstery. One book I love (and have yet to fully read) is Spruce Step by Step Guide to Upholstery and Design. I’ve added the link above. 😉

      February 19, 2015 at 1:09 pm Reply
      • Ellie LaJuett

        Thank you!!!

        February 20, 2015 at 5:54 pm Reply
  • Ellie LaJuett

    How did you get the rolls in the back of the chair, are the sewed or just tucked in Love the chair! Great job!

    February 19, 2015 at 8:51 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Ellie. If you look at the photo where it’s torn apart, you can see the back laying on the floor. It is sewn in compartments then stuffed. I need more practice on getting it even. 😉

      February 19, 2015 at 11:02 am Reply
  • kim

    It turned out wonderful and I’m glad yu’re keeping it for yourself

    My grandfather was a furniture upholsterer too. I have a pair of his cutting shears. What a treasure to me..

    February 19, 2015 at 9:02 am Reply
    • Larissa

      That is aweswome you have such a treasure. I just have stories that I love to hear over and over.

      February 19, 2015 at 11:00 am Reply
  • Angie @ Postcards from the Ridge

    You have my respect for tackling this project! I started a similar reupholstery project and never finished it because it was taking forever to get all the old nails out. Any tips for a novice? Maybe just lots of patience? This one turned out great!

    February 19, 2015 at 9:24 am Reply
    • Larissa

      That’s why I pondered over it, Angie. After doing my earlier chairs, I knew the channel back would be a challenge. I couldn’t believe how ridiculous my mistakes were – all because of rushing. At least it’s done!

      February 19, 2015 at 10:59 am Reply
  • Debbie @ Refresh Restyle

    You are so talented! Love your vision and the results of your hard work! I wish it was in my house! Love it!

    February 19, 2015 at 9:25 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Debbie! Now I just have to redo my tufted couch and chair. 😉

      February 19, 2015 at 10:58 am Reply
  • Breanna

    Oh my gosh, you should be so proud of this! I’m so impressed!! It looks amazing and you deserve to keep it for yourself 🙂

    February 19, 2015 at 9:36 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Bre. You girls have no idea how much this means, because my hubby was just like,”That’s nice.” (in a heart-felt way – he’s not a man of many words). I’m so excited to keep it.

      February 19, 2015 at 10:57 am Reply
  • Melody @ My Passion For Decor

    Girl…..this is AMAZING! I loved the before fabric, but what you did with this chair is breathtaking! I’m happy you’re keeping this beauty!

    February 19, 2015 at 10:03 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Aww…you made me blush! Yes, I would have loved to save the fabric, but holes everywhere from lost tufted seat buttons, etc, just made it impossible. I can’t believe I’m keeping it, but giddy to be doing so.

      February 19, 2015 at 10:53 am Reply
  • Whimzy Thyme

    Fantastic job – I love it.

    February 19, 2015 at 11:05 am Reply
  • Nancy @ Artsy Chicks Rule

    Wow, I am impressed! I have not tackled upholstery like that yet!! Not sure I will! 😉 You did a fabulous job. Very pretty!!

    February 19, 2015 at 11:30 am Reply
  • [email protected] of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer

    Larissa this is absolutely beautiful! I love that you have no fear when it comes to projects of this magnitude, very well done!! XO

    February 19, 2015 at 11:39 am Reply
  • [email protected] Interior Frugalista

    Kudos to you for having the courage to reupholster this chair. I’ve got one sitting in my living room that I’ve been afraid to tackle but desperately needs a makeover. You did a fabulous job! Good for you for FINALLY doing a piece for yourself. $3.00 – wowsers!

    February 19, 2015 at 12:19 pm Reply
  • Jackie


    You have done a wonderful job on the chair. Love the way it looks….glad you are keeping “her”….Do you have a name for “her” yet??

    February 19, 2015 at 12:35 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Hmmm…not as of yet. Any suggestions?? I’ve named my dressform Vivian, so maybe something sisterly to that…

      February 21, 2015 at 5:47 am Reply
  • Karin Chudy (ART IS BEAUTY)

    I am so jealous of your talent! That is amazing!
    Greeat Job!

    February 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You are too kind, Karin. Your talents are irreplaceable and I thoroughly enjoy your art work. 😉

      February 19, 2015 at 2:23 pm Reply
  • Meegan Fast

    Incredible! Absolutely incredible, Larissa. You simply amaze me. This is one makeover that will go down in the history books. Pinned so all of my friends can see your amazing talent.

    February 19, 2015 at 1:51 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Blushing, Meegan!! Thank you for making my day (and for pinning!)

      February 19, 2015 at 2:23 pm Reply
  • Pam @ House of Hawthornes

    Your chair looks amazing! I’m sitting here staring at a half finished mid-century modern chair that has about 1/10th of the upholstery work as that one. And I just can’t finish the stupid thing (that I’m sure I will love once it gets done). You’re pushing me to actually finish it though!

    February 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You’re too funny Pam! I’d love to see your completed project when it’s done. I’ve got a tufted couch and chair set that I plan to redo when our living room is done, and I lost count at how many buttons I will need to replace. My hands already ache just thinking about it.

      February 20, 2015 at 2:30 am Reply
  • Wendi @ H2OBungalow, wow! LOVE! Like you I’m smitten for deconstructed furniture. You outdid yourself friend! It’s stunning. Glad you’re keeping it for yourself, it’s good to keep the spoils for yourself sometimes:)

    February 19, 2015 at 5:55 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, sweetie! Yes, I rarely allow myself treasures and this one is a keeper. 😉

      February 20, 2015 at 2:31 am Reply
  • Christy @ Our Southern Home

    You chair is absolutely beautiful! I am amazed. You make it look so doable. I just ordered the book as I have a few pieces needing reupholstery! Excellent work!

    February 19, 2015 at 8:04 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Doable, yes. Loads of work, YES! Let me know what you think of the book, it’s so well-reviewed and I really enjoy some of the projects in there. I plan to reference it when I do my tufted sofa & chair pair.

      February 20, 2015 at 2:33 am Reply
  • Kathy @petticoatjunktion

    It sure doesn’t look like a $3 chair any more. I would be so afraid to tackle a project like that. You make me want to though!

    February 19, 2015 at 9:43 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Kathy. You should give it a try sometime because it’s a great learning experience. Just some forethought and GLOVES are all you need. My hands are still raw because like a kid who has to go potty, but refuses to stop playing long enough to go, I should have stopped and got my gloves instead of getting carried away. I knew better. 🙂

      February 20, 2015 at 2:35 am Reply
  • Draven

    I have yet to dive into reupholstering my first chair (need to find a good, first), but I’m itching to do so every time I see such an amazing job like this! Love how it turned out!

    February 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Victim is right, at least in my case, because each one I do so far is “new” to me and I never know how they’re going to turn out. You just don’t have a quitting spirit and all will be fine. Thanks for your sweet words!

      February 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm Reply
  • Jenny @ Refresh Living

    Wow, beautiful work!! I love the contrasting white and beige, and completely agree with your decisions to put beige on the seat and back (kids are so dirty!) AND your choice to keep the chair. I wouldn’t be able to part with it either. Nice job; I’m so impressed!

    February 20, 2015 at 8:59 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Jenny! I find myself second guessing keeping it because I haven’t been able to before, but I’m not changing my mind. tee hee.

      February 21, 2015 at 5:45 am Reply
  • Jen @ Girl in the Garage

    Great job Larissa – You know I’ve been dying to do a big reupholster job like this! I’ve had the chair for like 2 years and just got the fabric last week. Hopefully I’ll get to tackle it in March! 🙂 And I might be in the minority, but I do think the previous fabric was kind of fantastic – even a square of it framed would be beautiful art!

    February 21, 2015 at 8:19 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Kind of fantastic? ABSOLUTELY! Believe me, that’s one of the reasons I kept it as-is for 2 years before touching it. I couldn’t decide whether or not to get rid of it. I have plans for the portions that were salvageable, so stay tuned. Hint, hint…I love to sew! Can’t wait to see your project.

      February 21, 2015 at 9:07 pm Reply
  • Therese @ Fresh Idea Studio

    YOUR chair is FANATIC Larissa! Amazing transformation! You tell your husband that’s waaaay more than “That’s nice!” 😉 So happy you get to enjoy it for yourself.

    February 22, 2015 at 3:23 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Hahahaha….thank you, Therese! I have a hard time treating myself to something special at times, but once we took care of our medical bills from our preemie, I promised my family I would finish working on this to complete our home. 🙂

      February 23, 2015 at 5:34 am Reply
  • Jeanette

    Stunning! You did an incredible job and I want one!!! You inspired me to keep my eyes open to a chair to deconstruct. I also drool over the expensive ones in catalogs. Jeanette

    February 23, 2015 at 11:20 am Reply
    • Larissa

      You’re the best, Jeanette! Thank you for your sweet words. You’ll have fun if you give a chair a try. Nothing better than having something of your own. 🙂

      February 24, 2015 at 5:20 am Reply
  • Arli

    Woweeeee! What an amazing makeover. So happy you are getting to keep it.

    February 26, 2015 at 5:58 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      tee hee – thanks for the giggle. Yes, very happy it’s staying here. I still have a couch and chair, a hutch, buffet, and my dining room table that all need done. One day!

      February 27, 2015 at 5:42 am Reply
  • Lisa

    Larissa, wow you are so talented and I wish I had your furniture makeover talent. Ahhh mazing. Thank you again so much for sharing and linking up to our Something to Talk About Link Party and I hope you join us again tomorrow morning. hugs, Lisa at Concord Cottage

    March 1, 2015 at 11:15 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You’re too sweet, Lisa. Thank you!

      March 2, 2015 at 8:07 am Reply
  • Kay Moore

    Larissa, LOVE the chair. I was SO excited to see something on a ‘channel back’ chair. My grandmother’s chair was originally channel back, but when she had it re-upholstered back in the late ’60s they didn’t put in the channels. I’m about to do this chair myself, but haven’t found real instructions/hints/tips on doing the ‘channel back’. I’ve bought more thank enough fabric, but it’s sitting in the fabric bin waiting for me to figure out how to do this.
    Do you have any photos/suggestions of that part of this project.

    March 10, 2015 at 6:31 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Hi Kay! So glad to have found a kindred upholsterer. 😉 Those channels are what drew me to the chair in the first place (as well as that original fabric). The book I mentioned in the post, Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design, has a detailed tutorial, but honestly I’ve yet to read it through. I just kinda dive in. 😉 You can find it by clicking the link. Let me know how it goes!

      March 10, 2015 at 8:17 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    Larissa this is so beautiful! I’m in awe. And so grateful to have found your blog! I’m curious to know where you buy your fabric. I adore the linen you’ve used, everywhere I look it’s so expensive. So any tips on great places to buy quality but affordable fabric would be much appreciated! Thanks for sharing!!! Keep projects like this coming 🙂

    April 9, 2015 at 10:30 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Hi Sarah! So glad you stopped by. I found the fabric for this chair at JoAnn and it was 50% off. I typically like to use 100% linen, but with my 6 kids I didn’t want to go that route and chose and linen/poly mix. (55% linen, I believe) Can you believe it already has been attacked by a crayon…so sad. I got most of it off, but alas, I should not keep such things for myself. 😉

      April 9, 2015 at 3:06 pm Reply
      • Sarah

        So sad about the crayon! Thanks for sharing the fabric details 🙂

        April 9, 2015 at 3:42 pm Reply
  • abbie

    Hi!! Beautiful work and what a gorgeous chair. Where did you get your upholstery tacks? What size did you use? Any particular techniques when you applied them? Thanks!!!

    June 28, 2015 at 9:50 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Abbie! The tacks can be purchased online or in JoAnn and other stores similar. The lenth you need would depend on your chair and which upholstery you were using. I used a half inch size in this instance. Hope that helps! 🙂

      June 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm Reply
  • Janice

    Is there anything you can’t do!? You amaze me! Everything you do is beautiful. Great job.

    February 20, 2019 at 9:27 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Maybe know when to quit…hahaha! Just kidding. Thank you so much for the encouraging words, Janice. They mean so much.

      February 21, 2019 at 5:31 am Reply

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