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DIY deco chairs, or how to spice up a snow day with a staple gun

When I was a kid, I loved snow days.

Every school day, all winter long, I’d wake up and peer hopefully out the window, looking for that white blanket of respite from the regular. I liked school, but I liked snow days more.

Even when I taught school, I liked snow days.

But as a parent, they aren’t quite the same game.

I work at home. I have three jobs, one of which is actually me being a student myself. All of them involve writing deadlines and juggling multiple balls. My work never closes, more or less. So, meetings aside, I get to be home if the kids need to be.

But the writing and the parenting? They are dances in opposite directions. And days when everything’s on my plate at once often leave me feeling like nothing’s getting done well.

But not this week.

This week, we had a late-in-season snow day. Yep. No, this is not an April Fool’s Joke.

The kids had only been back from March Break a day, and I had a paper due, and the house was already a bit overrun with to-dos. The little people ran through the toys and the joy and glee of playing in the snow rather more quickly than their mother had in mind usual. By mid-afternoon, we’d drawn seven sea monsters and I’d written half an ethics review and the three-year-old was climbing up my leg and it became clear that none of us were going to make it through the rest of the day without either chemicals or Divine Intervention.

Then I found salvation in – of all things – a DIY project.

Seriously, people. You want to salvage a snow day and still feel the sweet swell of accomplishment at the end of it all? Buy yourself a staple gun.

Three months ago, just before we moved, I found an online seller with a set of four vintage chairs to unload. They charmed me. They’re old, and quirky, and have this fabulous Deco pattern painted on their scalloped backs.

Awesome chair, right?

But they came with cushions upholstered in a fuzzy beige velour. A worn, tired, 1983 sort of fuzzy beige velour. The kind that makes everything in the room feel fuzzy and worn and beige and 1983, and I don’t mean in a fun way.

So Tuesday, armed with staple gun and glue and drill and pliers and some crayons just to keep things interesting for the younger set, we took the seats off those chairs and recovered them.

Step 1: Use drill to remove seats from chairs. Do not actually let three year old use drill. Distract her by asking if she can draw the design on the chairs instead. Be shocked when she indeed can.

Step 2: Go hunting for the gorgeous fabric you ordered from Tonic Living last week. Find it being pressed into service as a ghost costume by the almost-six year old. Boo. With flowers.

Step 3: Turn over existing cushion on top of fabric and notice that previous upholstery efforts were just as much a hack job as yours is likely to be. Feel better. Fold fabric to size and cut.

Step 4: Carefully stretch and fold fabric around existing cushion, as it may look like 1983 but it’s actually kinda cushy. For corners, aim for a tight series of small folds all moving in a single direction. Tack down with staples. Notice staples do not go into hardwood especially smoothly. Swear. Catch yourself. Try to avoid stapling nose of curious elder child.

Step 5: Repeat for all four chairs, enlisting offspring to help you hold fabric taut whilst cutting and to place pretty new cushions back on chairs. Have domestic partner actually tighten and glue joints on chairs, where necessary. Drill cushions in. Admire.

There you go, people. In the end, you get four handsome chairs and children who got to feel like part of the process, more or less. It’s a snow day miracle! Just avoid stapling all skin surfaces and you’ll be fine!

Have fun. And hang tight…snow season has to be gone soon, right.?


Twitter: @bonstewart Life blog: Theory blog:

4 Responses to “DIY deco chairs, or how to spice up a snow day with a staple gun”

Debbie S.

Yea for nice chairs, DIY, and snow days! Just don’t forget to allow/demand that kids entertain themSELVES once in a while. They need to LEARN how to amuse themselves appropriately (i.e. non-destructively) without mom & dad, especially the younger who has never had the benefit of being an only child required to entertain herself! You’re allowed (the illusion of) time off from parenting, even on a snow day!



Wow! It looks great! Those chairs are super groovy.


sweetsalty kate

Pretty! Also: when I’m a ghost, I want to be a flowery one.



Awesome! Material looks great and super to see the O and P involved!

Am excited to sit in those soon.

Hugs from over here.


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