Before & After: New Upholstery for my Steelcase Amia Chair

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Slowly, but surely, I’m working on our office space. As I mentioned in the post about the curtains, it is the very first room you see as you walk in the front door, so I really want it to be beautiful. The color scheme is orange, blue, black and white. Clearly, my beloved green Steelcase Amia chair stuck out like a sore thumb. Not to mention the fact that nearly two years of wear and tear really had done a number on it’s upholstery. I’m almost embarrassed to show the photo above. It is easily the most comfortable office chair I had ever owned, but it was no longer the most stylish.

Something had to be done. I bought several yards of Mod Green Pod’s organic cotton Aspire fabric a LONG time ago with the intention of making some pillows and reupholstering a chair that I ended up donating to Habitat for Humanity. Since that never happened, I had that beautiful fabric just sitting in my craft bin waiting to be used. It was a perfect fit for the Amia, since it is a fairly rugged, home decor weight fabric meant to stand up to constant use.

How do you like her now?


I was skeptical at first about pairing the Aspire pattern with the orange I already had on the windows, but I like it. Aspire is a very deep slate blue โ€” almost gray, actually. It’s a nice complement to the lighter blues I’m using throughout the rest of the space.

I will admit I was petrified to take apart this $600 chair, afraid that I would irreparably damage it. But once I removed the back from the base with a few screws and some elbow grease, the rest was pretty easy. The plastic base came apart from the front of the chair in a few snaps, and all it took was a few staples to secure the fabric. The bottom of the chair back required a special strip that snapped into the frame. This strip was attached to a piece of stretchy fabric that was then sewn into the seam of the green fabric. Since I couldn’t remove this necessary part without ruining it, I had to improvise around this obstacle. I folded the fabric and stapled it into the seam so the staples wouldn’t be visible. I think I did pretty well, and it’s invisible unless you flip the chair over and inspect it carefully.

I totally cheated on the seat. I didn’t have the right tool to remove the seat from the chair base. So what did I do? I used a flat head screwdriver to push the fabric snugly between the seat and the plastic base. The fit is very snug and secure, and I almost wish I had just done the same with the back. Then it would be really easy to remove when I decide to change the fabric again. Since I plan to own this chair for a very long time to come, it’s nice to know that I can change the fabric as my mood and decor changes. I wish still wish I could be spending my days working from a vintage tulip or lucite chair, but something tells me this is a lot more comfortable.

I’m pretty happy with this makeover that cost me nothing but some fabric I already had.

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10 comments… add one
  • Avatar Naomi July 12, 2010, 4:16 pm

    Wow- what a fabulous transformation! I love it.

  • Avatar Cassi July 13, 2010, 11:22 am

    Wow! I have a very similar office chair, and I would love to try something like this. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Avatar jennae July 13, 2010, 11:51 am

      @Carla Go for it! It really wasn’t nearly as hard as I anticipated, and I wish I had done it weeks ago!

  • Avatar Stancie @ Fig+Sage July 13, 2010, 6:14 pm

    Your office chair makeover looks great – I love the new fabric!! I have hesitated sharing photos of my home office transformation because it isn’t 100% complete – but you’ve just inspired me to do a “progress post” ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks Jennae!!

    • Avatar jennae July 13, 2010, 6:52 pm

      Stancie, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d love to see your office in progress. In fact, I’d love to see your whole home, because we all know you have impeccable taste ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Avatar Stancie @ Fig+Sage July 13, 2010, 7:12 pm

        Jennae, You definitely know how to make a girl grin from ear to ear ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for your very kind compliment! I’ll work on getting a Phase 2 Office Makeover post up soon. It may take awhile longer for the rest of the house – I feel like its an entire work in progress, but I know how fun it is to see others homes so I’ll have to consider it. My next purchase should probably be a really great camera so I can take really great pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Avatar Kathleen July 28, 2010, 6:26 pm

    That\’s amazing, and I adore that fabric. I never realized you could easily cover an office chair.

  • Avatar Turid February 11, 2011, 7:00 am

    Thank you for sharing with us! Very eco, I love it ๐Ÿ™‚ Iยดll try the same.

  • Avatar decoguy June 25, 2012, 12:08 pm

    Hey jennae, Thanks for the great idea, i love it =)
    I think the fabric choice against the orange was a great idea and the space looks beautiful.
    I want to redo my chair too but the problem is my desk chair is leather… have any suggestions on upholstering leather? Id love to hear what you have to say

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