How To Restore An Old Leather Chair

Modern furniture can be beautiful, but they just don’t make some pieces like they used to. The style, the sturdiness — sometimes you just have to go thrifting to find a great piece of furniture. And then you get the thrill of the hunt, too! Once you find a piece that you love, odds are that it will need a little bit of DIY love. If you score a leather chair (or sofa) that is in great shape, our guest today has an amazing (and easy!) way for you to restore an old leather chair so it can look like this:

How to Easily Restore an Old Leather Chair | The Project Addict featured on #furniture #restore #diy

Keep reading for Cara’s instructions on restoring leather. 

If the piece of furniture you’ve got your heart set on isn’t leather, you can also

slipcover it

Tutorial: Adventures in Creating featured on Remodelaholic
Tutorial: Adventures in Creating featured on Remodelaholic

reupholster it

Tutorials: Living Savvy featured on Remodelaholic | Peacefully Home featured on Remodelaholic

or get brave and paint it!

Tutorial: Hyphen Interiors featured on Remodelaholic

And now, here’s Cara to show you how to use a simple product to restore an old leather chair:

How to Restore a Leather Chair
by Cara of The Project Addict

How to Restore an Old Leather Chair, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic

Hi Everyone, My name is Cara and I am visiting from theProjectAddict . I am honored to be here today and excited to share my latest chair makeover with all of you. I will tell you a little about myself first and then jump right into the good stuff.

I am a happily married, working mom, with an almost 2 year old, busy little girl. My head is constantly swirling with projects and ideas, my husband calls it “scheming”. I call it being creative. I’m very budget conscious and try to figure out the least expensive way to do something without it looking cheap. I love taking what many would think of as junk and transforming it into something beautiful. If you want to see a really crazy before and after check out this rocking chair my grandmother gave me, it is my most dramatic transformation to date. My vintage play kitchen and child’s rocker are at the top of my list too.

It is really hard for me to pass up a great chair, I have quite a few sitting in the basement right now and you can only use so many. Lucky for me, I actually had a specific place in mind for this little leather chair when I scooped it up for $15 at the Habitat ReStore. How to Restore A Leather Chair, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic

I initially planned to reupholster it but since the leather was in such good shape I started searching for an alternative. I tried to clean it but it still just looked dingy. Then I stumbled across Rub n Restore. The video on youtube was convincing and I decided to go for it. I paid around $47 for the Ivory rub n restore, the protective top coat and shipping.

This product is super easy to use. If you can use a sponge you can successfully use this stuff!

First make sure your chair is clean. You don’t need to get stains off but make sure dirt, grease or anything like that is cleaned up.

Wet down a sponge and pour on a little rub n restore. Then just work it into your chair.

Multiple thin coats work best and you need to let it dry between coats. The company says you can use a hair dryer to speed the process but it dries pretty quickly on its own too. How to Restore a Leather Chair - before and after, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic restoring a leather chair, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic

I think I did about 5 coats which was probably more than needed. I only used about 1/5 of the bottle so a little goes a very long way. My chair has a lot of piping and nail head trim so it took a lot longer than a chair without these details. nailhead trim on a restored leather chair, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic

I used a small paintbrush for all the trim. If you get any on the nail heads don’t worry. The company suggest using fine steel wool to clean them off but I found that nail polish remover on a qtip worked as well The whole chair probably took me about 3 hours but most of the time was spent painting around the nail heads. I tested the protective top coat on a small area but liked the more satin sheen of the chair with just the Rub n Restore. I’m sure I will use the top coat on some future projects though. I think using the topcoat will depend on the color, condition of your leather and look you are after.

restore a leather chair - an easy DIY, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic

I’m really happy with how the chair turned out. The texture and feel of the chair is completely natural. It doesn’t look painted or feel stiff at all. The best part about the product is that you can actually change the color of your chair. They have 18 stock colors or you can send in a swatch and get a custom color. I’m excited this product worked so well because it opened up a whole new group of furniture that I would usually bypass. Now I have a stylish, comfy office chair for much less than it would have cost to buy new!

Restore a Leather Chair - Before and After, The Project Addict featured on Remodelaholic


Wow! What a score, Cara! The chair looks amazing!

See more of what Cara has been restoring and DIYing over at The Project Addict

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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  1. This sounds like a great project, I will have to check it out. I am passing on leather items too. Your new chair looks fabulous.

  2. This is an unbelievable makeover! I love leather, but can’t afford it new, and would never have considered picking this up at the thrift store for fear of not being able to clean it up properly. Now, like you said, this opens up a whole new world, thanks so much for sharing!!

    1. Hi Rena,
      I”m not sure about pleather — I would contact the manufacturer or head over to our guest’s blog (linked at the top) to ask for sure. Thanks!

  3. I just read about your leather restoration project. I have a couch and love seat that have faded from sunlight. I received a quote to restore them for 1500. I can’t imagine spending that much on leather restoration. Would you suggest your product will work on them?