DIY & Inspiration Roundup Posts

Get The Look For Less: Five High End Dining Chair Styles You Could Create Yourself

Last Updated on October 8, 2017 by Kristi Linauer

One of my favorite things to do is visit the online stores of high-end home decor stores (Horchow is my go-to) and look through all of the stuff I know I could never afford for my house, and see if I could recreate the look at a cost I could actually afford. Even if I have no plans to actually make it, it’s kind of a mental exercise for me just to see if I could make it if I wanted to.

So this weekend, having just finished my wingback dining on Friday (you can click here to see my chair if you missed it), I decided to look at some dining chairs.

I was so excited to see this first one. It looks fancy and expensive, but combining several of the processes I’ve used on past chairs (and headboards), this chair is very doable! This Bernhardt Gant Hostess Chair from Horchow costs $899.00.

upholstered dining chair - Bernhardt Gant Hostess Chair from HorchowBernhardt Gant Hostess Chair from Horchow

Granted, I don’t know how to make the subtly curved front legs with the edge details. I can do curved legs. I would simply follow the same process I used for the back legs on my wingback dining chair. But the edge detail on those legs is beyond the scope of my abilities as a DIYer. But even without that detail, my version could be fabulous! 😀

After building the frame, I’d start upholstering with the seat. I’ve done plenty of tufting before. You can click here to see my tufting tutorial using a standard tufting method

Diamond-tufted upholstered headboard


And you can click here to see an alternative tufting method that I used on my ottoman…

DIY ottoman coffee table part 1 - how to do diamond tufting

On a dining chair that will be sat on often, I’d stick with the first method of tufting.

So I’d start by tufting the seat. Then I’d upholster the arms and wing. Then I’d tuft the back rest. I upholstered the back rest on the chairs for the entryway, and you can click here to see that process

Dining chair makeover - from cane back to tufted and skirted - part 1

To create the tiny roll around the arms, wings, and back, I would simply add a “border” of extra wood on the outside of the chair frame, created from 1″-thick wood, and about 1 inch wide, and attached to the frame following the curve of the arm, wing, and back, using wood glue and nails. It might even take two layers of 1″-thick wood to create the border on the frame.

And then I would wrap the foam around the edges, just like I did on my wingback chair.

DIY wingback dining chair - how to upholster the frame - 39

But with the extra layer/border of wood following the curve of the arm and wing, the foam would wrap all the way around the wood border, and would be stapled into place under that wood border. As you wrap that foam around the extra wood border, it creates the rolled look. Before wrapping the foam, an electric sander could even be used to round the hard edges of the wood.

Bottom line: This look is something that could definitely be recreated as a DIY project, and with a solid fabric (i.e., no patterns you have to match) it would probably cost around $150 to $200 to make. The DIY version wouldn’t have those fancy legs, but even without those, it would be beautiful.

Next up is this Pheasant Host Chair from Horchow, which costs $1099.00.

upholstered dining chair - Pheasant Host Chair from Horchow

This one would be a much simpler process than the first one because it doesn’t have tufting or a rolled edge. In fact, while the end result is very different from my chair, it’s mostly because of the fabric. The only major modification I can see is that these wings are larger and more exaggerated in style and size, but that just requires drawing a bigger wing pattern than the one I used. And then the front legs are curved, but these don’t have any special detail on them, so that’s easy to accomplish as well.

Next is this Haute House Silver Caramel dining chair, which is $1999.

upholstered dining chair - Haute House Silver Caramel dining chiar from HorchowHaute House Silver Caramel Dining Chair from Horchow

As far as the style of chair, it doesn’t get much more basic than this. I mean, if you’ve done any upholstery at all, you should be able to whip that chair out quite easily.

What makes that chair so unique (and expensive) is the silver beaded design on the back. I personally think that design (and the sheer amount of beading used) is over the top. That amount of beading is something I’d expect to see on a wedding dress perhaps, but not so much a dining chair. But I do love the idea of a design customized to fit perfectly on the back of a dining chair like that.

That could be achieved with a custom stencil and fabric paint, which could be done after the chair is upholstered. A machine embroidered design could also be used, but of course, that would have to be done before the chair is upholstered. You’d just have to take very good measurements, and mark off the outline of the chair on the fabric so that the embroidered design could be perfectly placed. I’m sure there are other methods that can be used, but those are the two that come to my mind.

And then there’s this Massoud Allison Botanical Dining Chair from Horchow, which is $1299.

Massoud Allison Botanical Dining Chair from HorchowMassoud Allison Botanical Dining Chair from Horchow

Again, that’s a very simple and basic dining chair that’s just been dressed up with nailhead trim and a fancy “X” pattern on the front. It would take a couple of hours to nail in all of those nailheads one by one (please don’t use the nailhead strips!!!), but I think the end result would be worth it!

If I were recreating that chair, the one thing I wouldn’t do is wrap the edges of the frame (seat or back) with foam. Instead, I would trim the foam to the exact size of the seat and the back, and then only wrap batting (perhaps two layers) around the edges. That will still give some softness to the edges, but it won’t create too much puffiness around the nailhead design like foam + batting would.

And finally, these Miguel Dining Chairs from Horchow cost $1399 each.

upholstered dining chair - Haute House Miguel Dining Chair from HorchowHaute House Miguel Dining Chair from Horchow

Y’all have no idea how much I want to make a chair like this!!! 😀 I’m trying to use self-control, because I have absolutely no need for such a chair, and it wouldn’t really go in my house. But this is one of those projects I’d love to DIY just for the fun of it!

Again, it’s just a basic dining chair. There’s nothing at all special about the actual design of the chair frame or the upholstery. All of the time and cost went into that intricate nailhead design. In order to create that, the only thing you have to do is make sure that the entire backrest is covered with a layer of wood to give the nailheads something to grab onto. So once the backrest is covered with wood (I’m thinking 1/4″ plywood, but I’d probably just have to go to Home Depot and look around to see what would work the best), then adhere the foam, cover with batting, and upholster. Once the chair is upholstered, draw your design using something like a disappearing ink pen (test first on your fabric to be sure it disappears!), and then get to work on those nailheads.

So those were my top five picks, but there were so many more out there! Now that you’ve seen the chair-making process from start to finish, you might look at things a little differently the next time you see an amazing $2000 chair that you’d love to have but could never justify buying. 🙂

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Vanessa D.
    July 11, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I can see why you would love to try and make those last two chairs. It looks so fun I almost want to try my hand at an upholstered headboard using that idea. I know saving money wasn’t your sole reason for making your custom chairs but it must have been very gratifying to look at those chairs after making your beautiful chair.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 11, 2016 at 10:01 am

      That idea would make a gorgeous headboard! Now I want to make one, too. I have no need for a headboard either, but I want to make one! 😀

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        July 11, 2016 at 11:18 am

        I wonder if you could get a similar look by using your sewing machine rather than decorative nails? Some kind of gold threaded quilting technique??? For a headboard?

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        July 11, 2016 at 11:25 am

        You should sell your leftover DIY stuff on consignment somewhere! That way you could do fun projects you have no use for and still recoup some costs…

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          July 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm

          That’s a great idea! You could even add a shop section to your blog!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I think you should try that last one. I bet your would turn out beautifully!! If you did them in ivory or navy i would buy two from you!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Hi!Personally, I’ve never seen it before but, I don’t like the look of the front curved legs on the first two chairs at all. It looks like the chair has too much weight on it and the legs are about to just all slide straight out each way and the seat fall to the floor. I also think it would be in the way of sitting down and getting up from the chair-like you couldn’t slide your foot past it without hitting it.
    Btw, I loved that you posted on Saturday! I hope you do it more often! I was thinking ” I wonder how the chair turned out ” and thought ugh but she probably won’t post until Monday… Then I saw the post! Beautiful! Post whenever you want, your very inspirational 😊

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 10:05 am

    I bet your future office could use a chair like the last one! Pick a color that coordinates with your scheme and it wouldn’t look so modern as the red velvet does.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 10:22 am

    All those chairs are lovely. I enjoy “window shopping” at Horchow as well. I had picked out two bedroom designs that I liked, then ordered samples of each fabric. I chose the heavier weight fabric and just need to get to work. A broken hand got in my way or it would be done by now.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

    You could do that edge detail on the first chair with a router I am pretty sure.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chelle Ellis
    July 11, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Could you get the lines in the leg of the first one by routing out the centers and sanding the edges round?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Maybe once your house is done, you’d get into making and selling those “I’d really like to try this” projects? Nice thing is you can do it on any scale you want…..or not at all if you don’t want.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sharon C
    July 11, 2016 at 11:06 am

    I think the Haute House Miguel chairs would look so amazing in your future office…….after your wingback chair and your entryway chairs, I have every confidence you could do these too!!!!!! Don’t forget you have the ‘superwoman’ status Kristi. Have a great week!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Just curious as to why you wouldn’t use the strips of upholstery nails. I though your wingback chair was beautiful, I loved the use of the two different fabrics.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Kristi, from reading comments it seems you have inspired a lot of readers. I would love to see a post with reader submitted photos of projects they’ve made after learning how from your blog.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tammy (Pa.)
    July 11, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    THERE IS NO WAY in this world would I EVER pay that much for one freaking chair….!!!! Even if I were rich.
    Your chair looks amazing..!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Make those last two chairs to flank your entry table! Totally stunning.