DIY Upholstered Dresser

Give a dated dresser a dramatic makeover by upholstering it with fabric.
Upholster an old dresser to give it a new look.Upholster an old dresser to give it a new look.
You can use a solid or printed fabric for the project. Medium to heavyweight fabric works best. Though upholstery is typically reserved for seating, upholstering a dresser softens rooms with more hard-edged, wood furniture than upholstery. Because it’s unexpected, an upholstered dresser also makes a good focal point.

Step 1

Unscrew the knobs or pulls from the drawers. Remove the drawers from the dresser.

Step 2

Paint the dresser front to match a solid fabric. For patterned fabric, paint the dresser front with the background or dominant color. Paint the base, apron and legs if your dresser has them.

Step 3

Measure the length and width of the dresser top, one of the sides and the drawer fronts.

Step 4

Cut quilt batting 2 inches longer and 2 inches wider than each drawer front. Cut two pieces of batting to the exact size of the dresser side. For dresser tops that overhang the front and sides, cut one piece of batting 1 inch longer and 2 inches wider than the top. For dresser tops that align with the front and sides, cut one piece of batting to the exact length and 2 inches wider than the top.

Step 5

Cut the upholstery fabric into the same sizes as the quilt batting in Step 4. If you’re using patterned fabric, center the pattern on each piece before you cut.

Step 6

Lay each drawer face down on its corresponding piece of batting. Fold the batting over to the backs of the drawer fronts on all four sides. Staple the batting in place one-half inch from the edge. Position the staples approximately 1 inch apart.

Step 7

Locate the screw holes for the knobs or pulls on the dresser fronts. Cut a slit into the batting at those locations.

Step 8

Center the batting on the top of the dresser. For overhanging dresser tops, fold the batting over to the underside at each side and staple it. Repeat with the front of the dresser. For dresser tops even with the front and sides, align the batting with the dresser front and staple it. Staple the excess batting at each side to the side of the dresser.

Step 9

Align the batting for the sides with the sides of the dresser. Staple them into place no more than three-eighths of an inch from each edge.

Step 10

Staple the fabric over the batting and onto the dresser using the order and processes from Steps 6, 7 and 8, except for the distance between the staples. For the fabric, place the staples no more than one-quarter inch apart.

Step 11

Cut braided gimp or nailhead trim strips to the lengths and widths of the dresser top and sides. Apply gimp to the dresser with craft glue to cover the staples bordering the top and sides. If you use nailhead trim strips, tap the nails into the dresser with a nylon-tipped hammer.

Step 12

Feel for the knob or pull holes on the drawer fronts. Mark the locations with a fabric marker, and then clip a tiny “x” over each mark. Apply clear nail polish to the cuts to keep the fabric from fraying. Reinstall the knobs or pulls once the nail polish dries.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Quilt batting
  • Fabric
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Braided gimp or nailhead trim strips
  • Craft glue or nylon-tipped hammer
  • Fabric marker
  • Clear nail polish

About the Author

Leah James has been a full-time freelance writer and editor since 2008. With more than a decade of experience in interior decorating, she frequently writes about home design. She studied English literature at Lyon College.