The Exorcism of the Borje Ikea Chair

My arch nemesis lives in my home.

The Borje Ikea dining chair.

So comfortable, sleek, easy to wipe and small for narrow dining spaces. Seems perfect except for one large and crippling downfall.

The ridiculous chair covers that will not wash well.

We bought our dining set before we had children.  I foolishly thought since the chair covers come off, that I could launder them regularly and although the white was unrealistic and fussy, we could make do with them.  I was very, very wrong.  That would be the case if the chair covers would launder well which they do not.  Consequently  I have spent the last 6 years stain cleaning, scrubbing, hand washing, delicate washing, dry cleaning, hanging, line drying, blow drying and losing my ever loving mind over these chair covers.  The result?

 

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Does that look clean to you? Mercilessly zoom in if you need to because trust me, it isn’t clean.  It is filthy, stained and downright obnoxious.

I cannot sew.  I am not a sewer.  I was never taught to sew and I have very little patience and skill in that department.  Don’t get me wrong. I would love to be able to sew and I daydream about being able to make Halloween costumes by hand and sew beautiful pillows for the living room, perhaps I would even know how to hem pants to assist with my vertical impairment as well.  Alas dreams aside I was going to have to find a solution to this problem without a needle and thread.  It  would, however,  still require a trip to the fabric store.

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Yes. I took this while in the fabric store.

Let me start by saying it took 2 weeks for me to summon the courage to enter the fabric store without a guide.  I felt like a new-of-ager at the bar for the first time, desperate for no one to realize I knew nothing about what I was doing and just trying to order the only drink I knew.  I just wanted to get in and get out without anyone asking me any questions about anything that would scream “SHE IS A SEWING VIRGIN.”  After only 10 mins of searching I managed to find the area in the store I was looking for, outdoor fabrics and upholstery.  I wanted a durable and WASHABLE fabric that would be easy to wipe off, repel spills and be very durable.  Oh and preferably affordable so when I decided in a year that I was sick of the pattern I could change my mind and do this lovely adventure all over again.  After sending several pictures of fabric to Matthew to make sure I wasn’t going to buy 40 dollars of nonreturnable fabric to only have him say,

“I hate that”

I chose the one we liked the most and got out of the store before I would found out to be an imposter.

Oddly invigorated by my purchase of fabric that evening I set to seeing how hard it would be to reupholster the chairs after I put Lillian in bed.  How anyone does these sort of projects during kid waking hours is beyond me because as seen in the photos, Josie was enough of a “help” to the situation.

Luckily the Borje chair pad is easy to remove, almost as if they knew that they were making a heinously impractical and impossible to clean item.  Four screws and the cover pops off, I then removed the stained chair covers and debated burning them in the yard in a message to chair covers everywhere but instead opted to keep them in case Buncha Farmers Stain Stick comes out with an extra strength version.  I cut the fabric roughly to size and then trimmed it down to be exactly the correct size before stapling.

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Fabric cut roughly to size but not exact.

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My helper

It was at this part in the process that Matthew came downstairs from singing Itsy Bitsy Spider with Lillian and asked if he could help.  Josie felt he needed supervision.

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The final result was amazing!  Wipeable, durable, stylish and cheerful.  They add a playful pattern to that part of hte house which is mostly grey, white and dark wood.  I usually have our table setting to four instead of 6 as it makes less clutter in the space but with the new chair covers I love it bright and cheerful the dining area is now.

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Finished!

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Supplies:
2 meters of  outdoor patio fabric – 1.8 yards for my American friends, this covered 6 chairs with some spare.

Staple gun and staples – placed the staples every inch and a half

Extra padding if needed (mine did not require extra padding.)

  • Brandy

    I LOVE THIS! I love a project that 1. Doesn’t require sewing and 2. Is relatively quick with super awesome results. That’s how I felt about spraying our dining room light the oil rubbed bronze from the brass color it was when we bought the house.

    Love it, Melissa! Even if the cushions did wash well, I love the boldness of a print on something so non-committal as a chair cushion. It’s like a throw pillow, but not the whole couch. Yes.

    • Thanks Brandy! It was surprisingly fun and I LOVE the results. Lillian spilled milk on a chair at lunch and it simply beaded off. Win!

  • Natasha Jackson

    You know I love the chairs! I still think that print is the cutest! Now I just need to get inspired to do mine. Don’t be surprised if you get some texts with fabric choices lol!

    And you’re right I did get some laughs while I was reading your post ? Haha!

  • Caroline Hidalgo

    Cute pick!

  • Kathleen Foster

    Great post! And it has inspired me to try my hand at my two chairs. How long of staples did you use?

  • EB Lubman

    I love your fabric choice, and the handiwork looks really neat. How is it holding up a year later?
    I came across your post while searching for solutions for these chairs. We need to replace our current all-wood chairs as they are falling apart, and the kids requested padding this time. I know they will stain fabric beyond recognition, and plastic/vinyl/leather will be destroyed by my cats. I searched for something with a removable cover. Ikea’s Henriksdal chairs have a full cover with many color options but those chairs are huge and heavy, like armless armchairs. I was attracted to the BÖRJE chairs but… WHITE?!
    I have a couple of questions for you. Did you consider making the cover removable? I kinda do sew a little so I’m hoping to be able to sew a removable cover (though I’m not very confident). Do you think it will work if I put a drawstring around the square of fabric like the original covers have? I don’t know a lot about fabric types, but your suggestion of outdoor patio fabric sounds good! I will check it out and see if it’s water-resistant enough to protect the padding from juice. 🙂

    • If I had the skills I would have made the cover removable. I simply do not have the sewing skills to do so. A year later they look as good as they did the first day. Seriously. Spaghetti has fallen on them, there was a chocolate ice cream incidence that I thought for SURE was going to stain and everything just wipes off. I am beginning to fatigue of the pattern and would have loved to have the skills to make it removable so I can switch out designs. When I am completely tired of it I will absolutely make new ones.