Sunday, February 12, 2012

Super Easy $10 Chair Makeover

Yesterday, Matt and I found ourselves at the Salvation Army store in our hometown while we were out there hanging with my parents and siblings. We saw lots of things that made us (well, me) think of all the amazing projects we've seen very talented people give what look like super easy makeovers to. Some of them we wanted to bring home - desks, dressers, and other fun finds. But we decided that - as much as they seemed like a great deal - since we have nowhere to put anything it made little sense to take 'em on. Then we spotted this lonely little chair. We were in need of a simple desk chair and knew that this solid, well-constructed wood and upholstered seat would fit the bill. 

If you have never done a furniture makeover before but are interested, I strongly suggest choosing a chair like this to start. It is so, so easy. It will make you feel handy and crafty and all those good things, although in reality anyone could do this. This post is going to be written as a how-to so that, when you do find an ugly old chair, you won't hesitate for a moment to give it a fresh new look. Here's the step-by-step:

Start by buying a chair. Look at thrift stores or on craigslist. Ignore the fabric and the wood finish, and look for something that feels solid and well-made with nice lines. We chose this guy because we liked the shape - from the front, and from the back (since it will sit at a desk, it will mostly be seen from behind so that was important to us). The price tag was good for us, too ($9.99).
 The fabric doesn't look so bad here, but was very worn and dated. The wood was in decent condition, showing normal signs of wear and tear. While there is nothing wrong with the wood finish, we thought a more modern, painted finish (especially on such a traditional frame) would suit the space it will live in much better. 
We also liked the curvy legs.
We picked up the chair, then did a quick run to a fabric shop and to Home Depot to get the rest of what we'd need. 
The supplies you'll need to do this project are:
1. Fabric (only a small piece -- ours was about $4 worth of fabric from Fabricland). 
2. A staple gun and staples (we used a DeWalt, around $31 to buy if you don't have one already)
3. Screw driver (to remove seat)
4. Paint, if you are re-doing the frame. 
5. Clean, damp rag for cleaning up the chair first.

Start by unscrewing your upholstered seat. If you flip the chair over you'll see little holes (3 or 4). The screws are in there. Just unscrew and the seat will pop off.

We chose not to sand the chair down and instead to clean it up with a damp rag. The lady at Home Depot recommended this since we were using a Behr paint and primer in one. She swore that it would work just find sans sanding. It totally did. That said, if your chair has a shiny finish, bumpy finish, flaky paint, or anything else like that, it would be a good idea to sand it a little first to help your primer/paint stick. 
 (Here's the colour we chose - Seaside Sand, an antique white sort of colour pulled from the fabric. We got a quart and plan to use the rest [there was a lot left over] on some other furniture pieces for the room - stay tuned for that. The fabric was chosen to complement with the bedding also being used in the space. For help on choosing and mixing patterns, check out this post). 
Once it was clean and dry we began by painting. We used both a small brush and a mini foam roller in order to get the smoothest look. The key for painting is patience. Apply thin, even layers and wait for them to dry in between. To me, the waiting is by far the hardest part. 

Using the Behr paint and primer in one, we needed two coats and it was all done. 

While the first coat dried, we occupied ourselves by changing up the fabric on the chair seat. You could remove the old fabric (and, if it is in poor condition, you probably should). We opted not to. The foam padding on the seat was still nice and plush so we felt no need to mess with it. (If you find a chair with a less than stellar padded seat just add some new padding underneath your new fabric and you'll be good to go). 
We laid the seat on top of our fabric, flipping it over to line up the design how we liked it. We then stapled it in place, starting at the centre on one side, pulling the fabric tight and adding staples (constantly checking that it was looking right by flipping it to check). The only tricky part were the corners, but we decided that rather than get flustered by it we'd just wing it and be okay with imperfections. Here, I even made Matt take a photo so you can see how sloppy it looked. It can be sloppy. Don't sweat it. Like The Nester always says, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.
 (Note that we chose a soil and stain repellent fabric. If you also have a baby, you should think about doing the same). 

Once things are all dry (we left it for the evening, overnight, and then popped the seat on the next day after brunch) screw your seat back on and you are all done. 
 Now you can sit down and enjoy your (not so hard) work. Taking a million photos - none of which you are very pleased with - is a completely optional step ;)
One last glance at the before and after shots:
So, if you have never done a project like this but think it might be fun, go find yourself an ugly old chair to experiment with. I promise it is ridiculously easy. 

And if you do/have done something like this I'd love to hear about it and see it! 

Jenny xo
(I love you Matt. Thank you for doing this project with me!)

Linking up here and so should you!


  1. wow ...great job...I will remember that paint colour! Also crazy about your fabric choice...great colour & pattern!
    So much fun you did it together!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. It was super easy and super fun. Love you Jenny! Love Matt xoxoxo

  4. Love the new brighter chair. I would love for you to share at Bacon Time's weekly fri-monday Anything goes linky if you have not already.

  5. So cute. Love how it turned out and loved that you tackled this with your hubs. You're right, start small - it always helps. Thanks for sharing, liz

  6. Ooh, I love the fabric choice! Great re-do!

  7. Love the chair painted white and the fabric you chose to use on the seat.

  8. Your chair turn out great. I like the fabric whic gives the classic looking chair a very updated look. You are invited to link up to my "Your Cozy Home Party" mon. night at 8 pm until Thurs. at 10 pm. Would love to have you share your pretty new chair and possibly be eligible to be featured. Now, go find something else to make pretty!! Ha ------------- Shannon

  9. OH Hello My cuteness!!! What are you talking about it is gorgeeous!! I love love love it! :) The fabric is awesome! I tried to find some fabric that had a few other colors in it but ended up with just blue and white but I am happy with it. Don't you just love changing things up so easily and cheaply! I love the fact that you can't buy our originals in any store!

    Keep up your great work!
    Karin :)

  10. Great fabric with the white painted chair!

  11. Love the chair - it is gorgeous! Wondered if you could come by and link up! Tonight marks my very first linky party and I would love to have you!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  12. Wow! What a good deal! It looks great.

  13. Jenny, I LOVE the fabric you choose. Great find on the chair too. Chair makeovers are my favorite...they are so easy, yet have a big impact! Thanks for sharing at my party.

  14. Oh I love this upcycle! Thanks for the easy step by steps!

  15. The chair turned out SO great! I'm your newest follower and would love a return follow. I'd also love if you linked up to my little party:

    Hope to see you there!

  16. What a great re-do!! I love the fabric you chose. I've used that exact paint color before and I love it as well. I'd love for you to share this at my link party that's open until Sat. afternoon

  17. Great transformation! I have been re-doing chairs similar to these for my kitchen table. I have a sneak peek here:

    - sara @

  18. Jenny it turned out great! I love the colors in the fabric SO much! Thanks for sharing with us!

  19. What a GREAT GREAT find!! Looks amazing with the new paint color and fabric choice! A blue sticker.. we know where that's from! ;-) Feel free to check out our blog if you get a chance and post your favorite bargain finds on our Friday's Finds via linkytools!!!



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