DIY Chair Makeover Part 2

Hello again, Poppets!

I swear it didn’t take me an entire year to finish these dining chairs. The past twelve months got away from me once we went into escrow on our house last August. Between the move, my husband starting his new teaching job, and the final year of my Master’s program, I simply haven’t had time to blog since last summer! I’m looking forward to resurrecting this old blog of mine. I plan to post more about our home and how we are “making it” our own.

Anyway, remember in part 1 of this post series how I had created wooden seats for these old woven-seat chars? Well, that was just the beginning of the fun. I had fun giving these chairs new life with a few coats of primer, paint, and cushioned seats!


Once the seats were solidly screwed in, I lightly sanded the old finish and primed the chairs. This was way more time consuming than I thought it would be! I used different sized paint brushes to spread the primer in every nook and cranny of the turned detailing on the legs and rungs, and it took hours. There were four chairs, after all!

I used a cheap (but decent quality) Zissner primer and it stuck to the wood just fine. It gave the coverage I needed before I painted. Looking back, however, I would reconsider the whole paintbrush idea and go with spray paint! Better yet, find a paint/primer spray paint! I later did this with two new chair acquisitions, and basically accomplished in an afternoon what took me weeks to complete with the ladderback chairs.

So, here’s how to paint wooden chairs the HARD way…

I cannot stress enough how important it is to wait for your paint to dry in between coats. For some reason, the paint I bought for the chairs wasn’t drying as quickly as I hoped. This caused more delay. But isn’t it a gorgeous color? It is called “crow” from True Value.


I used different sized foam brushes to minimize brush strokes. Each chair took about three coats of paint, and even though it still didn’t look perfect, I ran out of time. (Remember the move I mentioned? Well we kinda needed these chairs…) Again, spray paint would have been a lot faster!

Don’t they look so pretty in this dark slate color? And see all those little nooks and crannies in each chair? Hours, people. I think one coat on one chair took at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Worth it for this lovely color! (Next time… spray paint.)

Once these chairs were painted, it was time to cover the seats with foam and fabric! (Of course, these chairs sat around our table with temporary tie-on cushions for… months… until I got to this part. Hush.

My mom helped me pick out a beautiful print from Joann Fabrics and it was just what I was looking for! I wanted something that would hide stains and also give these chairs some personality. We also bought a few yards of foam. I picked up a secondhand staple gun and some staples, and it was time for the final stage!

To start, I made a template of the seat and used that to cut the foam. Then, I cut a square of fabric with at least six inches of fabric to spare around the foam. I used carpet tape (because I [still] don’t have a hot glue gun) to secure the foam to the wooden seat, wrapped the fabric around the foam, and stapled it to the bottom of the seat. I tried to fold it neatly and conceal the raw edges of the fabric as I did this.

When all the stapling was finished, the seats looked like this! I wrapped the fabric over the front/back rungs and under the side rungs. Remember, these chairs started out with woven rush seats so I had to navigate the four rungs that held the rush fibers throughout this process. IMG_4692Because the wooden seats were screwed into the front/back rungs, this left the side rungs with space to fit the fabric under them.

I’m so happy with the way these chairs turned out! They look awesome with the wood table we also refinished last summer. You can read about that here! I paired these four completed chairs with the two spray painted ones from above. Let’s look at the cost breakdown from these final steps. (These are approximations since I’m trying to remember from about a year ago!)

  • Primer and Paint: $20.00
  • Brushes: $3
  • Fabric and Foam: $40 (the foam is expensive new!)
  • Staple gun and Staples: $15
  • Two additional dining chairs (secondhand) $10
  • Two cans of spray paint: $10

This was definitely the more costly side of this chair makeover! could have cut costs if I already had fabric and foam lying around, or if I already owned a staple gun. Nevertheless, I was able to make a cute dining set of six chairs for just over $100 including the chairs themselves and all materials. Given that the dining table only cost around $40 to purchase and refinish, I’d say that this was a successful, frugal DIY project!



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