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Monday, July 25, 2011

DIY Dining Chair Makeover

Before we were married my husband and I managed without a dining table. We ate off card tables and coffee tables. At one point we even had a muddy wooden picnic table that we covered up with a red-and-white checkered table cloth. Shortly after we bought our first townhouse, we finally decided to invest in a grown-up dining room set. I was only in my early twenties and hadn't developed my decorating style yet. So when a modern Swedish expandable model caught my husband's eye, who was I to protest? It had a hidden compartment that not only stored the leaves but also had a mechanism that allowed the leaves to be lifted and unfolded. It was a transformer table! How could he resist?! Of course we bought the six matching blonde-wood chairs with black-velvet seats.

Fast forward a decade later and I was ready for a change. But each chair had cost $200 and they were really comfortable. I couldn't justify giving the chairs away and buying new ones. I tried slipcovers but they looked messy and just plain suspicious--what were we hiding under those skirts? I decided to break up the dining set and give the chairs a makeover so I could reuse them with a round kitchen table.

Once you master this method, you can update dining chairs you find at garage sales or on eBay. If you can use a screw driver and a staple gun, you can tackle this project.

Fine-grade (220 grain) sand paper
Dust rag
Spray paint (12-oz can)
Spray paint attachment (optional)
Fabric (1/2 yard)
Staple gun and staples

Step 1. Remove chair seat from chair frame. If you turn the chair upside down, you will find that this is just a matter of removing some screws.

Step 2. Sand the chair frame with a fine-grade sand paper. Dust with a rag or old sock.

Step 3. Because my chair has a ladder back, I decided to spray paint with a matte finish to ensure uniform coverage. I used Rust-oleum satin in heirloom white from Home Depot. The paint only cost about $4/can. I ended up using about a can for each chair but a more experienced painter may be able to get by with less. Spray in a steady back and forth motion to prevent clogging the spray attachment. Let the first coat dry. Then spray a second coat and let that dry. If you want a slightly weathered look, you can go back and sand a few spots around the corners of the chair.

Step 4. Cut a piece of fabric roughly the size of your chair seat, leaving a two-inch overhang. I only needed 2 yards of cotton material from JoAnn Fabric and Craft to cover four chairs (plus extra in case I ever need to redo one) but you should bring your chair seat in to measure. My fabric cost less than $10! Using a staple gun, attach the fabric to the chair seat with one staple in the center. Then go back and add staples along the entire edge of the chair seat, pulling the material taut. Leave the corner for later. Do the same thing with all four sides.

Step 5. When you get to the corners, pull the material taut and staple neatly with a series of pleats. 

Step 6. Screw the chair seat back to the chair frame.


I've been enjoying these chairs for the past two years and have received many compliments from guests. Best part: I don't have to feel guilty about giving away good furniture.




  1. Wow ! what an interesting blog with nice pictures.Thanks for
    sharing this information.Your information is really informative for us.
    Nice blog on Dining Chair.
    Keep sharing more & more...