Make a Trashed Chair Look Chic

By Shauna Billings

You moved to a new city for the job/boy/school of your choice,which means you?ve got little more than 3 suitcases of clothes, a discount futon bought off Craigslist and 600 square feet of apartment to fill with no money left to furnish it. What do you do? Give some cast-aside chairs a fresh coat of paint for customized seating. Here are some tips for refurbishing a chair.

What you?ll need to refurbish your chair:
  • Chair
  • Rags
  • Water
  • Wood cleaning soap
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Satin-finish paint
  • Paint brush

If the chair has a padded seat cushion, you?ll also need:
  • Staple gun or a hammer and upholstery tacks
  • Polyester batting
  • Fabric

Pick your poison?er, paint to refurbish your chair:

There are four main types of paint finishes: gloss, satin, eggshell and flat. Avoid eggshell or flat finishes when painting furniture, as these types of paint cannot be washed. Gloss is fine to use for a modern, shiny look, but for the most professional finish, stick with satin. It?s the furniture paint that stores like Pottery Barn prefer.

Black is the current trend in painted furniture?and the most forgiving color as it covers all marks and stains?but use any color that makes you smile. Keep in mind that you can make a pulled-together dining room set from all different chairs, just by painting them all the same shade and using coordinating fabric on the seats.

Get to painting:
1. If the chair you're refurbishing has a padded seat, flip the chair over and unscrew the seat with your screw driver. Set the seat aside for later.

2. Wash that chair with wood soap, rags and water because you don?t know where it?s been. Actually, you do know where it?s been: The garbage/attic/rummage sale. Better wash it twice.

3. Sand the chair lightly with the fine sandpaper; you just want to rough up the paint a little, not take it off completely. Then, wipe all dust off the chair with a clean, damp rag or paper towel (squeeze out any excess water).

4. Paint the chair from the top down with a thin coat of paint. After your first brushstroke down, start the next stroke in an unpainted area and brush up and into the previously painted area. (This painting method will ensure a consistent finish on your chair, with no obvious DIY-newbie brush strokes.) Paint entire chair, then set aside to let dry. Repeat steps 3 and 4 as needed until you?re happy with the finish.

5. If the chair you're refurbishing has a padded seat, strip off the old cloth and padding and throw them out. Cut a piece of the polyester batting (available at any fabric store?looks like a blanket of snow) in the shape of the chair pad, so that it hangs over the sides and wraps around to the back by about 2 inches. Using the staple gun or the upholstery tacks, keep the batting in place with a few tacks. Cut a piece of cloth so that it wraps around the chair pad slightly more than the batting, then staple or tack all round the fabric.

6. When the chair is dry, screw the chair pad back into place, and you?re done!

Savvy Tip: If you choose a darker shade of paint, one coat might be enough to paint the chair. The more coats of paint with sanding in between, the nicer the finish you?ll get. But just remember, sometimes good enough is good enough? the chair WAS free.

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