Transform a chair

Rob D. Brodman
Give old furniture a fresh look with new paint and fabric

Turn a drab thrift-store chair into a stylish accent for any room in your home. All it takes is some paint, fabric, basic supplies, and a free weekend. To start, choose a chair with no missing screws or loose legs; it should have interesting features or frame detail.

For a slightly more ambitious project, turn two or more chairs into an eclectic set. Look for designs that have a wooden frame and an upholstered seat and unify them with the same color and fabric.

Info:  Benjamin Moore Exotic Red matte finish 2086-10; fabric similar to pictured Lakeside Ticking Stripe available from Jo-Ann.

Materials and directions

  • Screwdriver
  • Sanding sponge
  • Tack cloth or rag
  • Small paint roller
  • 2-in. paintbrush
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Fabric
  • Chalk or pencil
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun

Step 1: Unscrew the seat from your chair frame with a screwdriver. Set seat and screws aside.

Step 2: Sand the frame. Use tack cloth or a damp rag to wipe up the dust.

Step 3: Use a small paint roller to cover frame with primer, then follow with the 2-in. paintbrush to fill in joints. Let dry at least two hours, then apply a second coat of primer. Once dry, sand and tack again to create a smooth finish before painting. Clean roller and paintbrush.

Step 4: Apply a base coat of paint with the clean roller. Smooth all surfaces with the paintbrush using long, straight strokes in one direction. Apply a second coat after the first is dry (don't sand between coats).

Step 5: While the frame dries, re-cover the seat. Pull off the old covering or apply the new fabric over it. Measure and cut a piece of fabric about 2 inches wider than the seat on all sides, first tracing an outline with chalk or a pencil. If the fabric pattern includes stripes, make sure they align with the seat shape.

Step 6: Wrap the fabric over a seat edge and secure with a staple. On the opposite edge, pull fabric taut and staple to secure. Repeat on remaining two sides, then staple all around the edges, pulling cloth tight. Stop 2 inches from corners.

Step 7: Fold the fabric at one corner into a neat finish by tucking the excess underneath and smoothing the top down. Secure with three or four staples, keeping the folds flat and even; avoid stapling over the screw holes. Repeat for each corner. Once the frame is dry, reattach seat with screws.

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