I found it on Craigslist!

See how to makeover a dresser, redo a side table, refresh frames, paint candlesticks, and reupholster a chair

Craigslist chair
Photo: Rob D. Brodman

 Add eye-grabbing upholstery

Our first step was to remove and set aside the cushions, saving all hardware. Following product instructions, we applied paint stripper with a paintbrush. Next we removed the varnish and stripper with a nonreactive putty knife and scrubbing pad and applied a stripping solvent to the wood frame with a rag. Once it was dry, we brushed on wood dye, first with a paintbrush, then by rubbing with a clean cloth to even it out. After letting it dry, we applied a light coat of water-based polyurethane satin varnish. Finally, we took the frame, cushions, and ¾yard of fabric to an upholstery shop, where the cushions were reupholstered and reattached.

DIY and save
Giving a chair a new seat is simple and satisfying. All you need is fabric, a staple gun, a screwdriver, and an afternoon. (But avoid this rookie mistake: Don't misplace the hardware when you take the chair apart. You'll need it to put the chair back together.)

DIY reupholstery of a chair back is trickier. If you're a pro with a sewing machine, your best bet is to dismantle the fabric on the original cushion and use it as your pattern. Baffled by bobbins? Try this no-sew guerrilla upholstery method. After you've unscrewed the back cushion, cut a piece of fabric large enough to wrap around the front and sides; secure it by stapling it to the back. (Give yourself about 2 inches of margin to secure the fabric.)

Now you need to cover up the staples and ragged fabric edges. The no-sew solution? A glued-on panel of fabric. Cut a piece of fabric ¾-inch wider on all sides than the back of the cushion. Turn under 1 inch of fabric on all sides and iron flat. (Neatness counts; this is the part you'll see.)

Carefully apply fabric glue to the flap. Leaving a ¼-inch margin, glue the panel of fabric to the back of the cushion, hiding the staples.

• $12 Craigslist find
FINAL COST: $61 for the chair and supplies, plus about $165 if you outsource the upholstering

 Try an unconventional hue

We loved the elegant shapes of these tall candlesticks and wanted to update and unify them with a bold and unexpected color ― in this case, high-gloss indigo. We started by removing all wax residue with paint thinner and a clean cloth. Then we misted one coat of spray paint primer for metal onto the candlesticks, holding the can 10 to 12 inches away and being sure to cover evenly with paint. Once they were dry, we sprayed two light coats of spray paint for metal, again being sure to hold the can at a distance (to avoid drips) and to cover the detail grooves evenly.

• $15 Craigslist find




  • Craigslist dresser

    I found it on Craigslist!

    The dresser before

  • shabby chair

    I found it on Craigslist!

    The chair before

  • I found it on Craigslist!c

    To refresh the candlesticks we used: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch sandable spray primer in white and Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch gloss spray paint in navy blue from www.rustoleum.com,  800/323-3584.

  • thrifted candlesticks

    I found it on Craigslist!

    The candlesticks before 

  • I found it on Craigslist!

    To refinish the frames we used: Pratt & Lambert Accolade Velvet interior paint 2-oz. samples ($4 each) in Cozumel (#21-11), Canton Jade (#23-25), Azurean (#22-5), Storm (#19-25) and Shady Forest (#19-21), www.prattandlambert.com (or 800/289-7728). Black mats (with single- and double-cut windows) in various sizes are from a local frame shop.

  • Frames before

    I found it on Craigslist!

     The frames before

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