7 Tips for Better Chair Makeovers


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Sometimes it’s hard to believe that refinished furniture used to be so….well, UGLY. But when you see it side-by-side like this, there’s no doubt that it’s an improvement!
And I had found 2 of them at the thrift store some time ago for about $12 each. And of course, whenever you find TWO of something at the thrift store, you MUST buy both! (Like how I found those awesome lamp shades a few months ago!)
Seriously, though….making over a little chair like this is one of the easiest, fastest, and most rewarding projects. If you’re new to DIY, I suggest you start with a fun little project like this, and see how creative you can be with it!


Here’s a short video I did explaining 7 easy tips for chair makeovers. While you’re at it, you may want to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel for more videos!

 7 Tips for Better Chair Makeovers

TIP #1 When in doubt, paint it white!

Yeah……I know……we can’t all be Martha Stewart when it comes to DIY. Sometimes we’re just not that creative in putting colors together. If you’re in doubt about how to make your chair makeover pop, choose white. Really, you can’t go wrong with white! It’s sooooo uplifting and bright and cheerful, and it makes anything look fresh!

TIP #2 Leave the Roosters For Grandma’s Chair

You can choose any fabric you like. I mean, if you like roosters, that’s okay! LOL That’s part of being creative! But try to choose fabric that is going to compliment the style of the chair. If you’ve got a modern chair, leave the roosters for grandma’s traditional chair. Check out any geometric, whimsical detailing in your chair and maybe find some fabric that plays upon those characteristics. At least it will look like you put some thought into your fabric choices, if not the paint color selection 😉

In my chair below, notice the pattern in the fabric sooooorta matches the shape in the back of the seat? I also painted the inside edges of the lattice a shade of grey in an attempt to do a little 3D effect. Hmmm….not sure if it worked. LOL.

TIP 3: Step AWAY From the Butter Knife!

We’ve all been there–reaching for the butter knife for everything. But when it comes to upholstering, get the right tools: a staple gun, tack hammer, and staple/tack remove. Small chairs like this is all the tools you really need are a staple gun and some scissors. Staple guns aren’t too expensive (maybe $20??). This is your best option for securing the new fabric to the chair.

TIP #4: Use Your Old Stuffing!

You can reuse the old interior materials, especially if it “fits” the old chair perfectly, or if cheaper to do so. But, it might be pretty old and yucky and you might need to replace it. Either way, don’t be afraid to add new layers, especially if you want your new chair to be a bit more more comfy, or if you just need to cover up the old ratty one.

Vintage Chair Makeover 3.jpg

TIP #5  Save the Dirty Pieces

Okay, maybe your chair pieces you’re taking off aren’t dirty. Mine usually are because I’m getting it from the thrift store! But you see what I’m saying. Even as nasty and dirty as I’m sure the old fabric might be and you can’t wait to put a match to it and wash your hands in bleach, you should still hold on to it for a sec and use it as the template for the new cover. You will save yourself a TON of time by cutting it the right size instead of having to measure and make an error! Be sure to account for 5/8″ seam allowances!

Use old fabric as pattern.jpg

TIP #6 Bottom’s Up!

Don’t forget to paint the bottom of the chair! You’re probably thinking, “Um….why??” Well, because, do you reallllly want your painted furniture looking like painted furniture? Wait, don’t answer that. In some instances you do, but you could be pretty embarrassed if someone has to bend on all 4’s, or you happen to turn the chair over when you’re moving furniture and–eeewwww!–“what the heck is that underneath?! Why’s it look so old and crusty?!” Uh…yeah. So, just keep it professional looking and paint the bottom and any areas where you think someone might just peep.


TIP #7 Spray On, Baby

If the chair you’re painting has some intricate detailing, don’t use a brush. You’ll just make a bit of a mess. And that’s sort of what I did with this chair in the lattice pattern on the seat back: paint went on too thick in certain areas and gathered up on the edges. A paint sprayer (or spray paint!) would have alleviated this problem. (FYI, I hate spray paint because of its smell; that smell lingers, too!). Buy a paint sprayer so you can use your choice of latex paints, preferably environmentally friendly brands).


Here’s a look at some of my other chair projects:

Now it’s YOUR turn! Go to the thrift store (or Craig’s List, or hell, even your own dining room!) and get started on an easy chair makeover. They’re a lot of fun, and something that anyone can do!

Have you ever made over a chair? Do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment below!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, considering SUBSCRIBING via email so you don’t miss the next post! I promise not to spam you. I’m vegetarian, after all ;).


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About the Author ()

Hey there, I'm Serena, a 38-year-old working mom of 3 young boys who can't get enough DIY! If you actually made it to the bottom of this post to read this, it means you're really enjoy my blog. That means SO much. If I can inspire just one person through my passion and energy for DIY, then I'm fulfilling my life's purpose. Thanks for joining me, and I hope you'll subscribe so we can keep in touch! ~Serena

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. My Thrifted Chair Stash | Thrift Diving Blog | May 3, 2014
  1. Carole says:

    My chair makeover is done. I used Valspar Chalky paint as well as BBfrosch chalk paint powder (which does save money because you can mix just what you need at the time and not have to mix a whole quart)


  2. Carole says:

    I want to post a pic of my before and after but there is no icon to do that

  3. Mary says:

    This is so timely! I just purchased a small table and two chairs that need love. The good thing no uphostery needed.
    I was am a little unsure about it all but need to get it done. Thanks for the direction

  4. Lin Clauss says:

    It always amazes me what people will throw away! I dont know how many times I’ve seen sold furniture on the side of the road that looks dirty on the outside, but after a tiny bit of work just to clean it up, you end up with a fancy and now-valuable piece!

  5. Scott K says:

    The after shots are up!

    If nothing else, you’re going to make me keep my blog updated regularly!

  6. Heather says:

    Cute makeover! I did something similar to a thrifted chair a while back:


    I love the paint sprayer idea! I used regular spray paint and it was a hassle…

  7. Serena says:

    Scott, you must take an AFTER pic! Let me know when you have. I would love to see it.

    Karena, thanks for stopping by. I’ll come check it out!

    Sharla, you rock! Thanks for the follow. I’m going to check you out right now….

  8. Serena, Great post! Love the tips and the chair looks FABULOUS! I agree, finding a pair of anything at the thrift store is a real treasure. I’m happy to be now following. 🙂 Have a wonderful night!

  9. Karena says:

    Great tips Serena I love your chair score and makeover!! Perfect fabric as well.

    Thought you would enjoy…Interview with Leslie of Segreto Finishes and her fabulous Book Giveaway! Come on Over!

    Art by Karena

  10. Scott K says:

    I started with this little stenographer’s chair (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/5GQpOSW45-dSHeeyrjcl4g?feat=embedwebsite), but forgot to post a finished image! It is white though…

  11. Serena says:

    Thanks, Cindy! White furniture is so fresh, isn’t it? 🙂

  12. Nice job.. I love white painted furniture.

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