The $60 Thrifted Vintage Chair Makeover

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You know those projects that you start but never finish? Dude, what’s UP with that?! I have a gazillion of them lying around my house: half-dissected furniture…….sewing projects with threads hanging loose…..and knitted garments with knitting needles still attached!

Other than DIY ADHD, I can’t fully explain that phenomenon. (Does it happen to you, too??)

This year, however, let’s vow to FINISH. WHAT. WE. START!

….So I finally finished this vintage chair that I found at the thrift store (–ahem–) last year…………Yes, I said last year.)

Cost at the thrift store: $60

And voila, thanks to the support from OnlineFabricStore!


Vintage Chair Makeover BEFORE99.jpg

Finally it’s DOOOONNNEEE! Woo hoo! One less piece of furniture in my messy garage!


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Now I’ve got a cozy corner in my master bedroom, which still needs a lot of decorating. It’s been three years and all I’ve been able to do is remove wallpaper and paint the walls a pretty Sherwin Williams Rainwashed!

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It’s amazing how many things you learn when you do a project that you’ve never done before. Oh, the skillz you acquire!

And yes….there will be trial and error. This is just a sampling of the decorative tacks I wasted in trying to get them hammered in PROPERLY!

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I’ve done a previous reupholstered chair ions ago when I started this blog (hahaha, looking at that post now makes me laugh at how ridiculously fuzzy my pictures!). But that chair was a piece of cake compared to nailing on 276 decorative tacks onto a vintage chair makeover when you’ve never done it before! EEK!

Vintage Chair Makeover AFTER.jpg

For long-term readers of this blog (lol, maybe five of you brave souls?? Shout out to y’all!), you’ll remember this chair from last year when I attempted to reupholster the chair with a butter knife…..you know, the “tool” that you resort to when you can’t find any real tools? Yeah–that.

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Inside of the chair….NOT pretty!

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Which Fabric to Use?!

I think this is the most fun (and most difficult!) part of reupholstering a chair, too. It all depends on the look you’re going for. I really wanted something classic and pretty. It’s a very traditional-looking chair, so I didn’t want to go all modern and crazy on it. Plus, I knew I wanted it in my bedroom, and with the Rainwashed paint colors, I knew a white chair with tan fabric would look really nice!

Did you know that HGTV makes fabric now?! Actually, OnlineFabricStore.com is a great place to buy fabrics online. The selection is awesome and I find their site cleaner to use than some other online fabric stores!

Here’s the HGTV fabric I chose, which was perfect!

HGTV Fabric


Always use the old pieces of fabric as a pattern, and be sure to add in seam allowances (jeez….that old fabric was HORRIBLE).

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276 Decorative Tacks Later……..

Yes, I hand-nailed 276 decorative tacks onto this chair…..and I am not ashamed to admit that not all of them are straight! But 1) the chair is in my bedroom, which doesn’t get any traffic or judging looks, and 2) who cares? I’m not perfect 🙂

But I did almost decide to give up after getting started because it just wasn’t turning out how I had envisioned….But hey, how will you ever learn if you run from challenges? I told myself that DIY’ers never quit :). I started with the arm rests because they looked to be “easier” than the back and seat, though!

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I had ordered a box of 1000 decorative tacks from OnlineFabricStore.comNet. These are the ones I ordered. I loved the gold! And I have plenty of them left for another project!

online fabric store Decorative French Natural Nails

 Oh no!…….C R O O K E D Decorative Tacks!

Aside from the obvious of using decorative tacks that come in strings so you can’t help but get it right, here’s how to keep decorative tacks straight:

Use a piece of paper (or a ruler) to make the distance between two tacks. Do your best to make each notch falls in the center of the decorative tack.

I tried to use a little tool that they’d found online to keep decorative tacks straight, but it didn’t work well for me. I found that by placing one at a time, and just using my makeshift spacer, it worked much better. I felt like I had more control over my tacks :).

Give it a whirl. After about the first 25, you actually start finding it easier to drive them in!

Installing Decorative Tacks.jpg


Ditch the Butter Knife!

….or any other “makeshift” tools, for that matter. You’ll just hurt yourself, and make your DIY project harder than it needs to be. Ain’t no body got time for that! LOL

This is the tack hammer I used, which is much lighter than a traditional hammer, and easier to drill them in.

Other than the tack hammer, I found a regular hammer helpful in removing tacks. You can always use a tack puller.


The Innards

One of the nastiest things about making over old thrift store chairs is the innards. You never know what you’ll find!! YUCK! But sometimes, you find some “gold” inside……in other words….good, solid materials that you should reuse if you can.

Yes, my friends…..that’s authentic horse hair!!!

According to my reader and ‘net buddy, Scott, upholstery shops sell a blend of hog and horse hair (and it’s expensive, too!!), which is used to overlay springs to provide some padding and protection. So yeah, this definitely got reused!

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Before I added the stuffing, however, I used a light duty staple gun to staple the fabric to the back:

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Then I stapled an extra layer of batting over the stuffing for more padding.

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Oh, and to see more ugly “BEFORE” shots of this chair, go see last year’s post.


If You’re Not Sure How to Get Started….

If you’re new to chair makeovers, I put together this video to help get you started with 7 tips for easy chair makeovers:


 The End Result?

I’m super stoked! I love how it turned out!


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The back of the chair. I forgot to mention that I also used Annie Sloan Old White for the chair body, and in the cut-outs of the bottom of the chair I used Annie Sloan Coco.

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I picked up that little wooden bench from the thrift store, too, for a mere $7.00……. Oh, how I LOVE the thrift store! 🙂

Materials Used

  • 1.5 – 2 yards HGTV Fabric from OnlineFabricStore.com
  • Total of 276 Decorative tacks (oh, don’t forget the ones I bombed!!! Okay, add in about 30 more tacks…)
  • 1 -2 yards of batting for added cushioning
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint “Old White” for the body
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint “Coco” for the cut-outs on bottom edge of chair

Tools Used


  • Chair – $60 from my favorite thrift store
  • Fabric – About $26
  • Tacks – About $7
  • Paint – Already had on-hand
  • TOTAL COST: About $93! Not bad for a super heavy, sturdy vintage chair!


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So what do you think?!

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Did you like this project? Why not just go ahead and PIN IT? 🙂

Vintage Chair Makeover - Thrift Diving Blog

Feel free to check out my other chair projects before you leave! 🙂

Do you have a chair makeover that you’ve been wanting to do? Tell me all about it in the comments section below!





Some supplies were sponsored by OnlineFabricStore.com. However, this post is strictly my own creativity, and all my crazy opinions are my own.

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  1. Pamela Brazier says:

    Great job, I love your blog. Beautiful chair. I hope you saved all the old tacks, I just love the vintage look and I bet a little rub n buff will purtty those up for another project. I did a very small chair and I know those tacks can be frustrating.

  2. Beth McCurdy says:

    Thank you so much! I have a Haverty’s chair that I bought in 2000 that I want to redo. Now I know how. I love how you added the Coco ASCP color to the bottom of the chair. That added so much, in my opinion.

    1. Hi Beth! I’m so glad you were inspired with ideas for your chair! šŸ™‚ I agree–I love the Coco on the bottom! I love adding those little details. It’s what makes refinishing furniture so much fun, rewarding, and creative! šŸ™‚ Thanks for commenting!

      1. Beth McCurdy says:

        Serena, I hope that you don’t mind me asking you this…I’m working on this very old sort of stool/table that has an upholstered top with tacks/nails. It was handmade by my husband’s grandfather. I’m working on removing the trim, fabric and nails/tacks and realized that there is straw inside (like what you discovered!). I took a whiff and WOW, it really was stinky (the piece has been stored in an unfinished basement for 50 years) Should I just remove everything and re-stuff? I’m afraid the piece might really stink if I keep any of the filling inside. BTW, I’m excited about the project- it will go in my beach house after I paint and reupholster it!

        1. Beth McCurdy says:

          or hog/horse hair? I’m not sure what it is but it looks like straw! lol.

      2. Thanks! I did remove and actually hose down the piece and clean. I used some essential oil in inside before re-stuffing it to help get rid of the strong odor. I’m on Instagram betheats2run but I have a separate Instagram acct that I just started called beth_christina_designs (just DIY/home decor)if you want to see the transformation. I found the most perfect beachy fabric remnant from Hancock Fabrics for super cheap. Thanks again for your advice. I love your blog!!!

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