Thrifted Chair Makeover - Before and After

Here she is... My thift store chair that was previously screaming for a makeover... She is finally finished.  Isn't she pretty!

I found this chair at my local Goodwill Thrift Store for $30. I snapped this first picture of it in the store while I was debating on buying it.  When I first saw it, I knew it had a ton of potential, but I was a little unsure if I could handle making it over!  I sat in the chair for at least 20 minutes thinking about what I could do to it.  It was surprisingly very comfortable... and I needed a chair in our master bedroom.  I knew for sure that I didn't want to do tufting of any kind on my as this was my first real upholstery project.  And I wasn't sure exactly how I would accomplish fixing her up, but I decided it (she) was worth a try!

My first step was to remove the cushions from the chair. The bottom cushion removed easily as only two screws were holding it on. However, the rear cushion was stapled onto the chairs frame with hundreds of staples.  I painstakingly removed each and every staple by pulling them out with my needle nose pliers.  I had several blisters and a staple hole in my thumb to show for my hard work.

I already had white paint, dark wax and batting in my craft room left over from previous projects...  So the only things I had to purchase for this makeover were fabric and Nailhead Trim.  I estimate my supply costs to be $10 because I used less than 1/3 of the nail head trim and my fabric remnant was only a few dollars on sale at Joann's Superstore.  I can't help but shop in the bargain section!   

I had previously given a sneak peak of my chairs progress via my Instagram feed (My Instagram name: AnyoneCanDecorate).  That was before I decided how I was going to trim around the back cushion.  The staple gun staples were still exposed in this next Instagram picture. 

After giving the sneak peak on Instagram, I had a few people ask me for a tutorial on this piece... but honestly being that this was my first time doing upholstery I don't think that I'm the one to give a tutorial on how to upholster.  I purchased a book that showed me Step-by-Step Upholstery.  The book is how I figured out what I was doing.  It was definitely worth the few dollars it cost!

The back of the chair involved quite a bit more than just wrapping fabric around it like a present and stapling it.  I admit it was a little bit difficult but the book showed me enough to figure it out.  Going with a stripe fabric also presented a challenge.  A solid definitely would have required less effort.  

I'm not going to give you step by step tutorial here... I will give you the photo version of my progress as it happened and I will also tell you how I achieved the antiqued paint finish.  

After removing all of the old fabric, cushions and staples, I lightly sanded the frame just so my paint would adhere well to the surface.  I used inexpensive acrylic latex craft paint for the off white base color.  You know the kind of paint you buy at the craft store in the tiny bottle for about 99 cents (made by Plaid).  I used a simple drybrush technique and the paint worked great for this process.   
A drybrush technique is where you use a dry paint brush and dab just the tips of the brush into the paint (I put the paint on a paper plate for easy tip dipping).  Then you brush the item lightly all over and only dab more paint onto the brush each time the brush gets dry.  There is no need for full coverage paint when you are doing a drybrush antique look. The paint itself is not that impressive until a Dark Wax is used over it.  There are many brands of dark wax but I've only used this brand.  I used a cotton cloth to apply the dark wax (which also doubles as a finishing polish).  I used the same dry brush finish on the cane sides of the chair.  Followed by just a little wiping of dark wax over some of the cane. I wanted the cane to feel lighting than the wood areas. The final look is a nice vintage time worn feel. 

Here is a photo play by play of the makeover as it progressed.  Sorry I didn't take more pictures of the paint finishing as it was in process.

Although I completely removed the fabric from the rear cushion on the chair, I upholstered directly over the velvet cushion fabric on the seat.  I put clumps of batting into each of the old tufted holes.  Then I covered the top of the cushion with several layers of batting which completely hid any signs of the old tufting.  I used the same batting method on the rear cushion of the chair.

The burlap furniture strap in the back of the chair was used it to give strength to the back of the chair, so when a person leans into the chair the fabric can not rip.  I stapled it into place and used a few furniture tacks to hold it tight in place.  Notice I used a different fabric for the rear side of the chair.  I wanted to give it a totally custom look and feel.  

I am loving my final finished chair.  It was a bit more work than I had planned. However, completely worth it!  I love having one of a kind furniture pieces that have a history.   

Until next time...
Happy decorating!



  1. That's pretty amazing...I am always in awe when I see such a dramatic change in a re-do. We sold a cane chair like that at our garage sale a couple of years ago. Now that I transform furniture and such A LOT, I kinda wish I'd kept it - especially after seeing how yours turned out. Nice job.

  2. That is gorgeous! I'm new here, but I love your blog! So inspiring!

  3. LOVE THIS CHAIR PIECE! You're amazing!

  4. Cool chair transformation. Recycling is what I love to practice most because it does not only save me money, but I save nature's life most importantly. I hope this blog will be an inspiration to everyone to enjoy and practice recycling by doing DIY home & office furniture redo, repainting and re-upholstery.


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