Tempted to try this at home?

If you are a lover of design and decorating you have probably been on loads of websites and blogs and wished you could muster up the courage to try and revamp an old piece of furniture.  Believe me, it isn’t hard – it is lots of fun, pretty inexpensive and the results can be spectacular!

Where to start?  If you have never painted or sanded or waxed or even touched a hammer–you can still do this!  For a first project I would suggest a chair.  Something like this:

Maybe you are ambitious enough to try six from the “get go”, but if you have an extra chair somewhere or you happen to see a single one in a second hand shop or yard sale that would look good at a desk- give it a try.

Look for something that has some interesting carvings and turned legs and spindles and a removable padded seat- these features really highlight paint and distressing very well and often the finished product looks nothing like its original state.

So once you have made your decision- time to get to work!  Take off the seat and set it aside for later.

Time to prep or paint.  If you are using Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint (I highly recommend this paint- it is a dream paint because no prep is needed for the furniture)…just start painting.

If you are using regular latex paint you will either need to sand first with a medium grain sandpaper(so the paint will stick) or prime it with a high adhesion primer.   After using Annie Sloan’s paint it is very hard to go back to regular latex and these extra steps.

Give it two coats of paint and make sure the first coat is completely dry before you apply the second coat otherwise your brush will take off the paint and it gets all bumpy and gloopy.

While your chair is drying- time to deal with the seat.

You will need some tools:

Fabric scissors, some sort of plyers, a staple gun and most importantly a tack/staple lifter–often found around the house and the tack lifter is pretty inexpensive at most diy stores.

Remove the existing fabric with the tack/staple remover and plyers.  Try to keep the old fabric in one piece, if possible, so you can use it as the template to cut the new fabric.  If your not able to use the old fabric as a template- simply trace on paper the shape of the seat, add to it the depth of the sides then a few more centimetres/inches so that you can staple the fabric to the bottom of the seat.

If the existing foam is in good shape than simply re use it, if not you will need to buy the foam and cut it so that it is slightly larger than the edge of the seat base- not much longer just enough to round out the edges of the wood but not enough to fold under- it will cause lumps and bumps and will not fit properly into the chair.

After you have cut your fabric from the template the next step is to start stapling your new fabric. I fold under the edge to make it neater and I start in the centre of one side and work my way outwards leaving about two centimetres/one inch from the corner.  Next I do the opposite side of the first one, again living space at the corners and turning it to the right side every so often to make sure it is centred and even with no puckers- the fabric should also be pulled taut.  After I have completed all four sides I do the corners.  These need to be gathered,  folded or pleated with the staples and the excess cut off- this is a personal preference- I like to pleat mine- they come out neater.

If you have a pattern on the fabric that needs to be centred it is wise to lay your fabric and staple it in the centre of the bottom of each side so that it doesn’t shift while you are fixing it to the base.  It is a good idea to check every so often that nothing shifts –it would be so frustrating to have to repeat this process because the pattern is slightly off.

So after the paint has dried (again I highly recommend Annie Sloan’s chalk paint- the drying time is really quick and no priming or sanding is necessary) it is time to distress.

Simply sand lightly over the edges of the legs, spindles any carvings or turnings revealing the wood underneath.  I like to use an 80 grit sandpaper- this is my preference, but some people will use a 60 or even a 120 grit.  The higher the grit the finer the paper.  I find 80 is in the middle- it is course enough to distress the paint without making major scratches in the finish.

How much you distress is up to you.  I like to highlight carvings and spindles with distressing as well as all edges and legs- particularly if they are nicely turned.

After the distressing process is finished, brush off the dust or remove with a tack cloth.  Now it is time to seal the deal.  If you are using Annie Sloan’s paint- it is recommended to seal the paint with wax.  Simply apply with a wax brush and buff when dry.  You can add some extra dimension to your carvings and decorative details by adding some dark wax in places.

If you are using regular latex paint you can seal this with a clear coat of polyurethane or regular paste wax.

Finally place your newly upholstered seat into the chair!  You are done.

Easy peasy and often with a dramatic change.

Just to compare the before and after…..

The fun thing about this type of chair is that you can change up your fabric on the seat with little time and money and with great impact.


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