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How to Transform Thrift Store Chairs

Every time I go to a flea market, a thrift store, even Home Goods, I come home with chairs.

I just love chairs. They can dress a space up, accentuate certain colors, bring back a classic look – they just bring so much personality to a room.

And, I love how easily you can redo them. With a little spray paint and new fabric, you can easily bring a chair to new life.

How to Transform Old Chairs with a Fresh Makeover

When we were planning to move out of our old house, we had accumulated so many things that Ash told me I wasn’t allowed to bring home any more chairs (or books but that’s a different story).

He was right, as we had enough seats in our house for a Sunday mass.

Before chairs were off-limits, I cleaned up a few flea market finds that are now household favorites.

Here’s Ash and I at one of our favorite rummage sales, sitting on the two chairs I later fixed up.

​Each of these chairs cost less than $10, which was a steal!

Fixing Up Thrift Store Chairs

Below is a better picture of the two chairs. The one on the left is an ice cream chair with a wooden seat. Although white, the chipping paint revealed that it had previously been red.

Fixing Up Old Chairs with Spray Paint and New Fabric - Before

My thinking was to bring back the red with a cranberry color. My grandma had ice cream chairs in that color, and I love little reminders of her.

The one on the right was a purple-ish tan with an old, dingy cushion.

My plan was to make this more modern looking, as I wanted to use this chair for my make-up vanity. I was thinking of a dark bronze color.

Preparing For Painting

I decided on spray painting the chairs. It would be easy and spray paint comes in so many colors.

First, I took the seats out of the chairs pretty easily by unscrewing some bolts.

Then, I put the chairs back together without the seats, in order to spray the whole chair.

​When painting, I threw down an old shower curtain.

Spray Painting Chairs

After preparing, I applied one thick coat of spray paint on each chair.

Easy Tutorial on Spraying Painting Old Chairs

The vanity chair looks darker than actuality in these pictures. It’s more of a deep bronze than a black color.

Spray Painting Chairs - Chair Makeover Tutorial

While the paint was drying, I went to work on the seats. The ice cream chair seat was an ugly and uncomfortable wooden circular disk. Here’s a reminder of what the “seat” looked like:

Choosing New Fabrics

For the ice cream chair, I chose two fabrics that I loved from Joann Fabric.

Easy Tutorial for Fixing Up Old Chairs with Spray Paint and New Fabric

They were very different patterns because I wasn’t sure which would look better. (I’m very visual and need to see how things would look. It probably would be weird if I carried the chairs through the store holding fabrics up to it – so I just bought my two favorites.

So, I decided at home that the navy blue paisley pattern on an off-white background was the winner.

​I loved how the cranberry color contrasted with the navy in the pattern on the finished product.

Here’s a close-up:

Replacing The Old Fabric

To attach the new fabric, I put the current seat on top of the fabric and cut a large square around it.

When cutting, I gave myself about three extra inches around the seat.

Then, I wrapped the seat loosely with the fabric and added stuffing – the white fluffy cushion material (pictured on the floor below).

​Next, I pulled the fabric over the underside of the disk and used my staple gun to give it a tight wrap. After screwing the bolts back in, I had a brand new-looking seat!

Chair Makeover Tutorial - Spray Paint and New Fabric

Here’s a before and after of the ice cream chair. I was so pleased with it! My grandma would have been too 🙂

Chair Makeover Tutorial - Spray Paint and New Fabric

As for the vanity chair, I chose a turquoise and ivory pattern that worked well with the dark bronze spray paint.

Using Spray Paint and New Fabric to Transform Old Chairs

This chair already had a cushion, so that saved some time.

​In putting this chair back together, I simply wrapped the fabric tightly around the existing seat, used the staple gun to secure the fabric, and then screwed the seat back in.

The chair was looking good – and it worked perfectly with my make-up vanity.

Here’s a before and after of the vanity chair.

Time And Cost Of The Chair Makeover

The total cost of making over both chairs was less than $30, including the chairs, stuffing, and fabric.

The time spent working was less than two hours. The longest part was the dry time.

​I love how both of the chairs turned out – especially the ice cream chair.

It’s a piece of furniture I will definitely chair-ish 🙂

67 Comments

  1. Soma Rachel George says:

    I love these makeovers. Always loved visiting the flea markets for a vintage find and later customizing to our likes. This is such a beauty. Cant wait to read and see more…

  2. Thanks, Soma! I loved making it – especially picking out the colors :)) Thanks for reading!

  3. The renewed chairs look amazing!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Cristina!:)

  4. Helen at Pleasures of the NW says:

    This gives me a great idea for my deck this year!! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Great! Thanks Helen:)

  5. creativejewishmom/sara says:

    i love chairs too! and had one like the shorter one once…..thanks for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Sara! Love your link party!:)

  6. STEPHANIE ABBOTT says:

    Such a good deal on those chairs. Love the remodel, especially that red one!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Stephanie!! I love the red one too! Red and navy look so nice together:)

  7. Fiona Cambouropoulos says:

    So pleased to have found your blog. Great make over and you really have added value to your chair. #CreativeMondays

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Fiona!! :)) Chairs are so easy to redo 🙂

  8. You two have great skill! Love this simple DIY! Thanks for sharing!
    God bless,
    Patty

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Aww you are too sweet, Patty! Thank you- have a great week! 🙂

  9. They both look great – I love doing a face-lift with old chairs.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Carol! Me too:)

  10. kristin mccarthy says:

    These are so adorbs, love the colors and prints!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Kristin!!:) they were fun to make:)

  11. So so cute! I love how both of these turned out! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some cheap chairs I can redo!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Tina! Haha I’m always looking too:)

  12. I will seriously never look at an old chair the same way! I love the transformations! Itching to go visit a flea market now. 🙂
    #happynowlinkup

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Hahaa thanks WebMDiva! It’s crazy how much of a difference spray paint and new fabric can make:) Me too on the flea markets!

  13. Sue Loncaric says:

    Thank you for showing us how to make our old chairs new again and sharing with us at #OvertheMoon.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Our pleasure, Sue! 🙂

  14. I think both chairs both look much nicer refinished. Its always amazing how much a quick paint job will do. I really liked the contrast between the the blue cloth and the burgundy chair.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Leanna! Yes – I loveee navy and burgundy together 🙂

  15. They both turned out beautifully! I have a vanity chair that had been in my mother-in-law’s home for years and was pretty beat up, but a little cleaning and new fabric over the seat turned it into a great piece for my bathroom.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Kym! It’s amazing what paint and fresh fabric will do 🙂

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Christine lol! Aww you’re welcome – thanks for hosting 🙂

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, June. The brand is Rustoleum 🙂

  16. Sandra Garth says:

    I’m always on the lookout for chairs but never have any luck. I need to shop with you guys! Thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story, have a great week.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Lol! Thanks Sandra:) I feel like I always find what I’m not looking for and since I’m never looking for chairs, I always find them:))

  17. Great ideas! I have a couple kitchen high-chairs that are so stained and need to be recovered.
    Happy Thursday, from the Sincerely Paula Linkup!
    Megs

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Megs! It’s amazing the difference some spray paint and new fabric can make:) have a great week!

  18. Fun! I love that you thought of your grandmother when making these over. Sentimental details make renovations so much better, right?

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Leslie! Yes they definitely do:))

  19. I really love how your chairs turned out. They look great, and I think you did a great job on them.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much Angela! 🙂

  20. Angela Boone says:

    I really like the chairs, and I think they turned out well. You really did a great job!
    I would love to find some ice cream chairs- I think they are so cute.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Angela! I love them too:) always looking for more:)

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much Theresa! I hope you find some:)

  21. These are so pretty! I love making over furniture, it is cheaper and more individualistic than just buying it.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Michele! Me too – I love seeing the difference between the before and after:)

  22. Ducks n a Row @SineaPies says:

    Wow! These chairs are amazing. You did such a great job. No one would know that you didn’t walk into the local Pier1 to buy them! ♥

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      OMG that is the best compliment!!! Thank you so much:)))

  23. Kathleen - Bloggers Lifestyle says:

    A very nice job on both chairs. Amazing what your creativeness can achieve.
    Kathleen
    Bloggers Pit Stop

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Aww thanks so much, Kathleen!

  24. Debra Needles says:

    These are so cute! Thanks for sharing them with us at the Funtastic Friday link party!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much Debra!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Jess! Sure will:)

  25. Love the makeovers! What a fun project and they turned out so cute! Thanks for sharing with us at Snickerdoodle! Pinned 🙂
    ~Laurie

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Laurie!:)

  26. You did a great job! I will be featuring this at my Winter Blues Wednesday party that opens on Tuesday evening at 8pm EST. Please stop by and pick up an I’ve Been Featured button. Thanks. http://diybydesign.blogspot.com

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much for the feature, Judy!! Will do:))

  27. Carol@blueskykitchen says:

    You are so right about chairs and these are so cute. Great makeovers. I love that these chairs are small enough to fit in a corner and add extra seating when needed. Thanks for sharing at Your Inspired Design.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Carol! Haha I think that’s exactly why I love chairs so much 🙂

  28. such cute chairs. My mother-in-law has a few but they are in their original state yet great condition.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Debbie! They are so easy to spruce up :))

  29. Sharon@bluewillowhouse says:

    Your chairs turned out beautifully. It is always amazing what a little paint and fabric can do to give a whole new look. Thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Sharon! Definitely 🙂

  30. Love the style of both of these chairs! The makeover you gave each of them makes them look even more stunning!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Keri!! Must be why I love chairs lol!

  31. Jennifer Dawn says:

    Those look fantastic! What a transformation! I want to extend an invite for you to share this recipe at our weekly link party which runs from Wednesday-Monday every week. Hope to see you there!

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