Our neighbors gave us four matching dining room chairs they no longer had use for because they knew that we needed dining chairs. Our other dining chairs are a mismatched assortment of chairs we’ve either been given as hand-me-downs or we purchased for very little money at thrift stores. Here they are all lined up like ducks (from very different parents) in a row:
We have a few other similarly mismatched chairs scattered throughout the house that we pull in to the dining room on the rare occasions that we entertain. Probably someone a lot craftier than I ever will be could make these mismatched chairs look sort of shabby chic, but in my hands, they just look shabby.
The chairs our neighbors gave us are in good shape, but the wood has been stained and then sealed with a very shiny protective coating that doesn’t go well with our black dining table. So I decided to see if I could remake the chairs into something that better suits our dining room. I thought I’d start with one chair, see how it went, and then decide what to do about the other three. Here’s what the neighbors’ chair looked like before my attack:
This chair makeover project involves two parts: painting the chair and recovering the seat in a new fabric. This post will detail how I painted the chair, and my next post will detail how I recovered the seat.
I was a little intimidated about painting the chair because, although I have painted a lot of wood furniture, I’ve always just re-painted previously painted wood or applied paint to unfinished wood furniture. To paint a chair that had been stained and sealed, I envisioned that I’d have to sand the chair down to the bare wood and then paint it. I asked around and did some online research and discovered, happily, that this is not the case which made this project much more simple.
To begin, I removed the seat cushion. On the underside of the chair, there were three small holes hiding a screw in each one. I used a screwdriver to remove them and the seat cushion came right off. Next came prepping the chair to be painted. Here are the steps I used to prep and paint the chair (which are very similar to the steps I used recently to repaint our deck furniture). These steps can be followed to paint any kind of wood furniture that has been stained and sealed with a material like polyurethane, varnish, or shellac.
- medium grain (such as 80 or 120 grit) and fine grain (such as 180 grit) sandpaper
- damp cloth (or a tack cloth)
- semi-gloss or gloss latex paint
- paint brush(es)
Step 1: Put the chair on some newspaper (the newspaper will make clean-up a snap). Use the medium grain sandpaper to rough up all the surfaces that will be painted. Sand with the grain of the wood, if possible. The medium grain sandpaper will take off the protective sealant enough so that the primer will adhere to the chair. After sanding with the medium grain paper, sand with the fine grain paper. The medium grain paper roughs up the finish, while the fine grain paper should smooth it out a bit to make the primer adhere better.
Step 2: Wipe down the chair down with a damp cloth to make sure that all the dust is gone. Clean up the newspaper.
Step 3: Move the chair to a tarp or a new set of newspaper. Definitely don’t use the same newspaper that was used to catch the dust from sanding; you don’t want that dust to get mixed in with your paint job. I put the chair on up-ended flower pots in order to make painting the bottom portions of the legs a bit easier.
Step 4: Paint the chair with primer (I used Kilz Premium Interior/Exterior Primer because we had it on hand). You’ll know almost immediately if you haven’t sanded enough — the primer won’t adhere properly to the chair. If that happens, just grab the sandpaper and go back to Step 1. I used two coats of primer on this chair. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I knew that I didn’t want any of the wood color from the chair to show through after I’d finished painting the chair. Let the primer dry between coats and before applying the paint.
Step 5: Apply 2-3 coats of paint, waiting for the paint to completely dry between coats. I used two different sized brushes for this project — a fairly standard size brush we’ve used to paint the trim in our house as well as quite a small brush I borrowed from Charlie. I used the small brush for the parts of the chair that required a bit more attention to detail. I used three coats of paint on the chair.
There you have it, five fairly simple steps that put this chair well on its way to looking radically different. My next post will detail how I recovered the chair’s seat cushion. In the meantime, I just realized that this is the 100th Yikes Money post. Thanks to all of you who spend time reading my blog. I really appreciate it.