Modern Upholstered Dinette Chairs


I love taking a thrift store treasure and give it new life. These chairs are perfect for my daughter's new apartment!
When I passed by these old, ugly wooden dinette chairs, I saw potential! I purchased these chairs from a thrift store for $15 a piece (got all 4 of them). Someone had done a horrible job of putting stain on top of stain without sanding them first, and most of it was peeling off.
I removed the upholstery, and it was disgusting...crumbs, stains...just YUCK! When I removed the upholstery nails (21 in each chair)and all of the staples underneath, I noticed that the chairs were split right down the middle! The nails had kept them together.
I used Gorilla Glue to repair the split chairs, and my husband helped me secure them until they were dry.
That did the trick! They were good as new...well, not exactly. They stayed together! Now came the painstaking task of sanding the chairs! That took quite a few days. I used a Corner Cat with 60 grit sand paper first to get all of the "stain upon stain" off. I had to alternate with some good old hand sanding, especially on the spindles (those are a pain).
As you can see, the chair stayed together throughout all of the sanding. Before I began painting the chairs, I made everything smooth by using 150 grit sandpaper first, and then finished with 320 grit. I used my favorite type of paint...Rust-oleum White Gloss Latex paint...and got to work. I put 3-4 coats on each chair. I wanted to ensure durability.
I purchased 1" foam from Joanne's Fabric Store and traced the cushion for the seats using the cleanest original cushion. The original cushion was 2", but I went with 1", and it worked just as well.
I used a spray adhesive to secure the foam to the chair.
I purchased a beautiful blue and white fabric and traced the outline of the cushion on the back of the fabric. I allowed 2" on all sides except the top. I allowed 3" there because of the detail I was going to do to the top.
I started at the top at the center, made a 1" fold all around the top (by the spindles), and stapled the fabric. I stapled at the top first, and then pulled the fabric tightly and stapled the bottom & then the sides. I needed to hide the ugly staples, so I purchased upholstery rope to cover my staples & nailed the rope down with upholstery nails. I didn't use 21 upholstery nails on each chair...I went for 10 evenly spaced (one in front of each spindle and one between each spindle). I stapled the remainder of the rope on the bottom of the chair. I am not an upholsterer, so I got very frustrated with the nailing. I was figuring it out as I went on the first chair, but by the fourth chair, I was a pro!
Now you can see the finished product! I am very proud of the chairs. It makes me feel good to take a piece of furniture that has seen its better days and make it into a treasured keepsake. There are many mistakes on the chairs, but they are better than they were when I bought them. My daughter will enjoy using them in her new apartment. They match the table my husband built, and I refinished!

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Ann7537029
    Ann7537029
    on Jun 20, 2016

    Was the paint you used spray paint?

    • Barbara Watford
      Barbara Watford
      on Jun 21, 2016

      No, I used Rust-oleum white glossy paint. It has a built-in primer and is fast drying...especially in the Georgia heat!

  • Polly
    Polly
    on Jun 21, 2016

    Sorry can you help me get this right. You glued the foam to the chair then covered them?

Join the conversation

2 of 44 comments
  • Barbara Watford
    Barbara Watford
    on Aug 15, 2016

    I used Minwax Walnut stain, and about 8 coats of Polyurethane...lightly sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between each coat.

  • Rosann
    Rosann
    on Jul 13, 2020

    Thank you so much Barbara ... your share was an inspiration to me. Blessings!

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