Counter Stool Makeover

4 Materials
4 Hours

Hi Liz here, from Yep, I finally tried chalk paint on this counter stool makeover and I have some things to say about my experience.

Big news… I’m no longer a chalk paint virgin… Once I started on this project, I got a vision for a fun treatment for these stools and have included the free PDF for you to download at the end of this post so be sure to check that out too. So here’s the ‘before’, keep reading to see the ‘after’…These aren’t the first stools in our fairly new renovated kitchen in our 100 year old house.If you have been following me for a while, then you may remember the ‘colorful stools’ I wrote about last year… 

But for some reason, I just don’t live well, day in and day out, with very much color in my house, and thus what was once fun and colorful, soon became garish and overbearing to me.I sold the colorful ones and found a replacement...I decided that not only the color, but the busy pattern on the legs was just too busy for me in our kitchen. So when I went looking for replacement stools…I specifically wanted stools with nice straight, plain legs, that didn’t take up too much floor space, as I’m trying to squeeze 3 stools in a tight space.This is what I found:

They’re available here in these 2 sizes: 24" and 29" (see bottom for shopping links)I love that they are super inexpensive so if I decide I’m sick of these next year, so worries, I’ll sell them and come up with a different plan. But even though these are quite inexpensive, they are super sturdy!So to start with, I primed the seats…Yes, I know that I said I’m no longer a chalk paint virgin, and I’m not… but I used the chalk paint on the legs, for the seats I had a different plan, and it started with primer and latex paint.After the primer was dry, I coated the seats with 2 coats of gray latex.Then it was time for the chalk paint on the legs… I was giddy with excitement!So I’m simple-minded, I get giddy easy. 

I’ve read sooooooo much about chalk paint, some very contrasting things so I didn’t know quite what to expect…I decided to ignore everything else I read and just read the manufacturer’s directions on the jar. It clearly said “No need to use primer – reliable adhesion to most surfaces without sanding or using a layer of primer”So keeping them to their word, I went right ahead and started painting the lacquered legs with the chalk paint.

Here’s a painting tip: start on the inside of the legs opposite of where you sit, so your arm doesn’t drag across wet paint to get to the inside later.The actual chalk paint brand I used was already premixed… I felt no compulsion to try some brand that calls for me to have to mix it myself from powder, (which might explain why some things I read talked about chalk paint being super runny… maybe they did the mix your own and added too much water!?)For a link for the chalk paint I used, see bottom of this post...I was only painting the legs of 3 counter stools so I figured a 16 ounce container would do it, and turns out, I barely used 1/4 of the entire pot.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out the chalk paint went on wonderfully smooth, thick and covered extremely well. Remember, I didn’t prime or sand the pre-finished stools from their gloss finish, and this is how well the chalk paint covered after only 1 coat:

A quick 2nd coat and this counter stool makeover was ready for the next step!I wanted a little something interesting in the stool design, after all I lost all the color and all the fancy legs from the previous stools, but I didn’t want to fall victim to adding color then tiring of it immediately. After staring at my kitchen for a while, it struck me…The lights over the peninsula are reproductions lights in sort of a 1920’s style, and I love them, so playing off them I went with a font that looks 1920’s and a pattern that repeats the black stripes…

Most of us are familiar with the saying ‘eat, drink and be merry’…That sounds fitting for the kitchen counter stools, we eat there, we drink there, and I’m frequently telling one of my grandchildren at snack time to be kind to their sibling, that’s sort of like be merry, right?But before I committed to those words on a stool, I wanted to be sure it wasn’t derived from some twisted person encouraging drunkenness 

I was pretty sure it came from the Bible, and it does… Ecclesiastics 8:15 Great! Moving on…I created my PDF designs on PowerPoint, emailed them to OfficeMax to have them print them out on heavier paper, not cardstock, but heavier than thin typing paper, I think it was 28# paper. And very important: on a laser printer! (ink jet will run and not be so pretty once the Mod Podge hits it)After I cut out the printed papers, I coated the top of the stool seats with a layer of Mod Podge.For a shopping link for the Mod Podge I used in this project, check the end of the post!

Then carefully centering the circle paper on the circle seat, starting in the center of the paper and working towards the edges, I lightly smoothed out the paper decal, flattening it into the very sticky Mod Podge on the seat, taking great care to not get air bubbles in the paper.Next, I coated the entire seat and paper with another coat of Mod Podge.

As the 1st top coat of Mod Podge was drying, a few small air bubbles did pop up, but went back down as it dried. I gave the seats another 4 coats of Mod Podge, just to give them extra durability.Once the seats were totally dry over night, it was time for me to finish the legs.I took them outside and with a sanding block outfitted with 220 grit sand paper, I ‘distressed’ the legs.

Again, I was pleasantly surprised with how nicely the chalk paint finish sanded off the legs. If this was latex paint I was sanding, it would tend to get sort of ‘pilly’ and gummy, but not this chalk paint, it was dry like fine sawdust and came off beautifully.

I chose to sand off the edges where normal wear and tear would occur, to try to give it a somewhat believable distressed finish.The final step in this counter stool makeover was the finish on the chalk paint.I used the same brand of finish… I guess it’s some sort of liquid paste wax.

This part was maybe a little let down. This product smelled more like a water based poly smells, and I wonder if it’s actually closely related to that? Next time, I think I’ll try just good old paste wax and see which way I prefer.Regardless, the new kitchen counter stools are done, and I think they turned out kind of charming.

See the lights that hang over the peninsula? Don’t they coordinate with them well?

Here they are all together…

If you enjoyed this stool makeover, HERE are many more furniture redo projects I've done!

Suggested materials:

  • Mod Podge
  • Chalk Paint
  • 24" stool
See all materials

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