Driftwood Armchairs

11 Materials
6 Hours

Abbey from gave these armchairs a classic makeover complete with new upholstery, Driftwood, and a touch of Antiquing Wax and White Wax!
driftwood armchairs
When a friend asked if I wanted these chairs I jumped on it. A matching pair of anything isn’t always easy to find…and I’ll always accept free furniture!

While I’m not new to reupholstering I’m far from an expert. This type of chair may look daunting but it’s easier than you’d think; I’ll run you through the process. I didn’t take as many progress pictures as I should have so I’ll try to be detailed.

First I stripped the trim from around the top (ok, so my husband did it because, dang, that trim was NOT coming off without a fight). Since the seats came completely off I didn’t bother stripping that little bit of trim. Using needlenose pliers I removed as many of the 500,000 staples as I could from around the top cushion. You don’t necessarily have to remove them all, just as many as possible to be sure nothing gets in the way of new staples or pokes through new fabric.

Time for paint! While I’ve seen some amazing super bold and colorful makeovers of these vintage chairs, I decided on a more classic look. I gave the frames two coats of Country Chic Paint’s Driftwood, new to the standard color line. When I first saw the color and first painted with it I was skeptical because it wasn’t exactly the prettiest color looking more like orange-ish wet sand than a warm taupe…until it dried. It dried darker and much prettier (let this be a lesson to always give paint a chance to dry before passing judgement!)
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
I applied a little of Country Chic Paint’s antiquing wax around the details after I distressed with sandpaper. It still wasn’t quite the look I wanted so I added a little more depth and interest with some white wax. Perfect.

Now to get back to upholstering! With the seats removed, I cut pieces of canvas drop cloth to fit around with plenty of excess and stapled. To be sure everything is smooth and taut, staple the center of the top then the center of the bottom and work your way around, always smoothing as you go.

Using a large sheet of packing paper I cut a very rough pattern of the top front and back cushions and used the pattern to cut the fabric I needed. I left plenty of excess to make sure I could stretch the fabric as needed. Again I started by stapling the top center and the bottom center and worked my way around, being sure to smooth and pull taut as I went.

Once I trimmed the excess fabric I was ready to attach my decorative trim. All you need is a hot glue gun. I worked slowly around the cushion making sure the trim was perfectly placed and solidly adhered. It took about an hour and a half (and a number of scalded fingertips) to get it all done.

How beautiful are these chairs now? I love the classic French look and how simple and rustic the canvas drop cloth is as a fabric.
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
driftwood armchairs
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 12 questions
  • Billie
    2 days ago

    Since there is no trim on the bottoms of the seat, how did you disguise the staples?

    • Jeri
      2 days ago

      She said the seats were removed so the fabric was most likely stapled to the bottom and then reattached.

  • Merry Straub
    2 days ago

    I have 4 chairs, 2 sets of 2, that I inherited from my parents. I'd say they are at least 75 years old. I want to refurbish them. The wood is mildewed and in terrible condition. Where do I begin? This is totally new for me. I think I can handle the cushions (?). Your chairs came out so beautifully I thought you might be able to give me some info. Thanks. Merry

    • Linda Premo
      2 days ago

      You should be able to salvage your chairs.

      Firstly, Remove the seat and back cushions and fabric. Secondly, scrub down your wood with white vinegar and water. Bring them inside and let them dry thoroughly. If it appears the mold is gone you can then proceed to sand and paint. If it appears there is still mold, take them back outside and scrub down again with a solution of bleach and water 50/50. Then allow to dry completely, sand and paint.

      Take out all the staples from under the seat cushion. It helps to have a thin flat head screwdriver to wiggle under the staples and then pull out with pliers. I use needle nose pliers held sideways flat against the wood which gives you leverage to get the whole staple out. From this point follow the poster’s instructions and you should be fine. If you aren’t familiar with purchasing fabric take your seat and back pieces and make a template by tracing onto newsprint or craft paper and take these with you to the fabric store. Have fun reviving your chairs. Be sure to take photos and post❣️

  • Lisa Fauerbach
    31 minutes ago

    Absolutely gorgeous!

Join the conversation

2 of 66 comments
  • Ticia
    2 days ago

    You did a fabulous job and are an inspiration.

  • Em
    5 hours ago

    The pillows would look nice in the same material as the back of the chair. The white stands out a lot next to the off white in the chair. Even a border in the printed fabric or a square in the middle of the white would look cool. They look very lovely.

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