A Chair Pair Makeover

15 Materials
4 Days

Normal at this time I am in full swing preparation for that was supposed to happen mid-May. It has been postponed to September 18th-20th of this year (2020).

Thank goodness it hasn't been completely canceled and by that point hopefully things will be popping again.

In the meantime I thought I would share the projects I've been working on.

First up is this pair of reeeeeally boring chairs. They were probably mass produced for offices or hotels and I just happen to find two together. 


A fairly straight forward upholstery job in my humble opinion. 

First step was to take them apart which required unscrewing the seat and backrest portions from the frames.

The separate fabric from the back needed to ripped off entirely. 


Sanding was next. My least favorite part of any project. 

I needed to strip them down to the raw wood.

I used 80 grit to remove the finish and 120 grit to smooth them out. 


After all that sanding the raw wood was still too orange for the look that I was going for so I needed to light that up. 


Not to sound unprepared for this next step, but I just grabbed some basic white, interior paint (semi-gloss) that we had sitting around and diluted it with water to create a whitewash mixture. 


If I had to guess, It was probably a 2 parts paint, 1 part water for the mixtures measurements.

In sections, I would paint the watery paint mixture on to the chair, leave it for about 15-25 seconds and then wipe it away with a damp rag. 

This would allow for the raw wood to soak up some paint but removing the residual would keep it from becoming too opaque.

I still wanted to be able to see the character of the wood under the finish. 

This is the difference the white washing makes. Crazy right?

I topped the frames off with a protective coat of Minwax's Polycrylic in CLEAR MATTE.

I don't have a picture of me in the act but here is a snap of the can.

I have the best luck find the clear matte version at Lowe's.

Once the frames were done it was time to move on to the upholstery work, starting with the backrest portions.

I stripped the fabric off the frames and used the old stuff as a guild when cutting the new.

I used drop cloth that I had washed (also found at Lowe's) for the backrest and seat.

With my staple gun I tacked on the new fabric to the backrest and the seat. 

If you don't have a staple gun/air compressor combo, I highly recommend you get one if you think you will be doing upholstery work on the regular. If not, than a regular staple gun will work too.

I had to work around the screw holes for when I would reattach the back. Fun.

I then re-attached the seat and backrest back on to the chair frames. It is was important that I did this first before closing in the back with the new fabric. 

To add some interest, I wanted the back panels to be different from the chair's front textile and for that I decided to use an old rug that I found.

Before anyone comes for me in the comments, It had some decent damage done to it over the years and I plan on using what is leftover for some pillows or another project.

(I do clean all of my rugs before using them for upholstery or pillows)

Using the same method as I did before, I used the old fabric as a template to cut what I needed.

To attach the new back panel onto the frame I used some decorative upholstery nails, hammering them all in individually and cutting away excess fabric.


Almost there.....


I'm pretty happy with the end result.

You've got this very neutral chair that could go in any setting and then BAM! You're surprised by the pop of color and pattern in the back! 

As my friend put it...

"They are the Mohawk of chairs!"

The backs are a little different from each other but that's what you get when you use an old rug that was probably made by hand. 

This pair has already sold but I do plan on doing more of these in the future!


It's not like I'm going anywhere!

More to come soon!

Make sure to follow me on Insta for daily story updates: amandasmercantile

And you can see more blog post like this and pictures on my website at Amanda'sMercantile.com

Thank you!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Sue Sanders
    on Apr 18, 2020

    Did you leave the dark area high under the arm because you couldn't sand with your sander. Could you have hand sanded to get rid of the dark area.?

  • Charlie
    on Apr 19, 2020

    I have two wicker chair that have plastic wicker that is cracking and unraveling. The base is strong metal and I would like to cover them. Any suggestions?

  • Cheryl M
    on Apr 25, 2020

    Wow....i have a huge...bigger than 8x10 rug with the same pattern... It could be the grandma of yours. I have wanted to cut it up for runners etc. Scared cuz I am not sure that it isn't a expensive weave. Some wore spots etc. Just was worried because looking at the back its a pay grade above normal rugs. When you cut it did it unravel any???

    • Carol
      on Apr 25, 2020

      You should always check the origin and or value of a old rug that you perceive as tatty or junk, especially if it looks hand loomed.

Join the conversation

2 of 130 comments
  • Sierra
    on May 19, 2020

    I think they are beautiful. You did a great job, very professional looking. I wish I had your talents

  • MomofivejsOR
    on May 19, 2020

    Great Job!!! I think your friend might have meant that your chairs were the Mullets of the chair world. Ya know business in the front and party in the back. Lol

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