13. Before and After: Antique Dining Chairs

If you’ve read my blog at all up to this point, you know I am addicted to Craigslist.  The majority of our furnishings were purchased from the wonderful purveyors of that magical website, except for handful of things: TV stand, bookcase, dining table, dining chairs, and mattress.  Everything else is second hand, although they do NOT look that way!  We even got a beautiful pair of couches last year for $350, and they were practically brand new; they were still under warranty for the fabric treatment and seriously looked like they were never sat on.  Anyway, I digress…

The true topic of this post is a small tutorial for revamping some sad dining chairs.  I bought a set of four antique dining chairs from a lovely old couple who were moving into a retirement community.  Those sweethearts only wanted $20 for all of them!  Bless their sweet little hearts.  I’m not sure of the exact age of the chairs, but based on the design I’m guessing they date back to the 40s.  The company that manufactured the chairs, Northwest Chair Co. out of Tacoma, WA, was in business until the 1950s when they closed due to a fire, which also lead me to believe these chairs are from the 1940s.  Here are the beauties I received:


They were in okay condition, but boy, did I know the potential hidden behind the scratches and dings.  Oh, that brown velvet fabric DID give me the shivers!

Here are the materials you’ll need if you want to transform a set of chairs:

flat-head screwdriver or pliers
staple gun (with plenty of staples)
larges scissors or utility knife
fabric (1 to 2 yards, depending on the size of your chairs)
1″ foam
quart of paint

Let’s do this!  First things first, remove the seat bottoms from the chairs; you might need a Phillips screwdriver depending on the types of screws use to secure the seat bottom to the chair.  Next, remove the old fabric, batting, and any cushion material from the seat bottom.  I took out the old staples using a flathead screwdriver.  You can also use a pair of pliers.  Just keep your fingers out of the way!


After removing the old fabric, batting, and padding, it’s time to prepare the new seat.  Lay the seat bottom on top of the foam and trace around the edges.


Next, cut out the foam using a sturdy pair of scissors or a utility knife.  Again, be very careful and keep your fingers out of the way!  After cutting out the foam, you want to layer all the components as follows:  fabric, batting, foam, seat bottom.  Make sure the bottom of the seat is facing up.  Trim the batting and fabric to leave a few inches around the seat bottom.  (Extra is better…you’ll be trimming away the excess anyway!)


Pick a side and start stapling the batting/fabric to the underside of the seat bottom, as close to the outside as possible; start in the center and work your way out, stopping an inch or two from the corner.  Repeat on the opposite side.  Finish the remaining two sides in the same fashion.

Now comes the fun part: the corners!  Ha, not really.  This is the most difficult part, and requires a bit of fabric manipulation.  I don’t have a great picture depicting this step, but luckily I found a wonderful alternative via the interwebs:

Next comes the paint!  Prep the chairs by wiping them down with a mild cleaning solvent and lightly sanding each chair with medium-fine sand paper.  Wipe down the chairs again, this time with a lint free cloth (this step is important, it’s gets rid of all the dust from the sanding).  Apply 1-3 coats of paint (depending on the type of paint and the desired coverage).  I used Behr paint and primer in one in “Elephant Skin” and got the job done properly with two coats.

After the paint has dried completely, simply reattach the seat bottoms to the chairs and you’re done!

Are you ready to see the final result?!  Here ya go! 🙂


I think my favorite part is the fabric.  It’s a neutral linen with just the slightest hint of shimmer:


The before and after is pretty dramatic!


Sadly, we are going to be getting rid of these chairs. 😦  I really, really love the way they turned out, but let’s face it…I don’t have two dining room tables!  The upside: I can use the extra cash for other projects. 😉

I hope you are enjoying what little is left of your weekend!



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3 thoughts on “13. Before and After: Antique Dining Chairs

  1. Great color choice! I wouldn’t have thought of the silver/gray, but it looks great 🙂


  2. Pingback: The Craft Queen | 37. Liebster Award: I’m accepting it and passing on the torch!

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