DIY dining chair revamp

Eat your heart out, Centsational Girl.

First some background, because these chairs come with a little history.

I got this table and chairs from House of Charis, the house I lived in while attending OSU. House of Charis got them from a kind hearted man from our house's parent church. Let's call him
Dave. Dave heard that a local McDonald's was closing and getting rid of all of their furniture.
He thought "Charis needs furniture!"
Did we?
But how sweet, right?
So Dave knocked on our door one day with a pickup truck and a trailer full of McDonald's furniture to make a surprise delivery. Of course, we accepted. So we proceeded to fill the basement boiler room with and excessive amount tables and chairs. And there it all sat for three years.

Fast forward to August 2008, right after my husband and I got married. We didn't have much, including a kitchen table or chairs. I thought, shoot. We can get a free table and chairs from the Charis basement. That will work for awhile. So I picked out a clean set, threw a table cloth on the table, and voila! It worked.

Fast forward to now. I am still a poor newlywed. In case you didn't know.

However, now it's been over a year with these ugly chairs. I wanted to bring out the potential that I saw in them. They are not gorgeous, I know. They are still 90s looking. But come on, for free chairs? For poor young people? They are fab.



Sandpaper (89 cents a sheet)
409 or other household cleaner
2 cans of Rustoleum spray paint in Hammered Black ($7.99 each)
2 yards of upholstery fabric ($6.99 per yard and I had extra...probably could have gotten away with 1.5 yards)
Upholstery tacks and hammer ($1.49 for 20 tacks. You could also use a staple gun.)

Step 1: Repaint frame
First, I used the screwdriver to remove the seat cushion.

Then I did a once over with 409, because this chair had seen better days. I have cleaned it over and over, and it still never looked too hot--or clean for that matter.

Then I used sandpaper to really have at the super dirty spots, the rusty and peely spots along the bottom of the legs, and just rough up the surface in general.

I used Rustoleum because my chairs were metal. That stuff is the bomb. Make sure you put down a drop cloth (or in my case, flattened boxes, as I currently have a plethora of those), and are in a well ventilated area. Do two coats to ensure even coverage. I used about one can per

Step 2: Reupholster cushions
I started out with a staple remover to try and pull out the (bazillion!) staples from the underside of the cushion. That didn't get me very far, and I had much better luck with a regular screwdriver and pliers.

I also discovered that pulling out every staple would take me about 30 years, so I actually ended up ripping and cutting a lot of the vinyl off. I kept the black underside batting in tact.

The cushion foam was in good shape, so I didn't need to replace that. If you recover your own chair, you may need to replace this--especially if your chair was covered in something other than vinyl. Luckily, my foam was protected from all of the Diet Coke spills I'm sure my chair endured during it's McDonald's days.

I layed out my fabric and cut around it. I didn't measure. I eyeballed it. I left a few inches of overhang on each side, and I cut both pieces from the same section of the fabric for pattern continuity. (If that doesn't make sense to you, I basically cut both pieces side by side on the bottom edge of my fabric)

I did one cushion at a time. I would recommend this. That way I only had one torn up cushion, and one intact cushion. I used the intact one as a reference for how the fabric was wrapped and tacked on. I used one tack in each corner, and one tack in the center of each side--so 8 tacks each seat.

I ruined two tacks with the hammer, and pulled out a few and redid their placement a few times. The second cushion was definitely easier. I would recommend tacking in the sides first, and then tacking the corners. I didn't do this on the first one, and that was the cushion I had to pull out my tacks a few times. Doing the corners last gives you more control for tightening the fabric where you need to, and getting prettier corner pleats.

Screw your seats back onto the chair frame.

Step 3: Fancy up the table
I set my table with placemats and silverware from IKEA, tealights, and our black dishes by Oneida.
I cut two small strips of my upholstery fabric (because I have a lot left) and wrapped and tied them around my silverware bundles.

Now that's my kind of rags to riches story.


  1. WOW Claire - that is AMAZING! And very inspirational! May I just say I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

  2. that fabric is amazing! i want some. nice DIY. i can only imagine how cute your house will look when you're pregnant one day and in full nesting mode :).

  3. Looks great! Love the DIY. Meanwhile I'm trying to find a pub height table that isn't $$$$$$$. We're still eating our meals on a coffee table.


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