Monday, March 18, 2013

The Artful Home: DIY Reclaimed Chair

DIY Reclaimed Chair

Found Chair

Found Chair-2

Chair needs a makeover

I was going about my normal morning routine recently, when I spied this cute (though well-used) chair on a curb next to a trash bin (Gasp!). Of course the little thing had to come home with me straight away.  I didn't know exactly what I'd do with it, but I knew I'd figure out something.

Upon closer inspection, I realized there was just some surface stains on the cushion fabric, but overall, this chair was in great condition!  Since it has welting and fabric on the back of the chair, I knew that re-upholstery would be too costly and time-consuming to DIY.

But what if I could just paint the fabric? 
How is it really much different than a canvas?

So that's what I did!

For a similar project, you will need:

Gesso or primer
Acrylic paints (I used artist paints, but high-quality craft paints would be fine too)
Latex Paint in your choice of color (ex: tester size of Behr paint- $3 from Home Depot)
Clear Polyurethane Varnish
Paintbrushes in a variety of sizes
Pattern/Design to paint on fabric
Ruler and tools for transferring/drawing pattern
Palette for paints
Paper towels and water for clean up

Prime chair fabric and wood

Primed Chair

The gesso or primer (Kilz brand is good) will seal off the fabric, preventing the stains from bleeding up through the new paint.  It also creates a bright white "toothy" surface for the new paint to adhere to.  Cover all the fabric and wood frame of the chair (it may require two coats). Then...

Painting Supplies for Chair

You will need to determine in advance what pattern you would like to paint on your chair.  I collect pattern and graphic ideas on Pinterest (you can follow my board here).  I just loved this pattern from a 1913 painting by August Macke.  Measure and draw your pattern onto your chair.  Be aware that the more intricate your design, and the more colors in the pattern, the more difficult this project will be!

Layout Pattern

Completed Pattern Layout

Mixing Colors for painting pattern

Paint Pattern onto chair fabric

Continue filling in pattern

Completed Painted Fabric Pattern

Supplies for painting wood of chair

Paint wood frame of chair

You will want a more durable latex paint for the wood.  Again, I just had a custom color mixed at Home Depot.  The "tester" size is only $3 and is more than enough paint for a similar project.  It only comes in the "flat" finish, so you will need to seal it with clear polyurethane.  The painted fabric should also be sealed to protect the painted pattern from damage.  Please note, I also painted the welting with the latex paint.  You will need a small brush for this.

Sign painted chair

You've now created a piece of functional art! Of course you have to sign it!  Once you've added your signature, and have allowed everything to dry at least 12 hours, paint the chair with the clear polyurethane as your final step.  Allow the polyurethane to dry 24 hours before using the chair.

A new home for chair

If you see a cast-off chair, don't hesitate to think outside of the box to reclaim it for your own decor.  I completed this project only having to buy the $3 tester paint- everything else was leftover from other projects!

What is your favorite trash-to-treasure project?
I'd love to hear about it!  Please let me know if you try this project or have any questions!


  1. OMG the chair is fabulous! Gesso right on the fabric! Who knew! Bet my sis will love this - she plays with paints and all manner of potions - you two would get along nicely!!!

    Thank you for sharing. I absolutely love how this turned out.

  2. Holy smokes this is so cool! What a fantastic idea!

  3. This is so supercool!!! you are fearless and fun and it shows in your art :-)

  4. Erin that's brilliant! I just love that you've transformed it into a colourful work of art... SO funky and beautiful!

    I have an old wooden office chair (no cushions but on casters, like yours) that I rescued a while back. Unfortunately it's got a broken spring... I've been wracking my brain about what to do with it because I hate to throw away such a lovely old thing... What to do?

  5. This is awesome, you have done great work, this DIY painted chair is really looking very attractive, i want to do that shortly. many thanks for sharing this idea.

  6. This is absolutely amazing. I love it!!


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