We all have pieces of furniture that could do with a new lease of life. In our house it’s our much-loved wooden chairs in the kitchen which have seen better days.
But that doesn’t mean we’re ready to part with them just yet – instead, I’m going to give upcycling a go. Learning how to upcycle is a great budget-friendly and sustainable way for you to transform your pre-loved furniture with a simple coat of paint and some new upholstery.
Don’t worry if you’re new to upcycling and upholstering furniture, as you’ll soon see just how easy it is. To help, I’ve put together a short video and some instructions of how I took my kitchen chair from drab to fab – if I do say so myself!
Before you begin, we recommend you follow these DIY Safety Tips from Homebase, along with your power and hand tool manuals to keep yourself safe while upcycling your chair.
If you’re a bit of a DIY beginner, Dick has put together some helpful videos you can see here – but always reach out to a certified expert if you’re not sure about anything.
Now you’ve seen how it’s done; you’re all set to give it a go and do some furniture recycling.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Stanley Fatmax Light Duty 4 in 1 Stapler
- Silverline Hardwood Cross Pein Pin Hammer – 4oz
- Stanley 4 Piece Essential Screwdriver Set
- Silverline Needle Nose Mini Pliers – 155mm
- Black+Decker 120W Corded Detail Mouse Sander
- Paint brush and Roller set
- Rocket Steel Wool
- Furniture Paint – I used Rust Oleum Chalky Furniture Paint shade Mustard
- Stanley HD 8mm Staples
- Upholstery fabric
- Dacron fabric
If you’d like to download my instructions (to print at home), you can do so here:
Take a seat
Pick up the chair you wish to upcycle and lay it on its side. If the seat of it comes out, you’ll want to remove it now – a few knocks underneath it should do the trick.
If your seat isn’t removable, cover it with some masking tape and plastic sheeting before we start painting.
Preparation is key to every home DIY project, not just when it comes to upcycling. Usually this will involve sanding and priming your surfaces.
However, in this case, as I’m using chalk paint – this part isn’t necessary. All I’m going to do is make sure my chair is nice and clean. Chalk furniture paint is super versatile and will give your upcycled chair a lovely smooth finish, even on untreated wood.
The best thing about this upcycling project is, you can’t really go wrong. If you don’t like the colour, you can easily paint over it.
Top tip: Sometimes I like to sand back the second colour and reveal a little bit of the old paint underneath.
Wax on, wax off
Once the paint is on and dry, your chair transformation is well underway!
You’ll want to ensure the paint is sealed by adding a layer of wax to it. I use clear wax to give it that fresh look, but darker ones may be better if you’re looking for a shabby chic effect.
Don’t hold back as you brush the wax on – a nice even coat will work wonders for the next step. And remember to wipe away any excess.
Grab some steel wool
For a subtle aged effect, I rub the freshly waxed chair with some steel wool. You can also use sandpaper, but I prefer the softer effect of the steel wool and wax.
Using the wool, rub off as much or as little of the paint as you like. Take your time until you’ve got your desired effect.
Top tip: Once you’ve got it looking how you want it to, add another layer of wax to seal the paint and achieve a perfect finish.
Reupholster your chair
Some chairs will need reupholstering, others won’t. If you want to refresh your seat covers, start by removing the pins from the back of the seat.
With a bit of force, the old material should come away. At this stage, check to see if the existing foam needs replacing or repairing.
Top tip: I usually add a little bit of Dacron wrapping to the middle for extra support.
Material and staple gun at the ready
Next, lay your new material over the seat. If you have a pattern or design, make sure it’s positioned properly and the right way up. Then, carefully flip your seat over.
Using a staple gun, add one staple to each side. This lets you check your placement, flipping the seat back over, before adding the rest of the staples.
Starting with the corners, staple the edge of the material all the way around.
Now for the final steps.
Trim away any excess from the underside of your seat and check it’s all looking neat and smooth.
Carefully fit the seat back into the chair – and marvel at your handiwork. The best part about most upcycling projects is they only take a few hours (and most of that is waiting for your paint to dry).
And there you have it, your old wooden chair upcycled and transformed into something completely new.