Ok Ok we know that we’re doubling down on the DIY projects here on the blog this week, but we just couldn’t wait to post this one until next week — we have no patience! But you guys are pretty cool, and this DIY project is pretty cool, so we’re working under the assumption that you’re OK with the double DIY action this week. Easy DIY projects make the world go round!
Today’s epic DIY project is one that we’ve been patiently waiting to come to fruition for what seems like many, many moons. We’ve been searching, and searching, and searching for the perfect dining chairs for our breakfast table for some time now and I’m going to be totally honest and say that I was starting to lose my mind hunting for the right fit, either new or old. The dining chairs that we previously used for our breakfast table were chairs that I had picked up at a vintage furniture market almost a decade ago and reupholstered myself, and they were too large for the table and didn’t really fit, making them look and feel almost comically out of place. But they worked… for sitting purposes. So we put them on OfferUp a while ago just to test the waters and see if someone would find and love them and because they’re awesome (and were expertly upholstered, if I do say so myself), they ended up selling shockingly fast! And that would be wonderful, except for the fact that we hadn’t found new chairs yet and wouldn’t end up finding the perfect thing for… 4 more months. Yep, we had no chairs around the most-utilized table in our house for 4 months. The struggle was real.
For months we scrolled the interwebs endlessly for the perfect chairs that were the right height, width and style and came up with nada. Either the size wasn’t right, the price wasn’t right or the style was underwhelming. So naturally, we did what we always do and decided to go the DIY route and hunt for some old gems that we could give the perfect facelift to suit our needs. As you may have expected, that meant scrolling OfferUp day after day and setting alerts for the style we were looking for which was, unsurprisingly, something small and something that involved wood and cane. Because you know we can’t get enough of the cane chairs these days! If you haven’t seen the makeover we gave our cane back office chair, get thee to the post ASAP and see the magic unfold!
But as is the case with all of our furniture flipping adventures, we had to be very, very patient in this pursuit. These unicorns don’t just appear, people! You have to wait. And wait we did. Until one magical day four beautiful, perfectly petite and budget-friendly antique, yes antique, wood and cane dining chairs appeared on OfferUp and once again, we made it our mission to procure said items no matter how far the drive. Which once again ended up being very, very far. Worth it!
As serendipity would have it, the amazingly sweet seller was the nicest woman from Michigan (go figure) who had just moved to Arizona from the mitten state and was furnishing her entire home in a beautiful and totally fitting British West Indies/Tommy Bahama style and doing it entirely second hand, so she was searching (and waiting) for gems just like we were. She’d already found so many gorgeous pieces that perfectly fit her vision and her home was absolutely beautiful. It was so fun to meet a fellow Michigander with shared interests!
When we brought the chairs home and gave them a test run around the breakfast table to make sure they fit, we both high fived that they were just the right size and got so exited to give them a facelift to make it real! These are the things that bring us joy, guys — successful home projects. #Marriage.
We knew before we found them that we wanted to give the chairs a white paint job and leave the cane in its natural state, so basically we were giving them the same treatment we gave that desk chair. But we wanted to make sure the white/cream paint we used was going to come as close to matching the white/cream paint color on the breakfast table, so we did a little test with the two off-white paint samples we used when we were painting the desk chair — Sherwin Williams “Creamy” and Benjamin Moore “Mascarpone” and what do ya know, “Creamy” won yet again! By a landslide.
The woman who sold the chairs to us did warn us that the chairs were very, very old and that we’d have to do a little reinforcing to make sure that they’d be stable enough for regular use, and since Chris has gotten really good at reinforcing an old wood chair, it didn’t intimidate us one bit. These wood chairs are so beautiful in person and we just love the shape and the cane seats, so it was definitely worth the elbow grease it would take to spiff them up.
As you probably guessed, aside from reinforcement, this is about as easy a DIY furniture makeover as it gets. Basically reinforce, sand, paint and you’re done! So below we’re taking you through the simple, straightforward list of supplies and instructions that you can use to easily give any old wood chairs a fresh, fun update like this, and linking to other blog posts that involve those same methods because when we find a method that works and we love, we use it over and over again…. and share it with you!
180-grit Square Sanding Sheets for Finishing Sander of Choice
Small 180-grit Sanding Block
2” Angled Paintbrush (if painting by hand. Or an airless sprayer if you’re game for that)
Sanded & Taped
How To: DIY Wooden Dining Chair Makeover
1. We sanded these really carefully using the finishing sander and 180-grit sandpaper squares. We could see that there was some sort of thick varnish or topcoat on these, so we needed to sand that off as much as possible (I really, really didn’t want to strip it), but we had to be careful not to go too hard and accidentally split any wood or weaken any joints further. I also used a small 180-grit sanding block around the cane to be extra careful that I wouldn’t accidentally hit that part of the chairs with the finishing sander. If you’re sanding a varnish, just keep checking that you don’t have any shiny spots left.
2. To reinforce these puppies we used the exact same approach/steps we used when we gave these old rocking chairs a makeover and had to reinforce them. So check out those steps and make sure to leave us a comment below if you have any questions about how to countersink or use dowel rods to reinforce whatever you need to. Chris reinforced whatever spots were wobbly… which was a lot on these 4 chairs.
3. Once Chris reinforced these we had to sand them a little bit more, not only to catch some lingering shiny spots, but also to sand the dowel rods down to line up flush with the chair frame. Seamless!
5. Wipe the chairs with a damp cloth to remove any lingering dust and then finish with a soft brush or compressed air to get any bits of dust off of the frame. I love using compressed air for those little corners and crevices.
4. Cover the cane portion of the chair with tarp/plastic and painter’s tape on the top and bottom of the seat. We didn’t paint the bottom but since we eventually sprayed these it helped protect the cane from catching any overspray.
5. Now it’s time to paint! I painted the majority of of the first chair by hand because I just love that hand-painted look on a wood piece like this and generally enjoy the act of hand painting. Buuuut it took what seemed like forever and I just didn’t have the patience to do all 4 that way. Not enough Hallmark movies in the world to get me through that! So we decided to go the easier route and use the airless sprayer on the rest of that chair and the rest of the remaining chairs and it was ah-maz-ing. So much easier and the finish was perfect. It’s probably one of the easiest airless sprayer experiences we’ve had to date and we assume that’s because the interior paint formula was a really solid one and not super thick. Sherwin Williams for the win!