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Customized Bar Stools!

Lost and Found

Hi my friends. First, let me apologize for the tardiness of this blog post. I wrote my “Up Next” post on Sunday night thinking I was going to just get right to it the next morning and woke up at 2 a.m. with a kidney stone. Yikes! It was painful, and had me down for three days. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, but I slept a lot because of the pain medication so I am very rejuvenated. Then, just as I was getting ready for paint and seal, it started raining hard and then the humidity was so high the next day I couldn’t do anything. I have remedied that though so please be patient with me as I grow.

So I found these little beauties on Facebook Marketplace for free.

They were free because the seats were attached poorly, and someone popped one of the seats off, tried to fix it with glue and it didn’t take. I am shaking my head as I am typing that, but their loss was my gain. I had some UGLY stools at my bar and they have needed to be replaced for quite some time. I really also hate that they swiveled and these do not, so that was a plus too.

My plan was white distressed paint, but after laying in bed for three days, I decided I wanted to go all white. I have a custom wood counter top that I built that is a little dark, and needed the stools to brighten it up a bit. I plan to do a blog post on those counters on down the road, so be on the lookout for that. Everyone who sees them wants them done in their house or for me to make an island top for them just like it.

Preparing for paint

I know I have talked a lot about proper prep, but I have never really walked you through my process. The very first thing I do is detach the seats.

While I was doing that I checked all the bolts and screws and tightened what needed tightening and replaced the nuts and washers that were missing. After that was done, I started out with a light grit of sand paper and just did a quick once over. Had Wallyworld had my favorite primer, I wouldn’t have sanded at all, I would have just cleaned them with TSP or Krud Kutter and started spray priming, but the whole area has been out for over a week, so I went with a brush on option initially. I wasn’t getting good adhesion though so finally I broke down and got a Kilz brand spray primer. Of course this is the one part I didn’t get a picture of. I promise next time I will so that you can see how quick and easy the coverage is.

I did two coats of primer on each stool and then just knocked it down where it was a little rough with a 180 grit sanding sponge. This makes your chalk paint lay down so much smoother and almost always guarantees that you won’t need more than two coats. The main thing to remember here is to let the primer dry completely between coats.

Onto the paint

So I just use a damp rag to wipe everything down again before I start painting. For this project I used my own homemade chalk paint recipe in a flat white paint. You can get the recipe and how to mix it here.

I was using a Zinnser brush until this project, but picked up these new chalk paint brushes on my last trip to Michaels and decided to give them a try. I actually like the way they handled and will be getting some varying sizes before my next chalk paint project.

I painted on 2 coats of chalk paint. There was no bleed through at all (because I primed first). I let them sit overnight to dry before I tried to move them. I will say just one thing, if you are moving them before they are sealed and you used white paint, put on some latex or vinyl gloves. I cleaned so many fingerprints off of these things it was not even funny. Even from my hands and they had just been washed.

The seats

OK. So here I cheated just a bit. I know some readers are not going to like it, but I didn’t remove the old fabric or replace the cushions. Everything was in solid condition, no greasy stains, no rips, no tears. I just put my fabric right over the top of it and covered the base of the chair back up with the black material. I had no idea what it was called, but don’t want you going to the fabric store asking for the black stuff, so it is unbleached muslin (ha-ha). Now I feel all kinds of fancy!

So I didn’t take any pictures for my dining room chair walk through to show you how to do this for a wrapped seat. So here it is step by step. First, I cut two inches minimum around the cushion for fabric. I always keep my scrap fabric in case I decide to make something later or need to take a swatch to find it again or something to coordinate it with.

1. Lay the cushion face down in the center of your fabric. You are going to go top, bottom, side, side, corners. I always put a staple in the top, then pull the bottom really tight and do one straight across. Then I follow the sequence I gave you. Here are the pictures of my process.

2. Now when you get to the corners, pull the underside tight, fold it under like you are wrapping a present, and then fold the triangle back and pull tight. It works best with two people. That is my brother helping me.

3. Finally, just attach the black muslin. I usually just do enough to cover the staples on my fabric.

Sealing the paint

In between doing the cushions, I sealed the paint. Now I made a big boo boo here, but realized it quickly and adjusted. I grabbed a red shop rag instead of a t-shirt rag and didn’t want to head back out into the rain and tried to make it work and it started leaving red lint. Luckily I caught quickly and wiped it off with the t-shirt rag. If this hadn’t worked, let it dry and then take some 240 grit sandpaper across it and wipe off with a damp cloth after it dries. It isn’t a catastrophe so don’t freak out.

I’m using wipe on polyurethane for this project in a satin finish, one-because it’s what I had on hand, and two-I want it to yellow a bit from age to mute the white over time.

I really only did one coat because since I primed and sanded, I’m not worried about my paint chipping off.

Finished product

So there we go! All saddled up and beautiful! I love the way these came out. As soon as I get to my kitchen reveal, you will see they play very well off of everything in the room. I’m also making a roman shade for above the sink out of the same fabric, and either napkins or place mats out of the excess. I will let you know what I decide.

Feel free to comment or ask questions below. Or better yet, leave me a photo of what you are working on. I love seeing your remixes!

Until next time friends,


Olde Made New


  • That’s pretty impressive the end result.

    A lot of people think it’s tough to reupholster chairs. We inherited a dining room set from her grandparents when they past and she reupholstered them with new foam and material. I think it cost her $20 tops for all the supplies to do 6 chairs. She didn’t have to re-stain/paint like you had to with these one, but wow – they tuned out BETTER THAN NEW!

  • Great article, kinda right up my alley with woodworking I’m sorry to hear about your kidney stone and I think you explained it well and in a way that was entertaining to read.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Wow! The finished product looked great! Very interesting idea to change the old furniture into new. I’m going to try this with my old dining chairs. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hello Tina would like to say I’m sorry about the kidney stone and I missed your articles. I came on to see if you had posted anything new and bam another fantastic DiY article and I must say as always well written.
    This article was just what I needed my wife and I have been talking about doing our chairs due to the fact that there’s no Cushions to sit on and that can be uncomfortable when sitting long periods.
    Thank you so much for bringing this right on time article.

    • No problem David:) I just got a throne height ladder backed chair that I am in love with for my office, and it has no padding:( I will be remixing this one too and adding cushion and some tack finish. Be on the look out for that one. I will try not to stay gone so long next time! LOL

  • Hi Tina I’m just commenting on your blog for re-freshed bar stools.
    I thought it was excellent. Nicely laid out easy on the eye to read and good use of photos. Especially the ones following the recovering sequence, easy to follow.
    Recycling Old to New is popular in the UK with a television programme focusing on it, so a good website has a lot of promise well done. Steve

    • Thank you so much Steve! I really appreciate the feedback. Being brand new at blogging is a scary new adventure, I always feel like I am just prattling on so I’m glad I am easy to follow.

  • You have to love free! Those looked fantastic!! I enjoyed this tutorial because it’s a great reminder that we can do a lot of these things ourselves with a little extra time and work.

  • Hi Tina! I absolutely love your site! You’ve done a lot of projects I have on my “future to do” list. Your explanations and photos help a lot. I didn’t even know you could make your own chalk paint!
    Thanks for all the great information. Can’t wait to see your next project!

  • Great tips and information. We had some old dining chairs that were looking a bit worn with ripped and stained covers. A friend picked up some new fabric and quickly recovered the chairs. They look almost new again, and it saved us money by not buying new ones.
    Thanks again.

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