Fabulous Furniture Makeovers

Dining Room Chairs Saved

If you build it, it will come

So in my mind’s eye, I see me and my family all sitting around a table so long that I can’t hit my brother on the other end. Talking over a holiday dinner or barbecue. But with our little three by four table, that is never going to happen. Half the family ends up in the living room, the porch, or at the counter. So I started looking on Pinterest for ideas to get what I wanted. I really wanted a farm table, but I wanted it elegant, and I knew I wanted to stain the top and paint the bottom. I really wanted the chairs to all match, and be fancy-ish.

So one day I am scrolling Facebook Marketplace, hoping that the Lord will smile down upon me and bless me with a free farm table for 8. No Yahtzee on that, but I did come across 8 matching Ethan Allen chairs with upholstered seats (well they should have been upholstered). The poor gal I got them from tried to cover them using a pleather product and could’t get it right and just gave up. Win for me though, because I scored these bad boys for 25 bucks for all of them! The good Lord was looking out for this girl, if you know what I mean.

So I score the chairs and we get them home, and my nephew Cyrus says, “Tina, why do we have chairs and no table???” like he was just disgusted at the thought. To which I wittily replied “If I build them (gestures to the sea of chairs before her), it will come.”

I paint stuff, how hard can upholstery be?

Yes, I actually said this to my brother when he asked what we are going to do for seats. Ha Ha Ha Ha! So it isn’t hard, but there are factors as simple as cleaning all the grime from a piece, or priming before you paint, letting a finish cure so you don’t ruin it…you get the idea, right? So all I know is I’m going to create these beautiful dining chairs so I need some fabric NOW! So first I go to Hobby Lobby, I don’t find exactly what I’m looking for, but my wheels start turning.

Now we are off to Wallyworld! As soon as I turn down the fabric aisle I see it. It’s as if the heavens opened and the angels were singing. It would bring out the wood, but had a really soft blue-gray in the mix to soften things up. So I grab the bolt, call for assistance, and score….it’s on clearance for $2.00 a yard!! So I get 5 yards and get 2 packs of the little 16 x 16 cushion squares. We hit Home Depot and I grab a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood. We head to the house and I think we are going to have seat cushions by tomorrow!

EHHHHHH! Wrong answer. We got the seat blanks cut no problem, but there were no eye bolts left to attach them, and the cushions I bought were thick enough, but the seats were closer to 17 x 18. Luckily I saved my receipt, so Wallyworld did a return for me. THEN….I consult Pinterest and YouTube! Luckily it was before I headed all the way home (we live in the country, thirty minutes from town). I ended up at Hobby Lobby, and the lady in the fabric department literally saved the project. I explained what I was doing and what I had bought already and showed her pictures of the chairs.

So in addition to the fabric, because it was not upholstery fabric, I needed a backing to apply to it otherwise the corners would tear right through pretty quick just from normal use. We grabbed that and an iron adhesive to make it easier to apply. Then to keep the fabric from sliding around on the foam cushion and wearing, I needed upholstery batting. Finally, the cushion couldn’t slide around either, so I needed some Super 77 or a craft bond spray adhesive. She was kind enough to share a hack with me. If you get bedding cushion in the same cushion section, a full size bed bag will cut enough for 8 seats. This was HALF the cost of the cushions sold in 2 packs and I only needed one.

Upholstery- backing- option
Upholstery backing
Upholstery batting

Now we are ready to roll…

Now that we FINALLY had everything we needed, I put my brother to work tracing the chair blank onto the cushion and cutting 8 cushions out. Be sure to leave yourself some spare on the edge, I’ll explain when we start putting the chairs together. Cyrus, ironed the backing onto the fabric, and I scraped the ick off of the seats of the chairs, and gave them just a light sanding with 120 grit sand paper. Hit them with some TSP and let them dry. Then it was onto the primer, which I sprayed on for this application. I only sanded them lightly and they were pretty dark, and I intended to spray paint them Winter Gray by Rustoleum, so I didn’t want bleed through. So I used Zinnser’s Cover Stain oil based primer and bond coat. The name explains what it does. I probably could have gotten away with one coat, but because this would be for everyday use I did two coats just to play it safe. I sanded in between coats really lightly with my hand and a sheet of 240 grit. I should mention here it is also super important to let the coats dry completely to the touch before moving to the next step.

So while the paint was priming up we got to work on the seats. I mentioned cutting the foam. So leave a little extra, and the foam cuts like butter with a carving knife or electric knife. So get your chair blank and spray the side the cushion is being mounted on, I sprayed the cushion lightly too, but go a little heavier on the blank. The Super 77 allows for some adjustment, but dries and bonds pretty fast, so have an idea of what you are doing. After we got it centered I sprayed the SIDE of the cushion and the chair blank one side at a time, doing the corners after the sides have bonded, and folded cushion down onto the SIDE of the chair blank. This will ensure your fabric doesn’t tear, no one gets splinters anywhere, and it just makes it look clean and full.

Next, the batting. One roll was plenty for all 8 chairs. Its pretty straight forward, we just stretched it all around and used a heavy-duty stapler to attach it to the sides. Then we were ready for fabric. If you are working with a pattern, be sure to mimic the placement and direction on all the seats and pull it nice and tight. This was a two man job for us. I pulled and held while my brother followed me with the heavy-duty stapler. This I attached to the bottom of the seat. Do this one side at a time, leaving a half inch at the end at every corner. When you get to the corner, cut the fabric the width of the corner on either side and fold it up and staple down, this gives you a perfect pleat every time. These pictures are an example and not my work, as I didn’t think to take pictures of the upholstering process until it was too late. I promise I will get better at this;)

To attach the blanks to the chairs for the long haul I opted for braces. I didn’t want to glue them down, I wanted to know they weren’t coming loose. I used this one from Home Depot. I used four on each seat.

Onto the paint and the finish!

So before we attached the seats, I spray painted my chairs. The easiest way I have found to paint a chair, is to spread a tarp out and lay them all face down, spray everything you can reach. Once they dry, stand them up and spray everything else. It only took two coats of spray paint as well. I am in love with the color! I sealed it with Polycrylic from Minwax.

The chairs were cheap, but because I didn’t research- this was a budget fail for me. This is everything I needed for the project:

  • Chairs
  • Plywood sheet for chair blanks
  • 5 yards of fabrc
  • 5 yards of upholstery backing
  • Stitch Witchery or some kind of iron on adhesive for fabric
  • 5 yards of upholstery batting
  • 1 full size 1 inch thick foam cushion
  • Super 77 or CraftBond
  • Heavy Duty Stapler
  • Carving knife or electric knife
  • 32 Brackets
  • 120 grit sand paper
  • 240 grit sand paper
  • TSP
  • Scraper
  • Tarp
  • 4 cans Zinsser Cover Stain oil based primer
  • 10 cans Rustoleum American Accents Ultra Cover Spray paint in Winter Gray
  • 1 qt Polycrylic by Minwax
  • Rags
  • Brushes
  • Saftey goggle
  • Respirator
  • Disposable gloves

But I learned a new skill, and I know for next time, and more importantly, now all of YOU know for the first time! We are all going to run into projects that go a little sideways or fail completely, but this is how we learn. I hope this was helpful to you. I apologize for jumping around so much, but that is how the project actually went. It wasn’t pretty until the end!


We just saved a table I’m going to make my dream from the curb and as soon as I knock my customer order out, I’m onto the main event!! Stay tuned my lovelies and please leave any comments or questions below.

Until next time,


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  1. The chairs came out beautiful! I had no idea that there are so many steps in making the chair cushions. How long did this project actually take?

    1. admin says:

      Hi Joseph,
      Thanks! I’m glad you liked them.

      It took about four days for the paint, but the seats we got done in a day.

  2. We currently have a long table was part of the fitted kitchen we bought, we have had as many as 15 around it for Christmas dinner (I should add we put a smaller table on the end), we can sit 10 around it comfortably.

    But or kitchen is looking old a weary, when we replace it we will be looking for a large free standing table like you.

    I don’t know if there a table that could be expanded to take that many people, and made smaller when it’s just me and my wife.

    I like what you did with the chairs, could be another string to your bow.


    1. admin says:

      Hi Bill!
      I can’t wait for Christmas!!!
      I know there are tables you can extend, but for it be that large, I doubt it would go smaller than a six seater…something to think about.

      Yeah, I enjoyed it. I’m working on an antique rocker now …fingers crossed!

  3. That’s an amazing transformation. A very informative post.


    1. admin says:


  4. Amazing. As we go on in life we do come across these little things that we can absolutely do ourselves but for obvious reasons, most of us would rather pay someone to do it.

    I like doing things for myself, just like you said, that is how we learn. I always like to try something new and learn from it because you will never know when you will need to do it for yourself.

    Also, good job getting that project done yourself. More power to you 🙂
    Thank you for sharing
    Sir Dantes.

    1. admin says:

      Exactly! Thanks for stopping by and the encouragement!

  5. Kahlua Gordin says:

    Yes, I love this.

    I know that I tried to do my chairs and struggled with the upholstery part of the chairs and I am pretty sure I totally cheated because I went and bought hug foam pads to put underneath. Regardless, they were way too big and just didn’t work for the chair.

    I can’t wait to see what you have next!

    1. admin says:

      Thank you for the compliment. Table is rolling out next!!!

  6. Cyrus says:

    Omg ur totally right that color of the chairs with that fabric matches very well

    1. admin says:

      Thank you! And how cool that you have the same name as my nephew!

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