You guys. It’s April, and it’s snowing here in Michigan.
Just thought I’d throw that out there. I’ve been having the best week ever. My little sister came to stay with me for the week, so it’s been full of homemade pizza making, cupcake baking, painting, movie going, snack eating, and selfie taking. It’s a slow week at work because of spring break, so she’s been coming in with me every day for a bit and hanging out in my office while I work. She’s seriously the coolest.
Earlier this week I took some photos of my newly-made-over kitchen chairs to share with you all.
I’ve mentioned on Facebook and Instagram that it finally, kinda, sorta feels like our house is starting to come together style-wise. With so many great ideas out there, it’s been hard to narrow down my style, and over time I’ve collected a lot of décor and furniture for our house that doesn’t really speak to me. I have quite a few things in this house that I’m really trying to make work, but I just don’t think will. One of those was my set of kitchen chairs.
I bought these when we first moved into our house from the thrift store for $2.99 each! I’ve scoured my phone for a “before” pic but in classic Erica fashion the only one I can seem to find is a mid-project picture. Oh well, good enough right? I immediately re-covered the seats with some blue floral fabric I picked out at Joann’s and we used them like this for several months.
Then, about a year ago, I tackled the chairs themselves. Back then, as I was still figuring out what exactly I wanted for this house (and I say that as though I now magically have it figured out… spoiler alert: I definitely don’t) I decided to go with a more modern, clean look. I was sick of “shabby chic” and distressed furniture. So I took the chairs outside, gave them a good cleaning, sanded them a bit just to rough them up, primed them, and spray painted them white.
They looked good. But eventually I realized, I just wasn’t in love. Something about that bright, shiny white honestly kind of made me want to throw them out the window every time I looked at them. Justin couldn’t understand and got frustrated when I went to repaint them, for which I TOTALLY DON’T BLAME HIM. I only have like seven projects around here that are half started and twenty that I haven’t even started yet. But of course I decided to redo something that I’d already done. Hey, I don’t call this place The Unfinished Project for nothing.
Anyway, I eventually decided to repaint these chairs because, like I said, they were bugging the crap out of me. My first idea was to stain them to look like a nice, weathered wood with a sort of beachy driftwood feel, à la this post from Bless’er House (so inspirational). I experimented with one chair and IT. LOOKED. AWFUL. It just didn’t match the style of my chair, and I was trying to make it something it wasn’t. Another idea was to paint them blue for a sort of coastal vibe. I tried that out with a part of another chair. Nope. Not happening. So my chairs sat mismatched and pathetic-looking for a week or so. Eventually I decided that I wanted something softer and more understated, and this neutral-loving girl went crawling back to her go-to color: gray. I ended up painting them a nice light, blue-ish gray, ever-so-slightly distressed, with a drop cloth fabric seat. Here’s how I did it.
- Folk Art Home Décor Chalk Paint in Parisian Grey
- Folk Art Home Décor Chalk Paint in White Adirondack
- Folk Art Home Décor Chalk Paint in Glacier
- Two inch angled brush
- 150-grit sandpaper
- Damp rag and/or tack cloth
- Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in Natural
- Cheesecloth or clean, lint-free rag
- Drop cloth fabric (I bleached mine to make it whiter)
- Fabric scissors
- Staple gun
- Flathead screwdriver
After cleaning each chair thoroughly using vinegar water and removing all dust, I painted them using my two inch angled brush and a custom mix of chalk paint. To create this color, I used 3 parts White Adirondack, 1 part Parisian Grey, and one part Glacier, and mixed them together in a disposable plastic cup.
Use the angled brush to lightly brush on your first coat. Since I was painting over white on three out of the four chairs, I only did one coat and kept my brush strokes rather light, so you can see some of the white showing through. If you want a more opaque look, or are painting over a color (like I did on the one chair that I had previously stained) you’ll need to use more paint and apply it a little more thick.
Let the paint dry thoroughly. I usually wait and come back a few hours later, or even the next day.
Using your sandpaper, gently distress the edges and corners of the chair. You can also use the sandpaper to smooth out any bumps that occurred from dripping paint. The thing that’s so great about lightly distressed pieces is that you aren’t going for perfection! (One of the reasons I hated the bright white spray painted chairs so much was that they were starting to chip and show scratches. With chalk paint these things can take a beating and it will look like you did it on purpose.)
Use a vacuum, damp rag, or tack cloth to remove all of the dust from sanding (and from your work area). I like to use the brush extension on my vacuum and then a damp rag. Now you’re ready to apply the wax.
I mentioned in my last post that I like to use Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. It’s super easy to apply (if a little messy) and dries with a nice hard finish. I like to follow the suggestion on the can and take a small amount in between a double thickness of cheesecloth, then rub that over the whole piece. The cheesecloth allows just the right amount to come through the fabric onto the piece. Waxing a chair like this can be pretty hard because of all the weird angles and corners, so just try to follow a specific order as you go around the chair to remember which parts you’ve already done. Also, when you wax, it deepens the color of the paint, so you can usually tell which areas you’ve done pretty easily.
Wax on, and then wax off. Once you’ve applied your wax, use a clean cloth to remove any excess, especially from all the nooks and crannies in a chair like this. Then, buff it out.
For the seats, I removed the blue fabric and most of the staples using a flathead screwdriver. Then, I took some drop cloth fabric that I had previously bleached for another project. Cut the fabric to size for your cushions by laying the cushion upside down on to the fabric and cutting around it. You want to have about two inches of fabric once it’s pulled over the seat, so leave plenty of extra. You can always cut off more later.
To cover each seat, lay the seat on top of the fabric piece face down. Then, pull the fabric over the seat and staple it in place using a staple gun. I usually start with the back of the seat and put in about three staples spaced out evenly. Then I pull it taut and staple the front of the seat (the opposite side). Then I do each side, keeping it pulled nice and taut each time. Then go around the whole thing and staple any remaining sections into place. Always do the corners last. To get the corner nice and flat, I gather the fabric and then tuck in each side kind of like I’m wrapping a present. Then I take the little flap that forms and pull that taut and staple it down with two staples. This creates a nice corner that looks flat on the top of the seat, and not bunched up.
I didn’t reattach these seats because I didn’t want to have to deal with putting the screws through the fabric, so they’re just sitting on top. However, you probably should reattach the seats. Just take your scissors and poke a small hole in the fabric where the screw holes are, and drive the screws back in through the bottom of the chair.
And that’s it! I love these chairs and how subtle and pretty they are. I know the seats will get stained and dirty over time, but I’m okay with that because knowing me, I’ll want to change them again in a year anyway. Plus, drop cloth is really inexpensive and I can easily re-cover them with minimal work and cost.
These chairs are muted and pretty and just kind of blend right in with the house, which is exactly what I wanted them to do. Now, to repaint the dining room from the current dark, dark gray (another idea I liked at first but now I just kind of look away from and try to ignore every time I see it – there’s a reason I haven’t shared any photos of that room) to a nice, light, airy color…
Want to try this out yourself? Pin this to save it for later!