Friday, February 24, 2012

Re-finishing Antique Chairs

Project #1 in my new house....  Re-finishing 4 antique chairs.

I recently moved into a new house I am renting, and this house has a dining area.  Before I only had a bar.

So I purchased a antique white table off of craigslist for $80.  And 4 antique chairs for $30 total, with it in mind that I would re-finish them to utter cuteness, even though I have never done such a thing before.  I have painted a couple of old pieces of furniture, and I'm pretty crafty, and not completely ignorant when it comes to woodworking and the like.  But never having done this type of thing before I went straight to the experts for advice....and when I say experts, I mean Google :)

So after a couple of weeks of researching painting furniture, etc on countless blogs, I learned about a paint called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Annie Sloan is a lady from England.  She invented this paint that just covers anything, you name it.  Metal, Wood, Plastic, Fabric, Glass, your dog...anything.  Everyone who has used it swears by it because you don't have to sand, prime, etc.  You simply paint.  It's environmentally friendly and doesn't smell.  I immediately decided that I would use this paint based on countless rave reviews.  The problem is since this paint is English, it can only be found in certain boutiques, and it's expensive, but worth it since you don't have to do all of that work.

Last weekend I went to Dallas to a shop that sold it and bought it in Pure White.  I also bought Annie Sloan Wax because it also had rave reviews.  With these things in hand I was ready to undertake the re-finishing.

Chair Before

Step 1:  Ripping the upholstery off of the chairs
This was the tedious part.  First off, there were upholstery nails around the edges of the upholstery.  This took a long time to pry out each one.  Then, it turns out, the chairs were covered with not only the ugly fabric they came with, but a just as ugly mauve colored fabric underneath.  Then there were a couple of layers of cotton batting and a layer of HAIR!  EWWWWWW.  These chairs are old.  And I know that back in the day they used horse hair for stuffing.  But let me just say that that was a mistake.  It is disgusting, and hairy, and filled with dust, and whatever skin and sweat from however many people have sat on these chairs.  SICK.
But once that was done, I used one of my best investments of all time, my Dyson vacuum, and vacuumed all of the grime off of those suckers.

Step 2: One of the chairs was broken
The top was broken on one of the chairs, and apparently was fixed poorly before.  I fixed it with some epoxy :)

Step 3:  Let the painting begin!
In my usual style when excited to try something new...I cracked open the can of paint.  Super-excited.  And then managed to tip the bloody thing over and spill about a 1/2 cup of my very expensive, very important paint out all over the place!  Ugh...the usual.
 Everything I had read said you just slap this paint on, so that's exactly what I did.  A lot of people said that one coat covered their furniture well.  My chairs were relatively dark, so they did need 2 coats.
This paint is really thick and a little of it does go a long way.  And it dries very fast.  I did 2 coats on my chairs and I still have 3/4 of the can left.  I probably needed to do even a 3rd coat on my chairs because some places I didn't cover very well, but I wasn't sure if I was going to make them look weathered, and I was tired, so I left them as is.

Chair after 2 coats of paint

Step 3: Wax on, Wax off
I used my Annie Sloan Wax, which I purchased in clear, to finish the chairs.  I did a lot of research, and it looks like a lot of people use a wipe-on poly coating on their painted furniture, and then they wax after that.  But a lot of people who use Annie Sloan wax say that they'll just use that from now on.
The wax comes in a jar and kind of looks like vaseline.  You just rub in on with a soft cloth, and it makes your furniture really smooth.  Same thing, this stuff goes a long way.  I'm not sure yet if I want to sand my edges to make the chairs look worn, but I can always do that later, and then add another coat of wax.

Step 4:  Reupholstery!
This is the part I dont know about yet.  So can you help me decide?
I originally wanted to paint them white and add robin's egg blue cushions.  Just solid with no pattern.  And I know a pattern might be more difficult to align with the chair, but there are so many fun ones!

Table and Painted Chairs
Now, these are a few of the fabrics I like...which do you like??
This is really just blue

I'm hoping to be finished with them in the next week!

Some other great blogs documenting their process using this paint:


  1. I like the 4th pattern...that bright blue is lovely!!! When are you coming to my place to make pretty chairs for me? :)