DIY furniture makeover: How to give vintage kitchen chairs a new lease of life

Since moving into my home and starting to renovate room-by-room, I’ve realise just how expensive furniture can be. I’ve been especially surprised by the cost of chairs and have therefore only had an ancient folding chair (that was my desk chair as a teen) to sit on at my kitchen table since we moved. I was very eager to get a set of lovely, comfortable chairs but I wasn’t going to splash the cash on some new ones.Instead, I trawled car boot sales, secondhand furniture stores and charity shops to find some bargain seats. I found a pair of old water-marked kitchen chairs at the car boot for £10 and another mis-matched but similar-sized kitchen chair for £3 a month later. These were all very battered and had, in my opinion, horrible seat pads. But nonetheless, I knew they would give my kitchen the vintage look I was striving for, and I could see past all the scratches and stains…

I hoped that I could turn these not-quite-matching chairs into a cohesive dining set with a little bit of TLC and some new oil cloth seat pads. I’d been eyeing up a star pattern fabric in the local hardware store, but when I went to purchase a length of it, they had already sold out! It turned out for the best, as I found the same design of oil cloth on Ebay for a much lower price and I could buy the exact amount I needed for this project.A full day of prepping, varnishing and stapling later, and I had finished my chairs – including drying time! I sent some step-by-step photos to my go-to DIY store and was delighted when they published my DIY upholstery guide on the ManoMano blog. Check out the post to see all the yucky ‘before’ photos and find out how I sanded, treated and completed my chair makeover project in this step-by-step tutorial. I’m so proud of how the finished chairs turned out and I’ve already started using them in my kitchen. I think the bare wood looks a little Scandi style, and definitely fits in with my 50s kitchen. Of course, I’m still on the look-out for a fourth wooden kitchen chair in a similar style to complete my quartet of seats, and when I find it at a bargain price, I’ll give it the same makeover treatment too!


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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

2 thoughts on “DIY furniture makeover: How to give vintage kitchen chairs a new lease of life

  1. Thanks so much Beth! I liked being able to customise the chairs with the star print – they’ll fit in with my kitchen decor much better now! 🙂

  2. How resourceful! I would never have guessed that these were DIY, they look amazing. I love the star print and the wood looks gorgeous – I checked out the before pics and you’ve done an amazing job!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

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