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How I Changed the Color on Rush Seat Chairs

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If you follow me on Instagram...do you remember these chairs I posted about that I saw at HomeGoods?

Dining Room Chairs from HomeGoods

I love them and want them, but want is different from need.  I have perfectly nice dining room chairs that were handed down to me from my mom and dad.


I like the styling of my chairs, but not the orange-toned wood.  I made slipcovers for them when I first got them. You can find that post, here: How to Make Simple Slipcovers For Dining Room Chairs

I have updated the table that goes with my chairs with white chalk paint and a driftwood finish top, but was struggling to figure out how to makeover the chairs especially to change the color of the rush seats so they coordinate with the table. After some searching…

…I found a way.  I couldn’t use the same product I used on the table since that only penetrates bare wood.

This post is Step One in the makeover of my dining room chairs.

How To Stain the Rush Seat on Dining Room Style Chairs


supplies needed:

  • Rustoleum Driftwood Stain – One 8 oz. can was more than enough for 6 chairs
  • Stiff stencil brush
  • Paper towel or rag
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Minwax Polycrylic water-based sealer


Here is a chair before…It has nice lines…classic, but the orange tone just doesn’t excite me.

How to stain rush seat chairs with driftwood stain

1. Clean off seat with a damp cloth, let dry and then mask off any areas you don’t want to get stain on. Since I am going to be painting the wood on the chairs, I didn’t take the time to do this.

2. Shake the can well before opening and then stir it once every few minutes as you work.

3. Dip stencil brush into stain and start applying the stain to the seat with even strokes. I did one section of the seat at a time. Make sure you get everything covered well. The stiffness of the stencil brush allows you to move the rush cords apart to make sure you get the stain in all the nooks and crannies.


4. As soon as you finish applying the stain to one section, use a paper towel or clean rag to wipe away the excess stain.


5. You need to wipe the stain away to create transparent color. If you look closely you can still see the brown color, it is now just muted and the overall color is a soft grey.


6. Repeat steps 2 -4 for each section of the chair seat. Let dry.

Minwax water based sealer

7. Seal with a water-based sealer. 1 – 2 light coats. Let the first one dry before applying the second.


Before and After



Click here to see the second part of the makeover: Dining Room Chair Makeover

My dining room chairs have had lots of personalities over the years.  You can see all the transformations here:

No Sew Chair Back Covers

Chair Back Runners

Chair makeover starting with changing the color of the rush seats to look more like a driftwood color. Once it is dry and sealed, I will paint the wood part of the chairs. | In My Own Style

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    1. Hi Loretta – Yes I did :-) I pushed everything aside and brought in one of the bog boxes I save to use as drop cloths. They are the best drop cloths ever. I watched TV as I stained.

  1. The chairs look wonderful with the white seat.

    I’m wondering if that white stain could be used to get a limed effect on wood. I’m also wondering if Rit dye could be used to color rush seats. That could give a lot of color choices.

    1. Hi Rebecca – Depending on how the seats are sealed or not would determine if they would take the liming wax and or dye. If the seats are sealed the dye might not soak into the fibers evenly. If they are not sealed, I think it would soak in nicely and give you whatever color you desired. Maybe test on the underside of the seat (may not be sealed like the top though) or in the least conspicuous spot.

      1. Did your rush have any shellac or other finish on them? I have rush seats with worn shellac. Thinking I may need to shellac first to get an even finish. Any ideas?

        1. Hi Jo – Yes my chair seats had a worn shellac finish. I just applied the stain right over it. Since driftwood is an aged finish, you may not want it to be perfectly even. A slight transparent look is what you want to achieve.

  2. I love this! I have not seen this product. I’m going to HD heaven this afternoon and get a can! Can’t wait for the second half of the change!

  3. Diane, the seats look fabulous!! Were life like a VHS tape or DVD, I’d fast forward to see the next post. :))) BEAUTIFUL job with great step by step! LOVE the driftwood stain… oh my stars!!! (going to Home Depot today! lol)

    1. Okay, stupid question: You used the DIY driftwood/aged-wood product with the table but not on the rush seats… is the stain more reliable on an un-stripped surface? Just wondering, thanks!!!

      1. Not a stupid question at all Christina. The Driftwood finish on my table can only be applied to bare wood. The rush seating has a coating or sealer on it and the DIY Driftwood finish does not penetrate that since it is water-based. The Rustoleum Driftwood Stain is oil-based so it penetrates.

        1. Thank you Diane, I thought it was such but it’s good to hear I was on the right path.

  4. Did you or are you planning to put any sort of sealer on the rush to keep the stain from rubbing off?

    1. Hi Nancy – Yes I will add a matte sealer over the seats in a few days. It is very humid and damp right now and I want the stain to be fully dry first. I will show that in my next post about them. Probably next week.