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Part 2: Dining Room Chair Makeover

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Furniture makeover using DIY chalk paint

This furniture makeover is a long time in coming. Several weeks ago I showed you how I changed the color of the rush seats. That effort took some time but the real delay arose trying to work through the prep and painting of all 6 chairs.

To see Part 1 of the Chair Makeover:

Part 1:  How I Changed the Color of the Rush Seats on the Chairs


The room is finally the way I have always wanted it.  Decorating, especially DIY decorating, takes time when you have a hundred other things to do on a daily basis. If you are in the midst of a DIY project and it is taking you a long time or you lose interest, know you are not alone. This room took me 6 years to get to this point.

No sew chair back cover

We only use the dining room 2 times a year so it has not been a priority. Lately when I looked into the room and saw the driftwood top and white table legs that I had made over two years ago, the orange-hued chairs started to bother me, since in my head I knew I wanted them to coordinate.  I have white slipcovers for the chair backs and have made floral and striped back runners to help hide the orange wood, but I knew it was time to get them painted white.

Making over one piece of furniture is exciting and can be done rather quickly, but when you have to make over 6 of the same item… it becomes a production line and I sometimes lose interest.


I had to put my mind to the task. To make it doable, I set up all the chairs in my family room to paint. It was very hot and humid here last week so I knew I couldn’t paint them outdoors or in my garage (too hot). Instead, I laid out drop cloths in my family room and turned on the TV to entertain me as I painted. It took two days and about 6 hours each day to finish 6 chairs.



I have been doing a happy dance the past few days when I pass by one of the doorways to the dining room :-)  All white and a job I had been putting off, finally checked off my to-do list.

I like to keep the room color-scheme free so when we do entertain here the holiday colors, table setting, food and the people around the table set the color scheme.


I even took the time to wash the slipcovers I made for the chairs many years ago. I like the fact that I can change the look of the chairs in an instant with these covers.


Everything in this room is a hand-me down or a thrift store find except the new rug and the linen drapes.

I enjoy decorating by using what I have. I like new, but find the challenge of taking something that isn’t quite my style and making it so… very rewarding.  The chandelier is a good example of this. You can read about its budget transformation here. 


I have never had a large rug in the room before and always wanted to add one. I did a search online and found this 8 x 10 jute rug at Overstock.com. It was a bargain at $132.99 and exactly what I wanted.


The rug helped the room come together.

How to Make Over Dining Room Chairs


To learn how I changed the seat color on the chairs see this post: How I Changed the Color of Rush Seat Chairs 

supplies needed:

  • latex paint and Calcium Carbonate Powder to make DIY Chalk paint
  • 60-grit and 120-grit sandpaper
  • hand sanding block
  • 1″ angled Purdy paint brush
  • small tip paint brush for painting detailed areas
  • soft wax or paste wax
  • rag
  • old t-shirt for buffing


1. I inserted a screw into the bottom of each chair leg so it would be raised off the floor for easy painting. (If I had not done this, the paint brush would touch the floor and as the leg dried it would stick to the drop cloth.) 


2. I made a paper mask template using scraps of paper and foam board I had laying around to protect the chair seats as I painted them. I only needed one and moved it from chair to chair as I painted.


3. I used 60-grit sandpaper to rough up the surface on the chair to provide “tooth” so the paint would adhere better. A quick going-over to scratch the surface is all that is needed.

How to paint with DIY chalk paint

4. I used leftover white paint from my kitchen cabinets to make DIY chalk paint.  The color is Pure White from Sherwin Williams.

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe using Calcium Carbonate Powder

You can find all the recipes I have used for making chalk paint here. 

I needed 3 light coats to cover the orange-toned wood. I used very light coats and let each one dry before adding the next coat. I used a small tipped paint brush to get into the tight area right under the rush seats.


This step is optional if you want an aged, distressed look.  Chalk paint looks good un-distressed, too.

5. Once the paint was dry, I went over the edges of the chairs with 120-grit sandpaper to distress the edges. I tried to hit all the areas where the chair would normally see wear. Once I liked how much distressing there was on each chair, I applied the wax.


There are two schools of thought on when to wax…before or after distressing. I like to wax after distressing because it gives the piece a more polished look. If you want a more rustic look, wax before distressing.



6. I used Miss Mustard Seeds Furniture Wax in clear to protect the paint. I bought this at a recent workshop I went to. You can use any soft paste wax to protect the finish or even water-based polyurethane. Fiddes and Sons or Johnson’s paste wax are the two waxes I use most.


7. I applied a thin layer with a soft cloth (old-t-shirts work well) and rubbed it all over the surface.  I used a clean cloth to buff the wax to bring up the shine and have found this fleece painting mitt (in photo above) is a very good buffing cloth. It makes buffing fast and easy especially around the legs on the chairs.

I let the chairs cure for a few days before using them.


The dining room set was a hand-me-down from my mom and dad. They are no longer living, but I know they would like what I have done with the set.  The turquoise sideboard in my family room was also part of the set.

Furniture makeover using DIY chalk paint

Dining room chair makeover before and after.


All cohesive now :-)


If you would like to know more about all the makeovers I have done with the hand-me-downs and thrift store finds in this room,just follow the links below to posts on each one:

Chalk Painted and Weathered Driftwood Finish Table

Budget Brass Chandelier

Turquoise Corner Cabinet

Painted and Book-Lined Hutch

Industrial Pipe and Doorknob Curtain Rods

Chair Back Slipcovers

Sewn Chair Back Runners

No-Sew Chair Back Runner

Dining Room furniture makeover on a very small budget. See how to transform hand-me-downs and flea market finds to pieces that are just your style. Tutorials and DIY tips

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  1. Wow! You did a beautiful job! I love it! Wish I could come over and plop down and have a cold drink! This is very motivating! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I am ready to paint my dinning room chairs white and have a question… how hard is chalk paint to remove — if by chance I want to restore them back to their natural state some day….

  2. What a great transformation. You always make your DIY’s look so easy with your in-depth tutorials. I have 2 rush & maple chairs that were handed down thru my husband family. It is nice to know that when I’m ready for a change I can always pull up this post for my how to. Your dinning room looks fantastic and so stylish. Vikki in VA

  3. Diane! You did an absolutely beautiful job! Your parents would be so proud. I love the whole look of the dining room., the jute rug, the flowers, the sea grass and white wicker trays. your choice of colors, the chandelier – they all complete that beach cottage vibe that I love. Coastal Living decorators have nothing on you! I am impressed that you can paint in the house without making a mess. It’s very hot and humid here were I live in Baltimore too which has been stopping me from completing a single chair. Think I”ll try your method.