Before & After Dining Room Chair Makeover

Dreaming of a fresh dining room makeover? Learn how you can makeover your dining chairs with paint and stain.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire transformation process – both for painting the chairs and staining the rush seats. Say goodbye to outdated furniture, and hello to your chic and stylish dining space!

Dinning room chair makeover using DIY chalk paint and wood stain.

This chair makeover post has two parts. The first post is where I showed you how I changed the color of the rush seats on my set of wood ladder back chairs. 

How to stain rush seats using driftwood finish stain

Follow the link to see How to Change the Color of the Rush Seats on the Dining Chairs

Painting the wood sections on the chairs took effort and some time trying to work through the prep and painting of all 6 chairs in a few days time.

Dining Room Chairs – Before Makeover

Brown orange stained dining room chairs and table in a dining room.
Before – Dining Chair Makeover

Making over one dining chair is exciting and can be done rather quickly, but when you have to make over 6 of the same chair over and over… it becomes a production line.


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 when I painted them so I knew I couldn’t paint them outdoors or in my garage.

Instead, I laid out drop cloths in my family room and turned on the TV to entertain me as I painted.

How Long Does It Take to Paint Dining Room Chairs?

It took two days and about 6 hours each day to lighten the rush seating and paint the wood sections on the 6 chairs.

How to Paint and Stain Dining Room Chairs

Completed Dining-Room-Chalk-painted-chair makeover.
After – Dining Chair Makeover

supplies needed:

  • Chalk paint or latex paint (Sherwin Williams Pure White) 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
  • wood screws to use as chair lifts
Tips-on-how-to-paint-furniture - use screws in the bottom of each chair leg to raise the chair from the floor for ease of painting.

1. Insert a screw into the bottom of each chair leg so it can 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.) The screws are easily removed when the paint is dry.

Furniture-painting-tips-on-how-to-mask-areas-you-don't-want-painted on dining chairs.

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 the wood sections on the chairs. I only needed one template and moved it from chair to chair as I painted.


3. Use 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.

I used calcium carbonate powder chalk paint recipe to paint the chairs.

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 on chalk painted furniture makeovers without distressing, so don’t dismiss using the paint if you think it has to be distressed.

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.

Blogger of DIY Decorating blog Diane Henkler of In My Own Style

Helpful Tip: Sealing Finish With Wax

There are two schools of thought on when to wax to seal a chalk painted finish… 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.

How-to-wax-over-chalk-paint on dining chairs.

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.

Close up images showing areas to distress-when making over dining chairs with sandpaper.

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.

Dining Chairs – AFTER Makeover


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.

Consider Adding Chair Slipcovers

Painted Dining Room Chairs With DIY Slipcovers

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 made White Slipcovers for these chairs many years ago. I like the fact that I can change the look of the chairs in an instant with these slipcovers.

before and after dining room chair makeover showing how the newly painted chairs look in a dining room.

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.

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

The chandelier above the table is a good example of this. You can read about how I gave it a Faux Rusted Paint Finish.


Adding a rug helped the room come together.


All cohesive now :-)


The room is finally the way I have always wanted it.  Decorating, especially DIY decorating that included stripping and staining the dining table top to a Driftwood Finish, painting all the furniture and even the Rustic Chandelier, took time and effort, but all worth it.

Other Furniture Makeovers In This Dining Room

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 the posts about each one:

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. hello! these look great. I am hoping to do the same with mine to use as garden chairs and seal with an outdoor lacquer after. Do you think the rush seating will be waterproof with the outdoor lacquer? I am also painting with Annie Sloan chalk paint.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Angie – If the chairs are outside open to the elements and not only under a porch I don’t think the sealer will last forever. It may last a few seasons, but not forever. If they will be on a covered porch the sealer will last.

  2. Loved the way you done your chairs, I’m working on my chairs too thanks

  3. How did you tone down the rush seats? I’ve read your process twice and don’t see it. Did you chalk paint it and wipe it off? Did you wax or polycoat the rush ? Has it worn off after use?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Donna – The tutorial for how I changed the color of the rush seats is linked in the post you left the comment to me on. You can read how I did it in this post.

      I give a step-by-step so you will see exactly how I did it. They get used on a daily basis. The stain has held very well even after 6 years, they still look like the day I stained them.

  4. I absolutely love how these turned out.. I’m about to redo a wicker backed chair that has wood finishes on the arm as well as a fabric cushion.. I’m wondering how you colored the wicker? Did you paint it or just sand it?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melanie – I stained the rushed seats with a Driftwood colored stain. I have a link in the post to a post showing how I stained them, here is the link:

      I did this a few years ago. The stain looks as good today, as it did the day I stained them. It really helped to completely change the look of the chairs.

  5. Valarie Sanford says:

    Hi Diane! Thank you for all the wonderful posts through the years. I have been using your chalk paint recipe on many items to rave reviews. However, I’m considering putting it in my new paint sprayer to paint my kitchen cabinets…would you counsel me to to do it or not? Thank you again for ALL the posts, you make me look good to all my friends ha! Valarie

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Valerie – I have never used a sprayer with DIY chalk paint, but have been told that you can use ready-made chalk paint in a sprayer or for the DIY type, if you use Calcium Carbonate Powder by itself. Don’t add Plaster of Paris to the mix as this can gunk the sprayer up. Depending on your sprayer, you may have to play around with the water/powder mix to get the right consistency to go through the sprayer. It needs to be well mixed, no powder granules in the mix. I would read the sprayer’s directions to see how much thinning needs to be done to the paint. You may want to practice on a scrap piece of wood first to figure out the right ratio, then proceed on your cabinets. Once you are finished spraying, make sure to place the sprayer, nozzle tips and parts in a bucket of hot sudsy water to make sure the paint does not dry in any part.

      Thanks for reading my blog, it makes my day to hear that you have taken on many of my projects with success. :-)

  6. Diane,

    I love your website. It’s very inspiring. Just a quick question on the dining chairs remake – why did you make chalk paint to paint the chairs instead of just using the latex paint? I am planning on redoing a coat rack bench which is in my entryway. I’d like to paint the entire piece white except the actual bench part, which I plan on staining with the driftwood stain. I already have the Sherwin Williams Pure White latex paint. I’m just wondering if I can use that alone or should I use your chalk paint recipe? (Also, which sheen of paint did you use?) Thanks so much for your input!

  7. I love this look!! I have the same exact chairs and hoping to do something just like this. For the seat of the chair did you just sand them?

  8. LOVE this post. SO excited to try this this weekend as I am trying to revamp my kitchen eating area. Thank you so much for the help, tips, and inspiration. Cant wait for the next post!!

  9. Steven Kelly says:

    Absolutely beautiful and you’ve made it look so easy too. Can i also ask- what camera did you use? The shots alone are breathtaking not to mention the chairs!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Steven – I use a Canon 5D Mark 2 with a 2.8 24-70 L lens.

  10. Your dining room is beautiful!!! I think you will have to use it more now that you have it the way you want it; it would be a shame to not use it!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tiffany – Thanks. You are right. Now that I have gotten the room the way I want, I may just say to Ed, hey lets eat in the dining room tonight instead of the kitchen. XO

  11. Darrielle Tennenbaum says:

    Your chairs look great and so does the entire room!

  12. Elda Johnson says:

    As they say home is where the heart is and to keep your heart at your home you have to make your home look lovable and beautiful
    I am sure you have done plenty to make it look amazing but you can always have a look at this if you like this website is and they have very amazing collection of home decor. Ranging from table turners to bedding sets to bedding covers etc.

    Let me know if you find it as beautiful as I found it :) cheers :D

  13. Hi Diane, I love most of your tranformations and pin many but I have to say havng spent 11 days in 2007 making a Shaker style Ladderback chair by hand without electricity, I felt sad that these had been painted, as I thought just having done the seat was lovely. I did think an option was to have lime waxed the timber of the chairs to give that lovely ‘soft’ hazy white look, but having said that I dont know how expensive or what condition they were in. I also love the table top and wonder if you have done a post about that lovely finish which looks limed. Again your work inpsires so many of us :)

  14. Diane – thanks so much for the wonderful instructions for painting the chairs. I am just about to embark on the same project and was a little hesitant about doing so. Now that I’ve seen your makeover, I can’t wait to get started. I will be trying the calcium carbonate recipe for the first time so I’m hoping that it works out OK. I have learned a lot from your blog – thank you for the clear and concise instructions!

  15. Congrats on finishing! Looks great! We’ve been working on our landscaping for what seems forever…and we too, are just about done. It’s a good feeling when the vision turns out the way you wanted it to, isn’t it? ;)

  16. Diane, I love white things and this set is really pretty, but what I like the best about those chairs is your distressing. Not too much and not too little. Really looking good!

  17. Julie Blanner says:

    Those chairs look brand-new! Fantastic job!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julie – thanks…I may want to use the room more now that I finally got it the way I wanted.

  18. Love the finished look! The white with the turquoise is very pretty! thanks for the tip on a screw at the leg bottom. I usually use paint cans and it get bothersome. And love the tip about the buffing cloth!

  19. Dorene @ Seasonal Chapters says:

    The chairs look wonderful and the entire room is absolutely beautiful. You should be proud of the great transformation. I can’t wait to see what is next on your “to do” list.

  20. I love Everything about this room! It is so beautiful. I’ve tried chalk paint once and it didn’t turn out so well. I think I’m going to follow your recipe and give it another try.

    Have a great day

  21. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

    My kind of room! White with accent colors that can change with the seasons. G.o.r.g.e.o.u.s!

  22. Anna International says:

    I absolutely love your style! And how honest you are about how long DIYs can sometimes take! We have just bought a house that needs complete renovation and in 4 months we have done one room, because it’s hard to keep at it every single weekend. Doesn’t help that we are both 100% DIY, and I’m the same as you with wanting to find bargains and then tailor them to my taste, so every bit of furniture needs ‘doing’ in addition to the room usually. About to finish the first one this weekend and I cannot wait!

  23. So fresh looking.
    Just beautiful.
    Are you going to run out of projects?
    You’re like the battery bunny, always creating and doing.
    Is there any more to do at your house?

  24. I have been reading many of your previous furniture makeover posts and am amazed at what paint can do to make it WOW pieces. Thanks so much for your very detailed instructions which make the task seem do-able for a real paiiting novice like me. Love the “new” chairs.

  25. Diane, it looks fantastic, thank you for the instructions (as always)!
    I am now having an issue with mixing the calcium carbonate with my latex – it is leaving small clumps! I have not had this happen in the past. I am even using an electric mixer, and blend, blend, blend! Do you have any idea what may be wrong? Thank you!

  26. Linda Weeks says:

    Another grand makeover! You have such good taste! I am currently trying to paint a small sideboard in my basement with DIY chalk paint – the plaster of paris recipe… I was really feeling like I finally got the chalk paint method down when I let all dry for a couple of days and then discovered that my paint I was using had solidified in the can! I added some more water, and some more paint, but still had great lumps of plaster in it. What should I have done differently? – and thanks…

  27. Thank you once again Diane for all the decorating and diy advice you give. Whenever I’m going to start any diy I always check with you first…you rock!

  28. 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.

  29. Michael Wurm, Jr. says:

    Oh Diane! What a change. The chairs look amazing and this SPACE!? Don’t even get me started. FANTASTIC!!

    xo Michael

    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….

  30. 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

  31. Elaine Williams in Baltimore says:

    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.