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How To Revive Dated Chairs

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I’ve always been attracted to pieces of furniture that had been refinished or repurposed.  Taking something old that is still very useful and trasnforming it into an eye catching piece of furniture is a great way to preserve pieces, and to reduce waste in our world.  Recently I was fortunate enough to come across some dated wood chairs that just needed a little reviving.

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How to Revive Dated Chairs

So on my husband’s laundry list of things to do is to build a custom dining room table.  Our set is older, not the style that I’d prefer, etc.  The thing is he doesn’t want to make dining room chairs.  Chairs can take a long time and you really have to have all the right tools to make them.

At antique gallerys, flea markets, or any such place I was on the hunt for chairs.  Finding chairs you like and the right amount is extremely difficult.  But alas, on a whim when I wasn’t even particularly looking for chairs I came across a set.

Image of purchased chair in a dated honey oak and yellow finish

The only setback was that the chairs were dated, not my style.  The chairs though were wood, which this day in age is a plus, and they were a complete set.  Like I said before finding the right amount of chairs is difficult.  With some vision and paint, I knew I could take these chairs to a new level style.

So began my process of the dining room chair revitalization…

Sanding.  Ugh I know I’ve learned to hate that word.  Well for what I had in mind I knew I needed to at least sand the seat and the decorative back part of the chair.  I wanted to restain those parts of the chair with a walnut color.  Whereas the rest of the chair I was doing in chalk black paint-or so I thought.

Image shown is application of mouse sander to chair

Sanding the chairs wasn’t as bad as I though it would be.  I bought some sanding pads to adhere to my husband’s mouse sander and some sanding blocks to get in between the spindles on the seat.  Because sanding was going so smoothing-haha-I also tried to sand as much as I could of the legs, even though with chalk paint you don’t have to do much prepping.

Comparison of the chairs before and after I sanded them
Comparison of the chairs before and after I sanded.

Cleaning.  After sanding I made sure to clean all surfaces with a damp rag to get any dust particles off the chair.

Staining.  I decided to go with what is called an “American Walnut” stain color for the seats and part of the back of the chair.  The chairs were stained first prior to painting because it’s messier and I knew some stain would get on the spindles, which it did.

Chair after one coat of walnut stain applied

I applied the stain with a foam paint brush, which is super cheap so you can just toss it after use.  The stain adhered for about 15 min before I wiped it with a clean rag.  The chairs did require a second coat of stain for that darker, richer color that I wanted.

Chair seat after two coats of stain

Painting.  Next came the fun part in my opinion, painting.  The reason I decided on chalk paint was because I wanted a matte finish.  Now when you paint anything after the first coat you really can’t judge properly because it just doesn’t look good.  As you can see my from the image below one coat of paint just won’t do.

Chair leg after one coat of chalk paint
One coat of chalk paint

So after the second coat of chalk paint I decided the look was not what I was going for.  It was in fact too matte for my taste and not what I had invisioned.

Luckily for me the chalk paint acted as a “base coat” which I could easily paint over using the satin acyrilic I purchased.  The satin ended up being the exact sheen I was looking for and the little 8oz container had excellent coverage.  I only ended up needing to buy one!

Top coat.  I definitely needed to protect the chairs with something durable since they would get a lot of wear and tear so I decided to use a satin poly for protection.  Once again I didn’t want my finished product to be overly shiny so I really tried to apply the poly lightly with a brush.  I’ve read other reviews about the poly that some people would apply using a paper towel but since I’m inexperienced, I didn’t want to chance it.


Revived chair

Back and closeup of refinished chair

My chairs aren’t perfect by any means but with some hard work I think they turned out beautifully.  The best part is that I got a complete set for $120, which isn’t too bad considering what great condition they were in. Paint and stain can take a piece of furniture to a whole new level!  Repainting these chairs has given me the confidence to tackle some more DIY projects.

Got some refurbs of your own?  I’d love for you to post and share!

Read on some more on repurposing in

Vintage Door Recreation

Vintage screen door recreation






My supplies for this project are:

Share a Little Country!

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