Upcycle an Old Chair

Update an old chair for your home

by Sharon Maher

in Crafts, Home & Garden

How to upcycle an old chair

You can pick up an old wooden chair from a junk store, charity shop, car boot or ebay for a few pounds, and with a bit of tender loving care you can bring it back to life.

The first thing to do is to choose a style of chair that will  complement your existing room style, rather than going for something not in keeping with the current style and after all your hard work find it will not fit in. One tip when buying a secondhand chair is to look for a good sturdy chair, with no broken pieces and, if possible, do sit on it before buying.

One of the easiest and simplest ways to transform an old wooden chair is to paint it, taking it from a dull, boring piece of junk to a very stylish piece of furniture that you would love to give a home too, adding a few fabulous cushions to complete the look.

You have several paint styles to choose from: a simple all over block colour; a two tone style with one colour topped with another colour; two contrasting shades or complementary shades to paint different parts of the chair, a distressed look with areas of the the paint sanded back to the wood and so on, it is all about your taste and home style. I have chosen to do a simple all over block colour for this old wooden farmhouse chair which I found at a junk store.

I would suggest you wear some old clothes or overalls for this project and place you chair on a dust sheet or newspaper to stop any paint getting on the floor.

Along with your chair you will also need

  • Rubber gloves
  • A bucket of soapy water
  • Clean cloths
  • Sandpaper or wire wool and white spirit ( You can wear a mask to stop the dust)
  • Large soft brush or hand hoover
  • A primer or simple white emulsion
  • Matt emulsion in your chosen colour or colours
  • 2 paintbrushes a medium one and a smaller one
  • Clear wax or acrylic varnish


  1. Give your chair a wash with warm soapy water to remove any grim and let it dry.
  2. Before any painting can start you must prepare the chair. For a chair with a factory finished a light sand is needed to remove the finish, and for a wax finished chair some wire wool and a little white spirit works best to remove the wax.  Both types of chair will need lots of elbow grease, don't forget to wear your rubber gloves.
  3. Brush or hoover off any traces of dust before you start painting.
  4. Using the medium bush apply an acrylic-based primer or emulsion. Make sure you do not have any drips or runs. If you do, brush them in. With your small brush touch up any areas you have missed.  Leave to dry.
  5. Add two thin coats of paint, letting each coat fully dry before the next coat, and give a quick sand in between, removing any dust. Touch up any details with the small brush.
  6. While you waiting between coats wrap your paint brushes in clingfilm to stop them drying out, and just clean the paint brushes when you have finished.
  7. Once dry give a quick stand.
  8. Remove any dust, then apply two coats of varnish, allowing it to dry between coats or for a softer look use wax rather than varnish. Rub the finished chair gently with a cloth and some fresh, clear furniture wax and buff up.
  9. Once completely dry or buffed, place the chair in a prominent position and add a few cushions, homemade of course.



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– who has written 97 posts on Norah Sleep Living.

Sharon loves to write about homes, interior design, food, fashion, style and things that inspire her in life. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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