DIY Classic Chair Refurbish

DIY expert Julia Riley



Presenting Julia Reilly, our DIY expert loves to turn old into shiny and WOW! She will be taking a thrifted classic style chair and revamping it with fresh, fun color using multiple paint techniques. Take it away Julia!




Before and after classic chair DIY chalk paint and glaze refurbish project with Julia Riley.


I find Craigslist is a great source when shopping for old furniture. When I am searching for an old chair to refurbish, I look for one that has interesting lines and this one fit the bill and my budget at a cost of $40.00. The chair had an interesting back and I could see a real feminine quality about it, so I decided this chair could end up as a fun statement piece.


To begin, I taped off the legs, so as not to cause myself additional work later by having to clean up the fabric from painting the wood.  I chose to paint the legs with Annie Sloan Chalk paint in the color “French Linen”.


Step one in refurbishing an old chair, by taping off the legs.


The fabric, as drab as it was, had a nice texture and was in good condition, so I decided to change the color by making my own chalk paint. My design intent with this chair was to create a dramatic pop of color, so I chose “Fiesta Pink” by Glidden.


Fiesta Pink by Glidden, paint sample


How To Make Your Own Chalk Paint

  • 1 part Plaster of Paris
  • 3 parts Water
  • Equal parts Paint


Add one part Plaster of Paris to three parts water. You want a consistency of yogurt. Add paint to the Plaster of Paris mixture, equal parts and mix well. Take half of the paint you just mixed with Plaster of Paris and mix with equal parts water in a container. Remember to cover your paint mixture between uses to keep the paint from drying out and hardening.


Give the chair a good spray down with water to make the fabric wet before painting. This will help the fibers accept the paint better. Apply a very thin coat of the DIY chalk paint mixture to the fabric. If you apply too much it will make the fabric scratchy and feel painted. You want the paint to be absorbed by the fabric not sit on top of it.


Step by step, on how to apply chalk paint to fabric and refurbish an old chair.

First Coat – You can still see the original color of the fabric through the paint at this stage.


DIY, stages of painting fabric with chalk paint while refurbishing an old chair.

Second Coat – The pink is starting to become the dominate color.


Third step in applying chalk paint to fabric to refurbish an old chair.

Third Coat – Intended color.


After the paint is thoroughly dry (about 24 hours) wax the fabric with Annie Sloan Clear Wax. You should work in small sections at a time because you do not want to allow too much time between application and buffing off of the wax. I recommend applying with a wax brush and wiping off in a bugging motion with a soft cloth. Do not skip this step or the chairs fabric will feel crunchy. The wax will soften up the fabric, giving the feel of a dyed fabric and not a painted fabric.


Originally I had painted the legs gray, but after posting it for sale, the buyer requested silver. The new silver was a bit harsh so I applied Ralph Lauren glaze in “Tobacco”. The glaze is sold clear, so you will need to have the paint department add the color tint you desire to it. To add the glaze, just wipe on and let sit for a few minutes, then wipe the excess off.


Ralph Lauren glaze


Here is the finished project!


A finished classic chair DIY with do it yourself chalk paint tutorial.


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About the Author: Patricia Davis Brown

Patricia, like her blog, is not a one-dimensional designer, which is evident in her accolades of 17 national design awards. Over a 38-year career in the industry, she has carved a niche in several areas of design. Licensed in interior design and certified in kitchen and bath design, she offers a full menu of design services ranging from whole house interior design, kitchen and bath design, lighting design, full remodels, commercial design and universal (ADA) design.Patricia is a sought-after speaker in the industry and has been published in many publications as seen on her interior design firm’s website, She writes for such publications as QuinStreetinc, Relaxed Remodeler, and talent offering design tips.