DIY Repainted Wooden Chair


A few weeks before I found my not-yet-upcycled dresser on the street, my roommates and I found this cute wooden chair. It didn’t look so cute at the time - the old, yellow paint was chipping, it was covered in spider webs, and it was just grimy; but I couldn’t resist the details - the turned leg, the carved back, the curved edges. (Yes, this chair motivated me to research furniture styles and led me to this website, where I learned about leg turning.)

After learning some techniques and becoming more familiar with the whole sanding/priming/painting process with my dresser, I felt ready to upcycle a new piece of furniture for our living room!

Things you’ll need:

  • A chair

  • An automatic sander with medium grit sandpaper (optional if your furniture was not previously painted)

  • Fine grit sandpaper

  • Face mask (optional, but a good idea to avoid inhaling anything you sand)

  • Vacuum and/or paper towels/cloths

  • Primer (aerosol spray or regular)

  • Flat paint (can use more than 1 color if you want!)

  • Large paint brush or roller

  • Accent paint colors 

  • Small paint brushes

  • Painter’s tape (NOT the same thing as masking tape, as I found out)

  • Clear gloss finish (I used Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Gloss Crystal Clear Spray Paint)

  • Old clothes, gloves (optional)

  • Tarp or cloth to protect the floor you’re working on (optional)

Quick note about the paint: I ended up getting samples of flat paint from Home Depot, which was plenty. I used Behr paint samples in Tropical Coral (for the base), and Peacock Feather and Swan White for some of the small dots on the center design.  I used Martha Stewart’s Metallic Paint in Vintage Gold for the chair's edges and center design.


Keep in mind that this will likely be a several day project, given the amount of time you need to wait in between coats of paint. Patience is necessary! For painting and sanding tips, check out my upcycled dresser post!

Step 4. Starting to hand paint the design on the seat

Step 4. Starting to hand paint the design on the seat

  1. Sand all surfaces of your chair with the automatic sander and medium grit sandpaper. Use sandpaper (by hand) for the narrow edges and any rounded/curved surfaces. Vacuum the sanded surface to remove any dust, and do a final wipe down with a wet cloth so that the surface is clean.

  2. Prime your furniture:
    1. Apply one coat of primer to all surfaces, let dry 1 day.
    2. Sand lightly with fine grit sandpaper – don’t use your automatic sander!
    3. Repeat steps 2.1 and 2.2 again one more time.

  3. Paint the solid color(s) onto your furniture with the same techniques as above: Apply one coat of paint, let dry 1 day, and then sand lightly with fine grit sandpaper. Repeat for 2 more coats (total of 3 coats)

  4.  Hand paint or a stencil a design onto a chair. I was inspired by this design, and just decided to wing it. To paint a similar pattern, just paint a lot of small dots and circles. 
    Tip: for each dot or shape in your pattern, make sure to use enough paint to make the color really solid, so that you don’t have to paint multiple coats of the pattern

    1. Using a small paint brush, paint one small circle in the middle of the chair’s seat.
    2. Add a couple upside down Us around the circle.
    3. Continue painting small circles of varying sizes around the entire design, expanding the pattern.
    4. Using accent colors, dot inside or around the larger circles

      You can tell from my picture that my pattern wasn’t perfect – it’s definitely not symmetrical and some circles ended up closer to each other than others, but the more little dots you put, the less noticeable the imperfections!

  5. Spray all painted surfaces with the gloss enamel finish, let dry at least 4 hours, and spray a second coat.


I really want to make more chairs – they were way less daunting than the dresser! I wish I had a before picture so you could see the chair in its decrepit state!

How awesome would it be to have a whole dining room chair set with all different chairs, but the same colors and patterns, like this post on A Beautiful Mess? New item on my to-do list for my future home!