Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs

Do you have furniture that you’re tired of?! ME TOO!

Today I’m sharing all about how saved thousands of dollars by refinishing my old dining room chairs instead of buying new ones!

Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs

Over ten years ago we renovated a 4,000+ sq ft plantation home in Tennessee and put it on the market when we found out we were being transferred for work. The buyers made us an offer and wanted to purchase 95% of our furniture along with the home. We agreed and after relocating to Wisconsin we were on the hunt for all new furniture.


I purchased our slipcovered white sofa, two club chairs, and two ottomans from the JCPenney Furniture store and we still have the same living room furniture today…they held up SO WELL, it’s AMAZING! I also found a large farmhouse table with two extra leaves to seat 10 at a furniture store called Steinhafels. I loved the table and chairs, but I really hated the stain color. They were a really deep-dark cherry red color…way too dark for me. Because I liked the furniture itself, I purchased the table and 8 chairs (fully intending on refinishing them myself).

Below is what the set looked like before I refinished my table and dining room chairs. I didn’t like the fabric on the seats so I first made a pattern and sewed these slipcovers before I decided to recover them.

dining room chairs


A year into owning the set I recovered the seats. They had a brown suede fabric on the seat and I recovered it with a light greenish/blue fabric (and before that, I handmade some slipcovers shown above).  It helped lighten up the set a bit, but 5 years later (just after we moved back to our hometown and build our cottage) I still wasn’t happy with the dining set. I decided to refinish the table by sanding it down and leaving it a light raw wood tone. Next, I painted the chairs with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the color Old White and recovered the seats again using drop cloth material.


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


It looked so much better! I loved it for a long time! Fast forward to today (4 years later)…I was tired of the white chalk-painted look on the chairs and found lots of beautiful raw wood chairs online that I liked a whole lot better!


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


I had someone really interested in buying my chairs and I could have sold them, but the new chairs I wanted were upwards of $400 each and some as much as $700each…potentially costing me thousands of dollars.

Here are two of my favorite dining chairs that I love but just couldn’t justify the price tag.

I wasn’t ready to make that investment…especially since my chairs were still in fantastic condition (I just didn’t like the color anymore. So of course I figured I should at least try sanding one of the chairs down to the raw wood and see if it would be possible to get the look I wanted.

This Is What I Had To Work With


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs

How I went about Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs

After a few minutes of sanding with my orbital sander, I could tell I made the right choice. Under all the paint and dark cherry stain the wood was beautiful! Sanding and stripping down furniture that has a dark stain and layer of paint isn’t a fast job. Thankfully my son was willing to help sand while I worked on getting the grooves and any hard to sand areas with paint stripper.


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


When we had the chairs down to raw wood, the wood was pretty but a little too yellow. I mixed up about a tablespoon of white paint with a couple of cups of water and used a rag to wipe the mixture on and off the chairs. I use this white-washing technique a lot when I want to take an orange or yellow tone out of wood and it works great! We worked on the chairs for a few hours a day (and two of the days I worked all day). It took us all week to finish all 8 chairs.


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs

Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


I found this herringbone upholstery fabric at my local Hobby Lobby and was thrilled that it was 30% off. I grabbed my brad nailer, fabric scissors, and air compressor. Then I laid out my fabric on our dining room table and cut all eight pieces out to fit my chair seats, making sure to leave enough fabric to wrap around the sides and secure to the bottom of the seat.


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


I started by making sure the fabric was really taught and stapling the left side and then the right. Next, I pulled the front of the seat tight, starting at one corner and folding it over making sure my corner fold was really flat and straight. After I stapled that corner, I worked my way down the front side all the way to the other front corner and repeated the same fold. After the two sides and front were done, I folded the back corner and worked my way across the back (pulling tight and stapling as I went) until I got to the last corner.


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


When I was finished covering the chair seats, I kept the seat upside down on my table and placed the chair upside down on top of the seat. Then I screwed the four corners of the chair frame into the bottom of the chair seat.


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


I really wanted my chairs to have a “natural” and “earthy” look to them and I really think I achieved that by sanding them down and changing up the seat fabric to something with texture. What do you think?! They look brand new right!?


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs


After 10+ years and a few makeovers along the way…these chairs are looking better than ever. And more importantly, it didn’t cost me a small fortune to get the look I wanted for our dining room… and I’d say that’s a HUGE win! I’m so happy I spent the time refinishing my old dining room chairs!


Refinishing My Old Dining Room Chairs





  1. […] Wait until you see the before here. […]

  2. Tina Matteson says:

    They look beautiful!

  3. Dee Turk says:

    Oh I understand the amount of work involved because I just redid my 6 kitchen chairs. I love how you took it down to the raw wood, it’s amazing looking! Everything looks incredibly beautiful, your whole room sings harmoniously together from top to bottom! Such a beautiful space, well done!

    • Dena says:

      Wow, thank you! That is so kind of you to say! I considered painting them another color, and like you, I am really glad I took them down to the raw wood instead! I really love the way it transformed them!

  4. Cindy Rust says:

    What an amazing transformation! I’ve used a white washed techinque for orangy toned woods and it works great! You did an amazing job!

  5. llrose says:

    Yes! The chairs look fantastic! Love the whole room.

  6. Michele M. says:

    WOW!!!! What an incredible transformation! LOOOOOve the chairs. Looks so much better now matching your space so well. You did a great job. Something else that would be kinda cool? I wonder how difficult it would be to get some zinc metal sheeting and wrap your table top with it? Seal it so it doesn’t stain…….bet that’d be cool too. I have been thinking about trying that myself. Table tops take such a beating. Love this post!

    • Dena says:

      I’m sure that would be really pretty on a tabletop! I’ve seen stainless steel tabletops before and they definitely are a lot more durable. I seal my wood tabletop with butcher block wood sealer once in a while to protect it and so far we haven’t had any trouble with staining.

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