Furniture Rehab 101

by Kimba on June 30, 2008

in Furniture Rehab

Today starts our short series on furniture rehab. Once a week, I’ll post detailed instructions on a furniture rehab project.

Let me start with this disclaimer…What I do isn’t furniture restoration or even refinishing. People who do that type of work would look at what I do and run screaming from the room. The pieces I work on are usually somebody’s unloved trash or thrift store bargains. I use paint, fabric and some elbow grease to create something new and pretty to love.

Our project for Furniture Rehab 101 is a youth chair for my kitchen. My sister has one of these for her kids and I’ve been trying to swipe it admiring it for a long time. It looks like a regular chair but the seat is higher so you don’t need to use a booster seat. When I found one at my favorite flea market store, I squealed and snapped it up so fast that other mom’s hid their kids from the crazy woman.

So let’s get started. Here’s what we’re working on today.

The first thing I do is look to see if any parts of it need to be sanded. I’m just looking for obvious bumps, drips or nicks that will bug me once the piece has been painted. I usually don’t do much, if any, sanding. If I wasn’t taking pictures of each step for you, I probably wouldn’t have sanded this chair at all. But I did find a couple of drips in the finish that I could get rid of with sandpaper.

Next step is to get it clean. Here is where I usually spend about 15 minutes looking around the garage for my tack cloth. A tack cloth is a slightly sticky rag that you can use to get all the dust and dirt off of something that you’re going to paint. They’re sold in the paint department.

After I spend 15 minutes looking for mine, I gave up and used a wet rag to get the dust and grime off the chair.

Now starts the fun part. I primed this chair because it’s going to get a lot of wear and tear from my little boys. If I’m doing a piece that won’t take a beating, I often don’t even prime. But here’s the primer I used today.

Since I was painting the chair black, I used a grey primer. But white or black primer would have worked fine too. It just would have taken more coats of the paint with the white.

Here is my garage workspace. I put one piece of plywood on the floor and one up against the wall to catch the overspray. It used to drive my hubby nuts because the plywood doesn’t really catch all the overspray so there is a part of our garage floor that has a tinge to it. Right now it’s pink from the pink bench project. He has now resigned himself to the fact that I can’t help myself and has just asked that I not get any paint on his tractor. HA! A pink tractor. Now that would be a good post!

I started with the chair upside-down to get the legs primed well.

Then turned it right side up to get the rest.

The trick to spray painting without too many drips is to keep the can moving and to use light coats. It’s better to use multiple light coats than one heavy coat. I wait about 5 minutes between the coats of primer.

Then I let it sit for about an hour before using the paint.

DRIP TIP – If you get a drip in the primer or the paint that really bugs you, you can fix it. Let the paint or primer dry for at least an hour. Then use a fine grit sand paper to get rid of the drip. Clean the dust of the entire piece again and continue painting.

Same process with the paint. Two quick coats waiting about 5 minutes in between.

I let it dry for a few hours in the garage. By that point it was dry enough to handle and I let it finish drying overnight in the basement. The air conditioning helps it dry faster.

Here’s the finished chair.

The entire project took less than an hour not including drying time. I swear it took me longer to write this post than it did to paint the chair.

If you want to read another tutorial about painting furniture, stop by and see Rhoda at Southern Hospitality. Her post on painting her kitchen chairs is great. She uses a neat technique to get a beautifully distressed finish. Rhoda is such a sweet lady with a beautiful blog and wonderful taste.

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1 Sarah Mae June 30, 2008 at 4:05 am

This is extrememly helpful – thank you! I don’t think I have every spray painted anything in my life! I also was wondering where you did your work. Where are your boys when you do your projects?

2 Kat June 30, 2008 at 4:48 am

Now we finally know where you do all that spray painting!!

3 Angela June 30, 2008 at 4:49 am

That chair is beautiful! Isn’t it amazing what spray paint will do? I have a coworker that will spray paint anything that isn’t breathing!
BTW, Tell your DH not to worry about having a pink tractor. That same co-worker I mentioned is married to a farmer whose tractor was stolen about a month ago. Fortunately, it was found, but not after the thieves had sprayed pink paint all over it. Sue said she was going to get her husband a t-shirt that said “Real men drive pink tractors”. 🙂

4 Marie June 30, 2008 at 5:23 am

That chair looks great! Ikea sells something similar and I want one everytime I’m there…but I don’t NEED it so I resist. :o) I like your spray painting “station”. Mine is an old rolling desk covered in plastic I roll out to the backyard. If I get some paint on the grass I just mow it over! lol

5 Susie Harris June 30, 2008 at 5:38 am

Kimba.. I need that chair! Im only 5ft so I always have to sit on my feet.. I didnt even know they make those. Just how cool is that! Not a highchair or booster… Smart! You did a great job and I needed those tips, badly.. Look forward to next weeks.. Susie H~

6 Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life June 30, 2008 at 6:58 am

I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on something to paint!!

7 Nicole June 30, 2008 at 7:09 am

Love the chair, once again you’ve taken something I’d never thought of buying, and now I want one, you’ve done an awesome. Gotta love spray paint, I should probobly own stock in Home Depot.

8 Shannon June 30, 2008 at 7:12 am

This looks great! I love those chairs. My grandmother always, and still does, had some. Thanks for the instructions!

9 Songbirdtiff June 30, 2008 at 7:14 am

Thank you so much for posting this! I’ll re-read before my next project.

10 Blanca June 30, 2008 at 7:19 am

Another great rehab. I’m always spray painting in my back yard I’m sure my neighbors with the two story house behind us get a kick out of me. Guess what I don’t care it’s so much fun to revive things that were just about dead.


11 Christina June 30, 2008 at 7:42 am

I love that chair! It’ll go perfectly with my table. Thanks for sharing the tips. You did a wonderful job.

12 Kat June 30, 2008 at 8:03 am

We (well, my husband) made bunkbeds for my girls. And we painted them white. I am now thinking that many headaches would have been alleviated if we had just spray painted the wood. The ladder is red…and it looks awful (needs more coats mostly). I think I am going to give him a spray paint project when I got to the beach next week!

13 Kelly June 30, 2008 at 8:11 am

Do you duct tape your darling boys to the wall while you do your rehabin’?? I have been trying to rehab my stool for the last couple of weeks, no can do with my 2 yrs old goin’ wild on me! 🙂 Love, love, love the chair!

14 janellybelly June 30, 2008 at 8:23 am

LOVE the chair!!! I have NEVER spray painted in my life…but you make it look so easy! I was at an antique store this weekend and there were a few pieces that would be a BLAST to refinish! Thanks for the tutorial…they are perfect for me since I am Such a VISUAL person! Yay..can’t wait!!!

15 Diane June 30, 2008 at 8:24 am

Woah, that looks gorgeous! I’m going to learn a lot from you! 🙂

16 Debbie June 30, 2008 at 8:28 am

Holy moly, that looks amazing! Do you sand pre-painted items? I’m just entering the little piece of heaven that is spray painting, so I loved your tips! Now I just need to find some flea market shop!

17 Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality June 30, 2008 at 9:00 am

Hey, Kimba, I absolutely don’t mind you mentioning my black furniture post at all! I loved your step by step instructions & boy, do you have a great place for painting. I’m usually out on my grass with a big piece of cardboard & get paint on the grass, which is OK since it disappears. I’ve been known to color the concrete driveway before & that’s not so good.

Your chair looks great! Totally updated with black paint & I just love that.


18 Mamasphere June 30, 2008 at 9:20 am

I have never wanted a black youth chair more in my LIFE. You have such a way of turning something ugly into the most awesome looking piece of furniture ever. Thanks for the tutorial!

19 aj June 30, 2008 at 9:31 am

We have the same chair! It was my husband’s when he was small. I’ve thought about painting it but now that the girls are bigger we don’t really use it. I would love to keep it displayed somewhere though. Any thoughts?:)

20 Caren June 30, 2008 at 9:32 am

Looks great as usual Kimba! I started my chest of drawers today and it’s a little challenging with the red I chose to use but I’ll make it look pretty eventually. I didn’t sand a thing and I probably should have but it was a piece that was put out to the trash so whatever, right? My whole house smells like spray paint though, it’s way too hot and humid to attempt that kind of project outside at this time of year! We now have a little tint to the basement floor but The Husband said he didn’t mind. (Love the idea of a pink tractor BTW)

Thanks again for the private tutorial on my blog, you rock! I’m hoping to have my piece finished tomorrow so stay tuned…

21 Z's Mom June 30, 2008 at 10:38 am

Thanks for the tips. That would be a great chair for Z when he gets a little older….but like you said…is still short. Yes, I’ve noticed my garage floor is taking on a couple of different shades of color too….

22 new every morning June 30, 2008 at 10:48 am

Great visuals and directions!
I’m on the edge of my ‘high’ seat for more!

23 Chris June 30, 2008 at 11:15 am

Oooh, I’ve been waiting for this post! I’m with you on the cloth. I spend more time looking for my materials than it takes to actually DO the project! LOVE that chair. It’s adorable! Keep those tutorials coming!

24 Amy Jo June 30, 2008 at 12:02 pm

looks great!

25 Debbie June 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm

I LOVE THIS POST! You make it look so easy…and thanks for showing us your work space…I would have just laid down newspapers and let the stuff get all over the garage. And I love how you said it took you 15 minutes to find the tack cloth…that is exactly how I am. That was so fun to read!

26 Rudy June 30, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Does anyone know the official name of the chair style or a manufacturer that style?

27 Mrs. Decker June 30, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Hi Kimba! You have an award awaiting you over on my blog. Best wishes, Stacy

28 One Wired Woman June 30, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Oh cool!! I learned a great deal here. Found you over at Sparkly Messy Life. Love your blog. 🙂 ~Jill

29 Tausha June 30, 2008 at 4:16 pm

I love the chair. I am with you. I hate to prime. I hate to do all the before stuff. I just like to spray, sand, poly and be done!!
Love that the chair is higher!
Super cute!!

30 Stacey June 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Fab chair! I am in love with it!

31 Kris June 30, 2008 at 6:36 pm

That’s it – I’ve come over here so many times now that I jut had to link you! Thank you for your tutorial, the chair turned out so nice!! One question – do you bother to put a final top coat (sealer) on anything? I painted an end table and coffee table black but I’m finding the paint chips after awhile. But that might be from 2 boys playing cars on it??? Any thoughts?

32 Megan June 30, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Oh I am SO glad you posted this. I’ve had my son’s crib sitting in pieces as he sleeps in a pac-n-play putting off painting the thing. Now that I know it’s so easy, maybe he’ll get to sleep in it before he moves to a toddler bed- ha!

33 Nancy Hood June 30, 2008 at 8:58 pm

love it!! what would we do without spray paint and hot glue?!

34 Angela June 30, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Me, too!!! I can never find my tack cloth when I need it. Funny!

The chair looks so sophis now!

35 Abiding July 1, 2008 at 6:35 am

I own a chair just like this (got it an estate sale) and I love, love it! And my kids are all 11 and up. I use it for a plant stand. You have inspired me to paint it!!

I reallyk enjoy your furn. rehab posts. I am not sure how I found your blog, but I am glad I did. 🙂 ~Leslie

36 scargosun July 1, 2008 at 10:47 am

This is really helpful.

Did you have to perfect your spray painting technique? I am a little afraid of using it b/c of overspray and drips. It has been a VERY long time since I tried it though.

37 Tricia Anne July 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm

I am so glad that you are posting about rehabing furniture! I have started small with some picture frames and braved a couple of other items this week. I love your blog and read it often! Have a super vacation and your side board is lovely! Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers. :o) They look precious in the clear glass with your pretty blue candles. :O) I really need some blue candles in that tone! I keep seeing them and they are so perfect for the summer!
~Tricia Anne

38 sugarcreekstuff July 1, 2008 at 3:06 pm

What a beautiful chair. I love to spray paint too. You have to try Krylon brand, I had to go to their web to see which hardware store near me carries it. It dries quick, I hate waiting. No I’m not a paid spokesperson, just a happy customer.

39 kari July 1, 2008 at 3:20 pm

i’m new to your blog and i just want to say thank you!!! this tip is just what i needed for a few projects around the house.

40 Angie July 1, 2008 at 3:58 pm

You made that look entirely too easy. I might just have to try it now! 🙂

41 Darlene July 1, 2008 at 4:14 pm

That chair is too cute! You really made it look so simple….I am thinking I might have to find something to spray paint now. I am so excited to have found your blog.

42 elizabeth engelhardt creations July 1, 2008 at 8:10 pm

I LOVE spray painting furniture. I haven’t done it in a LONG time, but I find it very fun and refreshing!! Good job.

43 Jessica K. July 2, 2008 at 11:17 am

I found you through TCB and can appreciate your love of spray painting. Here is a table I did for our outdoor patio…

I have to use those spray paint trigger things you put on the cans because I start to get carpal tunnel in my fingers! Love looking at your stuff!

44 Jessica K. July 2, 2008 at 11:19 am


Copy and paste this for the table picture:

45 Stacey July 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Awesome!!! I have so been wanting one of these chairs too!! Your ideas are wonderful. I wish I could go thrift shopping with you – I need to train my eye!!! 🙂 LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!

46 Karyn July 10, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Great job! It looks brand new. Makes me want to “rehab” my barstools instead of being depressed I cannot get new ones.
Thanks for the post.

47 ....the Sassy Mom!! February 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I have the same chair, for my 2yo. I’ve wanted to paint it black for some time now. I’m totally going to now:)

I saw your post about your kitchen table and chairs…I’ve been wanting to paint them too!

I’m thinking of painting them all black? Table, 8 chairs, 3 stools and my 2 year old’s chair. To much black? What do you think?

48 Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) March 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for those tips on painting and dealing with drips! Your chair looks great!

49 kathi April 5, 2009 at 4:42 am

Your chair looks great! I had a painting spree yesterday! I spray painted my dining room chairs, birdcages, and tons of garage sale stuff. Amazing what a few cans can do!

50 Cindy July 12, 2009 at 7:13 pm

I bought a very similar "youth chair" at the GoodWill recently. It was only $6. The only difference that I can see is that your's has turned legs (is that what it's called with the design?). My chair is in the garage right now waiting for her coat of paint.

51 erin July 13, 2009 at 10:50 am

Thank you for this post!!! I find things all the time at sales or in my parents garage that I think would be so cute if they were only painted. So I bring them home and ask my husband what type of paint to use etc. because he is handy and can build things and I cannot. So he tells me that first I have to spend about a day sanding and then I shouldn't use paint but should use black wood stain but if I use that I need to get some paint stripper blah blah blah. So the cute chair never gets painted because who the hell has time to do all that and ends up in my next garage sale. So thanks for giving me permission to spray paint! I will tell him you said it was ok. 🙂

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