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Another Day, Another Free Chair to Makeover

I have sworn to myself that I wouldn't allow my recent trend of adopting other people's old furniture become a habit. But you guys... these projects just keep turning out! It's so hard to turn them down when those Miss Lizzy wheels start turning. And luckily, so far, I haven't regretted the acquisitions, and this most recent addition was no different.

Last week, I was scrolling the online marketplace (the free section, because that's how I roll), when I came across a free chair that was really speaking to me. I have been wanting to change up the sitting area in our bedroom for some time now, and this was the perfect opportunity! After a quick brainstorm on what I would do with the piece, and a quick inventory of what supplies I already had on hand (palm sander, wood stain, saw... check, check, check), I did what every normal mom who found a free chair with lots of potential online would do. I rushed the kids through their breakfast, threw them in the car for "an adventure," and headed to the pick up site.

For the record: I do realize that my kids are likely going to grow up and tell stories about how they had a crazy mom that used to throw them in the car to go dumpster diving. But it was worth it. I knew that this chair would go quick. There were actually originally two identical chairs, and I'm lucky I acted with such haste, because just as I was backing into the lot, someone pulled in RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and snatched up the first chair. It was nuts! I was cool with it though, because I was still left with the second chair, even if it was in worse condition than the first. But we all know I love a challenge, so it was game on.

The Project


Old, sad looking chair

Palm Sander

Hand Saw (or even better, an oscillating tool)

Wood Stain


I usually play a lot of these little projects by ear, but in this case, I actually had a vision of what I wanted to do right from the start (SCORE). First step was definitely to saw off the banister-like corbels (that's the fancy name for those slatted sides). I have definitely painted enough of those in my life (remember this little adventure), and I wasn't interested in doing that again. Plus, I liked a more simple, open look, so the slotted sides had to go. This step was easy enough. I soooo wish that I owned a great little multi-tool like this, because that would have made my job a lot easier. Instead, I went old school on this one and used a good ole hand saw. It actually wasn't difficult. It also made me feel kind like some sort of lumberjack bada$$, so that was a plus.

After I lumberjacked the heck out of the sides, the chair was ready for sanding. That orangish stain HAD. TO. GO. This was by far the biggest step. It wasn't hard, exactly. It just took some time. I definitely recommend using a palm sander for this one. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can go ahead and sand it down with sand paper, but that will likely take you until October, so do yourself a favor and use the tool. All I did here was sand the wood down to it's bare, natural self. It was already looking so beautiful.

After I sanded, I gave it a good wipe down (because, well, palm sander equals saw dust everywhere), and then moved on to stain. Per usual, I wanted to keep this project as low cost as possible, so I checked the garage to see what I had. I happened to have a basically unused can of wood stain in the color "Driftwood," which was actually exactly what I was going for. I wanted something light and bright that would keep the chair looking close to its natural wood. Driftwood stain was the right answer there. After a few coats (I think I did about three), it was looking gorgeous.

The last and final step was re-upholstering the cushions. You guys, I own a sewing machine, but I have to be honest. I am, in no way, shape, or form, even CLOSE to a seamstress. I am actually not great at sewing. I can take on a project if it doesn't involve more than a couple of straight seams, but other than that, I'm a total rookie. That being said, I wouldn't even attempt to school you on how to recover cushions. I will, however, share this awesome tutorial that I found to be extremely helpful. After the piece was dry and the cushions were covered, my newfound friend was ready for it's new home. I have to say, I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out... maybe I'll keep this up for a little while longer.

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