From Drab To Fab


Are your dining chairs in good condition BUT looking dated? Are they comfortable and your are not ready to let them go... Perhaps you've found a piece of furniture in a second hand shop that suits your home and budget perfectly, but it needs a re-vamp... OR is it simply furniture that you own and like, but you need a pop of colour? Well, none of these situations should discourage you, as applying some clever and effective DIY is easier than you think, allowing you to give your furniture a new life, and let it fit with your interior styling.

In fact, let me show you step-by-step, how easily I have brought an old set of dining chairs back to life: it took me only a couple of hours with an overnight rest to dry. All you'll need are some basic tools, a stapler, White Knight paint, brushes and some fabric of your choice.

These dining chairs have an easy to remove padded seat, making them perfect for the beginner to re-invent! I started by unscrewing the seat pad and then gave the timber chair's frame a clean up with my Ryobi sander, but you can use sandpaper too. This step roughens up the surface of the varnished timber ensuring the new coats of paint will find a good grip; I then wiped it well to get rid of any dust.

Next step! I applied one layer of White Knight Grip-Lock water based primer, this is necessary to ensure the final paint will have a good grip over the existing finish, no matter what type of paint or stain it was. Apply generously while ensuring you don't leave and drips behind, and even though the undercoat may quickly seem to be touch-dry, I have learned to let it sit for at least a few hours, to ensure the finished product is stronger and does not scratch off easily. You should always read and follow the instructions on the side of the tin, but I left it until the following morning just to be sure.

From the wide range of colours in the White Knight Splashes' range I decided to let the sun shine in, and chose "Sun Yellow" to help these chairs add a punch of fresh colour around the kitchen table. After a very gentle sanding with fine sandpaper, I am ready for the first coat of yellow paint. Note: the first coat of your final colour always seems to not cover well, especially with colours such as yellow and red, this is normal, so do not apply more paint while it is still fresh or it will drip; instead add one or maybe two extra coats as needed, allowing time in between to dry. Turning the chair upside-down helps me to easily paint the difficult parts of the frame first, then after turning the chair upright again and I paint the rest. When finished have a good look for any drips and brush them away, and leave this first coat of paint to dry for a couple of hours at least. Always read and follow the instructions on the paint's tin, to make sure you achieve the best results.

While the first coat is drying I choose which fabric works best with my chosen paint colour, and the rest of the room's styling. I opened the fabric on the table choosing which part of the design I wanted to show, then place the seat pad upside-down on top of it. By folding the edges of the fabric over the seat, and following the old upholstery edges, I understand how much fabric is necessary to cover, as this does change with the thickness of the seat's padding. Cut the fabric adding about 2-3 cm on top of what looks necessary as you will have to fold this under, before stapling, to ensure you end up with a neat looking edge and avoid any fraying. Finally place the fabric on the table facing down and the seat on top of it, also facing down, and start stapling from the middle of each side towards the corners. To achieve a neat result you must fold a 2/3 cm edge and place 2 or 3 staples in the middle of one side then do the same to the opposite side keeping the fabric tight, BUT not too tight that it stretches or pulls. Then staple the other two opposing sides, again from the centre. Keep adding staples working from the centre outwards, until you reach the corners and then carefully fold in the edges neatly before stapling them. I always cut off unnecessary fabric here if needed, but small pieces at the time: it's better to have more and cut it again, than too little, too late. Now fold again and staple one fold at the time, to achieve a tight and neat corner.

With the first coat of yellow paint now dry, I applied fine sandpaper very gently to smoothen any roughness and then applied the second coat, again careful not to leave any drips behind and voilà, job done. Now this will have to dry very well before I add the new looking seat, but I am struggling to wait as it looks so good.

You may also choose to spray your pieces if your wish, as there is a great range of White Knight Squirts paints for this too, it saves time and provides a great finish. Just remember to always do this wearing a mask and in a well ventilated space, or maybe outside if not a windy day.

And there you have it!! From Drab to FAB! What do you think? ... almost unrecognisable! The bright punchy yellow paint works to create a happy and inviting feel and my fabric choice works to make the new piece complete!

As you know, I rarely advise for furniture to be disposed of, unless it's really on its "last legs" (pardon the pun!) There is always another life which we can give to quality, solid and functional furniture, especially when made from timber, if not by you then maybe somebody else, so it's worth considering this if you are replacing things in your home. Buy quality and renewable materials and you will be pleasantly surprised by how many lives these pieces can have, and if you get a little creative, you can personalise your pieces like I did. It's an easy as a lick of paint!

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James Treble has decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from. Interior Design For Profit is now available online.

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