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DIY Makeover: How to Give an Old Chair New Life

Posted by Bridgman on


I came across this vintage nursery cane chair on the internet. It looked old and a bit damaged, but I knew I could give it a second life and make it look new again. And because it is a nursery chair, it meant I could have fun and use bright colours. I went for a Toy Story theme, which I thought was great for boys or girls.

Go directly to the pictures tutorial.

Drag the handle to see before & after.

[twentytwenty] [/twentytwenty]  

Here is the chair as I got it. Even if it looks like it’s been through a lot, I thought the shape was simple and beautiful.

Step 1: Planning

Before actually starting with the makeover, I planned the final result (what do you think of my drawing skills?). It helps to have an overview. And once you know where you'll go, you can buy what you need.

For this makeover, I used: - sanding paper (rough and medium grit) - white paint for the first & second coats - purple, green, black & brown paints for the theme I picked up - napkins to get nice patterns (+ scissors) - washi tape for a stripe shirt (+ utility knife) - mod podge - brushes (the size depends mainly on the shape of the furniture) - white spirit (to clean the brushes) - old newspapers (to protect the floor where you are painting)


Step 2: Sanding

I started by dusting the chair using a thick paintbrush and kitchen towel. I then could sand the chair with some coarse sandpaper (I used grit 60 and 120) to remove what was left of the varnish. This helped smoothening out the cane but is also a great to help the paint adhere. The details of the chair didn’t make this easy but I sanded as much of it as I could. I made sure I removed all the dust before continuing.


3. White Painting

I then started painting. It’s always best to start with the lighter colour (usually, as it is the case here, white) and end with the darker colour. I used glossy white because I just love the finish and I thought Buzz had a shiny suit.

For the first coat I tried to cover as much of the chair as possible. Again, the shape didn’t make my job easy. I used a very small brush for the details (size 2) and a bigger one for the rest (size 10). After leaving it to dry completely (16 hours) I could start a second coat of white.

The second coat makes so much difference!

Here is the chair after the second coat, it already looks completely different!

[twentytwenty] [/twentytwenty]  

4. Painting with colours

I left it to dry over the weekend before starting the colours. Following the principle of starting with the lighter colour, I used green, purple then brown. I used acrylic paint from Royal & Langnickel. It dries pretty fast (a few minutes) and it has a matt finish.

For each colour, I applied two coats of paint. The first coat is never pretty but once the second one is applied I was satisfied with the finish! I added some finishing touches where needed.

I used tape to help me during the first coat of green but removed it for the second coat, to be sure not to miss any spot. I would advise to use the method you want depending on your trust in your painting skills!

Here is the chair after two coats of green.


Once I added the purple, I could really start to see the Toy Story theme come to life.


Then, I painted the crosses in the middle the chair in brown, to make the cow boy belt. Here is how it looked at this stage.


5. Stick the napkins

When all the paint colours were dry, I started applying the napkins. The principle of decoupage, if you don’t know it, is to use paper or fabric to cover areas. This is particularly good for patterns!

So the idea is to put craft glue (like Mod Podge) on the area you want to cover, and stick the napkin on it. You can put glue on the napkin itself too but it makes it very fragile! Once dry, you can also apply the glue on top to varnish it.


So I started with the bandana. I cut stripes in the shapes needed, removed the white lining of the napkins (to make it thinner and stick better), applied Mod Podge on the area and wrapped the stripe around. I tried to get a triangle shape.

I then did the same thing with the yellow napkins, leaving a blank area that will be the cow boy jacket. Those ones didn't have a second lining.

I couldn't find yellow napkins with a cow boy shirt pattern, so instead I found a trick: I used red washi tape that I cut in thin stripes and used them on the yellow napkins to create the shirt pattern that I wanted.

I covered the lower part of the chair with the jeans napkins, following the same method as previously.

Using napkins is very good when you need pattern or a specific shape that would be more difficult to paint!


6. Finishing touches

So, all that was left was to add the finishing touches. I used black acrylic paint to paint the cow pattern on the jacket. I applied two coats to get an even coverage.

Finally, I painted the crosses at the top of the chair in brown, to make the cow boy hat.


And voila, the chair is finished! The result looks as good as I was expecting, it’s a nice mix between Buzz’s colours on the sides and Woody’s in the middle. I’m sure kids would love to get this chair in their room!


Don't hesitate to comment below to let us know what you thought of this DIY makeover made by our team. And if you liked it, why not share it with the world?

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