Upcycled Furniture

Project DIY: Barstool Update

We love a good DIY project! Not only is it fun to give new life to old things, it is a great way to keep items out of the landfill. Part of a sustainability mindset is finding ways to use what we already have and therefore purchase less.

The DIY Project: Updating a Tired Pair of Barstools

DIY Barstool Project
Barstools before their transformation

Why I Love It

I picked up these barstools on the Craigslist freebies page because I was looking for a project to occupy my time. I find refinishing furniture to be great for my mental health and a good way for me to relax and get creative. It’s so fun to see something transform from old and tired to fresh and new.

The barstools stood out to me as an item to refinish because they are structurally sound. They are a fantastic solid piece of furniture even though they are newer (i.e.. not vintage). New furniture can be a lower quality, but these stools had some weight to them. The shape and style of the barstools was fairly neutral as well, which was a plus for me because I was not going to keep them once refinished. My space is too small for chairs this size. I really just picked them up for a fun project.

The Plan

My plan for the barstools was to sand down the wood then paint the stools with a light grey chalk paint. After painting with chalk paint, I would then need to seal the paint with a wax sealant. I also planned to recover the seats, including adding new foam.

Supplies List

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Items I needed to refinish these barstools:

The Process

To start refinishing the barstools, I began with sanding them down. Sanding away the original finish prevents any seepage of the lacquer through the paint. I planned to paint with a light grey chalk paint, so needed to be mindful of this. If I had planned on using a dark colour, this is less of a problem.

After sanding the barstools, I wiped them down and then painted them with a primer. This is not a necessary step since I had sanded away the finish, but I felt this would allow me to use one less coat of chalk paint for the finish I desired. The barstools are big, so I knew they would use up a lot of paint.

After painting one coat of primer and two coats of chalk paint, I then used the furniture wax to seal the paint. I find that two coats of wax is a good amount to use.

Recovering the Barstool Seats

For the seats, I removed the old fabric and foam using my screwdriver and hammer to get all of the old staples out. I then cut the foam to size for the chair and wrapped the new fabric around the seat. I used my staple gun to attach the fabric and cut off the excess fabric.

The Finished Product

The finished product was a much cleaner and brighter one than the old dark wood. As you can see, my house is so small I couldn’t get a good picture of them, but it gives an idea of the finished product. These have now found their way to a new home with more space where they an be enjoyed.

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