A Bistro Set Makeover with an Unexpected Surprise

June 8, 2010

So as I was touring the backyard the other day, I realized there’s definitely some sprucing that needs to happen, especially with guests coming on the Fourth. 

As I meandered up the hill behind the grapevines, I was reminded of the thrift store bistro set I found a couple of years ago that I had every intention of refinishing but I just never got around to it.   The set sits on a little gravel patio that has a great view of the vines, but it certainly been been neglected.  After leaving the bistro set out all winter (so dumb), the set was, how shall I say . . . . what’s the word ?  . . . oh yes.  


I meant there was moss growing on top of the table, the paint was chipping everywhere, and it was covered in spiderwebs.  ICK. ICK. ICK. 

So I decided the time had come to give it a makeover.  I convinced myself I’d have a fresh new set in no time at all with just a little paint and fabric.   Well, that’s what I did, repainted and recovered the seats.  But in the middle of my revamp, something rather unexpected happened.  Something I hate to relive.  But you’ve just got to know. 

First, take a looky loo at this retro bistro set Before:

bistro before


And After:

bistro after


Purty, huh ? 

It’s just such a great set for sitting and watching the grapes grow. 

chairs after 2


The Revamp:

So the first thing I did to revamp it was carry the set all the way down the hill into the front driveway. I had every intention of spray painting it, so I need a wide open well ventilated spot. 

Wearing a mask AND goggles, I sanded the top of the metal table with my orbital Black & Decker.  Moss and paint particles went flying everywhere, hence the mask.     

 sand top of table


Then it was time to give the spiderweb covered set a good scrub and power wash.  So I filled my carwash bucket with suds and began to scrub. 

But then I felt some beady eyes staring at me. 

beady eyes


Oh, you can’t quite see down that disgusting umbrella pole chamber ? 

Neither could I at first. 

Then a creature from ‘Arachnophobia’ leapt out of the middle. 


2  inch spider (2)




Let’s move in a hint closer shall we ?

giant black widow

That would be an extra large poisonous black widow spider ready to pounce. 




First, I have to tell you I am not typically afraid of spiders.  In fact and in general, they do not scare me at all.  I find most spiders useful and think the little ones are kind of cute.  But my reaction to spiders is based solely on size. 

My Sliding Scale of Responses to Spiders:

1/2 inch or less:  “Awww, how cute, hey kids, come look at the baby spider!”

1/2 inch to 1 inch garden spider:  “I see your value – you may live in my garden at least 20 feet from the house.”

1 inch to 2 inches:  “You shall swim with the fishes.”   Translation: you shall be flushed down the toilet. 

2 inches or more:  “Holy mother of God – EEEEKKK – call animal control !” 


I didn’t know what to do at first – I’d NEVER seen a black widow this big before, usually they’re only an inch big, but this mama was twice that size and had molted many times.   I panicked.  Then my primordial mama bear instinct kicked in and I killed it with a big garden spade.  What’s a mother to do with small children nearby ?   EEEEEEKKK !   So it perished at my hand.  

When Mr. CG came home and I showed him the pictures, he said this, I’m not kidding, “Why didn’t you preserve it for the Natural History Museum for future study?”

“Um.  Because it’s a black widow spider.  And I’m a mom.”  

Needless to say, for the rest of the day, with every wisp of hair that brushed my cheek, I felt like there was something creepy crawling on me.  

The worst part is I realized that I carried that table all the way down the hill, over 30 stairs, with that poisonous spider inches from my fingers.  EEEEEKK !!!!

Sorry, I just had to share that eerie experience. 

Those of you who live in the country near woodpiles feel free to mock me.

Now back to my revamp. 



primer and paint


After my close encounter, I power washed the entire set, then gave the table and chairs one coat of white primer and two coats of spray paint in Rustoleum’s ‘Shell White’, designed for outdoor metal furniture.   

Yep, I cheated on my favorite ‘Heirloom White’.

Since the set was spray painted outside, I also lightly sanded between coats with a sanding wedge to rid the surface of the few teeny floating particles that got stuck in the surface. 



I recovered the seats with some medallion print outdoor fabric I found at Joann’s – ‘Morgan Tile’ in cardinal. 

fabric and foam


With the help of some 1” foam and a staple gun,  the seats got more comfortable and more stylish.  

chairs before and after

I just love the retro look of this outdoor bistro set !

Total cost for the makeover ?  $12 in spray paint + $9 in fabric + $15 in foam = $36 dollars.   

bistro after

chairs after 2

    The perfect spot for lemonade.

What about you ?  Are you shaking up your spray paint cans to makeover some furniture this summer ?  Had any creepy experiences with a poisonous spider ?  Do share !



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