Chair Makeover for DIY Magazine

November 8, 2011

Last spring, I received the Coolest Email Ever.

It was from one of my most favorite magazines in the universe: Do It Yourself Magazine.  Yes, the  Special Interest Publication by Better Homes & Gardens. The very same DIY Magazine I have looked forward to every three months for years and years and years and I always buy at the store. Every time I peruse the pages I am so inspired. 

diy magazine cover


So when I received the Coolest Email Ever offering me a chance to revamp a ‘mystery’ piece of flea market furniture for the magazine, I picked my jaw up off the floor and immediately replied “Yes!”.  The mystery piece arrived a few weeks later, with a note.   

bethany note


It was a chair.  A greenish teal crackle finish chair.  What could I possibly do with this chair?  At first I thought, “Oh, I know, I’ll transform it into a planter!”  But that’s been done.

So I stared at it and stared at it and then it spoke to me.  No, more like it whispered.  The chair whispered to me and it told me this: it wanted to be returned to its roots.  So I listened.  Ladderback chair?  That’s classic French farmhouse.  Bring it.

The first part of the transformation involved getting rid of that crackle finish. For any other painted chair I simply would have spray primed and painted it again, easy peasy.  But the crackle finish would be apparent, so it had to go.  It was Citristrip to the rescue!  (I’ve been using Citristrip ever since I compared it with old school strippers, and I’ll never go back.)

strip with citristrip


Once I had the chair stripped down to the wood, I gave the edges a rub of dark Minwax ‘Walnut’ stain, then spray painted it with Krylon’s ‘Ivory’ in satin.

krylon spray paint ivory


A sanding wedge rubbed up against the dark stained edges revealed just enough to give it a subtle distressed look. 

distress with sanding wedge


After the spray paint was dry, I gave the chair a coat of poly. This is one of my favorite products for a quick protective coat. It’s water based (holla!) Varathane satin finish polyurethane. It’s applied with a rag just as easily as another favorite, Minwax oil based wipe on polyurethane (which is best for stained wood, not painted wood).

This water based poly dries super fast, so you must work quickly.  If you ever see this wipe on version at your local home improvement store (I buy mine at Orchard Supply & Hardware), grab some, do not pass go and do not collect two hundred.  This can be used over any latex or oil based paint and it’s absolutely fabulous.

varathane wipe on poly


Next came time to add some character and texture. Instead of a ladderback chair with a traditional rush seat, I inverted the idea, and gave the ladder part of the chair the “rush” look by wrapping it in jute twine.  Many many yards and a lot of hot glue (securing the twine at the base) later, it looked like this.  I really cannot say enough good things about jute twine.  Really, what can’t you wrap in jute twine and transform into something awesome?

jute twine on chair


I also added some 1” foam to pad the seat then wrapped it in old T-shirt batting. For the finishing touch, I found a grain sack print from an Etsy shop and reupholstered the seat with this printed linen to give it that French farmhouse feel.

grain sack seat


Then I snapped a pic of it before shipping it back to BH&G.

cg chair makeover for diy mag


And there she is!  On page 41of the Winter Issue of Do-It-Yourself Magazine. 

twine wrapped ladderback chair


I have one extra piece of cotton poly fabric printed with the same grain sack image.

grain sack fabric


Want it? It measures 22” x 22” so it can become anything you envision, a tote bag, a pillow, a seat cover, whatever!  Leave a comment and I’ll pick a winner at random. 

Sending out a very big thank you to BH&G Do-It-Yourself Magazine for selecting me be a part of the Winter Issue.  It’s filled with a ton of inspiration (as always) plus other makeovers from five other bloggers, including these two, who I think you already know. 

diy magazine cover winter

Grab a copy on newsstands now. 

In the mood for some Christmas crafting?  I certainly am.  That’s next.


cg kate signature



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584 Responses to “Chair Makeover for DIY Magazine”

  1. KellyLeigh says:

    I love this transformation! And I love the fabric! It will go perfectly with the dreamy farmhouse I’m building in my mind. ;)

  2. Julia says:

    Love the fabric! And the chair transformation.

  3. Avad Fan says:

    That chair is fantastic! You always amaze me. Congratulations for being published!

  4. Becky says:

    Love the chair makeover, and could definitely use the fabric for a chair I have here just waiting for some love. Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Phyllis Robson says:

    The chair is genius. Going to find my twine right now but need the fabric for my seat cover! Great idea!

  6. That’s a great redo. I have a thing for chairs, all kinds and I tend to buy them at yard sales and then wonder what to do with them. You made one simple chair a stand out piece.

  7. Kris says:

    Amazing job on the chair-love the jute twine!!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Gorgeous redo!!

  9. Monique says:

    I love the jute twine and am with you – what can’t it transform into fabulous?! I also love your stripping and protectant layer info. Thanks for the great tips!

  10. Cheryl says:

    Great job on the chair!

  11. CherylM. says:

    Love the chair makeover.

  12. How clever! It turned out wonderful.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Love it! I’ve been on the hunt for a chair to makeover like this. Perfect for a desk chair.

  14. Holly says:

    Wonderful makeover! That chair looks fantastic!

  15. kerri says:

    the chair turned out wonderful!!

  16. Sharla says:

    Love it! Great job and I love that magazine!

  17. Sue H. says:

    Yesyesyes! I want it!

  18. Yuechen says:

    Love the chair. I’d love to copy it and would love to have the cloth too!

  19. Rebecca says:

    I love it! I really also love that giveaway! :)

  20. Nikki says:

    I love making something new again!

  21. Melanie says:

    Love the chair… however I have no more room in my tiny townhouse….so I have something else in mind for the fabric. I would add some lace strips and make it into an adorable throw pillow!

  22. angela jennings says:

    I love the chair makeover-especially the jute! I would love to make the grain sack into pillow for my living room.

  23. Kandra says:

    Gorgeous! You make it look and sound so easy! I think I could handle making a pillow with that beautiful grain sack!

  24. Marci says:

    Love the chair! Very creative. And the fabric…I have the perfect spot for it ;-)

  25. Kara says:

    Looks gorgeous! I’d love one!

  26. Jennifer says:

    Love your chair revamp! You have such great ideas!

  27. sheila says:

    This looks great! Love it!

  28. Wendy says:

    love love love this chair, so amazing, love your blog so much, it inspires me daily! Tried to go to the Etsy shop to pick up one of those pieces but I could not connect, so disappointed. Would love to win the one you have! Thanks and keep up the good work!

  29. Robin says:

    That chair looks amazing!! I love it!! And that cloth looks great, too!

  30. Love the fabric, and you did a great job on that plain little chair!

  31. Susan Freeman says:

    What a fantastic imagination you have, the chair is beautiful!!! Love the grain sack, would use it on a small footstool.
    Thanks for giveaway.]

    Regards, Susie

  32. Sherry says:

    LOVE this idea and the fabric, if you don’t pick me can you let me know which etsy seller this was from? is PERFECT for my french inspired craft room chair :-)

  33. Lorretta says:

    Absolutely incrediable chair. How clever you are. I would love to win the second piece of fabric for a seat as well.

  34. Randi says:

    Your chair turned out so great … what an exciting thing to see something you made in a magazine. Congratulations! I love the grain sack … it would be so great on a little stool or covering a chair I have.

  35. Denise says:

    I’ve never dabbled in DIY projects before, but have recently become interested. I picked up this issue today. My first! I love your chair idea.

  36. Bonnie P says:

    That was exciting for you I’m sure. Looks great!

  37. Kate says:

    The chair is amazing. I love the fabric you used.

  38. Marilyn says:

    Just saw your great chair in my DIY magazine today. Love following your blog when I have a minute. You give me inspiration for many chairs.

  39. Marilyn says:

    Just read the article in DIY today. You’ve given me much inspiration for projects, including 3 chairs!

  40. Jared says:

    love it. gotta have it.

  41. Wonderful chair! I am also relieved to know someone else shares my love for jute twine and DIY magazine!

  42. Jacqueline says:

    I love the transformation! It is stored in my mind for a future project and I look forward to getting this magazine.

  43. Amber S says:

    Wow. What a wonderful transformation! You are extremely talented. Can you come and decorate my house for me?!

  44. Millie says:

    Great job on the chair! I’d love to use that fabric! Hmmm… which way to go? Pillow? Bulletin board? Laptop tote? Oh, the possibilities!

  45. Cara S says:

    This must be kismet. Just yesterday I saw an adorable DIY bulletin board made with a potato sack over a plain canvas. I would totally do that.

  46. Thanh says:

    Love the idea and the fabric! Would make the finishing touch to our guest room as a pillow.

  47. Christie says:

    Love the make-over! It looks amazing Kate!!

  48. tina o says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely! I actually prefer your photo of the chair to the one BH&G used as I find the composition and styling of your photo more engaging. Thanks for the inspiration!

  49. Amy says:

    I found your blog because I saw your chair in the magazine. Thanks for the how-to so I can duplicate it!

  50. Dani S. says:

    That cloth would be a beautiful pillowcase. J’adore Paris.

  51. stephanie says:

    I love the chair transformation. If I won fabric would make a pillow out of it that would go perfectly in my family room

  52. Melissa says:

    The chair looks fabulous. I would love that extra fabric!

  53. Patty P says:

    Love love love the chair, just bought the magazine. Can’t wait to tear into it!!!

  54. Tre says:

    Thank you so much for posting such a great how-to. Your chair turned out beautifully, and I love its new French farmhouse look!

  55. Debbie says:

    Wow! What a transformation! The chair would look great in so many rooms and would work with so many different types of decor.

  56. Elizabeth says:

    The chair looks great!

  57. maggie says:

    the Eclectic Charm Bracelet would be a perfect Christmas Gift for my mother in law!

  58. maggie says:

    apparently i posted on the wrong post

  59. I love the fabric. I am trying to make a bunch of pillows right now for our cozy farm-ish house. Would love to have something rustic. :)

    Great project.

  60. Priscilla says:

    The chair is wonderful, and I’d love to have that fabric for pillows.

  61. Christine says:

    Love the image on the fabric, now I need to go and buy the magazine to what else could inspire me!

  62. Sandy S says:

    What a great makeover! I’d like to give the jute wrapping a try. Thanks for the giveaway.

  63. Vanessa L says:

    Love the chair makeover! Very creative ideas. Thanks for the giveaway.

  64. Kristen says:

    The jute twine on the back was such a great idea! And LOVE that fabric. Thanks for the giveaway!

  65. Lynette says:

    Ooh, I would love this fabric!

  66. Stephanie says:

    what a cute and classy transformation. I just finished re-covering a chair and would love to add the fabric as a pillow, thanks for the ideas, as always!

  67. Miki says:

    I like the fresh, clean look of the chair…although I have to admit I’m a fan of the prior teal color, too!

  68. Beverly Cashman Miller says:

    The fabric is fabulous for a pillow as you already demonstrated with the chair. I love new pillows and make them often. I think I should find an old chair that needs a new life, too. Thanks for sharing!

  69. Tori says:

    Amazing job! Loved it when I saw it in the magazine and doubly loved it when I recognized you had created it!

  70. Heather says:

    I love Do It Yourself magazine and am excited to hear a new issue is out. I must look for it. Your make over is very clever and cute!!

  71. Chrissy says:

    I am in LOVE with any and all natural fibers, and that JUTE STRING gives me the tingles!!! You have done an amazing job on this piece. I feel quite inspired now. Thanks!!

  72. shiori says:

    I really wish I had your talents.

  73. Mary Stewart says:

    Amazing job! That print would look awesome framed in my kitchen!

  74. Teresa says:

    The chair looks fabulous!

  75. Cheryl says:

    Love the chair ….. Love your blog! Inspiring, thanks!

  76. Karen says:

    I have jute, but could never quite pinpoint what I wanted to do with it. This chair (and the other jute projects) really inspired me! Going to be a busy week!

  77. Love the chair, love the fabric!

  78. Joyce says:

    Hi, I was wondering who won the extra piece of cotton poly fabric as I loved it!!! :o) I love this blog and everything published! It is also inspiring me to make some little changes in my house and I am loving the results!

  79. Christina Ardon says:

    love it!! going with a beach theme calm and relaxed for my inspired me…what size jute did you use? I bought hemp cord and now after princing and trying to locate more I can’t find it so looking into the jute..2 ply, 3 ply…the 20 medium weight or 28, overwhelming for me.

    Thank you

  80. Terri Hull says:

    Thank you for your step by step instruction on your blog. Loved the chair article and was happy to see the solution to when yo purchase a chair that has had a crackle type finish. The jute and the choice of fabric(the jute and the cotton poly graphic print) was spot on for a french inspired chair. This chair would be so versitle. You can see it in a bedroom, large bathroom,front porch,yard,kitchen or laundry room,love furniture that serves more then one room. Hope I win the fabric so I too can make a versitile piece of furniture.

  81. Julia says:

    Gorgeous! I would not have thought of using spray paint for a rustic style.
    The wipe-on poly is on the shelf at our local (Ontario, Canada) Home Depot. I guess I’d better grab some tomorrow.
    And, isn’t the print just one of the free Graphics Fairy prints transfered to a piece of cloth? Easy-peasy!

    Now to check my back room to see if I have a suitable chair to do a semi-duplicate myself!

    Thanks for the awesome ideas.

  82. Helen says:

    Awesome!! as usual. Very nicely done Kate. Thanks for your fun to read tutorial!

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