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. Shaunna says:

    Well, it looks fab!!! And you’re a doll to offer the grainsack…lovely!

  2. Pam says:

    You continue to amaze me with your fresh and innovative DIY ideas. Using jute on the chair back rungs was BRILLIANT. Congratulations on being featured in such a fabulous magazine. Keep on doing your thing that you do so well. I’m thinking I would make a fabulous pillow from your left over vintage-look French fabric.


  3. Michelle says:

    Pick Me! Pick Me! It will be my jumping off point for going neutral!! I am wanting to start neutrals in my home and this would be the perfect fabric to do so!! I even have the chair sitting in my living room that I’ll put it on!! Pick Me! Pick Me!

  4. KatMoss says:

    Great re-do and thanks for the reminders about the stripper & sealers – I’m about to re-paint my kitchen cabinets and I’m really thinking I need to strip the paint…as much as I don’t want to. The previous owner painted them black and I’ve discovered, didn’t prime them first, so the paint will occassionally peel off in chunks.

    I’d love to win the piece of fabric to make a supa-cool pillow!

  5. Christi says:

    WOW!!!! I know what I am going to do with MY chair now!!!! GREAT JOB–and to be contacted for a special project going INTO a magazine is SO COOL!!


  6. Jen says:

    Simply divine!! :)

  7. Patti Jones says:

    I CANNOT get over the jute! What a wonderful idea. I don’t know that I would have thought of it, but it gives so much texture and interest while keeping with the “farmhouse” feel. I just love it! Congrats on the feature, too. I know that must be way better than exciting for you!

  8. Lisa says:

    What a great redo! Now I know what I’m going to do with the mother-in-law’s french provencial chair that’s been sittiing in my living room waiting for its makeover! I NEED that material for my chair seat! As a new “re-doer”of all things good and sturdy, I love the inspiration you provide. Great job on that makeover for a great magazine! Thanks so much!

  9. Lisa says:

    Love the chair. The simplicity is so inspiring!

  10. Cass says:

    Kate, The Great!!! :) You are absolutely amazing, and so is the DIY chair. I love the look of the grain sack and jute combo. I have jute at home and I am thinking of what I can tackle with it. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Regina trammel says:

    Beautiful! I love this As a lumbar pillow cover

  12. Katie says:

    That fabric wants to be my pillow, I can just feel it! The chair looks amazing!

  13. susan daley says:

    Wow! Love it! Your work is so inspiring Kate.

  14. Judy Clark says:

    Kate – the chair looks great. I’d already seen it in the magazine. Congratulations. I would love to use the grain sack fabric on an ottoman I’m working on redoing. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Colleen S says:

    Oh my goodness, I love that chair!!! And yes, I would love the fabric to try this technique on a chair I’ve had laying around for years not knowing what to do with it — and now I do!

  16. Amber says:

    I love what you did with the chair! I would love the print and would make a pillow out of it, or have a small chair of my own that needs redone. I love that chair was so bright and a popular color and you made it classy and neutral.

  17. Kristy Swain says:

    Yay! Congrats on the feature. Very creative. Love the twist on the traditional chair. Looks great!

  18. Yanira DelValle says:

    Oh this would be so awesome to win. I am redoing my daughter’s room in a french theme, and this would be perfect for their desk chair.

  19. Johonna D. says:

    Oooo, my first email of your blog. Love it!

  20. Faye Engelke says:

    Thanks for posting about the poly coat, I’ve had the worst time finding something for our painted pieces. I’m seeing a great footstool for our master bedroom with that wonderful grain sack image. :)

  21. Katie says:

    That’s really lovely. I LOVE that fabric too.

  22. Gwen says:

    So cute! And I liked your after picture much better than the magazine’s.

  23. Debbie says:

    Gorgeous! How in the world did you ever part with that beauty? Any chance they’ll send it back to you?!?

    I’d love that fabric to make a tote bag for my teenage daughter, who adores all things French!

  24. Kristina says:

    I just got my DIY magazine last week and loved this chair – I had no idea it was your creation! Well done!

  25. Gloribell says:

    I love this idea. While studying Interior Design, I had to do a Eco-Hotel proposal and my sofas were all in burlap. I think this fabric is so beautiful. It adds a vintage/modern twist to any space. I hope I win it!

  26. Allison says:

    What an amazing DIY project – absolutely beautiful!

  27. Christina says:

    Lovely makeover! The chair is so simple yet versatile.

    Would you please list other resources for the fabric (if you know any)? The etsy store seems to have closed.


  28. amy says:

    you can darn well bet that we’ll be seein’ lotsa jute wrapped ladderbacks comin’ up! well done! i love when classic gets twisted!

    congratulations on the magazine piece!


  29. Denise says:

    Oh that chair is awesome and I love that little doggie sitting next to it.

  30. luv2diy says:

    the jute was a great idea!

  31. Heather says:

    I saw this in the magazine and was so impressed! That fabric would make the perfect pillow!!! :)

  32. Becky says:

    Such a lovely chair! I love jute too. Great Transformation!!

  33. Kathryn says:

    I really want to try this, it turned out so nicely!

  34. april says:

    Love the chair!!! What a great makeover!

  35. thanks for the giveaway!

  36. thanks for the giveaway!

  37. Bethany says:

    Love it! I have a chair I picked up on the side of the road that needs a new seat, this would be perfect!!!

  38. Edith says:

    As always you did a beautiful job!

  39. denise says:

    You are BRILLIANT!! Would love to WIN!!

  40. LisaJennea says:

    That is awesome lady! I hope I win!

  41. Kate F. says:

    That chair is so cute! I am definitely going to try adding some jute to a chair I just bought at the thrift store.

  42. Mindy says:

    I’ve never even heard of rub-on poly! I’m definitely gonna be on the hunt for some!!!
    The chair turned out super cute. That fabric is awesome!!!

  43. Asia says:

    I would love this — this would make a gorgeous pillow…or I could even add some textured matting and frame it! :-)

  44. Diane Louise says:

    What you did with that chair is so creative and beautiful. I admire all of your work.

  45. Joanie says:

    That chair is adorable, so fresh!

  46. Ann S says:

    What a great leftover piece of fabric. I have just the perfect place to use it up.
    Wow! That chair is great. I love jute! Have many different sizes, but your use of it in your project is awesome!

  47. Lauren says:

    Love the reversal of the rush seat look to the ladder back. So creative! I’d make a throw pillow for one of my breakfast table chairs.

  48. Libby says:

    Great chair!! You certainly put a clever twist on a classic. It is lovely!

  49. Lori L. says:

    I have the perfect chair seat for it!

  50. Jennifer C says:

    Amazing! I love it!

  51. Susanne says:

    Very nice!

  52. MJ says:

    Well.. looks like I’m off to the hardware store for some twine and Varathane! Yay for a 4-day holiday weekend filled with DIY projects!!

  53. Kara says:

    I would love the extra fabric from your chair makeover.

  54. Janna C says:

    Oh, it’s beautiful!

  55. Lori says:

    Oh my gosh, that was yours?! That was my favorite re-do in that article. I loved, loved, loved the jute wrapped around the ladder part and loved the grain sack upholstery!

    Kudos on the magazine piece and the super cute chair!!! I’m sure your idea will be duplicated like ka-razy and there will be a rush on vintage grain sacks. :)

  56. Ashleigh says:

    Absolutely gorgeous chair makeover!! I have to say you deserved a spot in that magazine and I hope they contact you again next year too!:) Great choice of materials too!!

  57. Elizabeth says:

    I have just added DIY Magazine to my Christmas list. (Yes, I’m an adult. yes, I still have a Christmas list. Please don’t judge.)

  58. Isabel says:

    I see a new pillow in my house to go with the new sweater pillow I just made. Here’s to lady luck.

  59. Jan says:

    I love this! I am impressed with the traditional restoration to the chair. I love the grain sack image that you found it really makes the chair. I am definitely going to try this one myself. Thanks for all the great pics and instructions!!

  60. jana says:

    love the chair… love your blog! I want to use that fabric for a pillow!

  61. Maria Meyers says:

    Love what you did with that chair! I have an old stained ladder back chair with a rush seat, and after seeing what you did to your chair, I plan to paint mine the same way. I can see a pillow with the leftover fabric sitting on the chair…it’s going to be a busy weekend!

  62. Christina says:

    Hello! I just found your site yesterday and will be coming by to check it out often. What great ideas you have!

  63. kathy from ct says:

    very innovative. I love it

  64. Karen G says:

    I would love that piece of fabric. I am just finishing up redoing an antique harp-back chair and haven’t found the perfect fabric for reupholstering the seat yet. This would be perfect!!

  65. Tagati says:

    I just LUV the way you renewed the chair. And I LUV, LUV, LUV the fabric that you used for the seat. I want that chair! Sigh…

    I would love the fabric and do the same thing to one of my thrift shop chairs.

    Thanx for the idea and the give away! You’re awesome!!!

  66. What a great makeover! I LOVE your tutorials.

  67. Jeannie says:

    YES I want the extra sack! I would either use it for one of my own chair refinishing projects or make a lovely big pillow for my garden house.

  68. Colleen says:

    i love that fabric too!! I need to recover my kitchen chairs and u have given me a great idea. I would love to win the fabric!

  69. Connie McCallum says:

    WOW that is so cool. You did an awesome job on the chair. Great thinking outside of the box.

  70. Deb says:

    Fabulous redo on the chair. I’ve save your website for more inspiration.

  71. Hayley says:

    That is so great, congrats!

  72. Courtney says:

    Awesome!! Love everything about it!

  73. Suzanne says:

    Simply beautiful!

  74. Christine F. says:

    That is awesome!! Great job with that. I will definitely be picking up the magazine.

    The fabric is super cute too!

  75. Katie says:

    LOVE the jute on the back, makes it look so much more comfy. I personally would have had a hard time taking the blue crackle off, it was pretty before too. DIY Mag sure made it hard on you! :D

  76. Aubrey says:

    Great job! I love how nicely you cleaned that chair up. It looked like it belonged with itself again, fabulous!

  77. Julie Stanley says:

    Love the chair….love your bookcases…..thanks for sharing all your creativity with those of us in need of some vision!! Would love to have that grain sack fabric….have been wanting to make a pillow just like that for some time!

  78. Courtney M says:

    Gorgeous DIY! You are always so inspiring.

  79. Nancy says:

    Awesome job Kate..I have a vision of doing this with the old ladder back chair in my bedroom…I paid a whole dollar for it…I also love DIY magazine!!!

  80. CHRIS MARTIN says:

    Kate..As usual, AMAZING!

  81. Lani says:

    So great! Love the idea of the jute twine on the back! So clever! Great job!!

  82. RoxanneK says:

    Amazing! I really love that chair!

  83. Megan says:

    Gorgeous makeover! I am dying to make some new sofa cushions. I was so inspired by your World Market napkin covers.

  84. Amber says:

    That printed fabric is so cool, I’d love to make a pillow out of it!

  85. Jolie says:

    I love old chairs! Using the twine on the back of the chair is such a fresh idea! It is gorgeous. :)

  86. Meredith says:

    This would be fun in my new home that closes the week of thanksgiving!

  87. Jen K says:

    Love that fabric, I have a great vanity stool that is would be perfect on!

  88. Mary says:

    awesome! love that piece of fabric, i’d make it into a table runner!

  89. Jennifer Thompson says:

    Love how you used the twine on the back! Beautiful job!

  90. Christi says:

    That is one of my very favorite magazines! Awesome chair!

  91. Ann Vallotton says:

    Love the chair…and WANT the fabric!!!!!!

  92. ElaineD says:

    I would love to have that grain sack print because I’m redoing a chair and I think it would be PERFECT for it!

  93. Tammy Masson says:

    How are you so creative and original??? Wow! That’s gorgeous! That had to be hard since it came to you in one of your fave colors!

  94. Diane says:

    That’s terrific! I love how it turned out! I have to say though, the angle of your photograph works much better than theirs….sorry BH&G! Does anyone else agree?

  95. Kate says:

    You do the best work! I subscribe to several DIY blogs but you pieces always seem right in line with the stuff I love. I would love that grain sack and would make a pillow for my daughter’s bedroom redo – she is going from “princess pink” so tween sophisticate :)

  96. Sarah says:

    Thanks for writing a thru and thru do it yourself. The chair is beautiful, but could truly be a weekend project, that even the clumsiest of us could make. I appreciate the explanation of staining the chair before you painted it, I’ve always wondered how to get the vintage look with sanding. Now I know! Congrats on the magazine feature!

  97. Jewel says:

    I love your chair makeover! I got that issue in the mail not too long ago but haven’t had time to read most of it but now have to run to my nightstand and look at your page! I would love to win the grain sack print, it would make a perfect pillow for my bedroom!

  98. Jennifer says:

    The chair looks great!! Nice giveaway, too…thanks!

  99. Lesley says:

    Kate, your work is always beautiful and inspiring.

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