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



Tags: , ,

584 Responses to “Chair Makeover for DIY Magazine”

  1. Rachel says:

    Love the jute twine on the ladderback. What a great idea!

  2. Brooke says:

    You are so talented, the chair is awesome! Great giveaway too! Thanks!

  3. Dawn says:

    LOVE the chair…and I agree…what CAN’T you do with jute twine…LOVE the stuff!
    I have been wanting something with a grain sack print for a while. I supposed I could create one, but I would much rather get down to the business of making something WITH it! :) In my case I’d like to create a pillow for my hubby’s ugly chair. Maybe people will notice the pillow and not the chair…heehee :)

  4. Vonda L. says:

    Love the chair re-do!

  5. Lori says:

    GIRL….You are famous!!! I read this magazine all the time too…..Your chair is fabulous and I want to copy it, so I hope I win :)

  6. Linda says:

    The chair is really awesome! I’ve got to run out and get DIY – never read it but of course I will have to get it since your project is featured!! Love the flour sack, I’m thinking maybe I could use it in my powder room….

  7. Sara says:

    Love the chair and the fabric!

  8. Tonya says:

    I love this magazine and how exciting for you, though I must say your photography shows off your handiwork 100% better than the magazine.

  9. Christine says:

    Super cute! Love your brain!

  10. Lindsey Vis says:

    So cute! I have a couple chairs I’m working on now – hopefully they’ll look as great as yours!

  11. Laura M says:

    Just lovely! I have the perfect chair for this fabric!

  12. Beth says:

    I love that grain sack!

  13. Lin says:

    Pick me! Pick me! :) Stunning work!!

  14. Taysha Riggs says:

    Oooo I had to do a double take on the chair… what a GREAT DIY.

    Thx for the giveaway

  15. Meredith says:

    Love the chair, especially the twine!

  16. Pam M says:

    Love how the chair turned out! Gorgeous!!

    Thanks for the giveaway chance!

  17. Celia says:

    I’m going to have to check out the magazine! I love BH&G’s regular magazine, so I’m sure I’d love this. Also, I love the twine look!

  18. Teya says:

    I love the tip about the miniwax and sanding. This is a beautiful chair!

  19. Cathy says:

    Great chair and great fabric, I would love it, because I try to do some DIY myself to make my apartment look prettier.

  20. tori n. says:

    Fabulous job!

  21. Cammee says:

    Kate, that chair is fabulous! I am dying to try this on my own ladderback. Thanks for another brilliant idea.

  22. joan l says:

    Love the chair! So inspirational!

  23. Ashley HM says:

    L.O.V.E. !!!!

  24. Diane Kent says:

    Whooopie!!! I would just absolutely LOVE this!!! I’m from up North and I never see this around here!! I have the perfect chair it would look good on!!

  25. Christy says:

    Love the chair & love the fabric! I think I would make a pillow for my couch. Thanks for the chance to win!

  26. Love it Kate. It’s so on trend right now!

  27. Jenny M says:

    Genius idea wrapping the ladderback in jute. Love the grainsack…and I would make a pillow for my daughter’s house. she would love it! Thanks!!

  28. Kate says:

    Wow! Great Job! I have the perfect chair to do a similar version of. Thanks for the inspiration!

  29. Denise says:

    I love that chair. That extra piece of fabric would look gorgeous on a chair that I got for free on the sidewalk (it had a sign, Free to a good home).

  30. Melissa Doke says:

    I just purchased this magazine the other day, and I too can’t wait till the next one comes out….great job on the chair!!!

  31. A stunning makeover. Congrats on the opportunity to do that and be featured. Quick question if you have a second. Do you find that poly to yellow ever? Even over ivory? I’m having trouble with poly on white latex painted pieces these days.

  32. Lora says:

    Love the makeover on the chair. I have a white ladderback chair that’s been with me since college and it is screaming for a “do over”. You have inspired me to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

  33. becs says:

    That is beautiful. congratulations….So very inspiring. You’ve made me want to go out right now and change something ugly in my garage….AND…It’s 10pm and freezing outside! Well done.

  34. FrugallyMe says:

    Love your chair makeover!

  35. Becky says:

    Ooh! I can never seem to get my hands on enough seed sacks. When all else fails, I paint fabric to look like them :)

  36. Megan says:

    Love the chair makeover! I would have never thought to put the jute on the back of the chair. Also love that piece of fabric!

  37. Stephanie says:

    I love creative projects! And I especially love seeing someone else enjoying them too! Thank you for sharing your lovely tips and photos!~

  38. Kelly Proctor Tooley says:

    Cool fabric! I’m thinking pillow!

  39. Amanda says:

    I LOVE the Jute wrap! I think I may try that on my dinig room chairs:)

  40. Evie Valois says:

    Love the re-do. I already have a similar chair. It wants that fabric!


    The etsy link isn’t working :(

  41. momdrinkstea says:

    Just gorgeous…I’d LOVE that fabric, and for those of us who DON’T win, can you please post the etsy shop you got it from? THANK YOU!!!!

  42. Emily says:

    congrats! That is so cool that you made it to a magazine that you love! and the chair looks great:)

  43. Amy says:

    I have been waiting for an inspiration for a chair to put in our family room against a wall as decor and extra seating. This would be perfect! I love it so!

  44. MamaBHive says:

    Great work! Love the fabric.

    The Etsy link doesn’t work though.

  45. Janette says:

    Viola! from cackle in crackle to looking fine in twine. Your creative veins run deep and sharing those impulses is with us is the best inspiration. Beautifully done. If these magazines are smart they will keep publishing you.

  46. Janette says:

    pardon me… Voila! sigh lap top key boards and I don’t get along :)

  47. Christina says:

    Love it!

  48. Susan Smith says:

    That is genius! Beautiful work!

  49. Jenna says:

    Great job girl!! The twine gives it so much texture. And congratulations on the magazine feature!!

  50. Karen says:

    Nice job! I have been thinking of using a sack/fabric like that for the cushion of my footstool.

  51. Sue says:

    I ♥ the reverse thought process of the rush look! And great tip on the Varathane, too. I’d love to win this fun give-away of the fabric. Great feature. :-)

  52. Caroline says:

    I would love to recover my chair with that fabric – love it!!

  53. Emily says:

    Great job on the chair! Love the grain sack seat and the jute twine. You are awe!some

  54. A) Great tip about the Citristrip–we’ve had lousy luck with paint strippers. Like lousy as in, I think I have permanent nerve damage in my forearm.

    B) I totally just saw that chair as I was reading the issue last weekend, and is it lame that I thought “Hey! I KNOW her!”? :P You did a fabulous job, as usual. :)

  55. Michelle says:

    Love the chair make over. LOVE IT! As always, thanks for the great tips. Thank you for the oppoortunity, and keep up the good work!

  56. Nicki says:

    You are way too creative! I love the finished product!

  57. I love that chair!!! you did a great job, as usual!!

  58. Gorgeous Kate! so French, country… love it!


  59. Jen says:

    OMG! I LOVE how that turned out! I never would have thought to do the twine, not in a million years. But now, I’m envisioning everything I CAN do with it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  60. Lisa Ornelas says:

    Love it! Too bad you couldn’t keep the chair. I would love to make a pillow out of the fabric for a pop of French!

  61. Marla says:

    I can just hear them now at BH&G saying, “Leave it to Kate to come up with something gorgeous!” Great job! Bravo!

    That remnant would be ideal for my grandmother’s old (pre-1900’s) rocking chair I found when having to clear out my parents attic. It would just fit the seat and look gorgeous against the dark hand-carved arms. All these years my mom had held onto that rocker, imagine my surprise…Score!! Yes, it made up for all those spiders & webs…

  62. Trude says:

    Congratulations on the feature! That jute accent really makes the piece. Love!

  63. Andrea S. says:

    I’d like to make a pillow with the fabric. Thanks for the giveaway.

  64. Sabrina says:

    I would also love the fabric to make pillow! Thanks for the opportunity!


  65. Laura says:

    Love the chair makeover and the magazine. Picked up my copy today! I’d love to win the fabric to redo the seat on my antique chair I use at my itsy bitsy desk.

  66. Hannah says:

    Love it! I would have been stumped if they sent me that chair to redo, very creative! I have a chair that’s suddenly calling me to refinish it :)

  67. Barbara B says:

    Hello! I am in the process of buying a home and relocating back to Ohio from California to help take care of my mother. I have rented for many years and have been reading your blog religiously for design inspiration. I love your design sensibility! thanks for sharing all of your great work!

  68. Kathy says:

    Bet you hated to part with it. It’s beautiful.

  69. Jen says:

    Well, since clearly no one else wants that fabric, I’d be willing to take it off your hands. :)

  70. Kathy says:

    Love it!

  71. Janie says:

    Wow! What a beautiful transformation… :)

  72. Erin C. says:

    That chair looks fabulous! And thanks for the recommendation for a good poly – I’ll definitely pick this one up.

  73. Gina Stoney says:

    Pick me, pick me. Thanks for such a great giveaway!

  74. Terry Pitzer says:

    How cute a pillow made from that fabric would look on my bead! Love the chair.

  75. Allison cobb says:

    Definitely want :)

  76. Jenn says:

    I love your chair makeover. What an inspired idea to wrap the jute twine around the ladderback. I would love to win your extra grain sack!! :)

    Thank you!

  77. your biggest fan says:

    I am your most deserving fan. If you pick me, I will put it in the pantry with my cupcakes.

  78. SHackzilla says:

    You inspire me! I’m a beginning blogger and look forward to each morning and what creative project might be in store… thank you!

  79. Leanne says:

    Beautiful Chair! I love the makeover! I’ll have to watch for the magazine on the shelf. I would love to win your extra grainsack! Fabirc like that is so inspiring… although I might be tempted to copy your gorgeous chair!

  80. suzy says:

    I’ve wanted to redo a chair of mine like that for a long while and that sack would be perfect! Love that mag too!

  81. Karen says:

    Such a cute chair and great tips. I love your creativity!

  82. the sack print is a perfect touch. i think i want to invest in a thousand rolls of jute twine…that stuff is magical. congrats on the honor; i think your chair in all sincerity is fabulicious.

  83. Adrienne says:

    Love it! Would love to win it…have the perfect chair!

  84. Vicki says:

    Love it lots!!!

  85. Joyce says:

    I’d super love that grain sack. I’d make a pillow to put on this fantastic black chair I got at a flea market. Love it. And love the blog too. It’s nice to be inspired by another witty do it herselfer!

  86. Amanda says:

    That is so amazing … congrats!
    Your chair is GORGEOUS! And I know what you mean, that magazine is a definite motivator!

  87. G NOrris says:

    Amazing chair! Glad I’ve discovered your site!

  88. Sherry Murray says:

    Your chair make over is priceless. Gave me some great ideas. Thanks.

  89. Kristen Manson says:

    Oh my goodness, i just bought that issue but only quickly skimmed through it so far. Now I definitely need to linger in it! The fabric choice is FANTASTIC, great job!

  90. Barbara says:

    Amazing transformation!!!! You are so very creative:)

  91. Heather t says:

    The chair looks fab! I might just have to frame the fabric if i won… Love it so!

  92. Mary says:

    Wow, you did a great job and congratulations on becoming (more) famous! You make it look so easy.

  93. Anna says:

    Amazing! I love everything you do! All the store clerks at my local hardware store are probably sick of me telling them about everything you create when I go down there to attempt something similar :) And yep that fabric is stunning.

  94. sonia lidbury says:

    Just gorgeous – such a creative approach with the twine.

  95. Gail says:

    Just retired and now have time for fixing up chairs and making pillows…please pick me!

  96. Houston Foodie says:

    What a lovely finished product you came up with! Looks great, girl! Very French… Like it much better than the turquoise.
    And if I win, it’s becoming the center of a large tufted headboard I am making…

  97. Tiffany says:

    Love the fabric!

  98. Linda H. says:

    Oh pick me please-I never win anything and I love this-I truly do.

  99. Nicola says:

    I have total Chair Envy, if there is such a thing!

    They surely picked the right girl for the job, looks great – must be a huge buzz to see your work in the pages of such a great magazine, well done on yet another amazing and inspiring do over!

  100. Erin says:

    So creative!! And very fancy with your magazined self :) – congratulations!

    I would love to win the fabric – I see a pillow in its future :)!

Leave a Reply