Budget project · Dining Room · DIY · Furniture Makeover

Palm Spring’s Dreamin’ Chairs


So, last time we took a look at my dining room makeover I had completed the table and it really showed off how horrible my chairs were! We had a set of mismatched chairs since before it was cool to have mismatched chairs. They were falling apart and I just pitched them. And if you know me at all you would understand just how bad they were that I was willing to do that.


Michael had found these black pleather and metal chairs and brought home five of them. Can you say ugly? Also, trying to maneuver 5 chairs in our little bitty dining room just wasn’t going to work, so I chose the three best and got rid of the others. Now, I know what y’all are thinking – where is everyone going to sit? Well, I have an answer for you, one that fits us all around the table and saves space, but I’m not spilling that secret yet, so you will just have to stay tuned. (This post contains affiliate links. To see my full disclosure policy, click here)


Now back to the chairs. Yes, the black paint was flaking, the metal frame has rust spots, and that wonderful black vinyl was cracked and ripped – which my cat promptly started adding to. Who knew she loved vinyl so much?!? She would stare at me while kneading and ripping into those seats. So she either really loves pleather or really loves driving me nuts. With cats, it’s a coin toss.

So the first thing I needed to do was detach the seat and back from the frame. Flipping it over, there were small metal tabs along the seat attaching it to the frame with screws. It was a simple job of unscrewing them and popping the pieces out. I turned my attention to the frame first. There were small rust spots and flaking paint. I took a wire brush to each frame, scrubbing all the loose paint flakes off the frame as well as I could. I had this grandiose, control-freak idea of getting every speck of rust off the frames before going any further. Oh, how my sore-armed future self laughed. Haha. Next I washed down the frames to get any stray dust, gunk, and flakes off.

Next it was time to prime. This is an important step, do not skip it! It is important to use a primer that will stop the rust for continuing to spread and come through your paint job. I like to use Rustoleum Spray Primer. It is also much easier to use a spray paint for this type of job as opposed to paint applied with a brush. Be careful, especially along the legs and sides where gravity will play its part. If you do end up with drips it’s not a big deal. Just take some sandpaper and sand those suckers away, then reapply. So I applied 3 light coats of spray primer to get everything thoroughly covered, followed by two coats of glossy white spray paint, then 3 coats of clear coat.


Okay, how great is this fabric?! I just love it. It’s tropical with bright, cool colors, a very Palm Springs cabaña vibe. I found it at JoAnn’s, regularly $9.99 a yard for 40% off, score! 2 1/2 yards covered all three chairs. (JoAnn’s fabric number is 400148924006. You can use this number to find it on their website or in the store.)


I begin by removing staples along the back edge of the seat that had held the vinyl closed and attached to the board of the seat. After removing all the staples I was able to peel off the vinyl and the foam pad from the slab of pressboard. The foam was in pretty good shape, so I cleaned it up a bit and wrapped it in a double layer of batting. My seat was basically a square, so I didn’t bother measuring anything, I just eyeballed it, erring on the side of excess. I wrapped it around the seat tightly and stapled it with an obscene amount of staples to the underside of the pressboard. It doesn’t have to be pretty, the stapled side is going to be underneath the chair and we can just clean it up later. (My Mantra… but that’s a whole ‘nother post 😊) I did the same with the fabric, laying the fabric- pattern side down- then laying the seat padding side down on top of that, and cutting out a square wide enough to pull around the sides and staple to the board. Make sure your pattern is facing the correct direction for when you flip it over! (I just saved you some embarrassed frustration, quiet swearing and angry jerking out of many, many staples…yea). When I got to the corners, I folded them like a present and stapled them down, giving a tug here, an extra staple there so the fabric wraps smoothly around the corners without bunching or folding. Again, the bottom side does not need to be pretty. But if you are so inclined, you can trim the excess fabric and batting from the bottom and/or attach a thin piece of MDF or foam board to the underneath of the seat after the chair is put back together.


Okay, with all the seats done, it’s time to turn the backs. The staples ran along the bottom edge closest to the seat. Again, I went through the same process as the seats, batting, staples, fabric, staples. This time the fabric was cut in a long rectangle, wrapped up the front and down the back and secured along the bottom edge. Because the back sits inside the metal frame, there is no need to secure the sides. They will be secured and hidden by the metal frame.


After finishing the backs I felt along the bottom of the seat and the back along the pressboard to locate the original screw holes. I used a craft knife to slice an X in the fabric and batting at each hole. This is so that when I screw in the screws, the fabric and batting won’t twist up and bind up the screw. Then just secure the seats and backs with the original screws and that’s it!

*Note: I did use Scotchgard to protect the cotton fabric. If you are concerned with the upkeep of fabric seats- especially with kids and pets- I would suggest an outdoor fabric, a wipeable fabric such as leather, or something bleachable. But my messy boys have been all over these seats and the Scotchguard has done a great job keeping any spills from staining.


I just love my new chairs! Very tropical, very Palm Spring-esque. They provide a punch of bright color that makes me smile every time I get a glimpse, and I think they go great with my boho-chic stenciled table. Not bad for my first upholstery job! What do you think?





As always, have fun! Go nuts! Get messy! Amazing things can happen when you do! XO- Caroline

P.S. I link to these fun parties!