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Thrift Store Chair – A Little DIY Goes a Long Way

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Here’s the story….of a thrift store chair. But let’s back up a little before we all live happily ever after.

Aislynn had been asking to have her room painted blue. So in typical Type-A fashion, I painted her room blue. And then gave her an entire wall of shelves and a little desk area.

diy decor ideas painting organization thrift store chair

I did this project right before the holidays as a Christmas surprise for her.

I only had 2 days to git ‘er done so it’s kind of a miracle it was ready to go Christmas morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to find a proper chair for the desk so for a short-term fix we used this antique rocker. The rocker had belonged to my grandmother so it holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t want it damaged by an active five-year-old so I knew I’d need to find a replacement.

Fast forward six months when I walked into our local ReStore one Saturday morning.

At the front of the store was a really odd collection of chairs. What caught my eye was that they seemed smaller than regular chairs and would be perfect for a little girl’s desk. I wish I had thought to snap a pic of them all but I’ll have to rely on the power of words. One of them was black with feathers. Another one was white with a full set of angel wings. The rest were brightly painted in varying designs. I chose the least brightly painted one I could find and headed to check out.

When the cashier saw what I had he was thrilled. “Oh, we’re selling a chair!” It turns out those chairs had been there for a while. They had been part of a chair decorating contest the ReStore had held a month or so prior to that day. These had been done by some local children and then donated back. So sweet.

thrift store chair DIY decor rehab

I forgot to take a picture before I started so you can see where I began to sand it on the top left. It took about 3 evenings after work to get it completely sanded down. So. much. paint. I used my 1/4 sheet palm sander on as much of it as I could. I just acquired that sander not long ago and now I don’t know how I ever survived without it. The bits I couldn’t get with the sander I had to use elbow grease and a sheet of sandpaper. And it sucked. But I persevered. By the time I got the primer on it didn’t even look like the same chair.

thrift store chair decor diy ideas


Aislynn had said she wanted a purple chair with blue and pink. Which I found funny since her room had been a lovely shade of lavender before I painted it blue. Kids, I tell ya. I found a pretty killer shade of purple at Lowe’s called Karmic Grape that was a Valspar color. It was love at first sight. I got a sample size since I thought that would be plenty for a couple of coats. I even had some left over for a future project. What that is, I do not know but I need to find something because I love this color! Ooooooh, look at the pretty, pretty chair. After 2 coats of paint, I went over it with some Minwax lacquer in a satin finish. It gave the chair the most amazing finish.

DIY ideas thrift store chair decor


When it came time to cover the cushion I figured I’d pop over to Joann with my 50% coupon and find something fantastic with purple, blue and pink in it. Sounds easy, right? Yeah, not so much. I couldn’t find anything I liked. Until I wandered into the aisle with the fabric paints and dyes and inspiration hit. What if I bought a plain fabric and we tie-dyed something to cover it? What I ended up with was a yard of plain muslin and 3 boxes of good old Rit dye in purple, blue and pink. I filed away my coupon to be used another day. And I did use that sucker. I’ll be sharing the details in an upcoming post.

Aislynn and I spent some quality time in the kitchen with our fabric and dye. She was in charge of rubber band placement while I got the dye ready. I wouldn’t let her near the pot but that didn’t stop her from putting on the rubber gloves anyway “just in case”. A few hours later and we had this. We stopped after the purple and pink because she liked it that way so we ended up not using the blue. Not bad for a thrift store chair, eh?

diy ideas thrift store chair diy decor

The way it turned out made her so happy! I love it when she gives that little giggle of glee when she’s really happy. It makes it all worth it.

Budget Breakdown for Rehabbing a Thrift Store Chair

If you’d like to try it for yourself here’s what I spent:

  • Thrift store chair – $8
  • Rit Dye – $7.50 ( 3 packages @ $2.50 ea but we only used 2)
  • 1 yard of  muslin fabric $1.99 (on sale for $1.99/yard)
  • Sample pot of paint – $3.50
  • Primer -$0 – I had it on hand but it’s around $10 for a quart
  • Palm sander $0 – I had it on hand but you can pick one up for around $25
  • Laquer – $14 – this is the one I use. It’s oil-based so clean up is kind of a pain. And it’s stinky but it gets the job done.

Total project cost – $35.00 plus the cost of materials if you need to purchase any of the things I already had on hand.

Has anyone else rescued a thrift store find and given it a second chance? Let us know in the comments!











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