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Upcycling a Child's Chair

I have been cleaning and organizing my workshop, let's just say it is an ongoing process. I organize a bit, then find a project piece I just have to work on and then I organize a bit more. This chair was unearthed in my organization process. I picked it up at an auction for a few dollars. It was a little wobbly, but it was just so cute!

A chair in the condition in which it was purchased, it needed up cycling

The leather seat had no life left in it.

A chair in the condition in which it was purchased, in need of up cycling

For this project you will need:

  • Screwdriver—to remove (and reattach) the upholstered seat from the frame.

  • ZEP Cleaner—you will need a good cleaner/degreaser on most projects prior to painting.

  • Rags—For cleaning—I use these rags until they are falling apart!

  • Wood Glue —you need a good glue to shore up joints and repair cracks in the wood.

  • Wood Clamps—I use wood clamps all the time! It good to have a variety of sizes.

  • Milk Paint—I used Rustoleum Milk Paint in the Eclipse color for this project.

  • Paint Brushes—these chalk paint brushes are great!

  • Polyurethane—for sealing the paint.

  • Foam Brushfor applying the polyurethane.

  • Sandpaper—for smoothing the wood and distressing the paint.

  • Upholstery Remover Tool—A must have for removing old fabric!

  • Fabric—I use ticking fabric a lot. I kind of love it and it sells well.

  • Batting—I use batting to layer in between the fabric and the upholstery foam. I actually buy it by the bolt because I use so much of it.

  • Upholstery foam—99% of the time, I replace the old foam.

  • Electric Stapler—This was one of my best investments! My hand used to ache when I used a manual stapler. It's worth every penny!

Let's get to upcycling this chair!

I began the project by removing the old seat. Seats on chairs like this are usually held in place by four screws and can be removed by simply removing the screws. There were two flat head screws holding this seat to the base. I used a flathead screwdriver to detach the seat. I save the screws to reattach the seat when it is finished.

ZEP all purpose cleaner, great for upcycling

I cleaned the wood frame with ZEP All Purpose Cleaner. My plan was to paint it, so removing any old dust, grime and general ick is important before painting. Make sure the piece is thoroughly dry before painting.

wood clamp, gluing chair to make it sturdy.

The frame had a crack in the wood, so I applied wood glue and used a wood clamp to ensure pieces remain aligned while the glue is curing. I usually keep the clamp on there for a minimum of 24 hours. I also glued a couple of the corners. This piece is now sturdy for the next owner!

Painted chair using rustoleum milk paint eclipse color

Once the glue dried, I painted the piece with two coats of Rustoleum Milk Paint in the Eclipse color. I use specific chalk paint brushes for this. They work well and really facilitate the paint coverage. I distressed the piece with 100 grit sandpaper. It is important to wipe down the piece after you sand it. Those little particles of wood and paint dust can mess up the finish coat. I use Varathane Crystal Clear Polyurethane in the satin finish to seal the piece.

After the base is painted, I turn my attention to reupholstering the seat. I have an upholstery removal tool to remove all old staples and tacks. Fortunately, there was only one layer of fabric on this. This step is never good for my allergies! Ugh! The second photo shows the disgusting old padding. This is why 99% of the time, I use new padding on my projects.

reupholstering the seat of a chair, upcycling the chair

I usually save the upholstery of the seats for the last step. Sometimes because I change my mind about the fabric once the piece is painted, but sometimes, I change my mind about the color of the piece once it is painted and then I definitely choose a different fabric. I cut my ticking canvas fabric about two inches larger on each side of the seat. I lay the fabric on my table, then the batting, then the foam and then the wood base.

Side note: I have a separate drop cloth I use for upholstering. I want to ensure nothing from a stray project gets on my fabric.

Start the upholstery process by pulling the fabric taut and tacking down in the center of each side. This allows you to get the fabric in the correct position, particularly when you have a pattern such as stripes that will need to align to the base of the seat. After each side is tacked, you can work your way out to the corners, continuously turning the board. I put two or three staples in, turn the board, add another two or three staples to the next edge and continue until you reach the corners. Then I trim the remaining fabric and fold over the fabric and tack down the corners.

Reupholstered seat, perfect example of upcycling

Continuously ensure your fabric is straight. Being off even a little bit can be disastrous. You don't want to have to redo the piece.

reattaching the seat to the chair

Using the screws I saved earlier, I reattached the freshly upholstered seat to the base.

finished chair, great upcycling project

I was really pleased how this turned out. It's a cute little chair that could sit in a corner and be pulled out whenever it's needed.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you would like to see more, follow me on Facebook, Instagram,and Pinterest! Just click on any of the social media links above! Thanks for following me on the junking adventures!

Below are some links to products I used in this project. Disclaimer: Junk is My Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

link to amazon store

Below is an image to pin to Pinterest if you would like to save this idea!

link to pinterest, upcyling project


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