Ugly to Pretty

I had two chairs that Bob called the “ugly chairs” – I showed you the one before here.  With our new living room furniture coming soon (it better be soon…..I’m getting tired of waiting!), I decided to take the ugly chairs and give them a makeover and hopefully find them a new home.  So, now they have gone from ugly to pretty. :)

Ugly to Pretty - before and after

These chairs have been a long process….way too long.  And, I’m not done yet.  I only got one finished.  I made a fabric cutting/stapling error on the second one and when I ripped out the staples and tried to salvage my work, the fabric had a wear mark so I knew I couldn’t use it.  I went to get more fabric and Jo-Ann’s didn’t have any more.  I dug up my receipt and hopefully they can order me more, but if not, the second chair will get a different look.

So, anyhow, the first step in the long process was removing the old fabric, which was pretty easy.  I took pictures of the tricky parts so I would remember how I to position the fabric.

Ugly to Pretty - Chair before close up around arm

Then, it was time to prep the chairs for paint.  The caning was pretty worn.  I always just hid it with a pillow, but to paint I knew it would need some prep.

Ugly to Pretty - chair caning before

I used wire brushes to go over the caning portion to remove all the flaky pieces.  It only took a few minutes of brushing back and forth to have the caning prepped.

Ugly to Pretty - chair caning with wire brush

I started using Chalk Paint, so I didn’t sand or anything.  I had a can of Old White in my supplies, so I just used that.  The paint goes on very easily.

Ugly to Pretty - chair with one coat chalk paint

But, after 2 coats I was not happy with the look.  It was too rustic for the look I wanted.  I couldn’t stand all the brush strokes.

Ugly to Pretty - chair with chalk paint up close

Plus, it was not a bright enough white for my fabric.  So, I went to Lowe’s and got some new paint.  I bought Olympic One paint and primer in one.  It has enamel in it.  It was the same type of paint I used on my mother-in-law’s kitchen cabinets, so I knew I liked the paint and the consistency of it. With this paint, you can’t just buy white, it has to be mixed, so I chose “True White” for the color.

Ugly to Pretty - Olympic One paint

I applied 2 coats of the new paint and got a nice finish that I was happy with.  You can see some brush strokes, but it is still smooth, no where nearly as rough as the chalk paint and much less brush strokes.

Ugly to Pretty - chairs after painting

I love how the caning looks painted white.

Ugly to Pretty - chair painted caning up close

After painting, I was so ready for the fun part of attaching the fabric.  But, unfortunately, these chairs just fought me!  I used the fabric I removed as my pattern and cut out the new fabric.

Ugly to Pretty - old fabric as pattern on new fabric

I even cut the 4 slits to accommodate the wooden arms of the chairs.

Ugly to Pretty - cutting new fabric for pattern

This is where I made my mistake though.  It worked out fine on the one chair, but not the other.  I think when I do it again, I will place the fabric on the chair and cut one slit at a time.  This way as you pull and smooth the fabric as you are stapling it won’t matter as it adjusts.

I laid the fabric on and the slits fell right in place.  I started stapling on the front.

Ugly to Pretty - Fabric stapled on front of chair

The stapling goes pretty quickly, so I didn’t take any more pictures of it until I was finished.  I just worked my way around the chair stapling several times on each section.  After I go the whole way around and I’m happy with the placement, I go back around and fill in with more staples.  I don’t want the fabric to have any chance of bunching or moving.  After all the staples are in, then I just trimmed the excess fabric from below the staples.

Ugly to Pretty - fabric stapled on chair

Next, it was time to add the trim.  I used my hot glue gun to attach the trim.  For this version, I also attached some trim around the arms.  I will have to tweak that though, because when you sit in the chair the trim moves from the arms, so I will just have to glue the trim to the fabric and not the wooden arm.  It should give it the same look, but be more flexible.

Ugly to Pretty - adding trim

The trim is glued right over top of the staples to hide all of them.

Ugly to Pretty - chair trim close up


Ugly to Pretty - chair trim around arm close up

After all the bumps in the road of painting and reupholstering this chair, I really am happy with the final results.

Ugly to Pretty - chair after

Hopefully, someone else likes the chair too.  This is the first time I redid a piece of furniture that wasn’t for my home or specifically as a gift.  It is very different to choose the options for a piece of furniture without having to consider where it will go in my home.  I still kept my taste in mind with this chair, but tried to pick an overall look that will be neutral enough to work in someone else’s home.  So, what do you think – do you prefer the wooden or painted look?

Linking up here:  Share it Sunday, That DIY Party



  1. […] all of the links and are continually amazed at the creativity of all of YOU!! First up this week is ‘Puddy’s House’ with an awesome makeover! Leslie has transformed some chairs and as the title of her post puts it, […]

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