Upcycling Wooden Dining Chairs {How to}

I have been spending time over the past couple of months, attempting to bring a little bit of life and creativity into the kitchen. The cabinets and set up itself were here before we moved in and still fairly new (under 5 years old). Although I hope they’re others in the world who will agree, its hard to love something you didn’t choose for your home. I will always look and think of ways I could have done it different. However, we’re in no financial position to change these in a hurry. So I’ve just gotta get over it.

What I am working on is changing the look and vibe of the room with a handful of tweaks and restyles which aren’t anywhere near comparable to a £20,000 new kitchen! (Nevertheless, I still swoon over others on Instagram and in home mags). I’m not going to spoil this all for you now, as the makeover will be revealed once eventually finished. However what I will share with you is a project you could also get your teeth into.

Previously we had four Next Home cream dining chairs, with an upholstered fabric body and wooden legs. Very plain but very boring and any dirt from your hand instantly transferred onto the fabric. They looked a little dated and needed to be changed. As always, I didn’t want to spend much money but knew I wanted four matching wooden dining chairs.

I had longed after original Ercol chairs, but even on eBay these were going for £50-£80 a piece. My plan being to future proof the purchase, as these can be easily changed by painting a new colour when needed. After much scrolling I finally settled on the chairs below. Ercol style rather than original, which I was happy with. To my sorrow, there was no buy it now option but a good old fashion eBay bidding war. I set by budget at £50 and said to myself ‘you must NOT bid anymore, its not worth it. I was lucky this time and was the proud owner of four new fabulous chairs for £45.

Original Ebay Photo 1Original Ebay Photo 3Original Ebay Photo 2

When we got them home, the orange hue of the stain echoed round the room. Fortunately the style was perfect and I was ready to get cracking.

I took inspiration from Pinterest and decided to go for a statement style with the top and the bottom of each leg sprayed in metallic copper and a dark grey for the rest of the body. I had some Grand Illusions paint in ‘Hurricane’ left over from previous projects and picked up some Rustoleum metallic copper spray paint for about £9 a can (the overall finish makes sense in the photos).

To make this blog a more how to, I will explain in a how to below, listing everything you will need. For anyone who fancies recreating the style. If you just want to see the finish chairs, scroll down to the photos below.

What you will need…

  • Four wooden chairs
  • Sandpaper (Grade 100 should be fine)
  • Clean cloth
  • Masking tape
  • Three cans of copper spray paint (you made need more/less depending on chair size)
  • Grey Chalk Paint (chalk paint will act as a primer, if using non-furniture paint then apply primer before painting)
  • Paint brush x 2 (Paint and Varnish)
  • Matt Varnish
  • Face mask
  • Eye protection
  • Some cardboard for the chairs to stand on while spaying

Just a little note, you should wear a face mask and some eye protection when both sanding and using spray paints. You can pick them up cheaply from any DIY shop and can be reused.

Health and Safety Selfie
Disclaimer – Sunglasses do not class as eye protection.
  1. Firstly, the chairs need a light sanding. I hand sanded these as there were lots of intricate bits an electric sander could get to. You just want to take off the sheen of the varnish and the real glow of the stain. The photo below shows how mine looked after sanding (please ignore the emoji!!) Finished Sanding
  2. Give the chairs a good rub with your clean cloth after sanding. This is so the dust doesn’t get mixed in when painting and ruins the finish of your chairs.
  3. Next grab your paint and paint brush and start getting your grey colour on. Paint the whole chair, even the parts you are going to spray and this will help act as a primer. You will probably need two or three coats. They should look a little something like this…Finished Gray Paint
  4. Wait overnight for these to fully dry. As you don’t want to rip any of the paint off with masking tape. Enjoy a glass of wine and let the paint do the rest of the work.
  5. Once your chairs are fully dry, start measuring up where you want your copper parts to start and end. Measure these up carefully as you don’t want different heights on each chair!
  6. Once you’ve got measurement, start masking up the chairs. Ensure you have a large part of the chairs covered up with masking tape where the copper is going to stop. As the spray paint will get on these parts. We also draped some old t-shirts over exposed parts which could get copper on it, just to be careful.Spray CanMasking chair
  7. Grab you mask and eye protection and start shaking up your can. Shake for good minute to ensure the paint is fully mixed. Then start spraying! I started with the legs first, with the chair upside down on a table in the garden. The paint dries quickly so I then flipped the chairs over, onto its legs placed on some cardboard then sprayed the top. Mid Spray
  8. Once all four chairs are sprayed, leave again overnight to dry.
  9. Once dry, you can then give the chairs one coat of matt varnish to help protect them.
  10. Once dry then your finished and ready to use!

All done and lined upClose up

And here are some snaps of the beauties in their new home.

Kitchen editedKitchen edited-10Kitchen edited-2Kitchen edited-3

And does Teddy approve of them? I think so….

Kitchen edited-9

Fancy giving it a go? Or have you done your own makeover on something similar. Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…

Emma x


Author: Emma White

Welcome to Apogee Interiors, a blog all about Interior Styling and Lifestyle written by Emma White. I'm beyond passionate about all things home. Interiors is what I love and this shines through my site. My taste ranges from scandi to raw industrial, so don't fear to challenge me. I want to show people how to enjoy designing and decorating your home. With hints and tips along the way. So far, I have learnt everything through trial and error, fellow bloggers and the odd book. My motto is be brave and embrace your creativity. If you love what you've done, it will look good to everyone through your passion. I hope you enjoy reading. Please get in touch about anything in the world of interiors!

9 thoughts

  1. Wow! I love this DIY. I have some very similar dining chairs that I thought were a lost cause. But it seems like they may be easier to just fully paint. Did you hand sand a lot, or did you just try to roughen them up a little bit for paint? That’s my biggest apprehension with mine.

    1. Thanks so much for your message! Sounds like a great idea. It was more jus to toughen up before painting. They were a little shiny before, so I tried to make them rough and more matt. Hope that helps!

      1. That is very helpful! Our chairs are very shiny as well, but I didn’t want to have to hand sand for years 😀

    1. Thanks lovely! They are so expensive when you buy them new! I got these ones from eBay so have a hunt around! Il be selling my dining room table in a few weeks once our new one comes through. If your interested let me know 😘

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