SKL New York

A Dramatic Dining Chair DIY

My incredibly resourceful (and generous) neighbor had found this set of six dining chairs on a fantastic website called, a community of free stuff.  The caned backing on several of the chairs was damaged and all of them were pretty brittle.  Not to mention they needed some serious TLC.  They had originally been handcrafted in Mexico, with the maker’s signature written underneath each chair.  (Note:  I left the signature exposed underneath the chair.)  My neighbor had kept them for awhile, but decided to pass them along to me!

This project turned out to be painstakingly challenging, considering I’ve only done single chairs and understand the intricacy of the many angles and crevices to address when working with chairs, but this was a multifaceted and layered process and there were six of them – so it was a pretty extensive project.  At a certain point, I was almost about to give up in finding a solution for completing these chairs, but one day I decided that I was just going to push through and get them finished!

Here’s some before photos:

Luckily, all of the seats were in pretty good condition, so the first step was to remove the caned backing from all the chairs and scrub each one thoroughly to remove several years of dust.

After that, each chair needed some light hand sanding with 100 grit sandpaper.

In order to modernize the chairs and also to help seal them for additional longevity, I decided to paint them with a Rust-oleum Lacquer spray paint – white gloss.  I allowed a bit of the wood to show through the paint to create a subtle distressed and rustic look.

Now this is where it got tricky…

Since each chair had been handcrafted, each one was slightly unique.  The cross bars for the backing was more narrow at the top than at the bottom and each chair had slight variations in angles and measurements.

I had letterboard cut to a a standard size, then measured and hand-sanded each one to fit each unique back.  I used a taffeta curtain to cut rectangles of fabric, also cut to measure a specific chair.  Applying Liquid Stitch to “hem” the edges of the taffeta eliminated the appearance of thread, stitching and seams.

I glued the top and bottom of the fabric to the letterboard, making sure that the edge of the fabric would be hidden underneath the cross bar of the chair backing.

I then used rivets to not only attach the letter board to the cross bars, but also strengthen the attachment of the fabric to the backing.

After attaching some simple seat cushions for comfort, the chairs were ready for a relaxing dinner and stimulating conversation!


special thanks to Jean!

This entry was published on August 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm. It’s filed under ReClaimed Furniture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “A Dramatic Dining Chair DIY

  1. Pingback: From Root to Tree « SKL New York

  2. You unquestionably put a new spin on a topic that’s been written about for years. Magnificent stuff, just great! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think, thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well.

  3. Pingback: Making time for Summer « SKL New York

  4. Jennifer on said:

    What a great idea. The fabric is beautiful.

  5. Jeanio on said:

    What a transformation! It looks terrific with the table. And I love the close up of the rattan spirals…

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