French Cottage Thrift Store Chair Renovation

I needed a new chair for our living room. I’m SO glad I did not buy something expensive. I was able to transform this $7 thrift store chair into a dreamy addition to our home in just a few quick steps.

When I visit thrift stores I always try to see past the ugly and look for potential in character and details.

This chair was outdated and the cushion fabric had to go. But the cane was intact and I loved the oval backing and shapely details throughout.

Don't Overthink It

Since this was a piece I was doing for myself and not for a client, I did not put much thought or care into it. It’s funny how every time I don’t overthink a renovation it comes out amazing! Maybe that is the trick…

I completed this project in just a few hours and this chair went from outdated old lady to French Country Gorgeous with only paint and new fabric. Take a look at how I did it.


Paint Brush (I love Purdy brushes)
√ Behr Weathered White paint, chalked with this recipe.
Flat Out Top Coat
Foam Brush
√ Sand Paper
√ Fabric of choice
Staple Gun
√ Pointy Kitchen Knife

Step 1. Prep

There is no need to sand everything down with this technique. I just took a piece of sandpaper and quickly rubbed it over the entire chair. I’m sure I missed spots, but it served to give the paint a little grit.

I also removed the seat cushion prior to painting.

Step 2. Paint


To get this worn cottage look all I did was lightly dry brush (meaning no misting the surface or brush) my Weathered White chalk paint on the chair. The key is to stroke with little amounts of paint on your brush at a time.

You want to leave parts of the brown underneath exposed. If you cake paint on your brush and onto your surface, you will not achieve this rustic, textured look.

The first coat will look a little unfinished. I added a second coat with the same technique and everything came together beautifully.

Why we want wood bleed through

Normally you prime to avoid bleed through (the wood bleeding through your paint and leaving stains) when you are doing furniture renovations.

But with this look the random reddish hints of bleed through added wonderful character to the distressed look.

Step 3. Re-upholster

I used a pointy kitchen knife to remove the old staples from the cushion cover. I simply slid the knife under each staple and wiggled it up carefully.

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This seat cushion had actually been re-upholstered twice. Even though it’s less work to simply wrap a new fabric over the old, I prefer to take the old fabric off. It makes the fit of the new fabric better.

With the cushion upside down on my new fabric, I went around pulling on the fabric and stapling. I used my fingers to press the fabric into any crevices before stapling.

I would occasionally lift the cushion to make sure things were looking nice and smooth.

I sealed the paint with my flat out clear coat. To preserve the vintage look of the finish I avoided any sheen. The best way I’ve found to apply clear coat is by applying it with a foam brush. Check out this quick video to see how I get a flawless top coat on furniture pieces.

Enjoy your new chair!

You could use this technique to transform a dining set of chairs or simply to create a stand alone statement piece in a room.

What did you think of the French Cottage Thrift Store Chair Makeover? Isn’t it lovely!

Let me know what you think in the comments below and be sure to SUBSCRIBE so you never miss a post!

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