DIY Dining Chair Project

In home decorating circles, shabby-chic is no new trend, but its fresh, French-inspired colour palette and casual style stands the test of time. Best of all, getting involved doesn’t need to cost the earth. In fact, you can shabby-chic a piece of furniture for next to nothing in four easy steps. We show you how to kick things off with a DIY dining chair project!

Shabby chic chairs

Step 1: Gather your raw materials

Before chair

You’ll need:

  • An old dining chair -- any colour or style, as long as it’s made of wood. We picked ours up at a garage sale for $7.
  • Paint -- pale shades such as white, cream, baby pink and duck egg blue look best.
  • Paintbrush -- any size is fine, although a bigger paintbrush will help speed up the process.
  • 1 sheet of sandpaper.
  • An old sheet, to protect the floor.

Step 2: Set up your workspace

Allocate a space outside to set up as your workspace and arrange your sheet to cover and protect the floor. Line up all of your materials and stand your chair in the middle of the sheet so you can get to work. Don’t worry about priming your chair before you start; this is one of the only DIY projects where a rough, uneven surface will serve to improve your final result, rather than detract from it!

Step 3: Paint your chair

During chair

Slap some paint onto your chair. There’s no need to be careful with your paintwork and you only need to paint one coat, so feel free to be as haphazard as you like in your approach. That’s the best part of the shabby-chic process: You don’t want the end result to look too perfectly polished, so go with messy brushstrokes. We started at the top and worked our way down, but feel free to start and finish wherever you like.

Step 4: Sand the edges

Once you’ve finished painting, set your chair aside in the sun until dry (around two hours). Then, use a sheet of sandpaper to roughen up the edges, legs and corners. Avoid a "matchy-matchy" look by sanding alternating edges and surfaces to create a lived-in look. Finally, stand back and admire your work!

Remember, shabby-chic pieces continue to age and wear with use, so the “newness” of your dining table chair will begin to soften within a few weeks. To make an eclectic décor statement, consider painting each of your dining table chairs in different shades to take the shabby chic style mandate to the next level.

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