Thrift Flip: Drab to Fab

Last week, I went thrifting in hopes that I would find a chair that needed some tender loving care. I found that my living room was lacking in adequate seating. Rather than all my guests squeeze on one couch, I decided that it was time to bring some new furniture into the space. It was just my luck that I happened to stumble upon a chair that inspired this DIY.


Beaten down with fabric that was worn by use, I knew that this chair needed to come home with me. At the price of $5.99, it was an opportunity I could not give up.

If you are interested in finding your own thrift bargains, there are a few tips you should know before going to your local secondhand furniture store.

  1. Learn how to spot potential.

The options at a thrift store are endless. At first sight, some furniture may not appear the prettiest, but you must look beyond the scratches and scuffs to see the potential. The chair that I selected, was worn and had seen better days. However, I loved the design of the frame and structurally the chair was sound. All it needed was to be painted and reupholstered.

  1. Bring a measuring tape with you.

It is important to take measurements and dimensions to make sure that you can take the thrifted item home with you. Knowing the measurements will allow you to know if it will fit in your car and if the item is too big or small for the desired space at home.

  1. Examine your thrifted piece thoroughly before buying.

Make sure to open any drawers, inspect the bottom, and note any holes or cracks. You must get to know your piece before buying it, to properly prepare yourself for its transformation.

Now that you know the benefits of thrifting and know what to look out for, let’s focus on the transformation of turning something old into something new. For my DIY project, I will be focusing on transforming and customizing the chair that I bought.

In order to give my chair a makeover, I needed to gather a few additional materials. The items that I used for this project are listed below.


  1. Fabric
  2. Paintbrush
  3. Flathead Screwdriver
  4. Paint
  5. Staple Gun
  6. Scissors

The first thing that you will want to do is to thoroughly clean the piece of furniture that you purchased. Secondhand furniture usually has been sitting around in someone’s garage, basement, or attic before it is dropped off at the thrift store. My chair for example was covered in cob webs and dust.

I recommend using lukewarm water and a mild soap to wipe everything down. Avoid using too much water and anything with chemicals. Depending on the type of material your piece of furniture is made of, excessive water and chemicals may create damage.

After everything is wiped down and dried, you will then want to dissemble your furniture to make the painting process easier. To take my chair apart, I had to use a flathead screwdriver to take out the four screws that connected the seat to the frame.

Once the frame is by itself you can begin painting! In this project, I used chalk paint. Chalk paint is the “lazy” way to paint furniture. You do not need to sand or prime like you would when using normal paint. I find it extremely easy to use and a faster alternative than normal paint.

The color that I used to paint the frame was called “Cascade” by FolkArt® Home Decor™. If you want to use the same paint that I used you can purchase it at, or at your nearest Michael’s craft store.

The frame of chair was completely opaque after 2 to 3 coats of paint. While the paint was drying, I began to tackle reupholstering the seat of the chair.


Before adding the new fabric, I flipped the seat over to the back side to take off the old vinyl and remove any old staples.


I then measured out how much fabric I would need to fit around the seat of the chair. I pulled the sides up one at a time, before using the stable gun to secure the fabric in place. While stapling the fabric down, it is important to pull the fabric taunt, to reduce any wrinkles.  Any excess fabric along the sides, I trimmed off with a pair of scissors.

For a more detail description on reupholstering a chair check out, for a step by step process.

Once the paint was completely dried, I reassembled the seat to the frame.


As I finished putting the chair back together, I found myself not liking how the fabric looked against the color of the frame. After a quick trip to Jo-Ann the fabric store, I took off the original fabric and replaced it with the new fabric.


When transforming furniture, make sure that you finish with a product that makes you happy. Even though I had to repeat a couple of steps to get to my final product, I loved the way that it turned out. I am glad I put in the work and effort into creating something that can’t be replicated by a furniture store.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s