DIY 1950’s Chair and Table Makeover

My husband and I bought this 1950’s dinette set at Goodwill a few years ago for real cheap (around $15 total). They were all in decent shape, and really just needed a bit of a makeover. When I googled the company who made them (Vintage House Dinettes) and discovered that a set like this is selling for a few hundred dollars on eBay, I knew I had to see if I could upgrade them myself.

diy chair makeover

Skill level: Anybody with some time and a little gumption can make it happen.
Time commitment estimate: An afternoon, a whole weekend or spread it out over a couple of weekends (depending on the details of your project).

Here are the supplies I used:

1. Hand Sander – I used this to smooth out the table top before painting.
2. Spray paint – I used an indoor/outdoor glossy spray paint that I picked up from Lowe’s.
3. Steel Wool – I used this super fine steel wool to get some of the rust and blemishes off the table and chair legs.
4. Vinyl – I got my faux leather upholstery fabric from Joann’s, but here’s an example that can be bought from Amazon. Basically just a sturdy vinyl (faux leather) indoor/outdoor fabric will work.
5. Batting – The padding on the chairs was basically nonexistent after years of use, so I used this low loft batting to make them more comfortable.
6. Staple Gun – I used a staple gun to hold the batting and vinyl to the chair frame. I would recommend an electric one like this, since the angles I had to get at would have been difficult with a standard non-electric staple gun.
7. Upholstery tacks – There are a ton of different options – silver, black, small, large, etc. I went with silver to match the table legs, but do what feels right. Check out some options here.
8. Space heater – This is probably optional, but it helped get the vinyl soft enough to mold around the chair frame.

To start with I removed the table top from the table base. I don’t have any photos of this process since I had no idea I’d be doing a blog post about it in the future, but basically I sanded the heck out of the wood table top and spray painted it with a high gloss spray paint. It took a few cans of the spray paint to cover the previous owner’s artwork, but those coats of spray paint are still going strong a few years later.

Then I took the chair apart as much as possible. It really depends on how your chair was put together, but for mine I had to completely unscrew the seat from the bottom frame before removing the vinyl. This is the seat before I removed the vinyl.

diy chair makeover

To get the new vinyl on the seat, I used the space heater to warm the vinyl up and stretched it as much as I could before stapling. I used a ton of staples and tried to make it look as smooth as possible. As you can see from the photo below, I really didn’t care what the underneath portion looked like.

diy chair makeover

diy chair makeover

For the back portion I left it attached to the chair frame (because I had to – there was no way to remove it) and just took off the vinyl and padding. The photos below show the top portion after I had used  a staple gun to attach the new batting.

diy chair makeover

diy chair makeover

This next part depends on how the chair is constructed, but to get the vinyl on the back of the chair I sewed two pieces of vinyl together and stretched them over the chair backs. Then I covered the seams with upholstery tacks around the sides and top.

diy chair makeover

diy chair makeover

For the seam that’s underneath, I folded the edges evenly and closed the hole up with some upholstery tacks.

diy chair makeover

diy chair makeover

diy chair makeover

diy chair makeover

diy chair makeover

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