a quick folding chair makeover.

Last year I purchased these painted folding chairs at one of my favorite neighborhood garage sales, Bryn Mawr.

bryn mawr chairs (2)

They are fairly small, not the typical size of today’s folding chairs.  I liked the colors, but I didn’t especially like the way the vinyl seats were painted.  I knew from experience how to re-cover these though, so I thought I’d share that process with you today.

blue metal chair before

Here’s a close up of the seat.

blue metal chair seat before

Since normally I’m a fan of crackly and chippy paint treatments, I can’t really explain why this seat wasn’t working for me.  It was a little too far gone maybe.

If you flip one of these chairs over, you’ll see that the seat ‘cushions’ (I put that in quotes because these are hardly cushion-y, but what else should I call them?) are held in place by little metal tabs that are folded over.

blue chair tabs

It’s easy to just pry those upwards using a screwdriver and then take the seat right off.

blue chair without seat

I had some pretty vintage tea towels on hand that I also purchased at a garage sale to use recovering these chairs.  So I pulled one out and cut it to fit.

blue chair supplies

Normally I would pull out a staple gun for recovering a chair seat, but in this case the seat was made out of cardboard!  So instead I pulled out some tape and I just used my gift wrapping skills to cover the seat.

blue chair seat tape

By the way, when you have a seat cushion that is curved in the front and only goes on one way, try to pay attention if your fabric also has a ‘top’ and a ‘bottom’.  I was reminded of that when I put the cushion back in place.

blue chair backwards

Ooops.  That doesn’t look right!

I took it all apart and switched it around.

blue chair seat close up

Ahhhh, better.

blue chair final

What do you think?  I haven’t done the pair of green chairs yet.  I’m debating, will they be more marketable with a paint job?  Do I leave them green and recover the seats with vintage fabric?  Or do I remove the seats entirely and turn them into chalkboards, like these …

chalkboard pair

What would you do if you were me?

37 thoughts on “a quick folding chair makeover.

  1. They are both really cute, but I’m more drawn to the chalk board ones! Can’t wait to see what you decide on! Have a great day!

    The Curator’s Collection & Making Broken Beautiful


  2. Hi, I would recover them & panit backside as a chalkboard so they are multiple purpose chairs, you can probably price them a bit higher! 👍😊


  3. I love the vintage tea towel. I think it’s whatever you’re most drawn to, though. They’re both very charming projects. Maybe they would sell as a set with a little table? Bryn Mawr is coming up!


    1. I picked up some craigslist buys in Linden Hills last weekend, and it made me excited for ‘neighborhood garage sale season’! It’s just around the corner!


    1. Good to know! We aren’t having a spring sale though. I just don’t have enough stuff to justify a sale of my own. But we’re really thinking we’ll do a fall sale this year. So stay tuned on that!


  4. Chalkboard gets my vote but it seems in your
    area of the country the vintage fabrics are very
    popular maybe you should offer exchangeable


  5. I love, love the vintage tea towel cushions for the set. But then, the chalkboard idea is great, too…I think we just need to find you more chairs!


  6. I love them both, but I prefer the Vintage Tea Towels. Just a bit more Vintage and new trendy…by using as Chalkboard bottoms, you sorta change the function to being a wall piece?? Just my thoughts…Thanks for your creative inspiration!


    1. Yes, very true, the chalkboard changes the function. But that is sort of my dilemma. Do people use small folding chairs as chairs? Or would more people have a use for a wall piece?


  7. I vote for the tea towels, so cute. Chalk boards aren’t too popular where I am right now so that wouldn’t be my own choice.


  8. This is tough, but as much as i like the chalkboards, i love the tea towel look just a tad more. Like Patty said, you just need to find more chairs!


  9. Of course, the advantage to the tea towel design is that it is done. IF one is really artsy, then the chalkboard would have a strong appeal and in places like the Q branch is ideal, but if one doesn’t have the time or inclination to fiddle with the chalkboard then the tea towel is the way to go. I’m guessing there may be slightly more in the latter category. But what do I know, I’m just here to do the heavy lifting. 😀


  10. I also live in Minnesota, Otsego to be exact! I just recently found your blog and I love it! I sell at an occasional shop in Buffalo, also on Facebook garage sale sites. I loved your idea of the tea towel on the seat! Now what I want to know is when the Bryn Mawr garage sale??? And why did I not know about this before?? Please let me know if you have any info, thanks!


    1. So funny, just a couple of weeks ago we drove through Otsego on our way to see my niece’s play in Buffalo and when we passed Otsego my sister (who recently relocated here from New Jersey) said “how in the world do you pronounce that?!” As for the Bryn Mawr neighborhood sale, it will take place on May 7 & 8 this year. I’ll warn you in advance, this is a really popular neighborhood sale. It’s usually jam packed with people. But they bring in food trucks and it can be very festive. And since it’s usually one of the earliest neighborhood sales of the summer, I usually go just to kick off the season! By the way, click {here} for an article from the Trib in 2012 talking about Bryn Mawr being one of the oldest, most well established neighborhood sales. Yep, they’ve been doing it a LONG time.


      1. Thank you so much for the info.! I just might see you there, that is so weird that you were just thru Otsego, I lived in Buffalo for many years.



  11. Love the “quickie” idea. I dig chalkboards, but don’t have a space big enough to hang a chair. A recovered chair, though, that’s a different story! They can be tucked into so many small spaces such as porch or patio, and look adorable with a bit of staging, and so handy to pull over when extra company shows up for iced tea. The vintage fabric idea is perfect – much more comfortable on bare summer skin than crackled old vinyl. The colors are perfectly tangy summer!


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