some people never learn.

Some people never learn … and by ‘some people’ I mean me.

Every time I take on an upholstery job that involves anything more than just stapling new fabric over old fabric, I do these four things.  First, I procrastinate for a really long time before even getting started.  Second, I cuss the whole time I’m working on the project.  Third, after lots of time and effort I manage to create an incredibly amateurish end product.  And then finally, I obsess over all of the flaws.

Let’s face it, upholstery is just not for me.  As much as I would love to be good at it, I’m not.  Of course, I could work at it to improve my skills.  I also could buy the right tools, which makes every job easier.  But the bottom line is that I simply don’t enjoy the process.  Let’s hope I remember this the next time I’m tempted to take on a pair of chairs like these.

I found this pair of balloon back chairs at an estate sale for a great price, $10 each.  I debated buying them knowing how much I dislike upholstery work.  But I just couldn’t help myself.

Once I got them home I immediately started questioning the wisdom of my decision.

Just look at all of these upholstery tacks!

Those were all going to have to come out.  Plus, look at that cherry red stain, it was likely going to bleed through paint.

Seriously, what was I thinking?

I honestly debated just loading them back into the van and taking them to the Goodwill.

But instead I decided to use my tried and true strategy for getting something like this done.   Rather than trying to complete this chair makeover in one fell swoop, I broke it down into more easily accomplished tasks.  Step one was to remove those darn tacks.

That took me nearly an hour for each chair.  Ugh.

Next I put a coat of Dixie Belle’s BOSS on each chair.  I didn’t test them for bleed-thru, I just assumed that they would.  I like to let the BOSS cure for at least 24 hours before painting over it, so that was as far as I got the first day … no, who am I kidding … the first week … that I worked on the chairs.

The next time I pulled them out I added two coats of Dixie Belle paint in Sawmill Gravy.  I knew I was going to use drop cloth fabric on the seats, and the last time I worked with Sawmill Gravy I noticed it was the perfect match for the drop cloth that I use for painting.

The chairs sat around for another week or so after being painted, but when I had some more time I pulled them back out, sanded to distress them and then added a coat of clear wax.

A few days later I pulled out a new drop cloth I’d purchased.  I cut some sections large enough for the chair seats with a few inches left over for shrinkage.  Then I washed and dried the fabric.  Next I stenciled it using Dixie Belle paint in French Linen for the stripe and Midnight Sky for the rest.  Both of the stencils are from Maison de Stencils.

But when I held this fabric up to the chairs I realized two things.  First, this new drop cloth fabric was a different color than my older drop cloth and I didn’t like the way it looked with the Sawmill Gravy.  Second, the black paint felt too harsh compared to all of the other more muted colors going on.  I really wanted a more subtle monochromatic look.

So I went back to the drawing board.  I cut two chunks of fabric off my old drop cloth (luckily I had a couple of corners that didn’t have paint all over them).  I washed them up and then stenciled them without the grain sack stripe and using the French Linen for the rest of the design.

Next came the trickiest part, stapling the fabric in place and cutting around those 4 spots where the chair back is attached to the seat.  I managed to get it done, but very inexpertly.  I’m not even going to describe how I managed it because at this point you should not be taking advice from me on how to upholster.

After the fabric was all stapled in place, I trimmed off the excess using a razor blade.  I found that I couldn’t get close enough to the staples using a pair of scissors.

The last step was to glue some trim all the way around to hide the staples.  I used my hot glue gun for that step.

I had to laugh when I finished up and realized all of the different tools I’d needed for this part of the job.

What a mess.

But in the end I have a pair of semi-decent balloon back chairs.

I don’t plan on keeping the chairs, and I know I’ve done a terrible job of ‘selling’ them here.  But if any of you locals are in need of a pair of budget priced chairs that look pretty, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co and to Maison de Stencils for providing some of the products I used on today’s project.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for Maison de Stencils you can find them here.

36 thoughts on “some people never learn.

  1. I think they look good…you’re always too hard on yourself. They are 100% improved and will look great at a small table …thinking maybe you should find a smallish table to paint so you could sell as a set? Would be perfect for someone with a small kitchen or nook area…


  2. I found this post amusing – perhaps because I could relate so well to the “four things”! But I don’t think you give yourself enough credit as the chairs are a delightful.


  3. Linda, I think they look great!!! It is tricky getting the fabric around the chair parts. I am “in training” with every upholstery job that i do!!!!!


  4. Oh, does this bring back memories, Linda. We’ve all had those moments of, ‘What was I thinking?’ Sometimes we redeem ourselves and sometimes we don’t. In this case, you definitely did!!


  5. 😂😂😂 this is EXACTLY how I feel about upholstery and I can’t stop myself EITHER!! I just love a good chair 🤦🏼‍♀️ you did an AWESOME job on those though, they look great! 🙌🏻👏🏻


  6. I can relate to some of the things you say. I procrastinate on some projects and I’ve even taken a few things to Goodwill that were “what was I thinking?” purchases!! I’m really glad you decided to see this project through though. I’m not good at upholstery either and really only attempt the very basic simple upholstery projects. They definitely test my patience!! Breaking it down into more manageable steps is a good idea and something I need to practice more in other areas. 🙂 Thank you for sharing the chairs! I think they turned out great!!


  7. I can relate. I have had the thought “oh that little bit of upholstery wont take long. ” Bahahaha!!!! I hate it. But, your chairs look great! I used to buy Blue Hawk drop cloths from Lowes but they changed brands and I hate them. Lowes is my only source here. What brand do you buy?


    1. I usually get my drop cloths at Menards which is a local DIY store similar to Lowe’s. I’ve never paid attention to the brand names, which is why I ended up in this boat.


  8. Uuuummm Miss Quandie…..I suppose this could be an example of an unwarranted slavish admiration for your skills, but I don’t think so! Those chairs look like PERFECTION to me! I loved your point about not describing how you managed to get it done…….that’s ME on lots of projects: Don’t look underneath! Don’t look at the back! But I DO REALLY want to know how you managed it not looking bulkiy around those attachment areas…..lots of little pleats? Thanks Miss Quandie!


    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!! Actually, I didn’t really have to do too many pleats around the corners. Just a couple small ones in the front. In the back I had to cut the fabric to go around the four spots where the seat back attaches to the seat, so then you can pull the fabric taut without needing to make pleats. If that makes any sense at all.


  9. Loved this post. It made me laugh. I always imagine furniture I find in someone’s trash heap will look great with a quick coat of paint. Luckily my husband usually steps in — he can’t stand a slap dash job (which I have a history of doing). You, on the other hand, did a great job with the chairs! I love them!


  10. Your posts are always so entertaining and real. Thanks for being you and making them.. BUT they are really lovely and someone will be most pleased to get them.

    I too have learned I am not an upholster many times over LOL


  11. LOL I have 2 chairs that I have had in my shed for at least 5 years! They probably will go to the Goodwill! Your chairs really did turn out nice. I think that someone will love them 😊


    1. Well, I can now report that they sold right away. Probably because the price was pretty low. But they sure were a lot of work for very little gain. I’d say a trip to the Goodwill might be the better option 😉


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