Thrifted French Provincial Chair Makeover

Shabby Chic Office Chair Makeover

This chair was a thrift store find for $20.  Once it receives this chair makeover, it’s going to be my new office chair.   As soon as I saw those long curvy legs I knew it would complete my new craft room office, along with this feminine shabby chic desk from Ikea  I just refinished.

 A thrift store chair in a french provincial style in need of a chair refinishing.

The chair had a few knick and showed a little bit of wear in the arms.  It could have been restained, but I chalk painted it so that it matched the office desk I had just refinished.

Disassembling the Chair

Carefully take the chair apart where necessary, look for labels and signs of age.  Remove the seat and save the screws.  This particular chairs label says the chair was made in Canada.  The inside of the cushion is synthetic instead of horse hair, so it’s not really old. I think it’s likely from the 60s or 70s.

A thrift store chair being disassembled for a furniture repair and chair makeover.

There is a registration mark of some sort inside the chair so I painted it before continuing, and kept the labels on the chair seat.

A shabby chic chair refinishing project where the registration label is protected on the inside of the chair brace.


Refinishing the Chair

The chalk paint said I could just paint right on the existing finish, but to make sure the chalk paint adheres to the chair give it a light sanding.   According to the instructions on the paint can this isn’t necessary.  Old habits prevail and I always sand mine.  If your comfortable skipping the sanding, you can skip it.

The back of a french provincial chair that's been sanded for a chalk paint refinishing.


Even after sanding I find the lines of this chair beautiful.

Once sanded paint the back of the chair with two coats of blush chalk paint.  Let it dry for an hour between coats, (or as instructed on your paint can.)

Paint the rest of the chair with three coats of white chalk paint. The rest of the chair was given three coats of white chalk paint.

Let each coat dry thoroughly and sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper.  Sanding between coats gives the paint a smoother finish.  I prefer it this way.  If your fine with the chair finishes being rougher you don’t need to sand it at all.

A top dry brush chalk paint finish on a DIY office chair makeover tutorial.


Finally, the pink back was whitewashed with thinned white chalk paint.

The whitewashing helps match the chair with the partially whitewashed refurbished desk.

Once painted protect the chair finish with two coats of finishing wax.aaaaa

Reupholster the Chair Seat

The chair seat attaches to the chair with the simple screws we set aside for reassembly

I spent an hour removing the staples that were holding the material and the cushion to the plywood form.  So many staples, it’s unreal and hard work because the bottom of the chair is solid wood.

The material I chose is a really cute simple cotton that matches the ironing board cover I made.  The material is fun and perfect for the craft room, but its plain cotton and a bit thin to be used as upholstery.  For extra strength, I cut a double layer of the material using the old upholstery fabric as a pattern.

Foam protecting the corners of a DIY upholstery project on a shabby chic chair.


I was a bit concerned about the corners of the plywood wearing a hole in the fabric. To alleviate this extra foam was added to the front corners to give the pretty fabric protection from the plywood.

I think the chair could be part of an old dining room set, The chair cushion is very hard and not overly comfortable. The chair seat needs softening.  If your chair needs extra cushioning,  just cut and add an extra layer of 1-inch foam using the plywood as a pattern.

Layers of upholstery necessary for a chair refinishing and upholstery project


Hold the foam corners in place and fold the material over the plywood.  Using a staple gun staple the material into place.

Make sure not to cover the original screw holes in the plywood with the material.

Starting at one side place a few staples; then do the same on the opposite side.

Repeat this process for the other two sides.  Once you are sure the material is the way you want it, add remaining staples as needed.

The underside of a chair being upholstered with new fabric and stapled as part of a chair makeover tutorial.

Reassemble the Chair

Your almost done.  After the chair seat has the new fabric,  attach it to the chair using the original screws, fit into the original screw holes.

This chair is exactly what I want for the new craft room.  Its bright, the extra foam makes it comfortable and I am sure the arms are going to add comfort as well.    Both the chair and the old feminine chalk paint desk are one of a kind pieces now, and so worth the time it took to redo them.

Have a wonderful week.


    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Sandi. It is fun to have a designated space, even if it is on a budget I am excited about it.

  1. I just love how your chair turned out Leanna! The material that you chose is so sweet! I’m sure many beautiful things will be created while you are sitting on that chair!

  2. This turned out absolutely stunning! Thanks for sharing with us at the To Grandma’s house we go link party you will be featured in the next party that starts tomorrow!

  3. Gorgeous makeover! I’m like you with having no qualms about painting furniture. I do check to make sure it isn’t too valuable but, the types of things I pick up are most likely not 😉 Thanks for sharing with us at Funtastic Friday! Pinned & sharing

  4. Your new chair looks so pretty! I love the fabric!

  5. Love the transformation, the fabric is so pretty. The chair is perfect for a feminine office.

  6. Very cute! I love the white and blue on your chair now!

  7. Love your chair makeover and that fabric is precious.
    Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon Party.

  8. I love the new look. That fabric is perfect for a feminine office. It makes me eager to redo the two old dining room chairs I have been hanging onto for too long.

  9. Your chair turned out beautifully. It looks great with the feminine desk. Thank you for sharing your lovely redone French Provincial chair at the Snickerdoodle Create~Barke~Make link party!

  10. This is so beautiful, what a fabulous makeover.

  11. Love it! Definitely going to use some of your tips for my chair project.

  12. Leanna, this is so beautiful! I just love the fabric you chose too. What an amazing transformation.

  13. Leanna, this is one of those DIYs that I actually have done many times…at least the chair seat. I love the fabric you chose, it is so happy yet the dress forms are a bit vintage looking. I agree with you, the lines of the chair are so gorgeous! The office is coming along wonderfully.

  14. I love your chair and need one of my own! The fabric is perfect and I never thought about putting extra foam in when recovering (I don’t know why, it’s an obvious upgrade)! Thank you so much for sharing with us this month at Create and Celebrate

  15. This is gorgeous! I love white furniture and that fabric is so colorful and fun. Thanks for the awesome tutorial. I think I just found my new office chair!

  16. I love your desk and now your adorable chair! What a marvelous combination!

  17. Leanna,
    Your craft room is delightful so far and I am excited to see the rest. Thanks for sharing with TADA.
    Karen Marie

  18. Your craft room is coming along beautifully Leanna and I love the funtastic fabric you used on the chair. It’s so quirky.

  19. The new look is so fun with the fabulous material.

  20. Beautiful job on the chair Leanna! I adore the fabric that you selected too! Pinned to share 🙂 Have a beautiful weekend!

  21. Wow – you kept your fabric in a straight line! My hat is off to you! We re-did the cushions on two orphaned dining room chairs from an estate sale, but played it safe with a neutral, textured fabric. But that was the first thing I noticed was that the pattern in your fabric was perfectly straight! The chair is adorable, and a perfect addition to your beautiful office makeover.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Marie. I am hopeful the cheerfulness of the chair will spruce up the basement work area.

      It means lots to me that you think its a good job.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Sam: It was just a tad outdated eh lol. Gold fabric that probably matched the lovely gold appliances of long ago.

      Thank you for the thumbs up. I appreciate the feedback very much.

  22. The chair is so pretty. I do like the fabric, it is perfect for the craft room and very feminine.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Debra. I found it locally and it was hard to find. but I knew the second I saw it. Thanks for commenting about the fabric, because I chose it on pattern not cloth. I think it will hold up find given the extra protection I gave it.

  23. Your fabric for the chair seat is so pretty! And, it looks great next to the white-washed blush finish on the chair. Super job!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Carol…. I really appreciate the feedback. This space is for me personally so I am making it out of over the top girlish things. I really appreciate the super job comment it means lots.

      Have a great week!

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