"Just buy cardboard furniture, that way when it comes time for you to move out, you can just throw everything away and take the bus home!" --This is what my dear Father told me in regards to the furniture at my then future first apartment. But as an Interior Design major, and just a creative person in general, that logic did not stand with me. It was my first apartment! I wanted to have things that I could be proud of, albeit at the right price. My solution? Yard sales, hand me downs, and dumpster diving finds that I repainted or refinished to make the perfect pieces for my humble abode. The gem of my refinishing efforts? Probably my dining set:
I got this dining set at a "yard sale", as in it was sitting in someone's yard with a "For Sale" sign for about a week and a half. The chairs were in good condition, but the table, especially the top was pretty rough. I think they were asking 150 for it, I stopped in a few times offering 100 for it before I came back with my dad who ended up getting them to take 80 dollars for it. *Life Lesson Number One: Sad but true, a lot of times, people just don't take young women seriously, especially when it comes to money. It may be anti-feminist, but anytime I make a big purchase from now on, I'm going to make sure my boyfriend or father is with me so I can feel better about getting the right price!*
Update January 2015: All the feminists out there (myself included) will be happy to hear that at 23, I am now very confident in my ability to negotiate WITHOUT the help of a man. In fact, I did all the negotiating when my husband and I bought a car this past year!
STEP ONE: Preparing the Surface After getting the dining set home and cleaning it up, I got to work. Like I said before, the only thing in bad condition was the table top. There were a few weird stains/marks and a "bubble" from where water got under the wood veneer top (the rest of the set is solid pine). I lightly hand sanded the chairs (after removing the cushions) and legs with a medium grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for painting. The top of the table, I sanded with a power orbital sander to even out the surface. This part was a litle tricky because I couldn't press too hard or go over one area for too long since the veneer on the table top was only 1/4" - 1/2" thick. There wasn't a lot I could do about the bubble, but luckily that was in the center leaf portion of the table. I figured I would leave the leaf out unless I was having a lot of people over, and then I could cover the bubble with a centerpiece or table cloth. Here's what the table top looked like starting out:
I like this picture, we live in Amish Country so my dad said our backyard looked like Sunday Meeting when I had all the chairs lined up for sanding...
STEP TWO: Reupholstering the Cushions Since I had to wait until my dad had time to help me with the painting (we decided to use his airless paint spray since we had so much area to cover), I got started on reupholstering the cushions. There wasn't anything wrong with the existing fabric, other than in one chair where there was a rip, so I just left that as the base for my new fabric. I chose this Indoor/Outdoor Canvas Fabric for the seats:
Not only did it have all of the colors that I was looking for, I also thought it would be the most durable since it was Indoor/Outdoor. This particular fabric was in the Better Homes and Gardens collection at Joann's for the summer of 2011. They had some great patterns and colors that were more up-to-date than some of the other stock fabrics that Joann's carries. I had 6 seats to cover so I think I ended up going with 3 yards of fabric, figuring I could get at least two seats per yard and have a little extra left over. I'm not the best with yardage calculations, so I would suggest going to this website for a great yardage calculator: . Just as an example, I figure that my seats were about 18" square (they tapered in the back, but I wanted to be safe with the extra fabric). The seat cushions were about 1-2" in height, so to have enough fabric to wrap around and staple, I added 6" to the original measurement coming up with a 24" square of fabric being what I needed for each seat. Always OVER-estimate. I just took that number and plugged it into the calculator and included the width of the fabric as it came in bolts. (This is varies from fabric to fabric but it usually somewhere between 40 and 60 inches). Plug those numbers in, hit submit, and at the bottom it will tell you how many yards it takes. Remember, this was just the calculation for 1 cushion, I had to multiply the yardage by 6 to get the total number of yards needed.
Once I had figured out the yardage and bought my fabric, I took it home and laid it out flat. I then laid the 6 seat cushions directly on top of the fabric in order to cut my pieces. Like I mentioned before, I added about 6" of extra width in order to be able to wrap the fabric around the cushion and staple it on the back. I paid attention the the pattern of the fabric and how I wanted it to look on the finished chairs, so I once I had it laid out the way I liked it, I started cutting. After that it went pretty fast, I just covered the cushions with fabric one by one, stapling first from the edges and then worked on tightening the corners. This is really just trial and error based on the shape of your cushions. Once I had all of the cushions reupholstered, I set them aside so I could get started on painting.
STEP THREE: Painting. I took my fabric to the paint store to help me find the right color. I knew I wanted the dining set to be white, but perfectionist that I am, I had to find exactly the right shade of off-white that would align with the colors in my fabric. I ended up choosing this off-white, actually called Micro Tan. The blue chip was the color I intended to use for my Console Table Redo ( Console Table Redo)
I bought the paint from a small, non-franchise paint store and I really don't remember to brand of the color, but now that I work at Sherwin-Williams, I know the color is pretty similar to SW6385 Dover White or SW7566 Westhighland White. The type of paint I decided to go with was a Kitchen Cabinet and Trim paint. *10 months later and looking back: This definitely had the smoothness and sheen that I wanted, but was quite durable enough for the top of the table. It seems to absorb certain stains, and there is really no way to get them out. I am planning on repainting just the top of the table with a product I probably should have used to start with-- it's called All-Surface Enamel from Sherwin Williams. It's an indoor/outdoor paint that comes in either latex or oil based and is super durable. I'm actually using it for several projects coming up so look for those posts soon! As far as the color, I just took the leaf from my table into the store and ran a color match for it using our "Color- Eye". As long as the surface you are matching is relatively flat and consistent, this is a very accurate way to match colors.* As far as the application, my dad used an Airless Sprayer to apply both the primer and the finish coats. This worked very well, with only minor run that we were able to smooth out with a paintbrush and then spray lightly one more time to get the right finish. Since this was a piece of furniture that was going to get a lot of use, we made sure to do this at least a week before I was moving so the paint had enough time to cure and harden as to not get damaged in the move. Once the paint was fully dry, I reassembled the chairs, screwing in the new reupholstered cushions from underneath. I think we actually did this on the day I was moving to Pittsburgh...It was a reaaaallllyyy long day. And the finished product? Voila!