How to upcycle an old Antique Chair into a Chic French style chair

My dad picked up this beautiful old dining chair for me at an antique’s dealer in Devon, as he knew I was ready for mynext project. It had plenty of character with its claw feet and carving on the legs.

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Step 1 – Sand

Remove cushion and sand down the chair lightly with medium sandpaper to roughen up a little and create a key. This allows the paint to stick better (this is not completely necessary with Annie Sloan chalkpaint, but I like to give it a little sand down).

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Step 2 – Clean

Clean away dust with white spirit and an old rag. Leave to dry for a few minutes.

Step 3 – Paint

Turn chair upside down and paint with one coat of Annie Sloan chalkpaint in French Linen. Paint freely in all directions, as once the chalk paint dries, it tends to dry matte and you won’t see the brush strokes.

Leave to dry. I give it a couple of hours.

You can always give it a second coat if you want to enhance the colour, I didn’t think my piece needed it though.

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Step 4 – Apply Soft Wax in Clear 

Apply Annie Sloan Soft Wax in clear with a wax brush (I use Annie Sloan’s wax brush). I pop a little of the wax on a paper plate and use this to work from, as you can just chuck away afterwards.

Wipe off excess wax with a cotton rag

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Step 5 – Apply Soft Wax in Dark

Then you can apply Annie Sloan Soft Wax in dark straight after, to give the chair an aged effect. Rub the wax in with an old rag. A little goes a long way. I applied a little bit more in the engraved areas, as these are the areas I’d like to stand out.

Tip – Do not use the same brush for the clear and the dark wax as this contaminates the wax.

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Step 6 – Don’t forget to clean your brushes!

The best way to clean the brush after use is to squeeze out as much of the wax as possible using a kitchen towel. And then pop the brush in a cup (half full) of White Spirit (or any other odourless spirit) so the bristles can absorb it. Take the brush out and give another final squeeze getting rid of any last traces of wax. Try to be gentle so as to not pull out the bristles. The brush can then be washed with mild soap and water and stored away for its next use.

Step 7 – Sand / Distress

After a couple of hours, I sand the chair with fine sandpaper just lightly on the edges and on the feet, and areas which receive general wear and tear. You can see the dark wood of the chair popping through from underneath – looks fab!

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I leave the chair for around 3 weeks to cure.

Step 8 – Source fabric for cushion

Next step is to find a fabric for the upholstery part. Ordered several samples online after browsing through a range of fabric suppliers, and after much deliberation, I settled on a Blue Toile du Jouy Tapestry Fabric from The Millshop Online (£19.50 a metre). I also ordered a 1.5 inch thick foam square (18×18) for the seat pad (but never actually ended up using this).

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Step 9 – Draw around old template to create base cover

Took the original burlap seat cover and used this as my template. Drew around it on some fresh burlap. My original chair cover had been made with wadding and horse hair therefore I had no real template to use other than the burlap underneath. Most chairs have a removable wooden base which is so much easier, as you can just wrap the fabric around this.

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Stapled the burlap to the chair with my staple gun

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Step 10 – Create Seatpad

Never as straightforward as you think! Decided the foam was too hard to use as a seatpad and I also didn’t have any tools on hand to cut through the foam. So I ended up taking out the cushion pad from an old cushion.

The cushion was too plump however, so removed some of the stuffing and sewed it back up (ignore the wadding shown on top – didn’t need to use this either!). Wrapped the fabric around the cushion, making sure to wrap tightly to avoid any baggy sides.

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I then stapled the cushion in place on the chair – much easier than expected, and the staples stronger than expected. I did have to remove a few staples and re staple as the sides were a bit wonky.

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Step 11 – Apply Trimming

And for the finishing touch, I covered the staples over with some light grey trimming – 1.5cms, which I found on eBay. Used my next new handy tool for this; my hot glue gun. Needed to wait 10 mins for it to heat up, then got gluing. So quick and easy – hot glue guns are the way forward!

Top tip – my hot glue gun has two settings; a high heat setting and a low heat setting – made sure to use the low heat setting, as the high heat can burn through the fabric!

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Project complete 🙂

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