{diy with style} 1920s Desk Chair Gets a Chic New Look

Thank you to Rust-Oleum  for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own. You can read my full disclosure statement here.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the "drab to fab" furniture makeovers I am working on that will be on display at the Denver Home Show March 18-20th. And today I'm thrilled to share the first completed makeover with you ... a chic new look for a desk chair from the 1920s.

I picked this chair up for $6 at Goodwill because it was the perfect size to coordinate with the oak desk that I've also been working on. Let me remind you what the chair looked like when I brought it home... dark brown glossy paint and a dirty yellow, textured vinyl seat. I think we can all agree that it qualified as drab!

  • Small, soft paint brush
  • Pencil
  • Measuring Tape
  • Scissors
  • Staple Gun
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
I began by removing the chair cushion, and then gave the chair two even coats of Rust-Oleum white gloss lacquer spray.

The lacquer goes on very smooth and even, and has a wonderful glossy finish!

Once the lacquer was dry, I brought the chair in the house to give the legs a "gold dipped" finish. Dipped chair legs have been trendy for a while now, but don't actually involve any dipping. There are several methods you can use to get this "dipped" look - the most popular of which is to use painters tape to mask the upper portion of the leg and then spray painting or brush painting the lower portion. 
I had planned to do just that, but the shape of the legs made it difficult for me to get the painters tape wrapped around the legs to create a nice straight line with no buckling. After a couple of tries, I decided it would be easier to just measure and mark the legs, and paint them without taping.

I used a cloth tape measure to mark the flat sides of each leg at 3.5 inches.

Once I had a straight line on the flat side of a chair leg, I then lined up the cloth tape measure with those lines and wrapped it around the rounded edge of the leg. I then traced a pencil line around the rounded edge.

I covered one of our living room chairs with a towel, and propped the desk chair upside down to give me easy access to the legs for painting. I used a soft bristle art brush, and painted right up to pencil lines.

Paint Dipped Chair Legs

I used Rust-Oleum's Metallic Accents paint in Gold Flake. It is, without question, my new favorite gold paint! The color is so rich and the paint goes on so smooth - unlike so many gold paints, it really looks like gold! 

I applied the paint in thin coats, and it took three coats for me to get the coverage I wanted on the chair legs. To give the gold dipped legs a durable finish, I applied the recommended Rust-Oleum Satin Clear protective top coat {although I failed to snap a photo of this step}.

Next on the makeover list, I was ready to reupholster the cushion. I had picked up half a yard of Nate Berkus Indre Lynwood Navy Home Decor Fabric during a 50% off sale at Jo-Ann Fabric. I tossed it over the chair to see how it would look. Swoon!!

Turns out that lovely textured vinyl was not the original upholstery. It had been used to recover the original vinyl, which was a slightly different shade of yellow-beige. They had used some serious nails during the first reupholstery job, so I had to enlist my husband to help me remove them!

With the cushion back to it's original state, I was ready to recover it. Reupholstering a chair cushion is much easier than you might think - all you need is a pair of scissors and a staple gun.

How to upholster a chair cusion

I laid out fabric on the floor, with the pattern down, and laid the chair seat on top. I cut the fabric down to about 3-4 inches around the seat cushion.

Chair cushion upholstery

I began working on the back edge of the seat - since it was the one side without a wood attachment.

Chair cushion upholstery

I pulled the fabric taut {making sure to keep the pattern straight} and put in two rows of staples - the first row about 1 inch in from the edge of the seat and, the second closer to the edge of the fabric.

chair cushion upholstery

Once I had the fabric stapled in place all along the back edge of the chair, I began working on the front edge. I again pulled the fabric very taut {without stretching the pattern out of line}, and stapled it in place. Because I had a bit more fabric on this side, my second row of staples was set about 3 inches in from the edge of the chair, leaving excess fabric beyond the staple line.

I used a very sharp pair of scissors to carefully trim the fabric around the wood brace.

Chair Cushion upholstery

I then moved on to the sides of the seat - pulling taut, checking the the fabric pattern was still aligned properly, and then stapling the fabric in place. At the corners. I the fabric down on each side right to point where it meets the fabric on the other side of the corner. This creates a loop of fabric that stands upright in each corner. I then used my scissors to trim off all the excess fabric along the staple lines. 

Chair cushion upholstery

To finish the corners, I pinched the fabric together at the base of each corner loop, and then - pulling tightly - I folded the fabric down flat.

Chair cushion upholstery

While there are many methods for upholstering the corners, I find this to give a very smooth, professional look with no bunching!

Chair cushion upholstery

While holding the fabric in place, I turned the seat over to make sure the corner looked nice from the top, and then I flipped in back over and proceeded to staple the corner flap in place with several staples.

Finally, I trimmed off the excess fabric at the corners.

Chair cushion upholstery

Here's how the underside of the seat looked when I had finished my reupholstery job:

Chair cushion upholstery

And check out those perfect corners when I flip the seat over and put it on the chair!

chair cushion upholstery

I wanted to add one more detail to the chair to make it coordinate with the desk that I've also been working on. I am adding campaign hardware to the corners of the desk drawers, so I decided to add two campaign corners to the back of the chair as well. 

For my campaign hardware, I purchased a set of Stainless Steel Flat Corner Angle Brackets, and then painted some of them gold - first priming them, then using the same Metallic Accents paint in Gold Flake that I used for the chair legs. You can also buy gold corner braces, but the stainless ones were less expensive and painting them myself allowed me to match them to the chair legs exactly.

Of course, this also meant that I had to paint the screw heads as well, but this went pretty quickly.

To install the campaign hardware on the chair back, I simply held them in place and marked the locations of the holes lightly with a pencil.

install campaign hardware

Using my markings, we used a small drill bit to create pilot holes to ensure that the screws would go in easily without chipping the paint.

We then installed the campaign hardware. The first time around, we tried using our drill as an electric screwdriver, but we quickly discovered that it was a bit too powerful and was stripping the screws. I definitely recommend just using a regular screw driver and putting them in by hand!

campaign hardware on chair

What do you think? Did I accomplish my charge of taking this chair from drab to fab?!

Chair makeover before and after

I am seriously swooning over how this chair turned out!

drab to fab chair makeover

Everything from the Nate Berkus fabric to the gold dipped legs makes my heart go pitter patter!

Gold dipped chair legs

I love the blue, white and gold color combo, and I can't wait to show you tomorrow how great this chair looks next to the desk!

Campaign hardware gold dipped chair legs

Even from behind, this chair has it going on!

Drab to Fab Chair Makeover

If you have any plans to make over a chair, you might want to pin the image below so that you can find your way back here for the upholstery tutorial when you are ready for it!

Upholster Chair Cushion

Be sure to stop back by tomorrow to see how I turned a bland oak desk into a perfect mate for this super chic chair. 

If you are in the Denver area, you should definitely put the Denver Home Show on your calendar for the weekend of March 18-20! Not only is it a great place to find innovate products, new ideas, practical advice and great deals in remodeling, home improvement and decor - you'll also be able to see all four of my drab to fab furniture makeovers in person! I've even got discounted tickets for you!


  1. Very cute chair makeover. I love the gold-dipped legs! I didn't realize that RustOleum made a crushable metallic paint. I'll have to look for that.

  2. Love this makeover! The navy, gold and white is fab!

  3. The color of chair is really awesome