before & after: new chairs, 3 ways

it’s before & after day and today we’re using the rest of the day, from 10am to 1pm, to celebrate 10 great makeover projects, ranging from small furniture to a full home exterior. i wanted to kick things off with three great chair projects that prove curbside finds can easily find a place in your home with a little extra love. first up is d*s reader andrea in austin, who found this beautiful lawn chair rotting in a new mexico dumpster 10 years ago. after bringing it home with her, andrea decided to give it a new home on her covered deck. after cleaning the frame and removing the rust, andrea repainted the frame in a fun red and white combination that gives the chair a whole new life. great work, andrea!

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

next up is audrey marie from a lovely escape. audrey rescued this sad wooden chair frame and decided to give it a new life with custom designed fabric she worked on with etsy seller petite coterie. i love how chic and clean the new chair feels- and that printed fabric is just gorgeous. if you’d like to learn how to recreate this look in your home, check out this printed burlap chair how-to from d*s reader deepa. thanks to audrey for sharing1

CLICK HERE for bernice’s curbside chair makeover after the jump!

last but not least is bernice from hey bernice!. while driving home one sunday, bernice asked her husband to put the car in reverse and pick up a pair of lawn chairs she saw on the side of the road. she thought they had potential so they came home in the back of the car. after sanding down the chairs and cleaning them to remove wood mold, bernice applied a beautiful stain finish and had striped cushions made for the bottom and back of the chair. the new look is just lovely and i’m sending bernice a high five for seeing potential in someone else’s cast-offs. thanks, bernice!


How was Andrea able to remove all that rust? Very impressive transformation.


love these before & afters – very cool and unexpected! I think it’s neat to take a color or fabric pattern and pair it with the classic lines of a chair.


wow, all three of them look absolutely amazing! love the transformation of the first (red) one :)


Hello! Oh my, thank you for sharing these chair makeovers. Each one is so unique and special. My fave is Andrea’s. I can’t believe it’s the same chair! And wow does that white really pop.



Wow! loving that last one in particular, it’s just the thing for curling your legs up in and reading. Great spot!

Erin @ Cultivating Home

My fave is Audrey Marie’s. I love the look, but wonder how comfy is the burlap against shorts clad legs? Just curious.
Bernice and Andrea did a wonderful job on their redo’s as well!



this might actually be linen on this particular chair, which is super comfy. but, burlap can be ok if it’s soft and worn-down, it really depends on the actual fabric…


Percy Bright

Holy cow! I can’t even pick a favorite–they’re all fantastic.

Shannon @ What's Up Whimsy

I wanted to do a chair in burlap, but I was worried about the scratchiness, so I chose a very similar looking linen. You can check how the chair turned out on my blog under “My First Upholstery Adventure”


I’m confused, did Audrey add arms to the chair too? Or is it a different chair in the After photo?


hi summerbl4ck!

sorry, i just realized the chair images she sent me were two different chairs. she did two gorgeous makeovers and didn’t notice that they were different. will change the image now ;)



Bernice’s makeover is stunning. Was anything special done to close the grain of the wood, or did sanding alone yield such smooth surfaces?

The Art of Doing Stuff

I love the burlap chair, but I had the same concerns as someone else. Scratchy, itchy, picky on the bum. I have a loveseat I’m going to recover and think I’ll go with linen too. The chair really looks great!


I’m still confused — where is the before picture of the metal lawn chair? And the after of the chair without arms?


I wanna know about the rust too! I have an old red wagon my Granny gave me (we used to ride in it at her house) and it’s covered in rust. I just want to bring it back to life! RUST REMOVAL POST REQUEST!! I think it would be a great one – and I know inquiring minds want to know!! :)


Whoa. I often see that style of lawn chair rusted over like that and wondered if it was actually possible to clean it up. Apparently it is! Would Andrea be willing to share her process?


The before and after of the red and white chair is amazing! Poor chair looked like it was on it’s last leg and now it has a new life!


I am loving this before and after stuff. Makes you think the free section of Craigslist is GOLD


I’d also love a rust removal DIY – Andrea’s chair is gorgeous! And I’d love to know where that red and white rug is from. Great makeovers!

// Sarah

wow. audrey’s white chair is perfect. i love the contrast between the crisp white frame and the rugged burlap style fabric…

bink and boo

I can’t believe it! I won’t believe it! How in the heck did she get all that rust off?!
As soon as I am done commenting, I am getting in the car and dumpster diving! I love that chair!


You can use a product called I think either Navy Jelly or Naval Jelly and steel wool to remove rust. I’ve used it a bunch and while it doesn’t give perfect results, it’s definitely an improvement. You can find it in any hardware store.

These are all great makeovers! Love them!


The magic you can achieve is endless if you’re not so lazy! I love all of these!


hi guys!

andrea said about her rust removal technique:

“I brushed with a wire brush from lowe’s and used a rust resistant primer before painting.
I thought it was going to be a very involved process which is why it took me so long to get started, but the rust came off very easily, no chemicals, just a little elbow grease.”


they’re all gorgeous i’m so impressed with their skills…


I can’t decide, all the chairs are wonderful! The makeover just fits the chairs, the last one look soooo comfy.


I did the same thing to a couple of chairs of a very similar style (old metal lawn chairs – though lacking the detail she painted white). Used a wire brush, rust resistent primer, then a bright red Rustoleum spray paint. I’m very interested to see how hers look in a year – mine looked amazing the first few months, but deteriorated very quickly. It was such a bummer – I hope Andrea has better luck!


all of these are awesome!
i too am interested in rust removal techniques – thanks for these pointers! I have a chair i want to paint!


Hi guys,
thanks for all your wonderful feedback ony chairs (the third ones), it makes all the effort worthwhile.
To answer the question about filling the gaps… I used a wood filler, but made sure it was the colour of the stain I was using. Two coats of stain makes for a smoother finish too! Bernice


That first chair makeover just blew me away. The fabric choice for the second chair is PERFECT. I can’t get over it.

Audrey Marie

Thanks for everyone’s sweet comments on my chairs! The burlap isn’t scratchy at all because it’s pretty worn and not starchy, new fabric but I can imagine you would get the same look with linen and not have to worry about it being uncomfortable :)

Kate Kazabon

Can I please add to the earlier request to Bernice to ask how that fantastic timber stain was achieved? It’s a great colour and finish – I’d love to know how.

kay hable

Thanks for the tips on getting rid of the rust on the metal chair… I have a French wash stand that I want to redo… it was painted red.. now I am trying to get the paint off also..rust and paint… do you have a recommendation for the paint too? Thanks, Kay


Burlap makes incredible draperies. Very cheap per yard and comes in lots of colors


Although it was a nice redo of the metal chair, outdoor chairs that have gathered rust and patina have great character. If it was just given a little elbow grease to get rid of some superficial residue, I’d leave as is.


we use to have the rusted chair and it was green. would love to find them plus the glider that came with them. too cool!


That first chair makeover just blew me away. The fabric choice for the second chair is PERFECT. I can’t get over it.


Burlap makes incredible draperies. Very cheap per yard and comes in lots of colors


I absolutely LOVE Bernice’s chair! It would sell for like $600 from Pottery Barn. I wonder- who made the cushions? I usually avoid picking up furniture that needs cushions because I don’t know who would make them and how much they would cost. I posted some before and after pictures of old metal chairs I repainted on my blog.


Burlap makes incredible draperies. Very cheap per yard and comes in lots of colors

Bernice (

The cushions on chair #3 were actually purchased – I stumbled across them in Big W (a reasonably priced variety store in Australia). I fell in love with them immediately – they were a perfect fit for the chairs.


Hi, I was wondering if Andrea could tell us where the red and white rug is from? Thanks so much!

Urban Sherp

Bernice – love the chair – particularly the finish color – can you tell me what type of stain you used? It’s exactly what I am looking for!!

Bernice (

The stain Colour on chair #3 is called Charcoal. It is actually a deck stain (water based). I used 2 coats to get the stronger colour, one coat is quite see-through, showing the wood grain a little more.


That red chair is to die for! I have a candleholder that looks just like it except in green and with a slightly different pattern on the back.

Connie Hardwick

These are some of the most dramatic transformations that I’ve seen yet on your site. WOW! I am inspired and blown away. Thank you for your wonderful ‘before and after’ section. I love it!