Before & After: A Thrift Shop Chair Gets A Thrift Shop Makeover



Thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army can be a little bit hit or miss and, if you happen to be me, you’ll usually have more misses than hits. Hours and hours can be spent poring over thrift store bins and shelves and you can still find yourself leaving empty-handed. For those brave souls who are up for the task and down for the hunt, however, the seemingly futile act of obsessive thrift shop scouring can be quite rewarding. Just ask Melissa Direnzo, the Toronto-based art director and blogger behind The Sweet EscapeLast year, Melissa shared one of her fabulous chair transformation projects with us and now she’s at it again—but this time, she’s upping the ante! A few months back, Melissa stumbled upon a fabulous Danish-style chair at her local Goodwill. The asking price? 10 bucks! The only downside? The drab and outdated fabric that covered its back and seat. Never deterred and ever patient, Melissa maintained a hunt for the ideal upholstery fabric for six months until she found the perfect floral print on a $15 dress in another thrift shop. With a bit of elbow grease and the help of a trusty staple gun, Melissa was able to transform this beauty into a serious showstopper in no time. Now that’s style on a budget! Check out all of the photos, plus Melissa’s design notes, after the jump! —Max

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Materials List

  • 1/2 yard of vinyl (or enough for your chair)
  • 1/2 – 1 yard worth of fabric of your choice that can hold up to furniture wear
  • staple gun
  • scissors
  • tape for finishing (optional)


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  1. I love this before and after! the floral fabric is a great contrast to the minimal design of the piece. very cool!

  2. Julie says:

    THANK YOU for acknowledging how long thrifting takes! I’ve found some awesome pieces, but no one ever talks about how freaking long they can take to find. It’s like all these internet thrifters are magic, when in reality it might take months to find something worth the hunt.

  3. Amy says:

    What a transformation! But may I just say, there’s nothin’ wrong with being the bookworm in high school…

  4. This is such a great idea!!

  5. Meinhilde says:

    I like how your new chair is like the ‘king’ of your dining set!

  6. Kate says:

    This is beautiful – upcycling at its finest!

  7. Honey hush! I love the fabric and the BUDGET! This is perfect inspiration for if those times when you spot a thrift find, buy it, tuck it away. Awesome!

  8. So chic! We absolutely love the idea of using the fabric from a dress for the cover – how creative!

  9. Michelle K. says:


  10. Stephanie A says:

    Call me crazy, but I LOVED the vintage stripe!

  11. Gina Ciancio says:

    What an amazing transformation! It’s so cheery while being understated cool. Love!

  12. isabel says:

    Really nice job. I would only add that sometimes chairs will also need new foam and, as you stated above, choose fabric that is strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of use. That is, a thin cotton fabric is not the ideal choice.

  13. This is incredible!!!!! And funny I did not notice at all how beautiful the lines of the wood chair were until you redid it!

  14. A $35 chair that is stunning, unique, and works magnificently in its chosen space. What a fantastic makeover. I feel inspired.

  15. Susan Miner says:

    Lovely! But I noticed that the chair back is curved….how did you make the fabric fit? Glue?

  16. G. says:

    I just had to share: I have that dress!! In beautiful condition – not quite ready for the as-is bin!
    Nice makeover on the chair!

  17. Luna17 says:

    Genius! Hard to take apart a beautiful dress, but the results are worth it!

  18. Danny says:

    Wow! What a transformation! Plus, great photography and presentation! Just love it!

  19. Gio says:

    This is a really nice idea to transform an old chair! Good job, I’ll try something like this with one of my mother chair! Thanks for the idea!

  20. Nathalie says:

    Love the styling around the chair, attention to details. Great transformation to an elegant, fun… sophistication!

  21. zen says:

    Wow, love this! I ve done a few upcycling projects on my blog but nothing like this! :)

  22. Johnny H says:

    Very cool! Love the chair and what you did with it. Diggin’ the table, camera, nnd tobacco cans with plants too! Um, I may need to steal a few of your cool ideas…feel free to sue me, if so desire.


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