Turn a Formal Dining Chair Into a Designer Desk Chair

Reinvent an old dining chair as a designer desk chair with paint, fabric and decorative furniture casters.

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Materials Needed:

  • wooden dining chair
  • decorative furniture casters
  • screws
  • drill or screwdriver
  • fine-grit sanding block
  • damp cloth
  • upholstery-weight fabric
  • pliers
  • can of spray primer
  • spray can handle
  • HVLP paint sprayer
  • quart of high-gloss or lacquer paint
  • batting
  • pneumatic stapler or basic staple gun
  • decorative upholstery welt cord
  • drop cloth
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks
  • chisel or carpenter's knife
  • carpenter's glue

Remove Cushion

Remove cushion from chair using screwdriver or drill.

Remove Existing Finish

Remove existing finish by sanding in a controlled back-and-forth motion using a fine-grit sanding block.

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Wipe Off Dust

Using damp cloth, wipe off dust and residue.

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Remove Protective Feet

Turn dining chair upside down, and remove protective feet from bottom using pliers.

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Add Primer to Chair

Cover floor of workspace with drop cloth. Using a can of spray primer with a spray can handle, add a coat of primer to chair base. To ensure an even finish, move from left to right in a controlled manner, pressing tip for quick spurts rather than holding tip down for a long period of time. Tip: Using gray primer will cut down on the number of coats needed for darker colors; using a red-tinted primer will cut down on the number of coats needed for red, orange and pink.

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Spray Finish Color

Using HVLP paint sprayer, add lacquer or high-gloss paint, moving sprayer in a controlled back-and-forth motion. Tip: If the dining chair has arms, consider doing twice as many coats to ensure a thick enough finish on the arm to account for wear and tear. Two coats on a side chair will be sufficient.

Whittle Bottoms of Legs

Once paint is dry to the touch, turn chair upside down on a protective surface covering such as a furniture blanket or towels. With chair turned upside down and sturdy in place, whittle bottom of leg to size with chisel or carpenter's knife so it will fit into decorative furniture caster.

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Attach Casters

Attach casters to whittled bottom of chair leg using drill and screws. Tip: If any gaps are left between the chair leg and the interior of the casters, add carpenter's glue inside the gaps to keep the fit extra tight.

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Remove and Re-Upholster Cushion

Remove old fabric from cushion with pliers. Stretch new fabric across front, then staple to the back. Tip: For a more professional look, consider adding decorative piping to underside of cushion along the edge with a hot glue gun and glue sticks.

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Attach Cushion

Attach cushion with screws using drill.

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