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You do not have to be an outstanding artist to give a dash of banal wooden chairs and their natural complements, the stools. A set of stencils and some acrylic colors are enough; the rest is a matter of taste and fantasy.

Renovation of old chairs

The essential

  • Repositionable plastic stencils
  • Gesso "universal primer"
  • Acrylic paints
  • pouches
  • Polyurethane varnish "waxed wood look" by Syntilor
  • Possibly, stencil glue

A book to know more: "A new life for your objects" by Yaël Z. Bolender and Jean-Pierre Delpech (Ed Didier Carpentier).

Stripping, unraveling, cleaning

Kitchen or dining room chairs, office chairs... are suitable for this type of decoration. Only preliminary, stripping them if they are painted or varnished. In the case of a polished finish, use a scourer or alternatively, clean with white spirit and allow to dry. Of course, nothing prevents decorating raw wood seats: then just give a little shot of sandpaper on all sides, to remove any dirt and to lay the fibers.
If you have to strip or decore indoors, think about airing the room. Similarly, protect the floor and work with rubber gloves and old clothes. Preferably use an old brush to apply the chemical stripper, and let it work (fifteen to thirty minutes on average) before scraping the blistered material.
Then neutralize the product by rinsing with clear water, or alcohol varnish. Do not hesitate to repeat the operation as many times as necessary. Clearly less aggressive, the stripper is a super cleansing shampoo. Mix of soap and solvent, it cleans and cleans the wood. As soon as applied, the residues are removed with a steel wool pad without having to be neutralized.

Background color

As an underlay, start with a "gesso" ready to use on the entire seat. This white primer in aqueous phase makes it possible to obtain perfectly adherent funds. If the dark wood shows a little too much after the first coat, let it dry then double the stake.
Then apply the background color with a flat brush. Acrylics, the paints used are miscible with each other. However, to lighten a hue, it can be mixed with gesso. Water dilutable, both products are perfectly compatible. In a normally heated interior, the paint is touch-dry in twenty to thirty minutes. She is at heart after eighty hours.
If it takes a second pass, which is also recommended to obtain a stable base, it can accelerate drying with a hairdryer.

Decorate a stencil chair: all stages of realization

The specialized trade offers a large choice of stencils of all styles, self-adhesive or not. In the second case, they are made repositionable with a special spray glue, which is sprayed on the back. The paint is applied using small bristle brushes of different sizes, called "pouches". Cheap, less than € 3.50 for larger, it is advisable to provide one per color.
Depending on the desired effects, shades or melts, the paint is deposited by dabbing small strokes or rotating movements. You can also work in two or three successive layers to obtain gradients. The large pattern and the frieze used here are painted in the following order: yellow and then ocher for foliage; orange, red then burgundy for little hearts. For "butterflies", we start from the lightest (yellow) to the darkest (bordeaux), in gradation.
Each time, take a little paint from the end of the bristles and wipe the excess on a pallet or cardboard sheet before filling the stencil recesses. Remove the latter only once the pattern is completely painted: it is never easy to replace a stencil exactly in the same place. Avoid big blocks, always unsightly. And above all, never wet a poop during work or run down. If a brush becomes too dry or dirty, soak it in warm water while waiting to clean (with soapy water) and take another, dry and clean. If there are no brushes, wash and dry them with a hair dryer.
When the patterns are dry, pass a colorless varnish satin (here, polyurethane type "waxed wood appearance") in two layers spaced at least twenty-four hours. Do not paint or varnish the underside of the feet, the products would not withstand multiple scrapings and they would leave traces on the ground.

Preparation before painting: identify the outer coating

diagnosis of the condition of the chair's upholstery

A quick exam identifies the seat cover, which is the product to use to expose the wood. If necessary, remove any small repairs after stripping.

Strip the painted or varnished wood

application of the chemical stripper on the chair

If the wood is painted or varnished, apply a chemical stripper with a flat brush of poor quality, as it will suffer from the treatment.
Spread it handsomely then let it act all the time recommended.

Scrape the residues

remove remnants of stripper by scraping

When the product has done its work, scrape the residue with a spatula.
In hollows and moldings, use a wire brush or better, a steel wool pad 00.
Repeat the operation if necessary.

Rinse and rub

clean the chair of the residue of the remover

If rinsing with water, change often and rub vigorously with a quack brush.
All traces of stripper must disappear.

sand down

sanding the chair with sandpaper

Allow to dry well, then sand with sandpaper of increasing fineness: the ideal is to start with the medium and to finish with the end.

Apply the gesso

application of gesso on a chair

The "gesso" works like a filler and its whiteness gives a good base to bright colors, without denaturing them.
If the wood is visible after the first coat, apply a second coat.

Sand again

sanding after applying the gesso

Formulated in aqueous phase, the primer tends to straighten the fibers of the wood.
After complete drying, lightly repoint the seat with fine sandpaper just to smooth the surface.

Prepare the color

color preparation

The background color is prepared by mixing two doses of turquoise paint for one of gesso.

Paint under then place

order of application of the paint on the chair to renovate

It is wise to start painting the underside of the chair (flipped) and then the place.
Be careful not to put paint underfoot.

Stencil painting

painting the place of the stencil chair

If the stencil is not adhesive, spray on the back a little repositionable glue by keeping it about twenty centimeters from the bomb.
Then put it in the desired place, applying it well.

preparation of hazelnuts

In order to work faster on the stencils, prepare hazelnuts corresponding to each color.
This, preferably, on a cardboard pallet, ideal material for absorbing excess moisture.

stencil stain with a brush

Use one brush per color, choosing its size according to the recesses to be painted.
Work from the lightest to the darkest shades: yellow, ocher, orange, red and finally burgundy.

painting: stencil removal technique

At the end of work, remove the stencil by lifting it by a corner, without moving it sharply.
It can be removed before the painting has dried, provided you proceed with delicacy.

example of stencil painting

There are stencils of all sizes and shapes.
For the long parts, like the top of the chair back, we chose a frieze that can be repeated by placing it end to end.

paint the corners of stenciled chairs

Some patterns are more suitable for decorating angles, such as those butterflies painted on the front of the seat.

finishes of stencil painting

Their antennas are then drawn with a fine brush, a technique to take up to enhance here or there small details.


opening of the chair

Wait the next day to varnish the seat, using a "cod tail" adapted to the nature of the product used (in aqueous or solvent phase).
Two applications, well "pulled", are recommended.

Video Instruction: A 1980's DIY Desk Makeover Using Beyond Paint and Stain - Thrift Diving