Antique dining room chair makeover...

Hey guys! So today I'm coming at you with another home post. I'm going to *try* to at least do one per week from now on to mix things up! I just think they're so fun.

Anyway, today's post involves something that made me quite nervous. If you guys know me at all by now, you probably realize that when it comes to home stuff and diy, I get my hands dirty and take chances. Painting rarely makes me nervous.  Well this project totally got me.

See, when we moved into our last house years back, my Grandma gave me her dining room hutch, table, and chairs that were in storage. She had not used them since she moved from her house years back (she's lived with my parents for years), so I jumped at the chance to use them since I always loved them growing up and have so many memories of Thanksgivings, family dinners, and game nights around it. Hey, I even used the chairs to make some killer blanket forts in her living room as a kid, just saying.

Now I was a bad blogger and didn't really take many before shots because this project came about sort of quickly and I just jumped on it.  So I came up with a serious throwback "before" shot.
WAAAAY "before" I like to call it.
Here we are circa 1992 at Thanksgiving. I'm the one stuffing my face in the background...


At our old place, our dining room was VERY brown. I loved that dark and dramatic room. I lovingly refer to it as "cinnamon" rather than brown of course, but I always felt like the brown chairs, brown table, brown hutch, brown brown brown... was too much. So I slapped some cheap chair covers over them in white to give the room some contrast.

It was ok, but definitely not working at the new house.
Mostly because the new dining room is much lighter and brighter than the old. So the white chair covers weren't really doing the dining room's vibe any favors.

So I removed the covers for a while. Again, too much brown. Maybe if the walls were a lighter and brighter white or cream, but the walls are a really warm golden tan. So not enough contrast to do the pretty brown finish any favors. FYI... the wall color is still a mystery to me. Some of you asked about it in my "office redo" post. The painters who repainted the house before we moved in left all the paint except for this one.... Which they used in about 90% of the house. Awesome, guys. Awesome.
I'm thinking it may be Tobacco Road by Sherwin Williams. Just because they used all other SW paints and I've compared a ton of photos of it and it's pretty darn close.

Anyway, back to the chairs. I decided I wanted to repaint them a rich, glossy, onyx black.  The room has other black accents (black chandelier shades and lampshades) and a black little sideboard piece of furniture, so I knew it would look fab.

The problem?? Convincing Grandma. I know she gave them to me and all, but I still felt like I needed to ask her permission before possibly ruining the chairs she loves so much.

The initial conversation didn't go super well.  I asked. Grandma got scared. Before she could hear me out, I could hear panic in her voice at the thought that I was going to whip out a paintbrush and slap black paint all over her beloved chairs.
So I sent her some photos of similar chairs in black and she started to come around. Permission, granted.
I got started.... And it took FOREVER.

This process was pretty tedious just because the chairs have so many spindles. I began by cleaning them super well and then sanding the finish to remove any of the glossy texture they had so the new paint would adhere.
We had such great luck with the Glidden Interior/Exterior high gloss paint in Black Onyx on our banisters (check out that transformation here), that I knew it would work great on the chairs.

Well, it totally did!
...and Grandma's diggin' it too.

I used an angled brush (one typically used for "cutting in" around trim) to paint all the spindles and edges. For the flat "ladder" pieces on the back, I used a small foam roller to get super smooth results since those reflect the most light and would show the most brush strokes.
I used a tiny brush to get around the areas where the wood meets the woven seats. I covered the seats with aluminum foil (hey, it worked) to avoid any drips or splatters. Only once did I drip paint onto one of the seats on an exposed area. Which almost gave me a heart attack. I saw my Grandma fainting in my mind.  I decided to just let it dry and peel it off later rather than smear it around.  I was shocked that it actually worked!

The trick was being patient between coats. I let each coat fully dry before starting the next. Which wasn't usually a problem because there are 7 of these bad boys and it took quite a while to make it through each one.

After painting them, even when the final coat had dried for hours, they were still a bit "tacky" to the touch. High gloss paint typically does that until it's fully cured for several days. So we were really careful with them for a few weeks and didn't touch them or sit on them for a long time. Which wasn't difficult because we don't use that table every single day.

I painted them about a month ago and they're perfect now! The paint is super hard and durable. I thought about maybe adding some clear lacquer to them to help them hold up better over the years, but I'm not sure that I need to.

I also added 2 of our new "Kubu" chairs I purchased from Pier 1 a few months ago to the ends. I talked all about them in this recent post about some home updates. They're so unique... I. LOVE. them!

I think the black added so much contrast.  At our last house, we always had such dramatic dining room walls... From super deep red to the dark and dramatic cinnamon-brown.  So I'm LOVING this brighter space that still feels cozy.

Oh and I'm also literally loving the SPACE. Seriously this dining room is huge. At the last house, I always had one of the leaf inserts out and had it set up for 6 place settings. Just last week it totally hit me that I could use the extra leaf section all the time and have it set up for 8.

Still with PLENTY of room... I told you this room was huge! Look how tiny the table still looks even extended for 8!

So I'm really loving this room now. Can't wait to host Thanksgiving this year!  The new look even inspired us to make it a point to actually use this room more often. We use our kitchen table every day for most meals, but it's fun to actually use this space when we want to, rather than feeling like it has to be so "formal" all the time. 

So what do you guys think?? Have you guys done any big diy projects? Painted antique furniture that made you super nervous? Any upset grandmas?  


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