Every once in a while, I’ll go to our local Goodwill Store and scour the goods to see what they have. The day I scored my Goodwill chair for a few bucks just so happens to be the same day I read this post by Canary Street Crafts on what to look for when buying furniture to paint and (in my case, possibly) sell, so I felt armed with the knowledge that I knew what I was doing. Or at least make a really good attempt at making it look like I did.

I walked towards the back where they keep the furniture and my eyes lit on this potential beauty…


I hustled over and looked at the price tag…five dollars.


I checked it out, looking at it from every angle. It was a solid wood chair from Tell City here in Indiana. I’m going to be honest and tell you I have no idea if that part is important but it had a worn out looking tag on the seat bottom telling me that, and it made it look important. So there you go.

I knew the fabric was going to have to go, so as I was looking underneath at that little tag, I also noticed how the chair would come apart to make that happen to see if it was something I could handle.

Oh, yeah…I could do that.

Then I tried the true test…I slowly sank down on it to make sure it could take my weight.

It didn’t even wobble.


Now apparently you’re supposed to take just the price tag to the register and pick up furniture on the side of the building. I dragged the whole chair up to the register. What can I say? I was excited.

After getting it home and cleaning it up, I filled the missing veneer with wood filler and sanded it smooth.

I decided this was going to be the project I tried chalk paint on. I’d never used it before and the appeal of “no prep” appealed to me. Remember my instant gratification confession from my last post? So you can see how that would appeal to me.

I very lightly and very quickly sanded it and covered it in two coats of Home Depot’s Americana Decor chalky finish in Primitive, and then used their wax to finish it. It was trial and error with the wax. I ended up having to strip the first attempt at waxing with mineral spirits because I got a little sloppy with it. The second attempt (after more research) came out much better and buffed to the perfect amount of shine.

Then it came time to tackle the cushion seat. After tearing away the old fabric, I realized it was going to need a new cushion too. The old one looked rough. Very, very rough.

I used a one inch foam cushion cut to fit the original seat board, added some batting for extra cushion and then used more batting to cover that and the edges.

For the fabric, I was (once again) going for a French decor look and I found some red toile that had the perfect shade of beige in it to match the Primitive chalk paint.

I wanted to use nails to secure it to the chair because staples just seemed too meh.

Have you ever tried to nail something that was cushioned? It’s not easy. It’s actually pretty frustrating. So I gave up and got my staple gun out. Nobody looks under there anyway, right?

So here it is, all redone, put back together and made to look pretty…


Not bad, right?

There are a few things I would do differently next time…

First, I would prep the chair a little better, but that’s just my own personal thing. I realized I like taking the existing finish off a piece and working with the bare bones of it. So, see…that instant gratification reformation is already under way.

Second, I would use a better brush. You can’t see it in the pictures but the one I used left brush strokes that kind of irk me.

But all in all, I’d say it didn’t turn out too bad for a $5 chair.

chairbefore chairafter

7 thoughts on “Refinished Goodwill Chair

  1. Hey Susan! Love the makeover you gave that chair. The fabric is perfect! And thanks so much for the shout out! It looks like this is only your 2nd blog post!! Congrats! Blogging is so much fun. I host a link party every Thursday, if you’re interested in stopping by and linking up your projects we’d love to have you. Good luck with everything and feel free to message me if I can help with anything :).

  2. Lovely work that you all have done! I’m getting into buying and refurbishing small pieces of furniture for sale. Now, I really don’t know how to price them and do you use Craigslist to sell them? How do I deliver the goods?
    Thank you and I love your blog!

    1. Cynthia, I’m actually really new to this too and haven’t sold a piece yet. I planned on using Craigslist as a starting point, and I’ve been thinking about Etsy in the near future for smaller pieces and maybe even local deliveries. As far as pricing, the only thing I can say is take all things into consideration…time spend on the piece, money invested in supplies, and don’t forget your time. I figure I’ll learn as I go what pieces will be too much time invested to flip for a profit. But I think more than the money, I’ll do it because I honestly love seeing an old piece get a new life. Best of luck to you!

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