September 12, 2016

before & after | dining nook chairs

Before & After | Dining Nook Chairs
Short-backed dining chairs with contrasting buttons. See the before & after!
Happy Monday, internet friends!

If you're following me on Instagram you may have seen my Stories about this makeover project. There are two major things that I learned in the process of recovering these little cuties. #1: I learned how to remove & replace wood furniture plugs (more on that below). #2: I learned that under no circumstances should I ever try to operate a staple gun inside a two-bedroom apartment. Ever. It was raining the day I wanted to work on these chairs, & I got impatient so I tried to work inside. You guys - it was so loud. SO. LOUD. I'm really surprised my neighbors didn't call the cops because it sounded like a gun going off. Lesson learned. I also learned that if you have to work outside but don't have a yard or a balcony that you can use the back of your car. This whole project was truly a growing experience. 
Before and After - A pair of chairs gets revamped
Heather & I picked up these chairs at our favorite vintage furniture store while they were having a clear-out-the-warehouse sale. We've been keeping an eye out for little chairs to go with our little table that serves as our little dining area. I say "little" because our apartment is small & the only space to set up a dining nook was along a wall in our living room. These chairs were perfect, affordable, & adorable. The wood is in beautiful condition, but neither Heather nor I was feeling the worn black vinyl action happening on the cushions. 
When reupholstering furniture, use the old fabric to a pattern
Here's what we did:

The seats of the chairs were screwed to the frame, so we removed those. Then we pried all the old staples from the bottom of the seat cushion, cut new fabric to match the size of the old fabric, & re-stapled the new fabric in place (basically the exact same process we used when recovering Heather's desk chair). The cushions & the underlining fabric on these chairs were in really good shape, so we reused those materials. The seats were easy, it was the seat backs that required some finagling. They were screwed to the frame of the chair behind wood plugs.
How to remove wood plugs in furniture
Removing these plugs (or buttons as they're sometimes called) wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it'd be. Here's how we did it:
  1. Grab your power drill & use a drill bit that is smaller than the plug.
  2. Drill directly in the center of the wood plug until you hit the screw behind it.
  3. Reverse the direction of your power drill, pulling the wood plug out as you go. 
  4. If any remnants of the plug remain, you can pry them out with a flathead screwdriver, using a hammer at the backend of the screwdriver to chisel the pieces away. 
Before & after dining chairs
With the plugs removed, we were able to unscrew the seat backs from the frame & recover them like we did the seats. Rather than stain new plugs to match the original wood color, we're trying out the natural look. I kind of like how the wood buttons pop - it's funky.
Refinished chairs for our dining area
It's nice having a dining table in the home again, even if it is little. I think it's adorably tiny. Plus I feel way more adult not eating every single meal on the couch.


P.S. See another before & after when this vinyl chair gets a new paint job!

Affiliate links are used in this post!


  1. This is absurdly good--these chairs are beautiful!!

    You are a non-stop hit machine, M.E!!

    1. Haha - you crack me up, Karen. 😂 Thank you.

  2. These chair looks wonderful. good one.