Refinishing an Office Chair into a Lisa Frank Inspired Masterpiece
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
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As you may know, we moved to our new house in Georgia in May and since then it has been project after project getting my studio set up. One of the first projects I undertook was refinishing an office chair. I turned this beautiful baby into a bright, bold, and amazing piece for my studio.
I found this vintage chair from Goodwill while thrifting. I love to thrift, and I often get so inspired by things I find at thrift stores and vintage shops. So when I saw this beauty, my mind immediately started thinking of all the wonderful things I could do with it.
I had just purchased a bunch of Colorshot Spray Paints that I *really* wanted to use. So my mind went to those first. And then, because I’m a 80’s baby and 90’s kid, I immediately thought of the coolest gear in the world- Lisa Frank. I had ALL THE THINGS Lisa Frank as a kid, and that bright, fun, colorful style still inspires me today.
Refinishing an office chair was a huge undertaking, especially coming straight off a PCS (Permanent Change of Station which in military terms means moving). I have done a lot of furniture refinishing and design so the project itself wasn’t new to me, but it was crazy just after have moved in! But I had envisioned creating a wonderfully bright, bold, and eccentric piece to jump start the rest of the design of my studio and let me tell you, this chair is perfection. It completely speaks to my style, my brand, and it really has become one of the centerpieces around my studio design.
Products I Used when Refinishing an Office Chair
Here are the products I used when refinishing my office chair. to make it the bright and bold statement piece that it is now in my studio.
Vintage chair from Goodwill
Base paint- Rustoleum 2x White Primer
Colorshot Spray Paint
The colors I used were:
Cosmo Summer Pedicure
With a Twist
White Chalk Paint
Black Jacquard Textile Paint
Plastic scraps like grocery bags
An old plastic container, like a tupperware bowl
Step by Step Directions in Refinishing my Office Chair
The first step is to clean your vintage piece. It is recommended to upholster the fabric, but I didn’t do that with this project because it was just a little too much for me. So I opted to steam clean and then paint the fabric.
In order to clean your vintage chair, you will want to lightly sand any wood portions and remove any debris. You will also want to steam clean the fabric if you aren’t reupholstering.
Tape off upholstery with painters tape. I actually covered large portions of the upholstery with plastic grocery bags and then taped those off to offer more protection.
Then you’re going to want to prime your furniture. For this step I used the Rustoleum 2x White Spray Paint. The reason I do this is because it makes your colored spray paint really pop and show their true color.
Once the primed wood is completely dry (the time will vary depending on how many coats you use and your environment), you’re going to start the fun part- painting the colors!
SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE SENORA- shake those cans to make sure everything is mixed well. All paint settles in containers when it sits for long periods of time (even just a few hours really) so you’ll want to make sure you shake up those cans before you get to work.
Start going in like bursts of spray paint all over the primed wood. Layer the colors to your heart’s desire. Make sure you allow the paints to lightly dry in between sprays to avoid drips.
Once you have your paint how you like it, let it dry and remove tape and plastic.
Now it’s time to work on the upholstery. Again, if you are versed in reupholstering furniture, that is probably your best bet. But I’m not, and honestly, I like doing things a little out of the box.
The first step is to pour your chalk paint into a bowl and this with water. You will need multiple coats for a project of this scale, so don’t thin all of the chalk paint at once!
Take a spray bottle filled with water and lightly mist the fabric. Paint on your first coat of chalk paint onto the fabric. Allow to dry for 24 hours.
Note that the fabric at this point will feel ROUGH. It’s ok, it’s all part of the process. Sand the fabric to loosen the fibers of the fabric back up, and remove sand particles with a vacuum. Once that is complete, you can repeat with a second coat.
Again, allow 24 hours for the second coat to dry, lightly sand, and vacuum all sand particles up. Apply a third coat in with these same steps. Depending on the fabric color and texture, you may need another coat. Use your best judgement!
Pro tip- If you happen to get paint drips from the chalk paint on the wood portion of your piece, just clean it off gently with a water and towel!
When I was satisfied with the white color of the fabric, I started designing the zebra stripes design. I used the Black Jacquard Fabric Paint, thinned it with water, and painted the stripes to my liking.
Once it was dry, the newest piece in my brand new studio was complete!
I am so in love with this chair. Not only is it exactly me in my branding and my love of color and design, but it also represents the first really big project I completed for my new studio space!