Looking for a simple before and after chair makeover? Here’s how I completely transformed this thrift store chair.

It’s so easy to personalize a thrift store chair. All you need is a little paint and some sandpaper for this easy and simple DIY.
Before and After Chair Makeover DIY

Have you ever heard of the “Trade Up” game before?

Our local youth group plays it every year.

Here’s the premise. You start with a pen or a pencil or a ball cap or a branch or a mini pumpkin. And then? The goal of the game is to “trade up.” You go to different houses and trade that pencil for a picture frame and then you trade the picture frame for a side table and then you trade the side table for a sofa.

And before you know it?

You’ve traded your way up to a canoe and you’re rolling it across the finish line.

Today I have my very own trade-up story.

Please grab refreshments.

It’s a good one and it all started with the bar stools at our house.

Before and After Chair Makeover bar stool with towel

Here are the bar stools we used to have.

I saw them and fell in love with them several years ago and thought they were such a good deal so I ordered them from Home Depot. The bar stools were $139 for a set of two.

And I paid $300 for all four.

They actually come in four different colors and I ordered them in the Patina Oak.

You can see them here.

Before and After Chair Makeover bar stools

I’ve had them for a couple of years and they are SUPER sturdy. I thought they would stay there forever.

And then?

The twins moved into their first apartments and they needed bar stools.

They love these bar stools so much and they asked me if they could have them. I knew I was in the middle of yard saling and I probably could find some bar stools at a yard sale that would be perfect for their apartment. So I told them they could take these now—thinking I could always trade them back later once I found another set for their apartment.

These bar stools and the twins left about a month ago.

Before and After Chair Makeover

Before and After Chair Makeover

Two weeks ago I walked into our local ReStore and found these.

(total aside: don’t they look almost EXACTLY like the original stools?)

There was a set of FOUR of them (exactly what I had before). But instead of $300 (which is what the original bar stools cost) they were only $45/apiece.


So let’s look at the math.

Four original chairs = $300

Four thrift store chairs= $45/each then 1/2 making them $22.50 each for a grand total of $90.


The story gets even better because I had a credit at the thrift store (I’m part of their rewards program) so I ended up paying only $48 for ALL FOUR CHAIRS.

See how it’s kind of like the trade-up game? The deal kept getting better and better.

Before and After Chair Makeover fall hutch

And now?

That $48 set of chairs?

They look like this.

We started by sanding down the seats.

It wasn’t hard at all.

I checked to make sure they were solid wood before we bought them.

Start with coarse sandpaper (about 60 grit) to get the original finish off. Then sand with 120 grit and finally finish off with 220 grit sandpaper for a super smooth finish.

We painted the rest of the chair SW Extra White.

And finally added a layer of clear sealer to the top of the seats to seal the raw wood.

Here’s a little before and after.

Where we started.

And here’s what the chairs look like now.

They turned out so much better than I ever even imagined.

Remember when I was planning to find a set for the twins and trade them for my original chairs at my house?


Not now.

Not even close.

As much as I love the “Trade Up” game?

I’m not trading these bar stools for anything.


Maybe if anyone has a canoe I might be willing to talk. ๐Ÿ™‚


disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.

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  1. Image for Sue Sue

    Thank you for all you have done to help me stay on your blog. The time you took for one person when you have thousands to look after . Besides being the best decorator, crafter, speaker etc, you truly are a real loving soul. I thank God for giving you to this world to be such a light. Hugs

  2. Image for Anna Anna

    and the new bar stools, though exactly the same, look so much chicer and pricier with the white paint and natural stain seat. I have the same barstools in all white.

  3. Image for Tina Tina

    KariAnne, Loved the story & it reminded me of something similar. When we sold our house in San Jose years ago, the offer was well over the asking price and included our bar stools (link to blog with photo below) which we knew we could replace. The funny thing is the buyers forgot to ask for the refrigerator so we took that with us & used it until we remodeled the kitchen in our new house ... LOL

  4. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    Awww Karianne. I love a great thrift store story. Especially with the happiest ending ever. They are beautiful. You scored win, but you made them a victory. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Image for carol carol

    KariAnne *Note to Sue above, kindred spirits. Thank you too KariAnne for all your effort to keep me on your blog also. Good story about bar stools. Carol

  6. Image for Karen B. Karen B.

    Kerianne, Your bar stools look amazing, and I love them even more due to the delightful story of getting them for a song. Way to go. That's what kindness and generosity brings you. Karen B.

  7. Image for Carla Erickson Carla Erickson

    Good things happen to people who are good! Amazing story and beautiful transformation! Thanks for your stories!

  8. Image for Nancy Nancy

    I love the chairs and your ability to make things gorgeous! May I ask the color of your island? Grey one I am wanting to paint mine. Thinking of Gauntlet by S W

  9. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    WOWZA!!!! You've done it again, KA!! Now that is a winning story if ever there was one! Well done - they look AH-MAZING!!

  10. Image for Cathy Cathy

    From what I have read in your blogs - and thatโ€™s been a minute - Iโ€™d bet if those girls wanted to trade up, youโ€™d do it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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