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Upcycle: $5 Classroom Chairs

April 8, 2018

Here is a story about going shopping for one thing and coming out with another. And of seeing the potential of something buried in a giant warehouse. Ready? 


I needed chairs to go with the beautiful dining table I inherited from my Poppa - who found it at an antique store in Leesburg, VA where I grew up and used to use it as a desk!


Look at those legs! :)

PS that tufted bench is a Target DIY hack (just covered it with fabric using a staple gun!)


So, I thought I was going on the hunt for two beautiful mid-century chairs that I could reupholster to go on the other side of the tufted bench. 


Destination: The Big Reuse. This magical place was a warehouse in my neighborhood of Astoria, Queens that housed reclaimed wood, salvaged appliances, sinks, and any and everything from estate sales. I already loved this place and knew they had an ENTIRE section of the warehouse full of chairs of all kinds. Off I went. 




Well I saw ONE beautiful mid-century chair with clean lines & a terrible cushion - but upon not seeing a mate for her, and being positive there were critters in that cushion, I kept looking and stumbled upon about 50 salvaged elementary school chairs...


I know these don't look like much. But I had a weird stroke of inspiration & was drawn to them. 

AND they were only $5 each.


Let's do this.



Then I spray painted the legs and silver structural pieces GOLD (a theme in my house and spray paint I always have handy). Well first, I cleaned them cause, elementary school germs. I just used Lysol wipes and a paper towel..



I chose a dark grey for the seat and back - a paint I already had from another project. 

Before I did the seat, an idea popped into my head to save a little bit of the original peachy school color for kitsch and posterity - so I taped off a small stripe.


Truth be told, when I originally used a roller on the seat & back, it didn't come out great in the first coat because of the natural dip/curve of the piece, so I switched to using a brush in long, singular strokes.


Turned out great! 


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand - TA DA! I'm obsessed with the peachy stripe. It's my favorite. 


Total Cost: $10. HA! I mean I had all the paint already and they were $5 each.


I'm sad to report the Queens location of Big Reuse has closed (WAH!!!) and now there's only one in Brooklyn, I plan to visit soon for some client projects I'm working on, and hope they still have $5 school chairs in excess. 


If you see something in the wild and want a DIY idea or need help figuring out how to upcycle it, hit me up! You can turn pretty much anything into a beautiful, functional piece for your space. 


Happy Hunting,



P.S. - I know now I should have put a sealant on these because the gray paint now has scratches and scuffs from people's butts (studs on jeans?) so I will be touching them up and sealing them soon.








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