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Painting the Dining Chairs


I have been looking for a sturdy pair of oval back chairs to use in my dining room for years.  They were always too expensive or too rickety for practical, regular use.  So, I was ready to buy some from Restoration Hardware, but the day I was planning to press the “purchase” button, I found a set of four chairs on Craig’s List.  Woohoo!!  You can read the full story HERE.  They were perfect, but they were maroon.

Not being able to stomach stripping four caned chairs, I took them to have them professionally stripped, which cost $50/chair and saved me hours and hours.  I’ve had them in their stripped, raw state for a few months now and today I started to finish them.

These chairs were my inspiration…

Two-tone dining chairs

(photo source)

I really liked the chairs raw, but they were a little rough and some of the old white and maroon paint were still clinging in the corners.  The maroon had also stained some of the caning a pinkish color, so I wanted to stain it to even out the color.

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I used Dark Walnut stain by Minwax and applied it by brushing it into the edges with an artist’s brush…

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…and wiping on the rest with a cotton cloth.

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See how that evened out the color of the cane?  So much better!

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I also did it on the back side…

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I then painted the frame in MMSMP Ironstone.  Since it’s raw wood, the paint soaked right in.  I only applied one coat, since I wanted to distress it anyway.

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I distressed the finish with a fine grit sand paper just to bring out the details of the piece and allow a bit of wood to show through and then applied a coat of Hemp Oil to the caning…

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…and the frame.

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When applying the oil over Ironstone, you can see the yellow of the oil where it’s too thick, but just wipe away the excess and it won’t yellow the finish.

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Not all of the seats are in good “sitting” condition, so I will be putting the seat covers back on.  I’m still debating if I want to slipcover them or upholster them.  I’m leaning towards slips, so I can wash them, but I can always put a towel over the seats for messy meals…still debating.

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I’ve stained all of the cane, but have only painted and finished one chair so far.  I have my photo shoot tomorrow (where I am the subject), so I’m not sure if I’ll get any more of them finished.  I can’t wait to see how it all comes together, though.  I’m loving the two-toned chairs!


I also did a photo shoot with the other #mmsmpcolorofthemonth for November and that is Curio…

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I used a deed from the 1800’s as a backdrop for this rich, walnut brown color and I love how it looks!

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The paint color almost looks almost black, but then you can see the red and yellow pigments come to life, making it brown.

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The vintage handle with the strings tied around it against the typography caught my texture-loving eye.

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Now, I was a little resistant to adding a brown to the line, because who wants to paint something brown, really?  But, brown is a key color when it comes to undercoats, stains and washes.  In a recent workshop, I used it on a raw wood piece under Mustard Seed Yellow, so it looked like paint chipping over stained wood.

A rich brown is also key when trying to mute colors that are too vibrant.  I often mixed my acrylics with a burnt umber tint when I painted murals.  It just tones the color down without changing it too much.  So, while you won’t see me painting an entire dresser brown, I’m very excited to add this color to the line.  More on Curio to come, but I wanted to share the pictures with you AND to let you know that Curio, Trophy and Apron Strings are all now available for purchase.  Click HERE to find a MMSMP retailer near you or HERE if you prefer to buy online.

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  1. Donna Ochs says:

    here is a thought…upholster the dinning chairs and slip for messy meals :)


  2. The chairs look absolutely stunning, do you think your paint will ever make its way to the shores of New Zealand as I would love to try it out? The technique on the chairs looks amazing and they look like very expensive French antiques now.

    Lee :)

  3. terri edelsohn says:

    I recently rescued 6 cane back chairs and am in the process of painting and distressing as well. The chairs have an upholstered seat and since I still have teenagers living in the house and my permapiglet (aka husband) who are not the neatest eaters, i’ve been trying to come up with a solution besides slipcovers (which I have had in the past) and I finally found one. Outdoor fabric. Not only it the fabric stain and fade resistant, the patterns and colors they have now are endless. While shopping, I’ve found that the feel of a lot of the fabrics is not stiff like you would picture on a poolside chaise but rather they are quite soft.

  4. In my opinion, there is always a story behind a story.

  5. Nadja says:

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