Who Says You Have to Pay For Furniture?

Ok, the title might be a little misleading, because in all honesty, this is a tale of a whole lotta luck on my part.

I recently gained an entire ‘new to me’ set of dining room chairs…and didn’t spend a dime.

I realize this isn’t always the case – you can’t exactly decide today to go out looking and find six chairs for next to nothing, but I wanted to share this story to inspire you to look around, keep your eyes open, because, hey, you never know when or who will be able to help you find the perfect piece(s). You do NOT have to spend a lot of money to make your house lovely. I’m always decorating on a budget, and I’m guessing a lot of you are too – I mean, that’s kinda the gist of this whole blog of mine;) – so I’m hoping you find something in this post that will help you on your mission to decorate thriftily (am I making up words?!) and beautifully. Because, in SO. MANY. CIRCUMSTANCES. those words go together like peanut butter and jelly. Well, unless you’re like me and have a peanut allergy in your house – in that case, Wow Butter and jelly. Or Sunbutter. Or let’s just go another direction and say ham and cheese. Unless you’re vegetarian. In that case…ok, back to the post…

Several months ago, I had YET ANOTHER new dining room vision. This one brought in more rustic elements, and toned down the super bright colors. I love both of these looks SO much, and had been living with the bright fun stuff for a while, but realized my house wasn’t as cohesive as I’d like. My first floor is cut in half with the hallway – the one half has my office and family room, the other half has the kitchen and dining room. It felt as though the office/family room side was one look (more of the greys, neutrals, rustic wood elements, etc) and the kitchen/dining room side was another look (bright aqua, bold red, more funky, fun stuff). These two ‘looks’ both appeal to me, but I just felt like it was time to take one look and go for it 100%. This is not going to be a major overhaul to update the kitchen and dining room – but over time, I’ll be swapping out certain items, and as always, on a budget. I mean, could you imagine the money I’d spend if I bought NEW things ever time I changed my mind?!! We wouldn’t have a penny to our name.

So how does one find six chairs and not spend any money? Facebook, of course!

I posted on our community yard sale page that I was looking for dining room chairs. I was NOT expecting what happened next.

An old friend of mine from high school messaged me and said her parents were buying a new dining room set and were donating FOUR of their chairs. Two windsors, two another style. She sent pictures and I typed YES! as fast as my fingers would let me. I asked her what her parents wanted for them, and she said nothing – they were giving them away.


Then! On the SAME Facebook page, a woman was selling two of her chairs for a total of $10?! Granted, they were pretty beat up, but nothing a little TLC couldn’t fix.

And yes, people, on the very same Facebook page AGAIN, I posted two of my blue chairs for $10 and they got picked up the same day.

Broke. Even.

Six new to me chairs.

Let’s take a look!

painting dining room chairs

The Windsor ones, that I have at both heads of the table were solid, great shape, with a honey oak finish:



The other two my friend gave me looked like this:

painting dining room chairs



And finally, the last two looked like this:


This one had a rip in the seat – didn’t go all the way through, it’s still very sturdy to sit on, but for $5, I figured I could find some pretty chair pads and no one will have to know there’s duct tape underneath it! The other chair had a fully in tact seat, but the wood was beat up.

Ok, so those are all the befores.

Let’s get to the afters!

I went back and forth, and back and forth…and back and forth again about what color to paint my new chairs. In the end, I decided a grey would be perfect, for my ever-loving changing mind. It was nice and neutral, so I could change up the other colors in the room, like accessories, etc, and not have to repaint six chairs. Because NO ONE WANTS TO REPAINT SIX CHAIRS. I speak from experience.

The first grey I tried was a lighter one. I decided I wanted to make more of a statement than that was giving me. More contrast. I was at Lowe’s picking up some wood for another project, so I grabbed a couple samples there, and in the end, Knight’s Armour by Olympic ending up being the perfect shade. I needed two samples to complete all six chairs, but it’s $2.98 a pop, so I guess if you want to get technical, I did spend something on these chairs – $6;)

I used my favorite method of mixing in Plaster of Paris into the paint – I don’t measure, and I apologize for that because I get asked questions about this all the time and I don’t really have an answer. I just add maybe a scant tablespoon of it per cup of paint maybe? I mixed it up, and got to work. Adding the plaster allows you to skip the sanding and priming steps for some magical reason. I didn’t make up this recipe, and I have no idea where I first discovered it, but it’s life changing.

Once they were dry, I used Minwax Finishing Paste in Natural, to prevent chipping and seal it all in.

Here’s what the chairs look like now…

painting chairs


painted dining room chairs


painting yard sale chairs

For the last two chairs you are about to see, an idea hit me mid-paint! I decided since the chairs you see above have the wicker seats, maybe I should leave the seat part wood on the chairs opposite to these ones?! They’d kinda sorta mesh, having seats that aren’t painted? Hmmm…so I took the chairs outside, sanded them down with my hand sander, and stained them with a dark walnut stain. Once they were dry, I painted the rest of the chair, and I am seriously in love with them now…

painted chairs



painted and stained chairs

Here’s what’s so amazing about paint. I’ve had these since the Fall, looked at them daily in my dining room and never – not once – noticed this cute little curve action right here:

painted chairs

Are you dying? Because I am. I think these chairs have such great lines, and the wood seat is my favorite part. I was going to use a poly coat, but got lazy went another direction and used the Minwax on the seat as well.

So that’s the story of my free dining room chairs. I hope next time you think a project is out of your budget, you ask around, look around, get creative, and think outside the box. You just never know what’s waiting behind a Facebook post;)




linking up at Tuesday Talk!…



  1. Allie Grochmal says:

    Looks great, Liz! Love that you left the seats wood – but with a nicer, darker stain! QQ – where did you find your dining room rug? We need one!

    • Thanks, Allie! It’s from Home Decorators Collection – their seagrass rug. Great for a dining room – hides EVERYTHING! 🙂

  2. Gorgeous, looks just wonderful and I love your idea of leaving the seats unpainted!

  3. Sherri S. says:

    SCORE! Liz, they look great…great color!

  4. Carli Heringer says:

    Oh they are GORGEOUS!! LOVE that color!!!!!

  5. love the color of gray you went with. you did great!

  6. I painted our kitchen chairs (purchased at a yard sale) about 18 months ago and they are scratched up something awful. They look horrible but I hate to repaint them just to have them chip up again. Painting chairs is A LOT of work! I do have 3 kids who are rough on the chairs, and our space is tight so the chairs end up bumping against each other… I’m wondering if the plaster of paris makes the paint more durable?? Do you use a brush?

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