Dining Set Makeover & the Truth About Upholstering with Burlap

Dining Set Collage

Ok, this we did a while ago. To our friends it’s old news.

Two summers ago, we made it one of our summer projects to give our dining room set a new look. We had picked it up for $100 at a local church’s rummage sale. It was in rough shape when we got it. Very wobbly, worn out leather seats, etc. It took me a little while to get Michael on board, but I finally convinced him we should paint it white but keep the top the natural wood finish.

paint thing table redo

The finish on the table top was in bad shape and discolored. To top it all off, we had tossed a bag of paint and other items onto the table before going to bed one night, and the next day after breakfast I discovered this….paint ALL OVER the tool box/table top. Yay! I was ever-so-grateful that the paint hadn’t oozed an inch to the right and through that crack onto the hardwood floor (of the house we were renting!!!). Dodged a big one there!

You will notice that I’m still getting used to this whole thing. I am not the best about “before” pictures. But I’m working on it. But since this project was almost two years ago….well, sorry.

dining table redo3

You can see the beautiful dark finish…which we decided to paint over. Heartless, I know.

You may wonder why this sanding is being done in the front yard, instead of, say, in a garage? Oh, well, that would be because the garage’s roof was dangerously close to caving in. I used to have horrible pregnancy nightmares about it caving in on someone. It was always questionable in there. So we did our work outside.


This is truly the best I can do for “before pictures.” Enjoy our ugly sweaters from the first annual Ugly Sweater Party (which happened to be on the warmest day of the winter – in the 50s!). But behind us you can see the table and chairs. At least you can kinda get a sense of them.


We chose to do a classic ivory color. The chairs were all assessed by Michael. Screws tightened, wood glue applied and sealed so that our chairs were now nice and solid and you didn’t wonder if it was going to collapse under you.

I used wood veneer stripping to “fill in” chipped spots that were blatant and ugly. We then sanded and painted all of them. We followed with a brown glaze that we buffed off. It did a very nice job of showing the details in the chairs.

We removed the seats with the worn leather upholstery and added more padding. To save on $$$ We decided to upholster them in burlap. I think to do all of them (and using the Hobby Lobby coupon), we got all of the burlap for under $3. Before putting the burlap on we stenciled a pretty pattern in a dark blue. And here’s the result with the chairs!

dining table redo2

Don’t you love how it turned out?

Next was the table. By the time we got to this part, we were SO over the whole project (haha!) that Michael just sanded the table top and then we lightly went over the rest with sand paper (but not like we had with the chairs). We added a dark cherry (I think?) stain and then polyurethaned /sanded it like three or four times. After that was all done/dry/set, we painted the bottom and legs and used the glaze on them as well.

dining table redo4

Here’s the table legs shortly after completion.

Dining table redo1


And here is everything all together complete with blue and white ceramic rooster that Michael spied at Hobby Lobby.

I love how they turned out! But here’s the sad part…burlap is not so durable as you may think. At first, it seemed to pick up a lot of lint. It was annoying. Picking lint off the dining chairs became a new item on my list of chores.


But in less than a year, they began to fray along the edges, and this is what they look like now:


We’re going for that threadbare look.


As you can tell, the burlap was worth every dollar we spent on it…not much. I LOVED how it looked, but unfortunately it did not stand up to regular use, our kids, and the sharper edges of our chairs. Maybe a pillow or a cushion on top of a chair would fare better.

But the truth is, burlap doesn’t work for this.

On the plus side, now you’ll get to see us do another make-over! At least of the chair covers! I’m contemplating cutting up old jeans (maybe even including butt pockets?). I need something that will stand up to the kids. Any ideas?





  1. I covered a couch in the fabric designed for outdoor use. I was so tired of wear and stains from our 5 kids. Outdoor fabric takes a beating. You might want to try that if you want something durable and wipeable.

    1. That’s a great idea! Something like duck cloth?

      1. It is what they make cushion covers out of for patio furniture. It is really heavy like a canvas but also has some waterproofing. People thought I was crazy until they saw me wipe up a jam hand print with a sponge (my kids are messy eaters!).

      2. Awesome. That would be perfect in the dining room. 🙂

  2. Morgan · · Reply

    I just envision nasty years old crumbs in the Jean pockets. Maybe if you sewed them shut first? But I second the outdoor cloth another commenter mentioned. Pretty and durable.

    1. Haha! That’s hilarious! And it would totally happen if I didn’t sew them shut. I’m also imagining how badly spaghetti stains will set in on jeans….hmmm. I like this indoor/outdoor material idea too. 🙂

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