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Sad Singles to Matched Pair

I recently posted about flipping a chair I found at Goodwill into a totally new look for my computer station. This was a quick and easy turnaround mostly because I had the majority of materials already in my shop. My friend, Tammy, was inspired after reading the post and asked me if there was anything I could do for this pair of mismatched stools.

I’m always up for a challenge!

When we originally talked about the project, we both thought painting them the same color as my Goodwill chair would be the way to go. As we got closer to actually starting the project, though, she started questioning if the white would fit in her kitchen. Tammy lives in a beautiful older, historic looking home with one of those huge kitchen/dining room combination areas. (I so love those houses!) Beautiful wood floors, great architecture! The walls in the kitchen are painted a soft, light olive green and the bar area where the stools would sit was a light gray.

Painting the stools white would obviously work but why not step out and try something different? Thankfully, Tammy was willing to go for it, too!

This is the new, matched pair of stools that Tammy is proud to line up at her counter now:

So how did we go from the two sad single stools to the fantastic turnaround above?

Let’s walk through the steps.

Materials needed:

1) Stripper – I’ve been trying to use low VOC in my paints lately and found this new (to me) stripper that was low VOC as well. It bonds well to the surface and works quickly to remove paint…even two layers.

2) Stripper brush

3) Mineral wash

4) Cotton rags

5) Paint

6) Paint Sprayer

7) Stain

8) Polyurethane – you can use either poly in a can that needs to be brushed on or poly in a spray can which is what I used this time


1) The reason I wanted to strip the top and bottom of these stools was because Tammy’s kitchen table has 4 regular chairs that are very similar to these stools, even though they weren’t purchased at the same time. I wanted to bring the two areas together in some way without being too matchy matchy. Her table chairs are a beautiful stained pecan color as seen below.

2) Both the chairs and stools had the same type of rush seating also.

Rush seats are either natural cattail leaf rush, bulrush or man-made paper fiber rush. Most older chairs are woven with bulrush or cattail leaves. As you can see, the rush seats on the stools are much lighter than the regular chair’s rush seats, so the first thing I did to bring the stools and regular chairs together was lightly brush stain on the stool’s rush seats with a MinWax walnut stain. As a paper/natural leaf product, it would take the stain easily where painting could potentially cause flaking after drying especially as the seats are not totally flat. The end result was an almost perfect match to the regular chair seat.

3) The second step was to strip the stools down to the original wood on the bottom of the stool and then again at the top, leaving the middle to be painted a green that closely resembled the walls in the kitchen. I measured from the bottom of each stool leg to 5 ¾ inches, marked it with a pencil in three places around the leg, then taped around the leg with the tape extending up the leg. Use good quality paint tape (I use the green tape, Frog, and have never had any issues with bleed through or tape movement either on my furniture or painting walls). That would leave the bottom of the leg free to start stripping. That was repeated on all 4 legs on both stools.

The top of the stool was taped off from just below the top cross bar leaving the top of the stool back and points to be stripped.

4) I heavily coated the areas to be stripped with the Klean Strip stripper, then waited 30 minutes for it to begin the stripping process. However, when I came back to start scraping paint, it was not scraping off easily. One thing I have heard before is to let the stripper do its job, and if it isn’t ready in 30 minutes let it continue to process. After about 45 minutes, the paint layers scraped easily. Oh yeah and this:

5) As these were not flat surfaces which are MUCH easier to scrape and wash, curved areas need a little additional help to make sure the wood is completely free of paint and stripper. I use a stripper brush for that,

dipping it in mineral spirits and brushing with the wood grain to fully remove all paint lodged in the grain, edges, and any small dented areas normally found in wood products.

6) After all areas have been stripped and cleaned, I always treat the wood with a wood conditioner. The stripper and mineral spirits are harsh and will dry out the wood which will eventually lead to cracking. Massaging wood conditioner into each stripped area restores the balance back to these areas.

7) Now I’m ready to paint the unstripped areas. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking you can aim your sprayer effectively and miss all of those hard-won stripped areas. You can’t. You just can’t. I wasted time going back and re-stripping these same areas again because I thought I could. Using the green tape, cover every inch of stripped areas. It will take a bit of time, but it will also save you more time in the end.

8) Once all of the stripped areas were taped off, it was time to paint. In a previous post, I mentioned Lowes stores and the reduced paint section where you can find many different colors at a huge discount. Luckily, I had already picked up a can of a beautiful green a few weeks ago. While it was too dark for what I needed for this project, I am not afraid to mix my own paints to get the color I want. Using a separate container, I added some of the white paint from my Goodwill project and mixed it with the green color to get a softer, lighter green color that would go well with Tammy’s kitchen wall color. This was poured into one of the paint sprayer’s containers, and off I went to start painting the stools.

9) I laid the stools on their back to paint the bottom of the rungs and inside of the legs first.

10) Then I set the stools upright and, pointing the sprayer down, I sprayed the outer edge of the legs, seat, and front of the back seat. Then, still pointing the sprayer in a down position, I spray the back of the stool moving from the top down to the bottom of the stool. Finally, I spray from left to right across the seat area of the stool.

11) Once dry, I repeat the process for a second coat.

12) When the final coat is dry, I use a can spray of polyurethane and cover the entire stool, making sure the kick rung has at least 2 coats.

13) Finally, I screw the stained rush seats back onto the seat area of the stool.

14) Completed project:

Tammy is thrilled with her new stools which makes me happy, too! Stay tuned for the transformation of her table next.


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Kim Shores
Kim Shores
Feb 18, 2021


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