With June being Pride Month, now is the prime time to paint a pair of chairs to celebrate!  A solid but sorry pair of wooden chairs went from ready to be sent out to pasture to perfect for a parade—or your place—with rainbow shades.  Bold and graphic, this terrific twosome will look festive and fun in any setting, during any month, and certainly well after the official Pride Month has concluded. 

Many thanks to Malachi and Preston, Catholic University students & football players, who were gracious enough to be models for this project!

Items needed:

·        Pair of wooden chairs

·        Chalk paint in rainbow colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet

·        Paint brushes in various sizes

·        Drop-cloth

·        Sanding block

·        Black Sharpies or black paint markers

·        Chalk or pencil

·        Furniture wax

1.      Celebrate your pride & shopping savvy at Goodwill

Goodwill honors and respects people from all backgrounds and shows care and kindness to every shopper as well.  Their team also shows care and kindness for every donated item, so you can be assured that every item for sale is in great shape and will serve you well.  And sometimes, with a little vision, some tweaking, and a bit of elbow grease, you can turn a thrifted item into a pride masterpiece!  

Pairs of chairs are always crowd-pleasers, so you can see why these caught my attention.  Solid AND shapely, for sure!  The angled wooden legs, curved seats, and cut-out handles made them a unique set—and a must-have for a transformation!

Thrifting Tips

Make stopping and shopping (and donating!) to Goodwill part of your weekly routine.  This will allow you to find the best items at the lowest prices because good finds don’t hang around the store very long. 

And if you are on the fence about an item, take it home with you anyhow because it might not be there when you come back—even if you return the next day.  

I found these chairs—along with a shopping cart full of remarkable treasures—during a recent thrifting excursion and almost put them back because I didn’t think everything would fit in my car!  Given their transformation, I am glad I listened to the inner voice that told me to find a way to get them home.

2.      Get your piece ready for its makeover

To start the transformation from cast asides to superstars, these two chairs got a good sanding and wipe-down.  A coarse-grained sanding block is a great tool to have in your kit to tackle this first step.  Sand your pieces from top to bottom and left to right; work to buff them up, but don’t worry about removing the entire current finish.  Today’s paints are usually a blend of primer and paint which adhere well to most wooden surfaces.  

After sanding your chairs, wipe them down with a very damp rag to remove all the sawdust and debris created.  Also, sometimes a wetter rag will help you get into tight spots and nooks and crannies.  Let your chair pair dry a bit, too, before continuing.

3.      Draw on your design

Grab a piece of chalk or pencil to sketch in your design.  For a rainbow image, you want to be able to have enough stripes to include all of its colors.  ROY-G-BIV or red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet comprise an ideal rainbow.  Therefore, consider dividing your chair seat—your canvas—into seven sections to allow one rainbow tone in each one.  As you are able to see, I ensured each back rail was a different color, so sketching things out in chalk beforehand really helped.  And yes, you are able to see I added a letter to help me track the colors, too.

Design idea:

There are many ways to approach your pair of chairs when you consider a rainbow motif or design.  Stripes, vertical or horizontal, always look great.  Also, you could paint your chair with rainbow stripes from top to bottom.   If you follow my design here, you are able to see that the curved rainbow has a mirror image from one chair to the next.  When placed right next to each other, you are able to see how they blend perfectly together, and their curved lines match a rainbow’s arch. 

4.      Paint on your pride

If possible, place your chairs side by side outside.  Take a seat on a bench or another chair, then fill in your sketched-in spaces, ensuring you paint the red section on one chair, then the red section on the other.  Rinse and repeat—rather than paint and repeat—this step for each color.  Remember, add light layers rather than one thick, heavy one.  It’s okay if the chair’s original tones show through at first; the paint layering will hide them.

Expert Tip

It is okay to apply the first two or three layers of each color with a bigger brush.  This will allow you to cover a lot of ground, so to speak, with several brush strokes.  Have several small detail paint brushes that are flat with a squared/straight edge.  This will help you to ensure a crisp line between colors.

5.      Black makes it bold

After you have applied your layers of rainbow-toned paints and touched them up with a detailed paintbrush, consider giving your Pride Pair a graphic look by outlining each tone with black. 

Use a black Sharpie or black paint pen to draw in lines between each color.  This is an easy step that will make your piece—and its pride colors—truly pop!  You may need to go over each black line several times, so having two or three new Sharpies will help to ensure a sharp finish!

6.      Protect with poly or work it with wax

To keep your painted pieces looking good for many moons–and may Pride months—consider brushing on a couple of layers of polyurethane.  A semi-gloss finish is always the best option.  The paints used for these pieces were chalk paint, a great but pricey option for painting furniture. 

Chalk paint (which is different from chalkboard paint) is thicker and adheres incredibly well.  If you go the chalk paint route, applying several layers of furniture wax is the right finish for it.  Use a cloth to rub on the wax and let it dry overnight.  With a clean cloth, rub and wipe away extra wax. 

7.      Place your Pride Pair and celebrate!

So many fun colors and so many great options for your painted Pride Pair!  They make great kitchen chairs when matched with a dinette table.  You could use them as extra seating for guests, given their easy movability.  Place them next to your desk in your office for visitors or colleagues.  

Wherever you use them, their colorful, bold, and graphic look will show your pride during June and every month on the calendar!

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Tim Kime

Artist, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach

Tim Kime is an artist, life coach, connector. He is President of Kime Leadership Associates offering executive coaching, meeting facilitating and motivational speaking. He is also Chief Creative Force of Transformation Junkies which upcycles furniture and other household items into functional works of art. He combined his two passions—unleashing the potential in people and transforming items with the launch of the Art of Possibilities Workshops. These workshops are part upcycling, part dreaming, part goal setting.