Learn How to Restore a Set of Vintage Classroom Chairs to Work in the Dining Room

They look new again with high-gloss paint and a helpful trick to prevent rust.

Wooden chairs meant for student bodies are an A-plus addition to any dining area. Vintage ones are plentiful online and at flea markets—or even on a school-side curb, where Living home editor Lorna Aragon found these—and can look better than new with a little sanding and paint. Lorna chose Benjamin Moore Advance High Gloss in Classic Burgundy, for the woodwork, and used Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2x Ultra Cover Classic Spray Paint, in Nutmeg ($4.50 for 12 oz., homedepot.com), on the metal feet. "They were scratched up and rusty," she says. "The spray paint prevents future rust and adds a modern accent color."

Here, follow her tips to earn extra style points in your own home.

wooden table and chairs in front of window
Frank Frances

Smooth the Surface

Sand your chair's frame and wipe it down well. If its feet have stainless steel caps like ours does, rub them with steel wool to lift rust and scratches.

Go Feet-First

Tape off above the feet, then spray-paint below the tape line. No need to be too careful; you'll paint over any overspray above the tape with your second paint color. If your chairs have all-wooden legs, you can create faux contrasting feet by taping them six inches from the bottom.

Brush Up the Rest

Cover the remaining parts of the frame with primer and let it dry overnight. Then add two coats of high-gloss paint, letting it dry completely in between. Lorna swears by the Zibra Round Paintbrush ($10.50, enjoyzibra.com) for curved surfaces and spindles: "I only wish I had discovered it sooner!" And if you're looking for another color combination to try, Lorna likes Farrow & Ball in India Yellow ($42 for 750 ml, farrow-ball.com) for chairs paired with Sherwin- Williams in Indigo (SW6531) ($24 a qt., sherwin-williams.com) on the feet.

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