Transforming Trash to Treasure with Incredible Dumpster Finds

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Upcycling old furniture can be a fun and creative way to give new life to forgotten items.

In today’s video, the speaker tackles a charming project: bringing a vintage kitchen chair back to its former glory. Found at a dump, this chair’s original state is far from pristine, with cracked seats and rusty metal frames. Despite its worn appearance, there’s potential hidden beneath the surface.

The restoration process involves careful disassembly, replacing damaged wood with salvaged pine, and adding a rustic touch using DIY techniques.

Through sanding, staining, and painting, the speaker transforms what was once a neglected piece into a beautiful, functional chair.

Key Takeaways

  • The speaker restores a vintage chair found at the dump.
  • They use DIY techniques like coffee staining and wood transfers.
  • The finished project blends rustic and industrial farmhouse styles.
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Finding Chairs at the Dump

In today’s video, the host shares her love of finding potential treasures at the dump, particularly chairs. She introduces four different chair projects, starting with one she remembers from her Grandma’s kitchen.

This particular chair, though in rough shape, evokes fond memories of sitting at the counter and helping with meals.

The chair’s metal frame is still in good condition despite some rust and the wood components being damaged. She decides to replace the seat and steps with a large piece of pine she found, ensuring a perfect fit by tracing the old parts.

After cutting out the new pieces with a jigsaw, she gives them a rustic look using a hammer and hand sander.

Next, she works on restoring the metal frame by removing rust with a scuff pad and 120 grit sandpaper. Two coats of Rustoleum spray paint bring the frame back to life.

For staining the wooden parts, she uses a homemade coffee stain, achieving the desired color with a few applications.

The host uses a laser printer to create a graphic transfer on the chair seat. After applying a liberal coat of polyurethane, she places the printed label sheet, ensuring it’s centered.

A brayer is used to press it down, followed by a top coat once the transfer is complete.

The final product boasts a charming rustic, industrial farmhouse feel.

She screws the sealed wood pieces back onto the chair frame, completing her upcycle project. The host is thrilled with the transformation, emphasizing the satisfaction of saving discarded items and giving them new life. This project is set to take a place of pride in her kitchen.

Overview of the Project

Revamping a Classic 1950s Chair

A timeless chair from the 1950s, often seen in many grandmothers’ kitchens, brings back fond memories. The chair has seen better days, with a cracked seat and damaged steps. Despite this, the metal frame remains sturdy. The plan involves removing the old parts and replacing them to bring the chair back to life.

Rustic Pine Transformation

A large piece of pine wood, found at the dump, becomes useful for creating new parts for the chair. By tracing the old pieces onto the pine, the new seat and back are cut out with a jigsaw. To add a rustic, farmhouse feel, a hammer is used to distress the wood, followed by smoothing with a sander.

Metal Frame Cleaning and Preparation

The metal frame, despite some surface rust, is in good shape. The entire frame is cleaned and rust removed using a scuff pad or sandpaper. Sanding the metal ensures a smooth surface, ready for a fresh coat of paint.

Spray Painting the Metal Frame

Rustoleum Painter’s Touch spray paint is used to give the metal frame a new look. Taken outside for good ventilation, the frame receives a light first coat. After drying, a second coat is applied for a beautiful finish. The frame is now ready for the newly created wooden parts, which will be stained and attached.

DIY Coffee Staining

Coffee staining can give your wood projects a unique and rustic look. It’s easy to do and only requires instant coffee and warm water.

First, mix instant coffee with warm water. There’s no precise measurement; just eyeball the amount of coffee for your desired stain darkness. Stir until the coffee dissolves completely.

Next, apply the coffee stain to the wood. Use a brush or cloth to spread the stain evenly. For a deeper color, apply two or three coats, letting each layer dry before adding the next. If you want the wood to dry quickly, set it outside in the sun.

Materials Needed:

  • Instant coffee
  • Warm water
  • Brush or cloth


  1. Mix instant coffee with warm water.
  2. Stir until coffee is fully dissolved.
  3. Apply the stain with a brush or cloth.
  4. Add more coats for a darker color.
  5. Let each layer dry before adding the next.

Coffee staining is an inexpensive and straightforward way to give your wood projects a charming, vintage feel.

Wood Transfer Technique

To start this technique, gather a label sheet with a shiny side and a water-based sealer like polyurethane or polyacrylic. Print your graphic on the shiny side of the label sheet using a laser printer, ensuring the text is reversed. This method won’t work with an inkjet printer.

First, generously apply the sealer over the entire wood surface where you want the transfer. Carefully place the printed sheet onto the wood, centering it. Once it’s down, it cannot be moved, so position it precisely.

Use a brayer to press down on the label sheet, ensuring solid contact between the wood and sealer. If you don’t have a brayer, a credit card works well too. You may see some sealer seeping out from the edges; clean it up with a brush.

Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Afterward, peel off the label sheet to reveal the transferred graphic. The image should be crisp and clear. Finish by applying a top coat of the sealer to protect your design. This method is fantastic for adding personalized graphics to plain wood surfaces.

Assembling and Final Touches

Once all the pieces have been sanded and stained, it’s time to start reassembling the chair. The original screws are in good condition, so they will be reused to attach the newly cut and stained pine wood pieces to the metal frame.

Every piece fits together perfectly, giving the chair a fresh yet rustic look. A top coat of polyurethane helps to seal and protect the wood, ensuring it lasts for a long time. The spray-painted metal frame now has a smooth, even finish, free from the rusty spots it had before.

Below is a simple checklist for assembly:

  • Reattach Wood Pieces: Use original screws.
  • Check the Fit: Ensure all pieces align properly.
  • Seal with Polyurethane: Apply extra protection.

When putting the chair back together, each piece should be carefully aligned and screwed in place, ensuring a tight and secure fit. The newly painted frame provides a sturdy base, and the rustic-looking wood adds a charming finish.

For those interested in achieving a similar look, using a cordless hand sander to smooth out edges and a coffee stain for color can create a beautiful, rustic effect. A graphic transfer technique using a shiny label sheet and polyurethane enhances the aesthetic further.

Lastly, adding a personal touch with a graphic on the seat turns this upcycled chair into a unique and stylish piece ready for any room. The result is a chair that has transformed from a dump find to a cherished and functional part of the home.

Starting the Second Chair Upcycle

Removing Old Designs

To start the upcycle, the first step is to get rid of the old monkey graphic. Using some 80 grit sandpaper, the graphic is sanded off until it’s almost completely gone. This prepares the surface for the next steps.

Using Candle Wax for a Worn Look

For a distressed appearance, candle wax is applied. An inexpensive pillar candle from the dollar store is used for this. Rubbing the candle wax across the chair, especially in areas that would naturally age, helps create the worn look desired. This wax prevents paint from adhering where it’s applied, making it easier to sand down later and give the chair a chipped paint look.

Painting with DIY Chalk Paint

Applying homemade chalk paint is the next step. The homemade chalk paint recipe is simple and effective, requiring two coats for good coverage. After painting, 80 grit sandpaper is used again to distress the chair further. The areas where the candle wax was applied don’t hold the paint, revealing the desired chippy effect.

Adding Designs with Decoupage

Adding new graphics is done using decoupage techniques. Homemade napkins are utilized for this, and a plastic sleeve is used to hold the graphic face down.

A small amount of water is sprinkled to dampen the napkin, making it easier to blend. The straight edges of the napkin are removed to ensure it integrates seamlessly into the chair’s surface.