A little TLC and some chalk paint were all I needed for this adorable DIY antique wooden highchair makeover for my sweet little grandbaby.
Long before our little granddaughter was born, back when my daughter was just beginning to hint at starting a family, I found this antique high chair on one of our trips to the Kansas City West Bottoms First Friday Weekends.
It was literally by the side of the road.
We had shopped all day and were headed back to the car, and there it was– a Victorian-era old wooden high chair.
We didn’t really need a baby highchair yet, and this one had seen better days.
It must have been the tug of emotions from thinking that I might soon become a grandmother, because before I knew it, I had struck a good deal with the seller, and loaded it into our car.
You guys know how much I love a great project, and this vintage high chair was the first project I made for our miracle girl, so it is definitely near and dear to my heart.
I am partnering with Dixie Belle Paint Company for this post. Paint and stain were generously provided to me by Dixie Belle, but all ideas and creations are my own. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
Antique High Chair
When I purchased this old chair, I noticed that someone had screwed a very thick piece of solid wood into the top of the chair seat. Even the wood and the screws used were old, so I knew this had been added a very long time ago.
Originally, I thought this alteration was made to create a booster seat effect. However, when I got a screwdriver and removed it, I discovered the original cane seat underneath.
The cane was covered in years of dirt and dust, but the good news was that it was in reasonably good shape aside from one small hole.
A previous owner had also screwed some pieces of plywood to the underside of the cane, presumably to give it some extra support.
These two pieces of wood protecting the cane from the top and bottom were the good luck it needed to survive all these years.
Even the back of the high chair still retained a glimpse of original detail.
Before any updates could begin, the first step was to clean 100+ years of grime from this old treasure.
A generous amount of Dixie Belle’s cleaner, White Lightening, and a roll of shop towels later, and things were looking better.
A little wood filler covered the screw holes where the booster seat had been attached.
Look what a difference just cleaning it made!
Since my high chair plans were for paint, and not stain, there was no need to sand this down to bare wood. I just needed a clean surface for the paint to adhere well.
Further inspection of the old high chair revealed that the legs had been shortened at some point in the past. My guess is that this once had either wheels or some kind of rocking chair base like many Victorian baby chairs did.
The shorter height of the chair now makes it less of a “high chair” and more of a regular chair, but it still works nicely as a comfortable seat to pull the baby up to the dining table with the family.
Ready for Primer & Paint
Once I had thoroughly cleaned the high chair, it was ready for a coat of primer. I used Dixie Belle’s BOSS to ensure that no old stain bled through the paint, especially since I planned to paint it with white chalk paint in the color Fluff.
I gave the entire high chair a nice even coat of BOSS and then allowed it to dry overnight.
The next day, I did one coat of paint in Fluff and allowed it to dry an hour or so, before going over it again with another coat of paint.
Pro Tip: Using a continuous fine mist spray bottle helps you move the paint around more easily to get a smooth coat with great coverage.
The color Fluff is such a perfect antique white for this old wooden feeding chair. My vintage-loving heart fell in love with it as soon as the first coat went on.
Once the chalk paint was dry, I used some fine grit sandpaper to add a little bit of distressing around the legs, the sides, the edges of the tray, and the front of the seat– places where normal wear and tear would have occurred over the years.
Next, I used Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax in brown to highlight the more decorative elements in the back of the seat and along the spindles.
Most of the hardware on this highchair was original, so I left it unpainted. These small parts that work in the tray hinge are still doing their job after all these years.
Plus, their dark color is a nice contrast to the white paint.
Wax & Gator Hide
The entire highchair got a coat of Easy Peasy Wax, and the tray received two coats of Gator Hide--Dixie Belle’s strongest protectant– so that it could be wiped down and cleaned easily after mealtime.
For Gator Hide application, I like to use either a slightly damp blue sponge or a foam brush. It goes on so easily and adds durability to your project.
Adorable DIY Antique Wooden Highchair Makeover
Adding this vintage Wedgewood Beatrix Potter child’s dinner set is the perfect finishing touch.
Doesn’t the finished product just look so sweet?
And even sweeter, here is our precious grandbaby enjoying her “new” antique highchair.
For practical purposes as well as safety, I purchased this highchair cover from Amazon. It attaches securely to the back and side frame of the chair, and it has a seat belt to keep the baby safe and sound.
Plus, it covers the inner seating area to keep food out of the antique cane and is machine washable.
It’s a great solution for giving an old seat like this some modern style and functionality.
Even though this chair isn’t a family heirloom for our family, it was for someone’s family once upon a time. I love thinking about all the babies that have used this chair over the past 100+ years.
Now sweet babies from this family will add to that tradition for many years to come.
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2 thoughts on “Adorable DIY Antique Wooden Highchair Makeover”
This highchair reminds me of my grandmother’s house. You did a great job on this makeover and it is good to see that this chair will help create memories for your family now. This post will be a feature this week. #HomeMattersParty
Thanks so much, Donna! It as such a fun project. 🙂