How to Upcycle an Ercol Chair


How to upcycle an Ercol chair

For a fair few years now I’ve wanted an Ercol chair, lusting after them in interior magazines and in show stopping homes on Instagram. I’ve done the odd search on eBay but struggled to find individual chairs, rather than a whole set all upycled and ready to go. That was until very recently, when inspired by some stunning chairs on the Instagram feed of numberfiveinteriors, I decided to give eBay another go. And my patience was rewarded! I found a single chair, in the style I wanted, less than 50 miles away and for a reasonable price. Cue much excitement and jumping about!

I wanted a chair that was in less than perfect condition so that I wouldn’t feel guilty painting a design classic, and this fit the bill perfectly. It was structurally sound, but there were a few scuffs in the wood. To be honest, if I hadn’t had my heart set on painting this dark grey then I could have easily left it – the chair is still a show stopper if you ask me!

How to Upcycle an Ercol Chair

For this upcycle I used Rust-Oleum Graphite Chalky Matt Furniture Paint. I didn’t have to buy mine as I borrowed a pot from my mum, but this is cheaper than Annie Sloan as an alternative option. It is slightly harder to work with – however I was too impatient to wait and buy some more paint.

Part of the joy with using chalk paint is that the furniture needs very minimal prep. So, to start off with we tipped the chair upside down, painting the underneath of the base and the legs – there was no need to sand the wood. We purposely left the top of the chair unpainted so that we still had something to hold onto and move the chair around with. Needless to say that was Simon’s great idea, not mine!

How to Upcycle an Ercol Chair

The first coat didn’t give us the coverage we were hoping for, so once it was dry we gave it chair another coat.

One thing I was really cautious of was that I didn’t want the chair to look painted. I wanted solid cover, rather than a shabby chic effect. As you can see in the close up of the seat, we used big strokes rather than lots of little ones to try and minimise the brush effect on big areas. And this is what it looked like after the two coats:

How to Upcycle an Ercol Chair

How to Upcycle an Ercol Chair

Now I’ve always been a bit cautious of furniture wax, but this chair will eventually be in my study and used fairly often, so leaving it unwaxed wasn’t really an option. Unfortunately we chose a ridiculously warm Sunday to wax the chair, which resulted in an uneven finish on the seat – the most visible part of the chair! Proof, if you needed it, that DIY doesn’t always go right!

How to Upcycle an Ercol Chair

So we made the decision to sand the seat of the chair and watered down the paint slightly for thinner coats. This time, the finish looked much smoother and the wax didn’t leave any odd marks. Hallejulah!

And this is the finished effect, quite a handsome looking Ercol chair, if I do say so myself!

How to upcycle an Ercol chair

What do you think, have you ever upcycled a design classic? Do you have any great furniture painting tips to share?

Psst… we have a thing for chairs here at Every Home, check out our other chair upcycles here.




  1. Lisa Holmes
    August 12, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Lovely x

  2. Jacquie
    July 21, 2019 / 1:51 pm

    The chair is stunning in its simplicity.. Really useful information – I’m quite excited to get on and transform my newly acquired ecol TV/video cabinet

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