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Junk to Funk | Bistro Set Reno

When I saw the pile of rusty iron on the lawn of the neighbour’s garage sale, I saw potential. The potential for a lovely retro bistro set bringing new life and purpose to my front porch. I imagined freshly brewed coffee, the paper and early morning rays of sun. I paid $15 for the table and 2 chairs, invested another $25 in paint and outdoor fabric and a few hours of labour later my porch dreams were reality.

By: Liesbeth





Tools & Materials

  • Black outdoor rust paint for table and chairs
  • White and yellow outdoor spray paint
  • Outdoor fabric (1/2 yrd) to cover the chairs
  • Foam or filler pad (1/2 yrd) for the chairs
  • Painter’s tape
  • Large ruler
  • Paint brush


Step by Step Painting the Furniture

Using sanding paper, remove all rust, bumps and stubborn dirt from the iron. When finished, clean the furniture using a brush and water to remove all sanding “dust”. Make sure the furniture is perfectly dry before you start painting.


Using a medium size (1 inch) brush, paint your furniture, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of the intricate ironwork. Tip: to paint chairs and table, put them upside down and do legs first. Let dry, flip around and paint the rest. I only needed one layer of paint, but if you feel you need more cover or protection, go ahead and put on another layer after the first one has dried.



Step by Step Tabletop

This table did not come with glass but instead had a replacement acrylic top. This was the main reason I wanted to change it. If your table is missing a top, get a piece of acrylic cut to size. You could consider plywood too but since this is outdoor furniture I would not recommend it (rain and sun will easily rot and or bend the wood).

Spray paint the tabletop white and let dry for at least 24 hours (it dried to the touch in 1 hr but needs 24 hrs to completely set).


Next: the pattern. Great results but it’s a bit of work to get this chevron pattern done. Carefully measure and draw your perfect chevron pattern on the table top using a large ruler and a pencil. If you think this is too tricky for you, consider simple stripes. They are much easier and always look great.

Apply your painter’s tape.


(Spray) paint using your yellow paint.


Carefully remove tape after an hour and voila!



Step by Step Chair Seats

I could easily unscrew the old seat covers from the chairs. They were old, stained and not very “bum-friendly”.


Put the old seat on top of your new fabric and cut around it adding another 2 inches or so all around.


Then put the old seat on your foam or filler pads and cut around it exactly, not adding any extra so the foam and the seats are the same size.


Place yellow fabric on floor, good side touching the floor, then add the foam/filler and lastly the old seat. Sit with your knees on top of it, while stapling inch by inch the yellow fabric on the back of the seat. Make it tight! Cut away any excess fabric after you are done stapling.


And there it is. A new bistro set in just a couple of hours of work. Hugely rewarding.


(psss: if you don’t have one of these old sets and you are tired of visiting every garage sale, check Craigslist or Kijiji or any other second-hand private sale site and you will likely find one of these).

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