Melissa DIY refinishes and reupholsters her 1950s dinette and Cosco high chair: Fabulous!

1950s dinette cleaned up and reupholstered -- DIY


Remember this recent story about how to reupholster vintage dinette chairs affordably? Well, reader Melissa used the video shown to tackle doing the upholstery herself — both on the dinette chairs and a vintage Cosco high chair she found for $3.12. Melissa also used steel wool to polish the chrome, and achieved what looks to be perfect results. Oh my goodness — her DIY project turned out beautifully — you go, girl! Read on for Melissa’s story of triumph…

Mel writes:

Very impressive job, Mel!


I’m always checking out your website, because I love retro and mid century modern style. I know your always putting people’s projected on your site. And I thought you might like to put mine up 🙂

I have refinished a 1950’s table and chairs as well as a high chair. I bought the table and chairs off craigslist about two years ago for about a $100… I bought the fabric for about $50… and then the steel wooling started. I thought it was going to be much harder than it actually was, and I was pretty worried it was not going to turn out well. But I surprised myself. and everything turned out better than I could have ever imagined.

vintage cosco high chair reupholstered
Yes, who among us has not purchased and refinished a vintage Cosco high chair — before we actually had a baby for it?

Then a few weeks ago I spotted a retro high chair at the thrift store for $3.12. I thought to myself well I don’t have any kids, and that would be stupid for me to buy. But I could just couldn’t resist it for only $3.12. So I thought, well, I could refinish it and sell it. But now that I have it done and it looks so good, I feel like I need to save it for when I have a child lol.

I asked Melissa whether she used the video I featured on my site, and also quizzed her on where she got the supplies. She said:

I did use her video. But I did not know it was on your site, I just googled “reupholster retro chairs” and eventually found that video. I bought the fabric from Beatrice, the lady in the video. I had originally emailed her to find out where I could buy that type of vinyl, because the only kind I was finding was the kind with backing or non plyable. Then she just told me I could buy it from her. So I did 🙂 I also got the white piping-piece from her. I had my mom help me with them, I thought four hands would be better than two. And we did it in the middle of the hot summer on my front porch with the heater on us — lol it was HOT.


Thank you, Mel, for this inspiration. Of course, I asked Mel what else she had going on in her house. More to come maybe! 🙂

  1. Sonya says:

    I would love to know more about the paint color on the walls and the window shade. Love the color combinations!

  2. Kathy says:

    How exactly did you redo the chrome? I have a similar highchair – the fabric part is fine but the tray and legs need a little work. Did you just clean then repaint?

  3. Jani hayes says:

    Hello! Love the high chair, great job Melissa. Just a question…where did you get the fabric on the window? I’m looking for something cheery like that for my all white kitchen. Thanks! Jani

  4. sharon olson says:

    i refinished an old diner booth and table but cannot find the metal banding that goes around the booth bottom..its flexible and aluminum and about 2″ wide ..any ideas where i can buy it..tried home depot, lowes, fabric reupholstery places to no avail…thx

  5. Amy Savage says:

    I took my cosco high chair apart to restore and when I took the legs off 4 thin bars ( 1/4″ x 5″) fell out. I did not see that coming and can not figure out where they go. Do you have any ideas?

  6. Rose Berlin says:

    I’ve had great results cleaning up chrome with Bar Keepers Friend, a
    powdered cleanser…I get mine at Home Depot.

  7. Myra Duba says:

    where can I find the same type of chrome upholstery tacks that are on the old kitchen chairs? Thanks!

  8. Candy says:

    The table looks fantastic. Maybe you could offer me some advice? Hubby and I just purchased a yellow dinette set with gray apple inlays. I am in love! The legs are cleaning up like a champ. They were pretty bad. My question is about the metal around the edge of the table. Is that also chrome? What is the best way to clean this part? have found great instructionsfor the rest of the table, but not sure how to take are of this part. Any help would be great!

  9. Robin says:

    I have just purchased a Cosco chair at an estate sale and would like to try recovering the seat and back. I don’t really understand what kind of vinyl this is that can be heated to form the be corners so neatly and smoothly. What is it called and where can I buy it? This project may be over my head, but I want to try.

  10. Carol Hoffmann says:

    I am interested in 2 things. Is the high chair available for purchase? and where did you find the vinyl for the reupholstering of it? I have been looking for the right vinyl to repairs vintage bar stools like the chairs you have and I would be interested in buying a high chair to match for my grand kids.
    Thank You,

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Carol — regarding actually using these old high chairs — be sure to check with professionals to ensure they are still safe.

      Regarding vinyl, See our stories under Decorate/Furniture, or use the Search box. We have several sources, including for New Old Stock.

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