I found this chair, and another just like it, at an estate sale. I loved the design, but not so much the upholstery. I knew it was going to take forever to reupholster, so I decided to paint it…the upholstery and all! I knew if I didn’t like it after it was done that I could just tear it all off and reupholster it.
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I started off by spraying it down with a spray bottle and water. Getting the fabric wet helps the paint to absorb better. I also sprayed it again between each coat.
I mixed flat “Spruce Peak” Clark and Kensington, color matched into Benjamin Moore paint with fabric medium…about a 3:1 ratio, of paint and fabric medium. I also added a tablespoon or two of water to the paint mixture. I made sure the upholstery was clean of any debris before spraying water on it and painting. After I had the paint mixed, I just painted it on with a paint brush.
I used a smaller craft paint brush to get into the smaller areas. On the areas close to the sides, I pushed the fabric away from the side and painted down into the spot beside the trim.
After the paint was dry, I used a crumpled up brown paper sack to lightly sand it. ￼
Below is a photo of what it looked like after the first coat of paint. It was cute, but the color was still showing through. I decided to do two more coats to completely cover the color underneath.
You can see in this next photo, below, the seat has two coats, and the back has one coat. After two coats, the coverage was pretty good but there were still little areas that I needed to touch up, so I did a third coat.
I decided that I wanted to change up the trim to get rid of some of the “orangey” look. I used the technique, of paint and glaze, that I had used before on some chairs to make them look like wood. It worked great!
I love how it turned out! The green color is exactly what I was hoping for! And, I’m so glad I changed up the trim too!
I painted some chairs a couple of years ago and they turned out great as well. I am thinking I will probably add some flat out flat general finishes sealer to this one. One of you also suggested a wax to seal and soften, so I may search around and try that.
It does have a bit of a rough feel, kind of like a tough leather, but I don’t mind it at all. I think using the fabric medium helps to keep the paint from cracking and helps it to stay on better. Fabric is always a better option but this works out great when you don’t want to spend the money or time on reupholstering something…as long as the exsisting fabric is in good shape.
I’m going to call this my Christmas chair…my Tree Farm Christmas chair, thanks to one of you who suggested that! I would love to hear what you think about painting upholstery, in the comments below. Is it something that you would try?
Raines Susan says
I love this so much. I have a chair and ottoman. That I want to do so bad. I was going to have it recovered but 700.00 is a bit much. The only thing with my chair it has cross cross painted green wood on the back. I really don’t know where to start! But I’m thinking this may work. Love everything you do you are so blessed with so much spunk and talent. Tootles. Suzie
I’d definitely try painting upholstery too. I love everything you do.
You’re inspiring me to do more new things. I love it !
J V says
I have a question about the wood trim on the Christmas chair with the painted upholstery. You mention in the above article that you achieved this look with paint and glaze on the wood trim. The link to that technique shows you using paint and wax on those purple chairs. Wondering if the above chair wood look finish was done with paint and stain or paint and wax. Thanks!
Hi Natalie.. the chair looks great. I have painted upholstery once and the fabric was stiff, looked good but just didn’t feel comfy. I was thinking maybe you found a different process but you said it was stiff as well. Always looking forward to your projects.😍
Hillenbrand Sarah says
Love how it turned out! You’re so good at this!
Booker K says
Looks great! I did the same technique* on a set of expensive barstools once I found out how much it would be to laminate new fabric (fabric, five kids & food areas are just not friends). High end designers spend a pretty penny to have their fabric covered, so I figured it was worth the gamble. I painted stripes to cover the existing pattern and then used Annie Sloan wax (with a few drops of white paint mixed in) to cover the paint once it was dry. THIS gave it an amazing finish by softening the fabric, and allowing you to wipe the surface if you need to bc it doesn’t absorb, yet it doesn’t look slick. They’re still in excellent condition after 6 years. *Lightly spraying the fabric with water as you paint really helps it absorb nicely/evenly.
My daughter and I did this to an old wingback chair and foot stool we picked up cheap on FB marketplace. We couldn’t find the fabric medium anywhere, so we used fabric softener and it worked great.
When she came home early from college, due to covid, we transformed the kids play house into a reading nook/she shed. We found and updated an old makeup table, piano bench, foot stool and this chair. Dad transformed the space for her including twinkle lights, a cool chandelier and a wall filled with shelves. She loves her reading nook and the freshly painted chair and foot stool are a perfect place to chill out with a good book. Overall the whole project was fun, and for our whole family involved. And so happy the kids can still get use out of that playhouse they built with their grandpa so many years ago.
Patricia Bailey says
I just absolutely love watching what you do to a piece of furniture, you’re so amazing how you take something and transform it to something so beautiful! That big hutch you have in your house that you did I’d like to redo my bedroom suite like that! Tell that architect to get busy so all can get your house built! I can only imagine how beautiful it will be!! You’re so talented Natalie, thanks for sharing all your beautiful work with us!
Looks awesome! I am so glad you shared, makes me want to paint my Granmother’s Queen Anne leg chair. It has velveteen on the sides! Very nervous with Velveteen 🤨
I needed the push 🤪.
Again a big Thank you, Natalie,
Mary C says
I’m amazed at how you treated the wood after you finished the fabric.
It looks like you didn’t get any paint or stain on the upholstery. How were you able to do that?
Dixie B says
There is a clay based paint called Debi’s DIY paint, which is highly pigmented. When watered down it’s more like a fabric dye. It’s the same technique, wet the fabric apply watered down paint and sand between coats. The fabric stays soft with this method. Debi has videos on YouTube on how to do this. She painted a velvet sofa with incredible results.
Cathy Clark says
I LOVE this!!! Looks so beautiful!
I found a chair that had great bones & ugly upholstery on the street going to trash few years. I use this same technique & it worked great!!! Not a crack or chip since (slightly rough texture as you said). Such a great alternative to costly reupholstery!!!
So beautiful. I love everything you do. Especially all of the “think outside the box” stuff. A very creative gal!!
Kathy M says
I love it Natalie! You are an inspiration!
Boy does that look good! Now I just need to find a chair to paint 🙂
I love watching you work on your projects, they always come out fabulously!
Montee Wellman says
Thanks so much for sharing this, and yes I want to give it a try! Now on the lookout for the perfect chair.
Another beautiful vintage porch beauty!
I am currently looking for an antique or vintage chair to go in my entryway. I have found a few that I love the lines on but not the upholstery. Thank you for reminding me that I can paint the fabric as I am not an upholsterer. Now I can look at my options differently.
Kathy Presley says
I’ve paint fabric on chairs before but it was a hundred years ago, so the technique has come a ways. Like yours, mine was a little crunchy at first, but with use, it became softer. I love your chair!
Wow…You’re nailed it…keep on writing.