Painted upholstery

Pinterest Addict - Tulip Fabric Spray Paint Chair
It's not really a makeover

I wanted to just write up a quick “how-I-did-it” for the painted chairs I posted about here. I first heard of painting furniture from this Pinterest pin…

via Hyphen Interiors

What?! Painted upholstery??

Kristy Swain at Hyphen Interiors painted a thrifted chair for her bedroom. It looked fabulous. Okay, fast forward a few weeks and I see the Mr. Goodwill Hunting has now painted two chairs that he picked up for dirt-cheap! Since I had just purchased two chairs for $10 a piece just a day or two before his post (and promptly found out that it would cost around $350 to re-upholster them – NOT including the fabric!) I was super excited to find an alternative method to make them work for the space.

If you don’t remember, here is one of the chairs in it’s original state.

Before picture of old chair

Chair: before

First thing I did was vacuum the chairs and wiped them down to remove any dust or dirt. Then I got my supplies together.

How to paint a chair using paint and fabric Medium

Everything I needed for this project – How to paint a chair using paint and fabric Medium

I mixed together the textile medium and the Glidden paint according to the directions I read on Kristy’s blog…and added enough water to make it soupy. And then I rolled it on. At first it was not covering well at all. This is after two coats of latex paint.

One coat of paint plus fabric medium

One coat of paint plus fabric medium – Still way too light and see-through

Then I added some of the acrylic paint to the mix. The acrylic paint seems to have a lot more pigment, so it went on a lot darker. But it also dried much stiffer.

After four coats of paint and fabric medium

After four coats of paint and fabric medium

You can still see the faintest hint of the flowers underneath. After four coats of paint, I thought the seats were way too scratchy. When I had tried to sand them down, the process left them looking very worn and gray, but much smoother. I was not going for a worn look, so I had to figure something else out. So, I poured some fabric softener in a bowl and dipped the scrub brush in it and scrubbed down the chairs. It worked! And as a bonus, the chairs smell heavenly. Love that Mrs. Meyers line of cleaners – they smell AMAZING!! (The textile medium is a little stinky at first, so that step really helps)

Paint plus fabric medium makes for a scratchy chair

Paint plus fabric medium makes for a scratchy chair

So, this is one of the chairs as it sits in my living room today. Why is it covered with the throw still? Well, because that throw is super soft and feels better than even the scrubbed paint ever will.

BOTTOM LINE: Would I do this again? Yes! I can’t afford the cost of fabric and labor to reupholster them now, so this is a great alternative. Are they comfortable? Well, they aren’t soft and comfy as they were before, but hardly anyone actually sits in them because we spend most of our time in the family room. But they look a million times better than they used to look in the space, so it’s all good!

Note: if you want more detailed directions and some other kick-butt examples of painted upholstery, check out Kristy’s blog, here! 

Pinterest Addict - Tulip Fabric Spray Paint Chair
It's not really a makeover
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  1. says

    Wow, awesome post! Mind if I mention you and your success on my blog sometime? I saw Mr Goodwill Hunting’s chair as well – looked great! I’m going to try that fabric softener trick! And, I want to tell my readers about it.

    • says

      Thank you! To be completely honest, there are still a few spots that could still use another coat or two, but I got tired of painting. (Can I admit that I bummed out on them?) The good news is that those spots are kind of hidden for now, so it can hold until I have a few minutes to do some touch ups. Thanks for stopping by!!

  2. says

    Great job on your chairs! It took me months to muster up the courage to paint some fabric….so glad I did! It’s a great band aid until I can reupholster.

    • says

      Thank you! Those were my feelings exactly! I loved that even if the paint didn’t cover well or was too scratchy that I could eventually recover them. Thank God that they turned out way better than I expected.

  3. says

    I am going to try this. What can you loose if you aren’t using the chairs anyway! Reupholstering is much too expensive for people that are on a budget.

  4. Tristan says

    I bought a thrifted leather lounge chair. It’s gorgeous, but it has some stains on it that I’d like to cover. Can you do this to leather?

    • A Pinterest Addict says

      I would not use it on leather. I know there are leather dyes out there, but I don’t think this would be safe to use. Sorry!

  5. Nesh says

    Hi, i tried this on my chairs (its more like a cortorro fabric) and my chairs are stiff! lol. Its like velcro. What do you suggest?

    • A Pinterest Addict says

      Hi Nesh! I’m sorry that happened to you… Did you try to use a brush on it? I used a brush with fabric softener on it, and sort of gave it a roughing up. It really took the crunch out of it, and made it smell lovely. I also tried sanding it, but it made it look very “worn”, which was not the look I was going for. But, it did do a great job of making it softer.


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