Decorating DIY

Painting upholstery fabric on a thrift store chair

I have said many times that I will paint just about anything. No worries though, Gerald and the kitties have been spared my paint brush, haha. I have painted walls, tables, vases, frames, and fabric….yes I have painted fabric, and I am going to show you how easy it is!

This is before. It’s a beautiful chair, but I knew I could transform it into more my style.

Chairs are one of my many weaknesses, I can’t seem to pass them up in a thrift store! And when I saw this french style chair for $20, I knew it had to come home with me. Nutmeg tried it out of course. I loved the shape of it, but it was just too dark for my style. I was originally going to attempt to reupholster it. (which I have never done) but then decided to just paint it…fabric and all. I have painted an upholstered chair before and it has held up really well!

To begin, water down your chalk paint. (I mixed half water and half paint in a glass bowl) I misted one section of the chair at a time with water to get the fabric quite damp. (example….I sprayed the back of the chair and got that damp, and then put a coat of paint on before moving on to the arms) They key is to really dampen your fabric. This allows the paint to soak in rather than sitting on top….that’s when it gets hard and will crack.

Fair warning, this is going to take several coats to cover! I used a light colour paint, so the design of the fabric showed through (which I didn’t care) I let the paint dry for about 2 hours and then repeated the same process. Wet the fabric with your spray bottle, and then paint a coat on. I used a cross hatch method of painting, to prevent any brush strokes.

After about 6 coats, I painted the wood a couple of coats with the same colour (not watered down of course) After one more coat on the fabric, I was happy with how it looked.

I then decided to paint over the wood, using Rustoleum Metallic Accents paint in soft gold. That took two coats. I have never used antiquing wax, and thought this was a good time to give it a try. The wax I used was a dark brown. I painted it on and wiped it off with a microfiber cloth.

This whole process took quite a few days, because I had to wait for the layers of paint to dry…and I had other projects on the go. Some tutorials I have read say to seal the fabric with wax…I didn’t. This is an accent chair and won’t be used every day (just by the kitties) And like I said earlier, I had painted an upholstered chair before and didn’t seal it at all, and it has stood up great! Yes the fabric is definitely stiffer than without paint, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. The best way that I can describe it is that it feels like leather over time.

Things to keep in mind,

  • make sure your fabric is really good and damp before painting it
  • water your paint down really well
  • this will take several coats!
  • fabric will definitely have a harder feel when you are done
  • if you use a light colour paint, any design on the fabric will show through
Oliver is still loving the chair! haha

I am really loving how this chair has turned out!! Don’t be afraid to paint fabric! (it’s such an inexpensive way of getting a whole new look!) At the end of the day, it’s only a chair. If you follow along with me on Instagram, I am always changing and rearranging….my home is my canvas for creativity. Thank you so much for stopping by and I appreciate every one of you!

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  1. Marilyn Moore says:

    WOW!! What an amazing transformation!!! I love how the design on the fabric came through so beautifully! The sheen of the original fabric almost obscured it. Of course the ultimate approval came from Oliver. The chair is amazing and so are you!!!! Love Mom.

    1. Tracey says:

      Thanks Mom! Both Oliver and Nutmeg take their turns on it..haha

    2. Jamie Callan says:

      Your chair turned out great Tracey! I agree with your Mom, I love the way the design on the fabric shows through. It makes it more interesting.

      1. Tracey says:

        Thanks Jamie!

  2. ginette4 says:

    Looks awesome as have a beautiful home

    1. Tracey says:

      Oh Thank you so much for your kindness!!

  3. Patty Imperatore says:

    So so so so gorgeous!! I’m SO EXCITED to try this on 4 chairs and an armoire that I couldn’t resist buying because I LOVE this style!! Painting the fabric is genius! Two of my chairs are leather which I hope to recover with fabric. The other two are cane seats and backs. I’ll make cushions for them. Thanks so much for sharing this info!

    1. Tracey says:

      Thanks Patty!! Paint works magic on so many things!!!

  4. Yayyy, turned out so good. I love how the pattern shows through, it makes it look more authentic!

  5. Barbara H. says:

    It was a good looking chair before but now it is a splendid chair. I like that the pattern shows – it adds some dimension. And your idea to paint the wood gold was spot on – it really took it up several notches.

    1. Tracey says:

      Thanks Barbara!!

  6. I would have not believed this to be a painted chair if there were not photos. You have given me confidence to paint an unused chair!

    1. Tracey says:

      Yes! I am so glad!! You can do it!

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