Friday, October 26, 2012

Painting Furniture fabric... yep, painting fabric...

**So I'm sure you've seen this already on Pinterest (as found from the website here) but this is MY experience with painting furniture fabric... and the AWESOME results I got!**
 When I first joined the wonderful website known as "Pinterest", my life became complete and I spent a solid 8-10 hours on it (ok more like 3-4, but still) and pinned absolutely ANYTHING that caught my eye.

Most of this stuff has just sat on my boards, but nothing really reached out, grabbed me, and said "YOU MUST DO THIS IMMEDIATELY"... that was until I pinned a "fabric painting technique" found here.

I thought the idea of taking a old craigslist/garage sale find and painting it would be something fun and different, although slightly scary/terrifying at the same time (seriously, who PAINTS fabric?!).  I had kept my eyes open on craiglist and well as my local "g-and-e sales" ("garage" and "estate"... its how we reference it in the hood... thug M-street style. Word.)

Either things were too pricey (paying $40 for a chair?! Psh, they are out of their mind!) or not really my style... As always, it was my last sale of the day a few weeks ago when I passed these two beauts in a drive-by (I like to case the joint before actually stopping... ... ... this post is turning gangsta quick).
As you can probably tell from the picture, they were dirty, gross, and stained (I was hoping the red stuff was either ketchup or wine... not blood), but over all in tact.

When I went to ask how much they were, the very nice gay guy told me, "$10 each or $15 for both"... Bonus point for buying from two gay guys - It made me believe the red stain was 100% wine...

I "hmm"ed and "haaa"ed over it for a while (like $7.50 a chair was WAY out of my price range), when the other guy comes up and said "Oh for heaven sakes, look at her hair! You know I have a thing for blondes! $10 for both if you take them away"... Compliment and offer accepted.

I got them home and Chris was a little less than thrilled.  I had been promising him FOREVER (aka. many months) that I would find him two manly chair for his new "Man room" in the sunroom/my former office.  Something dark, leather, and reclining... two velvet, stained, high wingback chairs from a gay couple wasn't really what he was thinking.  Alas, I told him to trust me and if he didn't like them, it would only be a $10 experiment.

The next day, I broke out the fabric/furniture cleaning machine that we hijacked from Chris's parents and went to town cleaning these bad boys.  **I will spare you the details of the color of the water while cleaning, but just know that after 3 rounds, it still wasn't perfect**

After everything was said and dry, it was time to bring them in and begin my experiment.  (Chris loves it when I do projects in the house... LOVES. IT... just ask him...)

I kept my computer open to the original site and followed the directions as listed.

1. Assembled my supplies
- 1 quart latex satin paint
- 1 spray bottle full of water
- 1 paint brush (one that I didnt mind beating up a bit)
- fabric medium (found back with the acrylic paint at Joann's/Michaels, etc)... get the big 8oz size... I started WAY too small and had to go back to the store a LOT!
- high grit sandpaper (I used 160 grit)
The original website (again, found here) used a mix of acrylic paint as well but for my little project, I just wanted to used regular latex satin paint
I started on one of the cushions, just in case things didn't work out. (Who am I kidding?! It was a $5 chair... was I going to save it if it was a flop? Probably not)
Chris's My color selection was Bronzed Ivy by Glidden
Chris DID end up approving the color
 Step #1 was to mix 1 part paint with 1 part fabric medium... I used a plastic spoon to make sure my 1:1 measurement was accurate.  After everything was mixed, you then add equal 1 part water.
  I was a little scary at first because it was so thin, but the original post assured me that's how it should look (watery soup?)

Per the instructions, I gave my cushion a heavy spray down with my bottle, crossed my fingers, toes, eyes, braided my hair, and began to paint.

Not too bad!
 The spray bottle really helps the paint distribute evenly on the fabric and use less paint/fabric medium mix than I thought I would need.

Next step... the big chair.
It looks a little better after being cleaned 45x, right?! Blood Wine stained be damned!
 Not gunna lie... this process takes a while... and there is a LOT of getting up to mix more paint, fabric medium, and water... I suggestion making big cups each at a time using a measuring cup (if you have an extra one laying around you don't mind throwing away after).

Here is a good side by side view of the original fabric and the painted side with its 1st coat... be sure to paint with the grain of the fabric... Up and down worked best for me.
 After finishing the entire chair, I got excited (YAY!) but then exhausted (Aww) when I remembered I was doing TWO chairs instead of one... for the sake of this post, I'm just going to show you the updates on one since you don't need to see everything twice.

I let the chairs dry overnight (as per the instructions) and was happy with the results in the morning. It wasn't hard or harsh at all... and some parts that were a little rough, I smoothed over with the fine grit sandpaper. 
 It didn't flake off or anything... just allowed it to be a little smoother.

After wiping it down... I used the same mixture as coat #1 and applied coat #2.

Here is the side by side with coat #2 on the right.
It looks lighter just because its wet.
 After two coats, I was liking what I saw!
 Letting it dry again overnight, I did the same thing the next day with the sand paper.
 This time there were a few more rough areas...but nothing too bad.

The next step was coat #3... slightly different mixture... 1 part paint, 1 part fabric medium, tiny, little amount of water.  It will look like sludge compared to the first two coats, but don't worry.  The 1st two coats hardened up the fabric and made the surface a LOT easier to paint...

DONT FORGET TO KEEP USING THE SPRAY BOTTLE BEFORE PAINTING! I forgot this a couple times and not only did it suck up a ton of my paint, but it didn't go on as smoothly.. EACH COAT (#1, #2 AND #3) needs to have the fabric sprayed down before painting. Do it area by area.

Low and behold... 4 days after starting, our living room looked like this...
(insert minor paint spills, cleaning, and small little husband wife arguments here... "but honey, I'm making this for YOU!!"
 I gave everything another buff with the sandpaper and was thrilled with my results.
 Its not a velvet material anymore by a long shot, but it feels more like canvas... not uncomfortable at all!

Oh, one of the things I WILL mention is to buy a LOT of fabric medium...
 Yes, I was doing two chairs, but I still seemed to use up a lot of this stuff (I completely bought out one Joann's and had to make two additional trips to one across town).  Better to get it and have extra then have to drive to the store in the middle of a project.

To add a little bling-bling to my chair, I enlisted the help of some $1.30 Home Depot upholstery nails
Since I was going for an antique-y look, I chose an antique brass finish.
The original site used nail head detail around the front of the arms, so I thought that would be a good place to try mine as well.  I measured out the length with a string so I would know exactly how far apart to place my nails.
Measured out to be just over 20" inches
I think this is pretty standard for wing-back chairs, if you want to use my measurements.
I decided to do 1 nail for every 2-inches for a total of 10 nails per arm.

I cut a little piece of paper and reenforced it with tape to use as my measurement guideline.
Once all nails we in place, this is how she he looked...
Not enough of a statement for me. Too spread out.

But the good thing about measuring everything before hand was that it made it super easy just to put another nail in between each one and still come out even.
Much better!

Here's how it looked with both arms done.

Dont get me wrong, it looks great... but still could use a little more dressing up...

Soooo I decided to do the sides as well.
Since I already had my 2" measuring paper/tape thingie made, I decided to do the same 2" first, then go back and add another in between each one.

After all was said and done...
Knowing Chris wanted them out of the living room ASAP, I cleaned up our sunroom and put the bad boys into place.
The pillows were a HomeGoods find (only took me 4 trips to find ones I liked) and the little table/cubbie is another g-sale find that I made over...I will tell you all about next week (spoiler alert: it was only $5)
It was a bright day out when I was taking these pictures, which is why everything looks a little washed out, but they really do look awesome and I love how the color matches the rug.
One more side view for the nail head detail...
And, the ever so popular before and after picture...
Here is a pricing breakdown too:
- $10 chairs
- $8.77 latex paint
- $2.99 paint brushes
- $1.99 spray bottle
- $16.00 fabric medium (3 - 8oz bottles $7.99 each + Joann's 50% off coupon... 4 - 2oz bottles $1.99 each with 50% off Joann's coupon)
- $13.10 Decorative Upholstery Nails (10 packages of 20pc... 5 packs per each chair)
- $25.98 Pillows ($12.99 each)
$78.83... that's less than $40 a chair!!!

We have sat in them a couple times now (we will a LOT more once the TV is installed in the sun room and we start using this room more) and where the chairs aren't perfect, they are a great fit.  The fabric is seeming to loosen a little and not be quiet as stiff as when it was first painted and we have had NO problems whats so ever about the paint coming off on clothes or anything else (that's what the fabric medium was for).

If you have any comments or questions about them or the process, I would be more than happy to answer!

I hope you like em as much as I do! Thanks!


  1. Those look great! I've always been to scared to try painting fabric, but I might have to go ahead and give it a shot.

  2. Thanks so much for this post - I've been on the post about painting fabric - you've inspired me!!!
    Beautiful job and the nail heads look incredible :) ( you nailed it lol )

  3. Wow that's incredible...painting fabric?! They turned out amazing, though! Fantastic job!

  4. Holy guacamole. I mean, I am shocked at how awesome they are....not commenting on the green ;) You are inspiring me to take on a setee I have been plotting this on for months.

  5. I saw this on Pinterest and I was skeptical but boy did these turn out great. I find these kinds of chairs ALL the time and now I'm tempted to give it a try. Love how they turned out and love the rug!

  6. Gorgeous! My mother just gave me her wingback chair that's an awful burgundy color.. And a slight chevron pattern in the weave that I really adore! Since getting it home it has sat out in my garage because I had pinned a " how to " to reupholster the thing! Well.. Forget that!!!! I'm going to paint that bad boy... In teal.. Thanks for the tut!!!

  7. Great tutorial and the chairs look amazing. Hugs, Marty

  8. Wow, love how your chairs turned out. I'm so glad my tutorial worked well for you. Thanks for linking back! If anyone wants to see more examples - there are many more on my chairs page - Anyway, I'd LOVE to add your chairs to that page and link back to your post here! Well done. I love the color choice and the extra nail head trim!

    1. Kristy! Thank you so much for your original post! Its was so helpful and I love the way these turned out! Thanks again!

  9. They are on the Chairs page now on my blog. You did a great job on the post. I hope many will stop by. Love your humor, too!

  10. You've got more patience than me to do something like that. Props to you! Great job!!

  11. I love it! And I would love to get my hands on some dirty old chairs. I'm pretty sure hubby would be thrilled :) Not.
    Very impressive work you did!

  12. OMYGOSH....these are wonderful. You did an awesome job on them and they look super in the sun room.
    I'm over from Boogieboard. :) and I am following you now.
    Come by when you can.

  13. What a great tutorial. I will be trying this on a chair that I just bought at a garage sale for only $8. Yeah...I love new stuff.

  14. You're so funny!!
    These came out great! Just yesterday, I was searching for tutorials on painting fabric, and today found your blog, and your great photos, and results.
    I have read that one person finished off by using paste wax, then sprinkling talcum powder to set it, vacuumed it off, and it really stayed soft. They did not use fabric medium, just latex semi-gloss. Have also heard that instead of fabric medium (which you already discovered comes in ridiculously small bottles), they used regular white glue. Hmmm...
    Am going to paint my sofa, hoping it turns out to look like a RH sofa...
    Fingers crossed!

    1. Good Luck Margaret! I would love to know if those other options work for you! Make sure and stop by to leave a link!

  15. amazing!!!

    love the color....whoever chose it. =)


  16. I've been putting off painting a chair for ages, but I really need to give it a go, as these are great. Thanks for the tutorial.
    I bet the gay guys would like to have them back now !

  17. What an amazing transformation! I've got a chair I'm gonna try this on soon and I'm crossing my fingers I won't end up having to reupholster it. I love seeing examples of this turning out nicely. Gives me hope mine might just turn out.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    Jeannine @ The Concrete Cottage

  18. Great project Samm - I've never seen fabric chairs painted before - so nice to see all the progress pictures and how to! And as always - thanks for such an entertaining post!! Enjoy sitting in your fabulous new chairs!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  19. looks fabulous and i love the nail head trim!

  20. Holey moley what a transformation for $5.00 chairs! I luve those G + E sales! I need to find a chair to experiment on (Mwaaahahahaha), hmmm maybe even add a colorful vertical stripe in the middle of the chair.

  21. Wow! What a transformation! They look great and I appreciate that you included all of the instructions! Now I need to find a cheap-o chair and get to work! I found your blog through Feathered Nest Friday and am now following! Looking forward to more of your great posts! Hugs, Leena

  22. Way too cool. We have had many pieces of furniture redone, the cost is in unbelievable.

  23. This project is incredible. I have seen other upholstery painting posts, but never believed it would work without fabric medium. I think you just proved my point!

    I used to live in Dallas, know the M streets well.


  24. WOW Girl! I think you are amazing, frugal & very brave! After following all those directions....doing the project itself, then putting this amazing post together - you deserve more than two new chairs. Hope you get a spa day soon. =) Thanks for sharing. I am VERY impressed! Love the little nails that really make the chair POP.

  25. Good gracious! That is an AMAZING transformation! I actually bought a chair to do the same months ago, but never started. I used fabric medium to paint curtains and hence ran out so need to pick some up before I attempt this, but this is totally on my to-do list! LOVE IT!
    Thanks for linking up this week to the party - hope to see you this week as well!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  26. They look amazing!! I've never heard of painting fabric or fabric medium before so now my little brain is in over drive thinking up all the things I could use this for!! :) Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. And in answer to your question about the chalkboard wine glasses - yeah it was a little hard to write on them! But still manageable. Next time just I'll use glasses with bigger bases and maybe invest in some skinny chalk! :)

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Love this project...I have seen painted fabric and painted a few chair seats before, but your technique looks so soft and inviting with no rough paint to feel. Gotta follow you to see what other great projects you have!

  29. The shape of the chairs is great and now the color is too. I am amazed that they turned out so pretty. And only $10! Thanks for sharing your experience. I will definitely try it. Much easier than a slipcover!

    Please visit us at the French Hen's Nest anytime.

    Linda and Jeannie

  30. Love these chairs, they look great with your new "chicken storage" table ;) hehe! Have you considered staining the legs of the chairs to match the side table? Either way it all looks great!

  31. These look incredible!!! I've been tempted to paint one of my living room chairs and ottomans. Of all the painting upholstery posts I've seen, yours actually makes me think it would turn out ; ) Thanks so much for sharing this!! I'm pinning

  32. Samm - I am doing this to a chair that I got from my dad. I have done 3 coats and the original color is still coming through. I don't know how many more coats it is going to take. I am wetting the fabric down before painting and mixing the paint with textile medium and water as directed. Is there something you can recommend that will help the paint not soak so much into the fabric?

    Kim N., fellow North Texas resident

    1. Kim, what type of fabric is the chair you are doing? Mine was velvet, so Im not 100% sure how it would react with other fabrics (although per the original post, many people have not had a problem on different fabrics). My only thought to make it not soak in as much would be to lessen up on the water ratio. Also make sure each coat is 100% dry before starting the next one. The two pre-coats I did made my chairs a bit more stiff, which is what held a lot of the color on the final/thicker coat. Hope this helps! Feel free to message me directly if you have any more questions and/or pictures!!! - Samm

  33. They came out awesome! Thank you for all the details. It helps so much to have all this info for me to try.

  34. This is a fantastic post! I totally want to try it. And thanks for the realistic time frame. It's so nice to know how long this project will actually take. And I think our husbands must share the same "why did I marry a creative woman?" side of the brain. Mine is a point. That point would be moving furniture. As long as he doesn't have to help me lug furniture, he's OK with the crazy.

  35. Do you think i could do this on a chair that has a pattern? I was thinking if i did a dark brown it would work maybe?

  36. Hey!Thank you so much for your original post! Its was so helpful and I love the way these turned out! Thanks again!
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  37. Have you ever stenciled a design on painted fabric?

  38. Just replaced the entire Drawing room sofa set. This post will come in handy for the resale value of my old ones

  39. Where did you get the paint from? I can only find it at the hardware store for $40 and it kind of ruins the bargain.

    1. Anna, The paint is just your classic, boring, everyday, run of the mill paint that you can get for $10 a quart at Home Depot. It's the fabric medium plus water that you mix into it which gives it its abilities to stay on the fabric. Hope this helps!

  40. I came across this post on Pinterest and now that I am moving into an unfurnished home I am seriously considering doing this project! I do have some questions.. I found some chairs that are similar to the ones in your post but they are made with different fabric. The fabric is ridges and is pretty old.. like from the 70s, old. I was wondering, do you think this way of painting fabric would work on most fabrics? Also, do you think that if I did this on a chair with a plaid pattern it would cover it up enough so that the patter wouldn't show underneath? Thanks for the amazing post! I am so excited to try this!

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  42. The nails are cute. I admire your bargaining technique. I wouldn't like to sell you something. You would haggle with an ice cream truck driver and win.

    You're really good at finding bargains. I will keep your story in mind any time I want to buy something for less. Perfect example- case the joint, pretend it isn't the answer to your prayers, etc ;-)

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  44. Fascinating information I haven’t been experienced such information in quite a long time.

  45. That gay couple is gonna be jealous!

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  48. These chairs look great! I want to do this to a loveseat and recliner my grandmother gave me. Once painted and all, does it sit well? Does it wear well?

  49. I have a chair I would like to paint; however the fabric on my chair is not like the one in your blog. it is smooth with flowers. Would the the same process apply? Thanks !

  50. Samm!! You are a Rock Star!! I am TOTALLY loving your painted chairs project. You have inspired me to paint my own pair of wing chairs since I could never justify the cost of reupholstering them.

    Great job, your $10 cheapie chairs now look like a MILLION BUCKS! Please let us know how the paint has held up in all this time -- thanks !!!!


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  52. bought 2 antique chairs. hoping to paint one and the other needs reupholstering. wish me luck! i am definitely bookmarking your page. thanks!

  53. wow!! nice design.Thanks for sharing this pictures.

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  55. The chairs look absolutely beautiful!!! You did a work of art!! Thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to make this very thorough tutorial for all of us!!! Now we can try it out w/out being afraid!! If you have any more projects in the future, hope you continue to share with us! Thanks

  56. Amazing! I am terrified at the thought of painting furniture but these came out so beautiful! I wonder how close to the original color of the fabric you would have to stay in order to cover it completely? ( Like, would turning a dark brown chair beige be possible?) Thanks for sharing!

  57. Laughed till I cried at this. You might be my long lost sister-and my husband can related to Chris' plight. He has been sent to retrieve my etsy treasures at Greyhound stations in every town we've lived-and I think New Orleans was the scariest. Did not deter me. I'm about to paint a treasure now so thanks for the info!

  58. Interior Designer MaxJune 4, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    How does the sofa smell? I worry that if I paint my sofa it will have chemicals in it that my kids can lick and get sick from. I also came across this company in Wired Magazine, which apparently can make you a custom printed sofa? Anyone know if it is any good? I'm exploring the option of painting an old sofa versus buying a new sofa with my own design on it.

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  61. This is so sweet! Can you do this on any fabric?

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  78. Didn't turn out well for me. A velvet love seat in a very bright cherry red is the project. I tried for dark brown and it just isn't covering after 4 coats. A lot of work and not a good result. A lighter color is best for this type of project.

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