I’ve posted before about my dining room struggles (they are real!). Remember this post about how I really don’t like my dining room furniture anymore? In that post I talked about how I swapped out the chairs that came with the table for these rattan ones. And I do like them a lot better than the originals. But I still felt like I wanted something to make the space feel a little more important.
I really, really wanted big, comfy, enveloping upholstered chairs. Since I don’t have a dedicated dining room, it’s easy for my dining area to just kind of blend into my kitchen. So I felt that having something a bit more formal would help that space feel a little more special and distinct.
And here they are – my “new” dining room upholstered chairs! Comfy, cozy, with a little bit of subtle sophistication. And just wait until you see how they started life – there was nothing subtle about them!
Although I knew I wanted some upholstered chairs at the ends of the table, I really didn’t want to spend much money to get them. I’d been reading and researching about painting upholstered furniture for a while – starting when I was wanting to change the look of the sofa and chairs in my living room. As you might know, I ended up sewing slipcovers for those pieces, and I’m so glad I did – it changed the whole look of my living room area!
I knew, of course, that I would never paint my sofa and chairs, because they are really nice pieces of furniture. BUT, if I had some really old, or cheap, or FREE upholstered furniture, that would be a different story!
Enter these wing chairs! Aren’t they pretty? (not!) I traded two old end tables I had for two of these chairs, so I feel like they were free! And free meant that I wouldn’t feel too badly if I ended up ruining them in the process of trying to paint them.
The Painting Process
There are a lot of good tutorials on painting upholstered furniture. I mostly used this one by A Beautiful Mess, this one by Made+Remade, and this one by 11 Magnolia Lane. Check them out for all the details before you get out your paint brushes! I’m not planning on re-writing a whole tutorial, because all of the above ladies did fabulous jobs, and their tutorials will get the job done for you. But I will give you just a quick summary of the steps I went through so that you can decide if it’s something you want to delve into more deeply. In a nutshell, here’s what I did:
- Clean off the upholstery as best you can – I vacuumed mine and tried to wipe off stains with warm water and a rag as much as possible
- Gather your supplies: spray bottle, latex or craft paint, water, fabric medium, paint brush, paper towels, painters tape (to tape around the legs), sandpaper or sanding block
- Mix up your solution – latex paint, water, and fabric medium in a ratio of about 1:1:1/2
- Fill a spray bottle with water – spray the chair lightly (you don’t have to soak it) before applying each coat of paint
- Start painting, trying to work the paint into the fabric
- Sand and mist with water between each coat
- It took me about 5 coats of paint to cover
Your paint will be pretty watery, and it will take several coats to completely cover the original pattern and color. I think I did about 3 thin coats, then I used a slightly thicker mixture (used less water) for the final two coats.
One tip that I read somewhere: keep in mind that you are trying to work the paint into the fabric (that’s why you spray it with water first, and why the paint is so thin), rather than just applying coats on top. That goes a long way in keeping it from getting too crunchy and stiff when it’s dry. Also, I think sanding between coats helped the fabric stay supple as well.
At the end of most of the tutorials I read, readers asked these two questions. So I’ll just answer them now!
Does the fabric feel crunchy when you’re done? Your chair fabric will definitely feel stiffer than it was before it was painted. It feels to me like a softened leather now, or a little bit like a vinyl. It’s smooth, and it’s a little bit stiff, but it’s definitely not crunchy or crackly. It actualy feels much softer than I expected it would. Will it become my new favorite chair for snuggling in with a book at night? No, probably not. But it’s perfectly comfortable for sitting and eating dinner in!
Will the paint rub off onto my clothing when I sit on it after it’s been painted? All of the tutorials I read stated definitively that the paint does NOT rub off on clothing. And that has been my experience, too (keep in mind that I’ve had my chair finished for all of about one week!). It does not rub off, and the paint has not chipped off either. I’ll update you if I notice any chipping.
As you can see, I tried them out with every pillow I own!
I really like how the chairs came out, and I love that they make my dining area feel just a little more formal, and a little more special.
Well, what do you think? Will you be trying your hand at any painted upholstery?