That Time I Painted Upholstery…

We’ve had these set of three chairs that we snagged for free from the very nice people at our bank, of all places, for months. Two of them are meant for Brian’s office, but the third…the third one is all mine (rubs hands together maniacally). The chairs are in great shape, they just have a very 60’s, masculine vibe to them. I’ve used the third chair in almost all the rooms in our house, most currently in our bedroom. We have a weird little nook in our bedroom with Brian’s dresser and one of these chairs fits there nicely too. It really comes in handy when you want to sit and tie your shoes or set the laundry basket in for a couple days…or weeks.

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As most of you know, I’ve been working on our master bedroom and trying to make it feel a little more ‘polished’ and little less ‘hot mess’. Currently this chair is just too brown and orange for my needs. I want to lighten it up a bit and make it feel more rustic/shabby chic and less 60’s office waiting room.

I started by spray painting the wood frame an ivory color. I planned on removing the cushions and covering them in a nice gray, velvet….that was the plan. The bottom cushion cooperated nicely and was super easy to remove with a few screws. The back cushion was not going to come off easily I realized after removing half of the studs. My fear was that I would tear it up too much to be able to re-attach it. I had this problem with the last chairs I re-upholstered. I never could get the backs back on them, so they stayed off. Luckily those chairs didn’t really need the back cushion, but this chair does. It just wouldn’t be comfortable without it.

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Cut to me watching 37-ish tutorials on YouTube about how to paint upholstery. I know…I was skeptical to say the least, but after watching video after video, I felt somewhat confident that I could do it. Worse case scenario, it doesn’t work and I rip out the back cushion and try to recover it.

I bought some acrylic paint (some video tutorials used latex), and some fabric medium. The directions were pretty simple: combine one part paint, one part fabric medium, and one part water. I did about 1/4 cup of each since the area I had to paint was actually pretty small. I chose a medium gray color for my paint because the cushions were pretty dark. I didn’t want to choose a color that was too light and have to paint 10 coats.

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The first coat was scary. I really started to second guess my choices at this point. The paint is pretty runny and it looks a lot like a stain more than a coat of paint. Also it is really important to let your fabric have a full 24 hours to dry in between coats. Another tip that I found weird, but necessary, was to sand the fabric in between coats with a fine sand paper. It sounds crazy, but it really helped the fabric to soften up and feel less stiff.

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Luckily after three coats things started to look a lot better. The pattern of the fabric still shows through, so if you don’t like the pattern on your upholstery, this is not a good option for you. Also, the upholstery is NOT as soft as it was originally. Even with sanding between coats, it ends up feeling more like a canvas drop cloth. Still comfortable to touch, just a little more stiff.

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After I reattached my cushion, I decided that the ivory paint was too basic and boring.  I just wasn’t feeling it. So I grabbed some gray stain and dry-brushed it all over the wood frame. Then I grabbed a sanding block and roughed up the paint around the edges and the spindles. I love that rustic, well-loved look on this chair.

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I haven’t antiqued much furniture, but I feel like it really works on this chair. I kind of want to find more furniture try it on…(more maniacal hand rubbing).

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Also, I saw this pillow at the back of the store all the way from the entrance. It was practically screaming at me to take it home with that bold navy and white print. Then I got closer and noticed the blush pink tassels and it immediately went into my cart. And yes, that store was TJ Maxx.

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I have to say, painting upholstery was not something I ever thought I would try, but I’m pretty happy with the outcome. Would I paint a comfy chair that I love to relax in or cozy up and watch a movie in?…Probably not. But it works for a chair we sit in occasionally for a short periods of time. I feel like it adds just enough farmhouse/shabby chic-ness to the bedroom and is a nice contrast to the dark walls and wood trim.

Master bedroom

 

 

 

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