Because I Said So: DIY: How to Paint an Upholstered Chair
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Monday, January 6, 2014

DIY: How to Paint an Upholstered Chair

Yep that's right. Painting fabric. I got the idea from here and here. (both great DIY blogs!)


This project is not for the faint of heart, even though it does sound rather easy. I mean how hard to is to slap some paint on some fabric and call it a day? Well actually, it's very hard. Four coats hard. Not to mention, you have to see the "diamond in the rough." For me, this was easier said than done. Just look at the chair. Hideous right?IMG_4300

This is the BEFORE; almost anything could make it look better.

First things first: Supplies

1. Fabric Medium

2. Your choice of paint color--if you go with a dark color fabric, choose a dark color to cover it up to save yourself the million coats of paint like I had to do!

3. Spray Bottle of Water

4.  Brushes

5. Patience

6. Helpers

5 &6 are not optional!


This small list of supplies expanded throughout the day. I ended up mixing my own paint (from random paint we had in the garage) to get just the right color--khaki tan wasn't cutting it-- and getting more fabric medium. Buy in bulk so you don't have to make a dozen trips. Sandpaper and wood stain also came into play towards the end.

Once you have all of your supplies gathered (or at least something to start off with, if you're like me) its time to get started. Spray down the whole chair with water. Honestly I'm not so sure why, but the other blogs said to and I think it has something to do with helping the fabric absorb the paint. Mix equal parts water, fabric medium, and paint. (it's really fine if it's NOT EQUAL--it might even work better that way) After mixing, you'll have "paint soup." At least that's what mine looked like.

And now it's time to start painting! Grab those helpers!


(Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Laney, Gumbo, Mom and I, and Oreo's footprints)

The four legged helpers weren't actually that much of a help (shocker) and the one at the top right isn't even a part of the family. They did, however, create their own DIY project by tracking paint who knows where else in the house (which oddly enough my mom thought was hilarious)

Ok. Back to the project.

Since you already sprayed the chair with water, it should be ready to absorb the paint. I think mine absorbed too much so I didn't use the spray bottle of water after the first coat.

After the first coat, it may not look like much depending on the color choice. Mine sure didn't. This is about the point where I wanted to quit and just buy a new chair. But stick with it! Mine took 4 coats, some sanding, and staining!

IMG_4316The original and coats 1-3 pictured here.

Some blogs I read said to let it dry over night. I took that as a suggestion rather than a rule and was able to do 3 coats in one day. Just use your common sense to tell if it's dry or not.


Coat number 4 and painted arms and legs! Almost done!


Distressed (with sandpaper) and slightly stained arms and legs to give it that extra something (otherwise it honestly looked like my chair was wearing white stockings--not cute)


Before Meets After

A 10000% improvement if you ask me!


I never would have thought to paint a chair with fabric, but let's face it I cannot sew, we are.

If I can paint an upholstered chair, then so can you!

Because I said so!


  1. how funny...I did a DIY painted upholstered chair project too! You're right it is ALOT of work, but so worth it. Yours looks great!

  2. Thanks so much! I think it will be awhile before I attempt my next DIY project--I'm still finding paint in my hair!