I just finished taking an online decorating class from one of my favorite bloggers, The Nester, and the room I focused on is my family room, and the most fun/crazy/gorgeous thing I did was paint my old white chair this wonderful green.
That sentence is a bit of a rough entry, but it seems to be the best I can come up with. Moving on.
I posted a photo on Instagram and it turns out that many of my friends want to know how this went down, so here, just for you, is a tutorial with video even of how to paint upholstery. I know! Crazy right?
I think step one is to start out with a chair that just can't possibly be any worse than it already is; that way you won't have to be scared that paint is going to ruin it. Here's mine.
Gross, right? I've had it for about 15 years and it has been folexed to death and steam cleaned several times and really, it was just nasty.
I can't believe I'm showing you this.
I knew was going to have to reupholster it or throw it away; when I saw someone else in my class painting their chair it seemed like it was worth a shot.
I decided to go big and used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Antibes Green. I love this color! And I got it from a darling store called the The Boom Space in Danville, CA. If you're local you should go there, it is so sweet!
My supplies were:
1 quart of chalk paint
1 two inch angled Purdy paint brush
a spray bottle with water in it
a large plastic cup to put the paint in
blue painters tape
Annie Sloan clear wax
a brush for waxing
Chalk paint is very low VOC so I just put a drop cloth down, taped off the wood legs, and painted my chair right in the family room. I wasn't bothered by fumes or bad smells at all.
I diluted my paint with one part water to one part paint. You don't have to measure, chalk paint is very flexible. Just pour some paint into a container you plan to paint from and add what looks like the same amount of water. Mix it up well; I used a plastic knife. The paint will be really runny, which is great because you want to paint thin layers that are going to soak in and dye the fabric instead of sitting on top of it.
Begin by spraying the fabric lightly with water. This helps the paint penetrate the fabric better. I think. Spray along the sections you're painting as you go.
Now just go for it! Brush the paint every which way so that all the fibers get covered. Swirl your brush even. Here is a video of me painting. Yes, I am that committed to helping you do this.
It took two coats to cover the white canvas fabric on this chair and I only waited about two hours for the first coat to dry before putting on the second coat. Looking at it now I think it could have used a third coat for really opaque coverage. As it is there are slight variations in the color. It almost looks like suede that has been brushed in different directions. I like it. Some online tutorials recommend lightly sanding between coats but I didn't because the cotton is already flat. I did try this technique on a dining chair covered in a velvety fabric and sanding that between coats helped keep the fibers from clumping together and getting too stiff.
After letting the paint dry for a solid 24 hours I applied a coat of clear wax.
Here is a fascinating video of how I did that. Note that I avoided any talking so as not to freak you out with my totally weird and squeaky video voice. More importantly, note that I used only a small amount of wax at a time and brushed it on very lightly and quickly. My aim was to have only a light coat of the wax so I applied very little pressure to the brush and moved quickly to spread it around.
We didn't sit in the chair for another 24 hours to make sure the wax could really dry well and not come off on our clothes.
I am so happy with how this came out! And since I like you so much I'm going to try and answer all the questions you have before you give this a try. I'm kind of a mind reader, but if I missed any of your questions leave a comment and I'll get back to you.
Q. What does the fabric feel like after you paint and wax it?
A. It definitely feels stiffer. If you are familiar with sunbrella indoor/outdoor fabric, it feels a lot like that. It isn't uncomfortable, but it isn't soft and cozy either. I wouldn't do this to your favorite reading and napping chair, but for your "occasionally a guest sits here chair," it's perfect!
Q. How much paint does it take? Do you have to use chalk paint?
A. It took a lot of paint. This one chair used about 3/4 of a quart of ASCP, and that's with watering it down. I love the colors and quality of ASCP so for me it was worth it, but I've seen other tutorials online where people use latex paint mixed with fabric medium so you could check that out too.
Q. How will it hold up?
A. So far, so good. The wax helps to protect the painted fabric from wear and tear, but again, I wouldn't do this on a piece that sees a lot of traffic.
Q. Shelley! Has it turned your bum green? And doesn't the wax stick to your clothes?
A. Nope. And I've wiggled my seat around in there just to be sure before I let any guests sit in it :-)
Last Q. How does it really look? Like, you can make anything look good in pictures, we want the TRUTH.
A. It looks really good. Thinning the paint means it really soaks in and dyes the fabric so it looks like the chair was upholstered in green fabric, not like I slapped craft paint over it. Other fabrics might be trickier, but cotton upholstery canvas took the paint super well.
I love the pop of color and contrast that the bright green adds to the room. If you are thinking of doing this, I say go for it!
*Next up: making slipcover for big brown.
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