Paint a Chair!?!

One of the features of our house that we fell in love with when we first saw it was the lofted upstairs hall. It’s extra wide and there is room for a little lounge/sitting area. Jesse said he wanted it to be a place to read or get a little chess table and pretend that we are fancy chess playing people. I immediately started dreaming up a little nook with a high back arm chair and stenciled wall. I figured that it would take awhile to find “the chair” but then I stumbled upon this tutorial from Kristy at Hyphen Interiors for painting a chair! When I found a nice chair I really liked on Craigslist a few weeks ago I knew I had to give painting it a try!

So here was my chair a few weeks ago after I picked it up on Craigslist for $25.And here she is in her new spot in our upstairs hall/loft! And no blog post isn’t complete without a tutorial! So here’s what you’ll need:

– 2 6oz. bottles of Fabric Medium (I used the Martha Stewart brand and loved it!)
– At least 6oz. of acrylic paint in your color of choice
– A sample size of latex paint (the kind you paint your walls with) that matches your acrylic pretty closely
– A 2 in. paint brush
– A spray bottle of water

The first coat is equal parts fabric medium and latex paint. I used about 3 oz. of each and mixed them in a cup from our kitchen. Then I filled my spray bottle with water and headed out to the garage. Before you start painting make sure you clean off your surface really well. You don’t want dirt, dust or pet hair getting stuck in the paint! I’d also recommend painting the seat cushion first, just in case you aren’t a fan of the color you can just flip and try again!

Generously spray water on your surface. I let my water drip and then rubbed it in to the chair a bit. Then just start painting thin even coats. The latex coat of paint is basically your primer, so after you finish with that coat you’ll want to let your chair dry for awhile (like a day). You should have basic light coverage, but will still be able to see the original color coming through. Due to the material of my chair, I didn’t have any problems with the fabric being too stiff or the paint clumping, but if you have an issue just lightly sand the stiff areas with a 220 grit paper before moving on to your next coat.

For your second coat, you’ll use the acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium. Again mix them in equal parts, but you’ll need twice the amount of paint that you used the first time. You’ll also add a few thimbles of water to the mix. Paint this coat just as generously as the first, and make sure this time you are covering every nook and cranny of the chair with paint. After your chair is all dry, it’s time to do the legs! I was debating for awhile what color to do, but I finally decided to ORB them!The metallic sheen of the ORB will look really good with the gold/brass accents I want to use around the chair. And just for your viewing pleasure, I did a little photo shoot of my chair in the back yard :) I taped up my chair with some grocery bags and did a few quick, even coats of spray paint, then let everything in the yard to cure. Jesse brought the chair in last night and put it in it’s little nook in that hallway and I’m in LOVE! I love the rich color and the glittery sheen of the legs. It makes me so giddy! Now all I need to do is get some paint and stencil on the wall behind it, find and hang a gold sunburst mirror, find a little table for setting books on and get a gold-ish pillow for the chair! And to save you some time scrolling up and down, here’s the before & after! The total cost of this project was a little less than $50! $25 for the chair and then roughly $25 for the fabric medium, paints and ORB spray paint!

What do you think?!? Anybody else want to try painting a chair? If so let me know how it turns out!

I’m also going to try to get a video tutorial attached to this post and up on the blog’s Facebook some time tonight!
**Linking up at Between Naps on the Porch, Embracing Change, Crafty Scrappy Happy, A Glimpse Inside, House of Hepworths, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Creations By Kara, Yesterday on Tuesday, Serenity Now, One Project Closer and Primitive & Proper**
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Paint a Chair!?! — 48 Comments

    • Thanks Kristy! I’m glad you were brave enough to try it first! And as far as how it feels, it’s a little softer than canvas, kind of like the material restaurants use for their booths.

  1. The chair looks great! I love the color you chose and that you can still see the fabric’s texture & design through the paint. I’ve always been too nervous to paint fabric furniture but this could be a fun project since I’m too terrified to reupholster!

  2. It turned out awesome! My mom painted all of her (used to be) white fabric dining room chairs with spray fabric paint. I was so shocked at how good it looked. I may have to try this on an old chair I have in our office.

  3. I love it! I really love that blue color and I’m a big fan of ORB. Maybe I’ll consider trying it one day but I’m always afraid to try something and then mess it up.

  4. So much better!!! i love that you can just paint fabric now! i did a headboad once because i cannot reupholster. saves a boatload of money and work and effort! :)

  5. I would never know you painted it if you hadn’t told me!! It looks that good!! I’m totally gonna have to try this next time I see a chair I like? Do you think it still works if the original color is darker than the color you want to paint it?

  6. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that you were able to paint the chair to switch up it’s appearance! You did a fantastic job! Way to go, Ashley!

  7. Wow, that looks incredible! I’ve seen some people who have done painted fabric tutorials, but it always looked, well, painted! {And they mentioned that it crunched! ha!} – But this looks great – like the chair was meant to be that color – and I love the color you chose… especially with the legs :)

  8. Wow, I’m really surprised how good that came out. I never would have thought to paint chair upholstery. I have painted canvas shoes before though. It’s fun because if you ever just want a change in color, just paint it :)

    Great job, Ashley!


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  10. What a great idea!!! And, you did a great job.

    I’ve just become your newest follower. Please come visit me at and hopefully you’ll follow back. 😎

  11. Ashley,
    I think it looks amazing! I love it! I have been waiting to see how it was going to turn out and I think it looks like you re-upholstered it.


    PS Your pass it on project looks great too!

  12. Your chair looks great! I bought a pair of wingbacks last August and have yet to do anything to subdue their mauvey-pinkness. Must. pull. out. the. paint! Thanks for the step-by-step!

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  14. I could not believe that I have the exact same chair…2 of them in fact, my husband bought them at a yard sale a few years back, I hate the color (same as yours) and now I think I know what I will do with them. Wish me luck, I am going to try this while my husband is gone for 2 weeks….hope it will be a pleasant surprise….otherwise I may be in trouble. LOL.

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  16. I have a question: will the paint rub off or is that what the fabric medium is for? I’m so afraid it’d stain my clothes from sitting in it but yours turned out beautifully. I’ve been toying with the idea for almost a year now and this is the one thing that’s really holding me back. Tha is!

    • It definitely doesn’t rub off on your clothes at all. The fabric will be a little stiff at first but once you sit in and break it in it’s totally fine! I’m still so in love with my chair and how it turned out!

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  18. You did a fantastic job on your chair. you are gonna love this…I have that same chair with the pattern. I want to redo my couch (gonna be a big project) But one day soon I will be up for the task, I will be coming back to this Pin. Thanks for sharing

  19. I love it. I have 2 chairs like this I want to paint and your post was very helpful. Has anyone tried to paint Herculon type fabric? I have a glider rocker with cushions that need replacing, but I would much rather paint them if they won’t be stiff. Thanks.

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