Painting Upholstery

So, as you can see in my story boards (design boards), I really want to put a bright teal blue wingback chair in our master bedroom. 

However, I’ve only found one or two online that are for sale.  And, they cost $1000-2000.  Over my budget.  I could re-upholster an old chair. That will cost around $550-750 once I buy the chair, fabric and pay for the actual upholstery job.  Still pricey for my current budget, though worth it if you didn’t mind the price tag!   So, I thought of a possible cheaper solution.

That brings me to today’s post.  Have you ever painted upholstery? 

Some people have!   Check this one out.

Here it is before:

Not too bad.  She said it’s more for looks as it’s a little crunchy feeling.  I’m alright with that if it saves a ton of money… I think.

Or, how about this one:

Painted chair, This is a chair that I painted.  I bought it off Craigs List.  I then painted the fabric of the chair.  It was originally a brownish green.  I painted the back of the chair brown and the front white.  I then added a stencil., I painted the fabric of the chair.  I painted the front white and the back brown.  I then added the stencil to the front. , Other Spaces Design

And, before?

Painted chair, This is a chair that I painted.  I bought it off Craigs List.  I then painted the fabric of the chair.  It was originally a brownish green.  I painted the back of the chair brown and the front white.  I then added a stencil., I purchased this chair off Craigs List. , Other Spaces Design

I love how she painted the back a chocolate brown and the front an ivory.  Then, she stenciled over the front.  I think it looks fabulous. 

I’ve heard of it being done with latex water based paint mixed with a fabric medium.  

Should I go for it?

I want something like this from Lonny magazine in the end:


Isn’t it AMAZING?!  

What are your tips/ thoughts?

Note:  See my first attempts at painting in March 12th’s post.   And, the reveal on March 15th’s post.


  1. Creative way to save money! If anyone can pull this off…I believe you can! Start with a small project and see how it turns out. Can't wait to see how it all comes together!

  2. The Vintage Farmhouse

    I've done some research and asked around as well. I like real people who have actually tried the products. I had a few friends tell me they had tried some of the special order fabric paints and that they all end up crunchy and you can't sit on the because it does wear off. If you plan for it to be only for looks I suppose this wouldn't be a bad option. Honestly I would recommend trying your hand out on reupholstering it yourself.You can get fabric on sale pretty cheap and learn something new in the process! Hope that helps! P.S. visiting from Pink Postcard! ♥

  3. i've seen somewhere that people have put fabric dye in a spray bottle…wish i could recall where…wonder if that would work too? yours ended up looking great though…our last cl wing chair is currently out of commission due to spring issues…so i am in the market and searching cl several times a week!

    fyi…i have a friday linky party that your chair painting post would be perfect for…hope you'll consider joining this week.


    stuff and nonsense

  4. Hyphen Interiors

    I'm not sure I explained this, but I did consider actual spray paint, as they do make some for upholstery, but I couldn't find it in the right color. But, putting it in a bottle and spraying may work – it'd be an interesting experiment for sure. However, with velvet, a brush may be necessary as it's a textured fabric and harder to get color on all parts.

    I will definitely try to join the link party on Friday. Thanks for mentioning it!!

  5. I just finished painting a wingback that was upholstered in 80s era solid color fabric with a chevron weave.
    In regards to spraying the paint on, I doubt that would work since the paint needed to be pushed into the textured fabric to get full coverage. However, I think that a pump sprayer could be used to spray the fabric with water. I plan to give this a try next time since the manual spray bottle wore me out more than painting.

    And yes, the fabric has a sand-papery feel but it looks really good and that’s fine. I saved hundreds of dollars using this technique. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the message! I’d love to see photos if you have time to email them. Glad it worked for you. Great feedback.

    • I have inherited my grandparents wing backed chairs that are a similar chevron pattern weave. Since the current print is not my style, I want to either paint or reupholster them. Obviously the painting sounds easier, but I am curious if it comes off when you sit or if it needs to be redone often? Thanks for the help!

      • Great questions. Nope, doesn’t ever come off in the least. And, nope, has not ever needed to be redone. I did my chairs last Feb, so it has been 18 months…

  6. I have a couple microfiber parsons chairs. Do you know anything about painting microfiber?

    • No, I’m sorry, i don’t know anything about painting microfiber. If you have a pillow or a cushion that comes off, you could experiment on the back side.

  7. I painted an old club type chair 10 years ago. Was the easiest thing I’ve ever done that had such great results. I painted everything except the bottom and back cushion. I then removed the back cushion and tacked a large decorative pillow as the back and just covered the bottom cushion with a piece of white faux fur. Ten years later this is still my favorite chair in the house. Don’t hesitate…it works! Hint: I cut the bristles on the paint brush down to about 1 inch in length to basically “scrub” and rub the paint into the fabric. And used Latex eggshell paint with 2 coats.

  8. Oh my gosh! I love you guys!!! These ideas have really got me pumped!! I do alot of shabby chic furniture and have turned down some cool inexpensive chairs just because I didn’t want to spent the time recovering; though I did paint a 1950′s chair with semi-enamel paint because it had a leather orange seat. Turned out great. Love all the chairs and ideas. Keep up the great ideas and thanks so very much for sharing so freely.

  9. What is fabric medium?

    • See the tutorial post (the chair on the right side of my blog will link you to it) and there is an image. It can be found at most craft stores such as Michael’s.

  10. I’m dying to try this, but keep putting it off because I want to paint my couch, loveseat and chair…so much work!I worked part-time at Lowe’s in Home Decor (which had to cover paint) for 2 years, and mentioned this to a couple of my paint buddies. Most of them think I’m nuts for not just getting slipcovers (but, ew), but one guy is a total paint fanatic, and he’s been really supportive and had some advice for me, which is very similar to what you’ve suggested. He’s super intuitive about paint and all the places it can be applied! The only area where his thoughts differ from yours is the use of textile medium. He doesn’t think it’s necessary, and I’m wondering what you think about that, now that it’s been a few years since you started painting upholstery. And he really stressed a dry brush approach, and I think one of your readers mentions that as well. Anyway, I look forward to your thoughts, and I may get to my own project this year! Your furniture looks awesome!

    • Awesome! Well, it never hurts to experiment. I’d definitely not do anything dry. Wet all the way. Otherwise, you’ll see major brush strokes. The textile medium… since I haven’t tried it without, I have nothing to compare it to, so I’m not 100% positive, to be honest. But, let me know if you try it!

  11. Barbara Renfro

    I am so excited about finding your posts! I found a love seat ( neighbor discarded) an its the coolest thing! It’s dirty white but the arms let down so It could be a small bed. I was gonna get it upholstered but haven’t had $ to spend. So your pInt project is callin my name!!!


  12. Is there any way to salvage a piece when you put too much paint and it cracked EVERYWHERE? I was a bit impatient.

    • Oh no! Not that I know of… you could try paint thinner and see if it takes it back off, but that could very well damage the fabric.

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