All in One Spot – Painted Upholstery

*NOTE:  Since this post, I’ve compiled a bunch of painted chairs on this page and it’s a much better reference.

I thought I’d put most of my examples of painted upholstery in one post to make it a little easier on you all.

A few months ago, I painted the upholstery on a chair.  It was a move I made after realizing how much it would cost to recover my Craigslist find (plus I wasn’t finding the perfect fabric).  So, instead, to get the exact color I wanted, I just painted the fabric.  I know, crazy.

Here it is before and after. You can find a full tutorial on my blog. I also painted the legs and added a little nail head trim for some bling.


It went well, so I painted a second chair in my home.  The one above lives in my master bedroom, but the second one, below, lives in my studio/ craft room.  This time, I used acrylic only instead of latex and acrylic like in the first one.


They are indeed harder (like painted canvas) than they were prior to painting them, but since we use them lightly, it was no big deal to us.  Plus they were both Craigslist finds.

After posting the tutorial, readers began to try the technique.  In this economy, it sure does help save some money!  Here are some of their ventures.  The good and the bad!

The famous Young House Love tried it on some chairs, but didn’t have a great experience.  They found it to be too thick.  However, I kind of like them.  Perhaps she didn’twater down the paint enough (meaning maybe even a little more than I say in the tutorial).  That is key.  In the end, she slip covered the chairs and they look fabulous!

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Then, another oops, we had the hilarious Jane from Jane’s Junk and Treasures try it.  She didn’t read the directions and just started painting a stool she found at Goodwill with latex paint.  Didn’t go so well.


Now that we’ve seen the bad and ugly, let’s talk about the successes.

It worked well for Lindsay at Sadie and Stella.  I love her color choice.


How about the awesome pink chair that Anneke from Rustic Chic painted?


Or, the chair that Emily at Crisp Interiors painted?


Then there is this dreamy chaise that the girls at Me and Jilly painted.


What did it look like before?


I know, can you even believe it?

And, the most recent is this one from Penny for Penny.

image  image

There are a few others on my blog if you visit the tutorial link (they are linked at the bottom).

What about others who have tried different painting techniques?  Remember how I said Jane just slathered on the paint?  Well, so did these girls at Fine and Handy.  They were just painting this sofa to have as a prop at a birthday party, so it wasn’t a huge deal to them.


What color was it before?  Green!


And, most recently, I found a vinyl sofa, on Johnny in a Dress, that a girl spray painted.


Before painting it, it was black!


Many ask about dying fabric.  I’ve only ever dyed a shirt and it didn’t go well for me, but in the end, Young House Love dyed slip covers for their chairs and it worked for them.

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And, this lady sprayed Rit Dye on her chair.  Here it is before and after.

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I personally chose the paint route due to the color selection.  I could pick any color I wanted whereas spray paint and dye are very limited with colors.

That ends our journey through examples of painted and dyed upholstery.  You can follow each link to find out more about the techniques used.  I hope you enjoyed it!  It’s the first time that I’ve put them all on one post on my blog!

Let me know if you try any of the techniques!



  1. Girl you are just teasing me with these painted chairs especially with yours I love the teal color. I have one chair in the garage I just remembred looks so similar to the Pink at Rustic chic I wanted to reupholster my self when I find a place for it at home :) But Im sure I will try the paint first if it didnt work out well I will reupholster…But I have to find a place for it in the home first lol

  2. The orange to white transformation that Emily did is my favorite! I am totally impressed! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I LOVE the transformation on that chaise too ~ GORGEOUS!!! Thanks for compiling all of the experiences for everyone. :-)

  4. If it wasn’t for your amazing blog I would have never thought to paint my chair. Thanks for the feature… by the way your chair is totally inspiring. I love all the clever ideas and colors :)

  5. That chaise is super dreamy and so is that settee….super jealy right now! However, I do have an upholstered bench I plan on painting…its on my list of 194 things right now. ha ha. I can only hope it turns out as fab as these projects!!



  6. Thanks for the helpful information from your blog. Finding that success of your first experience is what prompted me to start my refurb. I just coated the second coat of “primer” and already I love the color better. More importantly the stains left behind from my pets are gone too. I plan to do the final coat tomorrow. Total time 4 hrs over the course of 3 days to complete the 1st of 2 chairs. I figure I’ll allow the chairs to dry completely through the weekend and they should be good to use in time for my house guests next week. I’ll send before and after pics soon.

  7. I’m so very excited!!! I’ve got two chairs in my living room that were perfect for an apartment in college, but the banana yellow velvety fabric looks awful in my house! I have refused to part with them on account of their glorious architecture. Now, I can make them a little more dignified without going broke! Yay! I was worried I’d have to wait until I retired to have them reupholstered ; ) I will most definitely share the results-hope they’re as good as yours!

  8. I love love love this tutorial. But, I found THE PERFECT vintage rocker and it’s covered in (gasp) mustard colored vinyl. Vinyl… like a picnic table cloth. My question for you (or any other of you savy home decor peeps) is… Can vinyl be painted the same way? Should I use latex? Should I just try it and email you the results? lol… Thanks for your inspiration!!

    • Actually Rustoleum has a vinyl spray paint. On this post is a painted vinyl sofa using the spray paint. It went from black to white! Hope that helps. Otherwise, I have heard that latex works alright, but I’d try it on a pillow or under side first. Can’t wait to see it – send pics!

  9. I just painted a blue chair black I have two of these chairs. It was an experiment, I think I am going to like the look . If they turn out to my satisfaction I’m going to paint a couch for my sister. I used spray paint and also latex paint. Thanks for the inspiration . Donnie k.

  10. Jane Bartlett

    I have a sofa with a floral design…and I just want to change the color of SOME of the flowers. Dye or paint?

  11. I have an orange wingback chair that was my moms (who passed 8 yrs ago). I hold onto it for memory sake – I have a pic of her breastfeeding me the day she brought me home from the hospital, in that chair! I can’t part with it…i’ve wanted to upholster it, but lack of $$ and upholstering skills keep me from doing it. Now, I’m going to paint it!!! :) I can’t wait!!! thank you so much for the tutorial!!

  12. Just wanted to say …. WOW…. thank you…. I have always wondered whether or not “fabric” furniture could be painted. Thanks for answering this question by posting on your blog. I can’t wait to try it.

  13. My mother has a friend who tried dyeing a chair. It was beautiful, until someone sat in it and their arms turned black. LOL!

    My mom tried it and it was TERRIBLE. Her was a man made fiber that didn’t absord the dye evenly. Be careful what you try to dye.

    Painting? Really!?! That intrigues me and I’m going to read your tutorial/blog about it. I may try it.

  14. Kristy,

    I am dying to do something to two sofas that I have but I don’t want to spend a huge chunk of change. My question is really about patterned fabrics and coverage. The sofas I have are a a canvas type material with a light seafoam green and cream 1 inch gingham plaid pattern. I really want paint them solid navy, but I am concerned about the plaid showing through. Any advice? I have refinished tables, built bookcases, but for some reason this project terrifies me.

    Any input you have would be absolutely awesome.

    • Just my thoughts, but I feel confident you can cover over it. However, if the plaid is textured at all (if you can feel it and it’s not just printed on, then you will still see the texture.

      • I am pretty sure that the plaid is part of the print, the actual fabric pattern. It looks just like the upholstery fabric on this website except a little more sage ( I wouldn’t say it is a different texture, like you would see on some canvas/velour type older chairs.

        I think I may dive in and start this project this weekend. :) I will definitely take some before and after photos. Thanks again!

  15. two more questions… How much paint will I need to do two full sofas? I take it I will need more of the textile medium and the acrylic than I will of the latex, since that is the final coat. Do you find that it is stiff, or uncomfortable to sit on? Or does that textile medium help?

    • I’d say three times as much as I used for my chair, for each sofa. But, since I’ve never done a sofa before I have no reference for that. It’s comfortable, but NOT cuddly. Textile medium does help some.

    • I painted my old, weartehed wood front door a beautiful burgundy color called Merlot by Behr over the summer. I totally love it, even more now since I put my fall wreath up! Check it out on my blog header!

  16. Love the transformation!! In the beginning stages of trying this .. first on a pillow, then on to bigger projects!! Just wondering, what are the wall paint colors in your pics? Looks very much like something I am searching for… Thanks!!

    • In the first two images, the paint color is Wild Hawk by Valspar. The second has a pale pink which I don’t have the name of… Hope that helps and that your project goes well!

  17. Is the fabric still soft after painting it? Just wondering about the texture and how well the paint holds up over time..

    • I talked about this some at the bottom of the tutorial post. It’s sort of like painted canvas. It’s not as soft. But, it’s not crunchy or hard. It’s sort of like an outdoor fabric in the end. Of course, that depends on the fabric that you start with, and how thin your coats are… Hope that helps!

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