Archive for May, 2012

Simply Spray Series – Painting Upholstery – Week 3

We’ve made it to week three!  This means it’s time to really stretch Simply Spray’s capabilities to see just what its boundaries are!


Week 1 – Introduction
Week 2 – Painting a pillow from the original chair and comparing it to the original pillow
✓Week 3 – Painting pool umbrellas
Week 4 – Painting a patio furniture set
Week 5 – Conclusions

Then, after the series is over, I’ll host a giveaway from Simply Spray.

During these weeks, we are talking about the difference between Simply Spray and my method, as well as what I think of Simply Spray, how it’s best used and tips.

Before we talk about my painting our pool umbrellas, I must point out that Simply Spray does NOT imply it can be used on such an item.  It says it is to be used on absorbent fabric.  Well, most umbrellas are not absorbent.  Mine is certainly not.  But, I wanted to see if it’d work anyway!  I like to really test things out.

This was my extremely sun faded pool umbrella that we used in Phoenix.  Just from a few hours in the sun (we didn’t leave it out every day), it looked like this!  That Phoenix sun is so harsh.  Wait until you see my patio cushions.


It essentially had white or light gray stripes all around from fading while it was collapsed down, yet in the sun.

I began painting and could immediately see that the paint was sliding right off.  I mean, it looked like it was dying the fabric a bit, but just poured down the fabric.  Duh, it’s water resistant fabric.  I didn’t expect much better.

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As you can see below, it’d just pool at the bottom, leaving the umbrella a little streaky, but not horrible.


After six coats on half of the umbrella, it looked like this.  I only did half – I wanted you to see the difference, but also, well, I got tired of painting… it was a lot of work for not a lot of return.  And, well, we don’t have a pool anymore!   So, I was mainly doing it to show you guys what this paint can and cannot do… mission accomplished with just half.  :)


That’s right, after six coats of paint, you could still see some fading, but it was obviously a lot better.  So, it wasn’t a total fail.  It helped.  But, would you want to do 6+ coats to see only some improvement?  I am not sure.


As I stated before, Simply Spray never said it works on umbrellas of any kind – this was my hair brained idea.  I just had to test the limits since it did so well on the pillow that I tested last week.

Truly, the texture is almost the same as before I painted it, on the pillow!   Simply Spray worked so well.  And, with only two coats, it covered very thoroughly.

But, on this… I’d say it helped, but was not truly successful.


Now you know.  Would you use it on something like this?  That is for you to decide.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Not sure what I’ll do with this umbrella that still cranks as well as the day we bought it two years ago… yet has these faded parts.  I have a second one that is not faded…  but, did I mention, I don’t have a pool any longer!  I guess I could just get stands for when we need extra shade, or save them for a table… Hmmm…

Next week, I’ll be using it on my slightly less water resistant patio furniture!  A huge project.  It is also faded from the powerful AZ sun.  So, stay tuned!   Then, on the last week, I’ll sum up all my do’s and don’ts as well as tips.

Tips for using Simply Spray so far?
- Make sure your fabric is water absorbent.
- Make sure your fabric is evenly toned as dark and light areas will continue to at least be slightly dark and light – you can see the faded area on my umbrella.
- Make sure you are only going darker in color and not lighter.
- Always test it on an inconspicuous spot or scrap piece first.

Ready for the best new yet?  Simply Spray will be GIVING AWAY 3 cans of their paint on my blog at the conclusion of this series!   Be ready to enter!!


Guest Post from – Library Ladders

Hello everyone! My name is Becky and I’m a contributor at Houzz, a home design site focused on helping design professionals and homeowners manage the remodeling and decorating process. Thanks so much to Kristy for having me!

Once only seen in libraries and charming old-fashioned hardware stores, rolling ladders are popping up all over the house. These handy ladders allow homeowners to add storage and display space all the way up to the ceiling of a room. Here’s a look at how architects and designers are putting them to good use in a variety of spaces.

D-House modern kitchen

modern kitchen design by boston interior designerBunker Workshop

Look at your kitchen cabinets. How much room is in between the top of the upper cabinets and the ceiling? Not only is this wasted space, but chances are the dead bugs and dust bunnies have collected up there, and it’s tough to access for cleaning. Taking the cabinets all the way to the ceiling is the smart way to go, but you will need access to your new storage spot’s soaring heights.

A library ladder adds an interesting architectural element to all styles of kitchens while allowing easy access to the uppermost cabinets. In this particular design, Bunker Workshop has turned the challenge of the railing into a bonus. They left an open cubby, lined it with identical canning jars and lit it up, creating a carefully edited, eye-catching design element in a very streamlined kitchen.

b+h contemporary home office

contemporary home office design by san francisco architectBraytonHughes Design Studios

In most home offices, storage space is at a premium. You may be missing prime storage opportunities closer to the ceiling. A library ladder will help you take full advantage of every inch.

Speaking of smart storage, look very closely at those cabinets on the right – can you see where the desk came from? Two free-standing desks have a storage area underneath the counter and atop those long file cabinets, and both can be tucked away to create more space in the room. Is that clever or what?

Mudroom with Library Ladder traditional entry

A mudroom is another spot where maximizing storage will keep clutter from spreading to the rest of the house. Store seasonal items and holiday decorations up high. This way, you won’t have to climb the ladder as often.

The two most common top slide ladders are roll type and hook slide. The roll type attaches the ladder to the rod permanently, while the hook slide allows the ladder to be removed for storage or to be used along another track.

Take a look up and see if you’re missing out on any lofty storage opportunities. A rolling ladder may be the solution for you.

Find more eclectic storage inspiration from Austin interior designers and more design professionals at Houzz.

A Few New Painted Chairs

Below are a few new chairs, a sofa and an ottoman that were painted by readers, using my method.  Enjoy!

And, if you are curious about other methods, Thursday is week three for my series on Simply Spray – find out if it works, what it works best on and what its limitations are!

Me and Jilly.  This is their second painted upholstery project.  The first was the floral chaise gone neutral.  These chairs turned out just as great!   She said, “the painted fabric becomes almost vinyl-like, making cleaning it a snap.”
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Oak Ridge Revival.  She reported that the toughest part was getting into the creases.  She worked it in with her hands.  Be prepared to get messy!
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Reader Without a Blog (Hannah).  This reader said “the only thing that I did differently was to spritz on the last coat with a regular spray bottle. The brush just wasn’t getting an even enough coat. Perhaps it had to do with the nubbiness of my fabric, or how dark it originally was. I did think an unexpected plus was that the fabric tightened up a bit. Again, this may have been due to the thickness of the fabric.”
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From another reader without a blog (Carolyn).   She said she spent about $25 (3 quarts) in paint (with some paint left over) and $21 for fabric medium. With $20 for the couch, still well under $100 for the couch total.
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Hope you enjoyed seeing the new painted chairs.  Be sure to check out the new page on my blog that has them all in one place.   Let me know if you’ve tried this or if you see chairs out in blogland that I should add to the list of examples!


Working on the Yard

I posted less on my blog this past week than normal.  Partly because I’ve been working on a blog makeover – I redid the banner graphic, facebook graphic (join me on fb if you haven’t) and my business cards.  Hope you like the new look!

I wanted it to reflect the style in our new home – darker blues, grays and a little more sophisticated.  I think the old one reflected the style in our Phoenix home.

But, I also did not post much this past week because we’ve been doing backbreaking work on our yard.  I have mixed feelings.  We chose this house due to the privacy that the yard provided.  We really wanted to feel like we had our own space without anyone looking in on us.  Our backyard, just off of the porch, looked like this just before we closed on the house at the end of March.


Six weeks or so later and the neighbors cleared their lot and put up a fence.   It was a surprise to us.  We were told they loved the trees and didn’t want to ever touch them – never depend on that.  We knew this could happen, as it’s their land to do what they want with.

Suddenly, as you can see, it wasn’t so private.


(Don’t you love how I didn’t even straighten the pillow.  Just wanted to snap a quick photo to compare.)

Though I think their lot looks great and the fence is awesome (and they are super nice people who we really like), it just doesn’t help with the privacy we crave.

This week, we started to clear some of the dead branches around our immediate backyard.   Austin had a severe drought last year and many plants died.   If they survived, they ended up with lots of dead branches, as you see below.


We cut (some with a chainsaw, some with trimmers), dragged and piled the branches in the back for future fire wood.  With cuts on our bodies, sore muscles and blisters on our hands, we’re exhausted, but determined to do most of it ourselves.


It needed to be done (poor trees), but of course, it didn’t help the privacy issues, either.

Are you big on privacy in your backyard?  We just like to be 100% comfortable and relaxed in our own private space, and not feel like it’s a shared space or that people are looking at us.  Just our little thing with yards…

To add some privacy back, in the fall, we plan to plant some screening plants.  We aren’t allowed to have privacy fences in our neighborhood – just the wrought iron fences.  I think it will all work out, but I have mixed feelings about the clearing – it looks great, but makes it less private which happened to be a selling point for us.

But, creating a screen with some plants such as wax myrtles should fix it.

I do love the wildness that is found on some of our property.  We don’t want to tame it too much.  Just take out the dead stuff.


We barely made a dent despite lots of work!  So, this is going to take some time!

People ask how we’re adjusting to Texas (just moved from AZ, though we are originally from TX).  We like it.  It’s fun to have trees.  But, there are lots of crazy bugs.  We’ve found two scorpions in our house, one in our yard and lots of other crazy bugs like these.

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That (above) is a katydid.  Below is a giant walking stick.  They get up to 7 inches long around here!  Apparently they make good pets.  Ha.  Maybe we’ll give them as gifts.  Watch out!


I like the change with having more plants and such, but this does take some getting used to. 

So, we’re adjusting.   Overall, though, we are enjoying Austin quite a bit.  But, we are cleaning our car windows a lot more!

Whatcha think of the yard?  The grass is definitely greener!  Do you prefer privacy in your backyard?    Do you like complete privacy?   At least lots are large, so houses aren’t too close here.  Would you like the changes or hate them?   Do you consider it better or worse?

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And, the new blog/ logo design?  The chevron can be seen on the new design as well, but only from certain angles on your computer screen.  So, tilt it a bit, if you can’t see the faint chevron pattern in the background.


What’d you do on your holiday weekend?


Simply Spray Series – Painting Upholstery – Week 2

Simply Spray’s upholstery paint was something I considered when deciding what method I wanted to use to paint my chair.  However, I chose my method due to wanting a very specific color.  Simply Spray’s product only comes in 14 colors.


I’ve been asked many times about Simply Spray but could never answer any questions, having not used it myself.  Well, now I have!   And, we’ll talk about my experience(s) in this series.

We’ll be touching on things in this order, on Thursdays (other than this particular post which went up early).

Week 1 – Introduction
✓Week 2 – Painting a pillow from the original chair and comparing it to the original pillow
Week 3 – Painting pool umbrellas
Week 4 – Painting a patio furniture set
Week 5 – Conclusions

During these weeks, we’ll talk about the difference between Simply Spray and my method. And, then I’ll sum it all up in the end.

But, first, I want to point out that I added a new page (rather than post) devoted to painted upholstery.  It shows examples using my method.  If you weren’t convinced that you can paint upholstery, you may be once you see these examples!

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A couple of new chairs were added yesterday.

Can you believe so many people have tried painting upholstery using my method?   (And, not every chair I’ve gotten emails about is featured here.)  I sure can’t.  Thank you for giving it a shot and for sharing the outcome with us.  It’s amazing what some paint can do!  There are some amazing transformations on here, not only with my method.

On that page, I also list examples using other methods.  Mine is not necessarily the best method, as every situation is a little different.  I love showing various methods.

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And, at the bottom, I even added some examples of fails!  I figure it’s always good to know it doesn’t always work out and for you to see why it may have failed.

I hope this will be an easier reference for those of you considering painting upholstery.

Today, we will talk about my experience when I used Simply Spray to paint one of the original pillows from my first painted chair.

My original chair came with two pillows.  How lucky, huh?  I painted one prior to painting the chair.  It was my original experiment.  I had the second one left over, untouched, all this time.


So, I decided to use Simply Spray’s Caribbean Blue upholstery spray paint to paint it.  That way, I could compare the two pillows.


It went on smoothly, but there are a couple of tips.  Start spraying off the fabric and move on to it.  Smooth, steady strokes, holding the can about 8 inches away.  Spray all the way across and back off the fabric on each stroke.


When taking a break with these paints, it’s important to click the sprayer trigger back into it’s original position or it will clog up and you will not be able to finish the bottle.

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As you can see on the pillow, their Caribbean Blue is a very similar color to the Valspar Ocean Soul that I used on my chairs.  Just a little lighter and brighter.

I sprayed another coat for two coats, as this fabric took the paint very well.

The final pillows for a side by side comparison is below.  The one on the left is the one painted with Simpy Spray.  Pretty close match, huh?



I thought Simply Spray was easier to apply than my method, but only works if:
- You are going darker in color.
- You are not covering any dark stains, patterns or spots.
- The fabric is absorbent.

As mentioned in my first post, it’s essentially a dye.  One of the best parts for me is that it’s non toxic and didn’t really have a smell!  It’s safe for children and pets.

What about texture of the fabric?  It’s very soft.  You can barely tell it’s painted upholstery.  It is not stiff at all.

What about compared to the pillow that I painted using my original method?  That pillow has softened up a lot over 15 months, and is only a bit crisper (a bit like painted canvas) than the Simply Spray painted pillow.  So, there is a small but clear difference.

So far, it seems to be a good alternative if one of their 14 colors works for you.


How about an example of painted furniture using Simply Spray?

Better After had a great example this past week.  And, she’s doing a giveaway, so be sure to enter for a chance to win some Simply Spray paint!

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In case you are wondering, it took her 6 cans to do this chair.  So, at about $11.95 a can, that is $71.70 total.  That’s not super duper cheap.  But, you don’t have to buy fabric medium on the other hand.  In the end, it may run just a bit more than my method.  My method cost me roughly $55-65 per chair in materials, but I don’t have exact costs anymore.  Plus the cost of the actual chair.  However, with my method, if I had not used the acrylic paint for the last layer, it would have run closer to $30-35 for materials, possibly even less if you already have paint on hand (you can just use latex paint).

Having said that about cost, I do think Simply Spray is less risky since it doesn’t involve measuring out paint, fabric medium and water.  So, if you are going darker in color and like one of their color choices, it may be good for you to try!  At least that is my take so far…  but, I still have two more larger projects to try.  So, stay tuned.

Another fun example is from The Sassy Pepper, who also did a chair using my method.

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Just happens that she also used Caribbean Blue.  Looks great, huh?

What do you think about all of this?  Great way to upcycle?  Great way to update a piece of furniture for less, if you are on a tight budget?   Have you tried painting upholstery?  Is there painted upholstery out there that you have seen that I should include on my new page?

Stay tuned for the rest of the series!


P.S.  I am in no way compensated for this series.  Therefore, all information is unbiased and accurate, to the best of my knowledge.  I am not selling anything.  I make no money off of posting on painted upholstery – I just offer information to my readers.  Information was tough to find back when I originally researched methods, so I wanted to be sure to provide easy to find information to my readers, should they be interested.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever had something get lost in the mail?  Something that you paid for?  What did you do about it?


That happened to me once with contact lenses.  The company graciously resent them and asked no questions as the tracking information was clear that they never got delivered.

This week, I almost had a home décor item get lost in the mail.  I simply did not update my address so it went to my old address.  No problem since things get forwarded and that service seems reliable.  Well, this time, the package was deemed undeliverable and marked as returned to sender.  Then, it wasn’t returned or scanned for almost a week.  It seemed to be lost in the mail.

Official tracking information showed it was sent and then stated that it was undeliverable and returned to sender, if appropriate return address information was provided.

The seller didn’t want to resend new product if it was lost in the mail, as they felt it was not their fault.   It wasn’t.  They wanted it to be my tough luck.  However, IF they got the package back, for an additional fee, they’d resend the original package. They felt I should have updated my address.  Granted, I should have and did later, but the usps should have forwarded it to the new address.

However, in my defense, I did message her the new address to which she mailed a fabric sample.  But she went off of the store records for sending it, rather than off of the message and rather than using the address that she mailed the fabric sample to earlier in the week.

But, in my book, address wasn’t the issue.  Even if it had gotten returned to her, that would have been fine with me and she would have refunded me, I’m sure.  The issue was that it could be lost in the mail and I could be paying for nothing.

I called the US postal service.  Of course, they said it wasn’t their fault, but that I could file a complaint.  However, it was unlikely that they would do much about it as it was not insured.  They had no idea why it didn’t get forwarded or where it was.


So, such a situation can put someone in a tough spot.  I didn’t want to pay well over $100 for something that I never got….  a refund certainly didn’t seem to be in the cards.

What do you think should happen if an item is lost in the mail, and you have proof that you did not get it?   I’m not sure all companies have a protocol for that.

In my case, there was a happy ending.  The item ended up being forwarded and I received it.  It worked out.

But, what if it was lost?   It wasn’t the clear fault of the buyer or seller.

Do you feel the buyer should be protected so they will be comfortable buying again/ out of good customer service?   Or, do you feel the seller should be protected so they don’t lose money?

I know I’ll always use that contact lens company now!  I feel protected. Customer service goes a long way! And, they raised the bar, which also works in their favor when other companies don’t react the same way.

Should the buyer eat the cost and get no product due to the postal service losing the package?  Even if they file with their credit card for the reason of not receiving merchandise, it means the seller would have to not get paid and lose money.  Of course, the seller can dispute that.

It’s a tough call.  Right?   I don’t think either party wants to lose money.  What do you think should happen in an ideal world? Have you run into this?


Is Decorating Frivolous or a Wise Investment for Home Owners?

Disclaimer:  This is more of a philosophical post and targeted at home owners mainly.  I’d love to hear your opinions.

What do you think?  Frivolous or Wise?

So many times, I hear my well-intentioned, sweet friends talk about how they could never decorate as it’d be selfish and they shouldn’t spend money on “things.”  I know where they are coming from and truly, charity is a great thing.  However, is there also wisdom in making your home look nice, especially if you own.   It’s not always frivolous.  In fact, it can be done with deliberate intent, on a budget, and as an investment.

I also see staging clients want to do the bare minimum, which is understandable.  But, let me walk you through why that may not always be the best plan of attack/best choice.


I talked about how decorating is an art form and an expression of who you are way back when I first started my blog, but this post is different.  It’s about how it can be monetarily wise.


Three Reasons Why Decorating Your Home is Wise:

1. Decorating can lessen stress when selling.  If you decorate from the beginning, just after you purchase a home, you not only get to enjoy it while you live in it, but you don’t have to stress about getting your home ready for sale at the last minute.  Sure you can wait to decorate, but then you aren’t enjoying items while you live there (making the most of your investment), and you are stressing to get it all done in time to put the home on the market.  Why do it all at once at the end and have someone else enjoy it?

2.  Decorating can reduce the time your home is on the market when selling.   I think of decorating as an investment.  It simply helps you sell your home.  And, yep, 90% of us will eventually sell our homes.

A decorated home simply sells faster.  If you don’t decorate your home, there is a much higher chance of your home being on the market longer and costing you more in carrying costs, especially if your circumstances are such that you have already moved.

What many do when selling is “test the market” for a few months to see if they can avoid doing anything to their home and sell for a higher price.  The result?  All of the potential buyers that see the house during that time rule it out and never come back to see it once it’s truly staged.  You lose them.  And, in the end, you lower your price more than you wanted.

Now, you may be thinking – we didn’t have to stage/ decorate any of the other properties we sold.  There was a time when you could generate multiple offers on the same day your For Sale sign went up.  Not now. Buyers are picky and they have a lot of homes to choose from.

3.  Decorating Makes a House Feel More Like a Home.  Nesting is something we all have a tendency to do, no matter the budget.  It makes our house feel like a home.  Even from the time we were children, we would set up our bedrooms in a way that made us feel comfortable and at ease.  Decorating your home is along the same lines.  It has a clear psychological affect and can make you feel like you have that safe haven and a place that makes you smile.


And, if you choose to decorate or stage using a decorator, keep in mind:

1.  A decorator can save time and money.  I know, that sounds counter-intuitive. However, when making selections for your home, it can be more expensive if you make purchases that are either not worth the cost or won’t last, or you have to keep going back to buy something else to try.  If nothing else, a decorator can save you with all those gallons of wrong paint. A decorator offers assistance and direction so time and money are spent wisely.

A decorator can save you time by planning out the space, helping you find the right pieces, and even shopping for you in some cases. Most decorators offer as much help as you need – a one hour consult for a minimal fee all the way to a complete installation.

If selling a home, keep in mind, rarely do staging costs exceed the first price reduction. And that doesn’t even factor in the monthly carrying cost of the home.

2.  Decorators think outside the box and give a fresh perspective. We aren’t seeing the space daily and can easily walk in with a unique perspective for the space.

If selling, you may be thinking, we can clean the carpets and de-clutter without someone telling us how. Yes, you can (and should) do this, but it is a tiny piece of staging. Staging encompasses other things like traffic flows, highlighting architectural features, updating, and appealing to your target market.

3.  Decorators teach you. A good decorator will be willing to explain things like scale, proportion, color, size, texture, etc. so that you are empowered to do more yourself in the future, should you want to. They also challenge you to consider elements that you may not have chosen otherwise.

4.  Decorators help with space planning. Determining the best furniture layout for a space is critical to a space. Sometimes you need fresh eyes and perspective.

I saw a great article recently on the top reasons not to stage your home (sarcasm).


I know I’m focusing a lot on staging, but the idea is to decorate at the beginning, and avoid a lot of staging at the end.  It’s much wiser, more cost effective (things can be slowly found on sale), and you get to enjoy it as you live in your home!

If you ask me, it’s wise to decorate your home. HOWEVER, I would never advise going in debt to do so or buying beyond your means.  If you have a very small budget, get creative!  There are lots of diy projects out there that cost very little.


What do you think?  Is decorating wise, mainly an artistic expression, or just frivolous?  Where is the line?  What about with rentals?


Simply Spray Series – Painting Upholstery – Week 1

I met with Emily, Simply Spray’s rep, a couple of weeks ago.  She had contacted me to see if I wanted to try their paints since a large section of my blog is devoted to painting upholstery.  I jumped on the opportunity because Simply Spray’s upholstery paint was something I considered when deciding what method I wanted to use to paint my chair.


I learned a great deal from our meeting and she generously offered samples while I offered to do some projects so I could let you guys know a little more about their paints!

We’ll be touching on things in this order.

✓Week 1 – This week – Introduction
Week 2 – Painting a pillow from the original chair and comparing it to the original
Week 3 – Painting pool umbrellas
Week 4 – Painting a patio furniture set
Week 5 – Conclusions

During these weeks, we’ll talk about the difference between Simply Spray and my method.  And, then I’ll sum it all up in the end.

How is my painted chair holding up after 15 months and two moves?


Great!  The fabric is a little softer on the seat than it was at first, from use.  But, nothing else has changed.  No fading, no staining clothing, nothing.  I sat in it almost daily at the rental (so for a few months) though now it’s back to very occasional use and sits in the master bedroom.

My second painted chair that lived in my craft room for a while held up equally as well.  I’m so glad the hours of work that were put into it were worth it!

It was recently purchased by a local photographer, Amber Lee Photography.  She sent some photos with it, which I adore!

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You can find Amber on Facebook as well.

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So you aren’t left hanging, I thought I’d at least share at least a couple of basics that I learned about Simply Spray.

- It’s more of a stain/ dye than a paint.  So, it will not turn things a lighter color than they currently are.  You can only go darker.  That also means it will not cover stains or patterns well.

- It is non-toxic and safe for children and pets.  That is much better than other paints.  In fact, it has no real smell.  I’m very sensitive to smells and didn’t react to this at all.

For more tips and thoughts on this spray paint for upholstery, stay tuned!  If you’ve used it, feel free to chime in!  Also, let me know how this information affects your projects.