Monday, September 10, 2012

DIY: Painting Upholstered Chairs

I'm Katie's mom, and I'm going to hijack her blog for a minute, with a quick tutorial on how to paint upholstered chairs.

I had a pair of very faded old wingchairs in my living room.

And I do mean very faded.....

The fabric used to be one color, a pretty pink moire effect, but sitting in front of sunny windows, it had faded into ugly splotches . Both wingchairs looked awful, and were dowdy, too. Ugh! I thought about reupholstering them, but what a hassle if you don't have a truck (and even if you do!). And expensive. And then Katie forwarded me a Pinterest link about painting upholstery. 

So I gathered my courage and began experimenting on the "bad side" of one of the seat cushions, figuring I could always hide the damage.

I started out with a bright pink bubblegum colored sample of latex paint from Home Depot. I thinned it out about 50/50 with water. I could not find any fabric medium. All the local hobby stores were sold out, and (being me) I was anxious to get this project going. So I skipped the fabric medium throughout this project.

The first coat of bright pink paint came out surprisingly light in color, and the fabric felt stiff after the coat of paint. 

It was OK, but not very zingy, and I was surprised at how much lighter the color appeared on the fabric.

I had just painted my sunroom an electric pink, and had some left over.

This time I really thinned the paint out, to watercolor consistency, really runny and dribbly.

At this point, I was at the "what the hell" stage, and decided to go for it. I started painting the chair body.

The thin paint dribbled down the sides, so I quickly learned to tip the chair over and prop it up to keep it from running. 

I also learned that this is NOT a stop and start project. If you stop and start, you will wind up with a very streaky paint effect. Make sure to set enough time aside to put a complete coat of paint on the fabric. I am a slow painter, and it took me about two hours to do each chair.

Because my chairs had sat in the sun for so long, some of the fabric had become weak. I had to be reasonably careful painting around the weak spots because the thinned paint weakened it even more while it was wet. But it never tore, and the paint actually seemed to strengthen the fabric once dry.

Here are before and after chairs. The still-damp painted chair has only two coats on in this photo, and looks a bit splotchy:

I ended up putting four coats of paint on each chair. They still look a bit streaky if you look at them closely, but I rather like it that way. It kind of gives it that "look at me! I'm different!" handmade appeal. 

I never used fabric medium. It took me one sample size pot of paint per chair, thinned out to watercolor consistency, to do four coats per chair.  I think each sample pot has a pint (?) of paint in it. 

It took about three days for the four coats to dry. I helped things along by putting a space heater nearby for a couple of hours one day. The fabric lost the moire look, and ended up with the texture of soft denim, which was fine by me, because I  really wanted to de-formalize my living room, which had been something akin to a Victorian wax museum, and completely ridiculous. "Living" room, my arse.  

I am very pleased with the end result. I love the "Strawberry Whip" color. It really wakes up my living room, and ties so nicely into my sunroom. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice Post I like nice furniture
    It looks better than even when it was new.