Don’t Re-Upholster Ugly Old Fabric, Try Painting It Instead!

I really liked the shape and the curly-cue legs on this little bench, but I did not like the fabric. I couldn’t decide if those were tiger stripes or zebras, but either way … they had to go!

vanity stool_beforeUsually, I would have to take the bench apart and reupholster the seat with new fabric, but I decided to try something new with this project.

I decided to paint the fabric instead.

Painting fabric is a popular look right now and I’ve seen many beautiful project photos online. I wasn’t sure how it would look—or feel—in person. However, I decided that if I didn’t like it in the end, I could just remove it and reupholster it.

APC_Backyard Pond

Backyard Pond (Photo courtesy of American Paint Company)

I used American Paint Company all-natural clay chalk and mineral paint.

This is a new color called Backyard Pond from the limited edition American Home Collection.

The pretty blue was perfect to cover up those stripes.

* * *

The trick to painting fabric is to water down your paint so it can soak into the texture of the fabric.

It took about five or six thin coats of watered-down paint to completely cover the bold stripes. Let each coat dry completely before adding the next one.

You can see the stripes disappearing with each new layer of paint.



IMG_0613In the end, the paint covered the stripes completely.

I also painted the metal legs with the blue Backyard Pond, then came back and dry brushed white Home Plate for a weathered look. I waxed the entire bench—legs and seat—with APC Clear Wax.

Here it is! It looks beautiful.

vanity stool_painted fabric_final1

vanity stool_painted fabric_closeup1

vanity stool_closeup2But for me, the true test was …

How does it feel?

I am happy to report that it feels really nice. It is soft and almost leathery to the touch. I like it a lot.

I liked this chair a lot too when I found it. It also had a great shape, but was covered in 1970’s naugahyde vinyl. Yuck!

orange chair_before1

The American Paint Company paint covered the cotton fabric on my bench beautifully, but would it work on fake leather?

APC_Shag Carpet

Shag Carpet (Photo courtesy of American Paint Company)

I painted the entire chair with another new color from the American Home Collection, an orange called Shag Carpet.

Let me tell you, I am NOT an orange person AT ALL. It is probably my least favorite color, but I decided I needed to break out and try ALL of the new American Home Collection colors.

I was surprised, but I really like Shag Carpet! Orange can be a harsh color, but this shade has a lot of brown in it so it is softer and more elegant than its brighter orange friends.

APC_Shingle on a RoofI added yet another new color called Shingle on the Roof, a rich neutral taupe/brown color that pairs perfectly with just about everything, including Shag Carpet. I painted the frame of the chair Shingle on the Roof and then distressed to reveal some of the Shag Carpet coming through.

I waxed the entire chair—including the painted-over naugehyde—with APC Clear Wax. Again, the paint covered that vinyl beautifully … and only took two coats for perfect coverage. I did not water it down like I did with the cotton fabric, but I did let the first coat dry thoroughly before applying the next one.

Shag Carpet chair1

Shag Carpert chair_closeup1

Shag Carpet chair_closeup2This chair also feels really good, which I think is just as important as looking good. After all, who wants to sit on a chair that feels icky?

These two projects opened up a whole new world for me! Painting fabric (and vinyl) is easy to do and creates a beautiful new look without the hassle of reupholstering. I will definitely keep this technique in mind the next time I find a piece of furniture with great bones and ugly upholstery.

~ Cathy

* * *

Do you have a piece of furniture with a great shape, but it looks tired and outdated? Don’t toss it  … paint it instead! All Things New Again offers an Introduction to American Paint Company class on the first Sunday of every month at our studio in Leesburg, VA.

We teach—and you practice—several techniques, including how to dry brush like Cathy did on the bench and how to layer and distress two colors like she did on the orange chair. You will go home with the skills—and the confidence—to start painting furniture like a pro. (BONUS: Our class is a lot of fun!)

At $99, it is also the best deal around. Call us at 703-779-2991 to sign up today or register online here.


2 responses to “Don’t Re-Upholster Ugly Old Fabric, Try Painting It Instead!

  1. These turned out great. I love that bench, and I’ll be sharing it on my blog today. Thank you for adding it to the Bloggertunities Share thread.

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