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How to Paint Upholstered Furniture

How to Paint Upholstered Furniture

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I have still not taken an interest to the art of sewing and upholstering. Given my love for DIY home decor and interior design, I know I should but it seems a bit tedious to me. Anyhow, I had been holding on to an Eastlake Chair that has been in my family for years. No one wanted it ,so I decided to take it in and give it a loving home (even though it was not exactly my style). For years, I contemplated selling it because it really just took up space. Inspiration finally struck when I stumbled upon this Stick Around Armchair from CB2.

My first instincts were to have the chair re-upholstered.  After looking into the cost of re-upholstering, I decided it was a no-go. Meanwhile in the magical land of Pinterest , I found several Pinners painting over existing fabric upholstery. I decided to run with it. Here’s how I painted the fabric on my Eastlake chair.

how to paint upholstery


Materials Needed

  • chalk paint (I used Maison Blanche Paint Company’s chalk paint)
  • spray bottle full of water
  • paint brush
  • For wood frame  I used General Finishes Milk Paint in Driftwood

Here’s is the before of the chair.

eastlake chair makeover before

I took the chair outside and got to work. The trick to painting fabric with chalk paint is to make sure the surface is wet. Spray the fabric with your water spraybottle . Once the surface is damp, you can begin to apply the chalk paint onto the fabric with your brush.As the water dries, you may need to pull out that spraybottle and dampen again.


Here is what the fabric looked like after 2 coats.

painting upholstrey


For optimal coverage, it took about 4 coats of paint, I was impatient and didn’t really allow the paint to dry between coats. Not sure if this would have helped. Painting the fabric on the chair was quite simple. I actually think if I was working with a more subtle pattern on my pre-exisiting fabric (not blazing red floral), the fabric wouldn’t have required as many coats.

For the wooden frame, I just used some milk paint I already had leftover from another project. It is a dark grey called Driftwood by General Finishes. I applied it with a skinny foam brush. Milk paint sticks to just about any surface so I did not have to prep the wood. I didn’t sand and I didn’t prime. Love this stuff!

For the final touches, I applied a stud trim that I found at Hobby Lobby.

stud trim on arm chairThe trim was applied with hot glue. This was so much easier than painstakingly applying each individual stud.

Here is the final product.

eastlake chair makeover diy

I’m sure you antique loyalist are appalled, but at least I kept the piece and made it my own.

The chalkpaint was perfect for this particular application because this chair rarely gets used. Because the chalkpaint does have an odd texture, I am not so sure I would prefer it for a piece that receives regular use. This is just my opinion, but I have seen people paint couches so whatever floats your boat I suppose. One day the stuffing of the seat will have to be repaired but I don’t care to invest in that endeavor just yet.

Hope this tutorial was helpful. Now get out there and design some good vibes!


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