Chairs are such a solid investment when it comes to furniture purchases. You can find chairs in secondhand stores, op shops, roadside and your grandmother’s shed. They are everywhere. When buying or finding a chair, look for solid features, line, design, shape. Don’t worry too much about the finish of the chair. They can be sanded, varnished, oiled, painted – and yes, even fabric chairs can be given new life with a lick of paint! You may want to change the fabric, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble and expense, you can always paint it with chalk paint! I created this look a few years ago after reading about how to chalk paint fabric chairs, and seeing some amazing results. So I decided to have a go with one of these two little bedroom chairs I found on the side of the road. I loved the shape of these chairs but was not keen on the skirt or the fabric. I do love old fashioned patterns in fabrics, but was not keen on the overall feel of the chair. So in I went with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Napoleonic Blue – one of my absolute favourites. This is an update of the original post, which is one of our most popular posts ever!
How to paint an upholstered chair with Chalk Paint
1.First, spray the chair down with some water to make sure the fabric is a little damp. Use some water on the brush with the paint each time as well. You are trying to work the paint into the fabric, not just paint on the surface.
2.Have a tub of water nearby with your paint so you can keep the paint quite wet. Also used a quality bristle brush. You want the brush to be able to hold lots of paint and have a lovely finish. I also used a small paintbrush later to touch up small areas, the buttons and the trim.
3. Begin your chair painting with quite thin layers paint, with more water in the mix. Then as you work, add more paint and less water to cover the patterns – not the texture. I have read some people have had trouble covering patterned fabrics, and that is one reason I chose the dark colour, other than the fact I love this colour!
4. If you have buttons like me, dab and swirl the brush to get right into the depth of the buttons. This worked well for me. You could also use a smaller brush like a stencil brush on buttons or other deep areas.
5. As this had a skirt, I cut it off and trimmed it as much as possible, but left a frayed feeling as I liked the vintage industrial vibe it gives to the chair. I also ripped off the old carpet underlay someone had put on the feet to protect a floor, as now they were visible. Later I used copper spray paint on the bottom edge and the feet and then sanded them back a little to give a distressed look with some blue showing through.
6. How many coats you will need depends on the chait and your personal preference. I just love how the embossed pattern and the buttons are highlighted with the paint. It took really only one overall coat – but is more like one and a half to two coats, as I went over some areas. You really have to go with it on the day as to what finish you want.
7. Use stippling or dabbing brush stroke to get into the nails on the back and around the seams.
8. This was the first go with the trimming of the skirt – later I cut all of this off.
9. Spray painting the legs and trim – later I used a small paintbrush to tidy up around the trim and distressed the legs.
10. One of the most important steps is to wax and sand the chair to seal the finish. Just as you would with a timber piece, the wax helps to seal the paint. It also gives it a more buttery finish. You can use any non-toxic clear wax. I used a beeswax. You could use a tinted wax if you wanted to alter the colour.
And the feel of the chair? This is the question most people ask!
To begin with the chair may feel a little like a canvas chair – actually quite comfortable and no paint coming off. If you have a softer fabric than mine, with the wax the chair can feel more like a soft leather. A few years later my chair has held well and still retains the paint.
Here is a tutorial with Annie Sloan which you might also find useful.
**Originally posted in 2014