How To Paint Upholstery... (AKA Not Sewing Piping)

I'm happy to have Charlotte from Ciburbanity here today!!  I love Charlotte's style and her ability to juggle four children, a successful blog and all that life throws her with such grace.  I know you'll love her post today.  I'm already looking around for some upholstery to paint!  If you're looking for inspiration, make sure to stop by and show her some love on her Facebook page here or on her blog here. Let's give Charlotte a warm welcome and show her some MPFD love!  Thanks for being for sharing Charlotte!

I’m SO excited to be back at My Passion For Decor (even more excited that I get to hang out with my girl, Melody, in just three short days!!!). I'm Charlotte from Ciburbanity and I'm so excited to share my latest chair project. You know how they say a coat of paint can be transformative? Well, they weren't kidding! I've had this chair in my basement for a few months with the intent of reupholstery, but I don't know that I can handle piping for another 12 months. Soooo... I reached for my paint brush! BeforeAfter Chair There are plenty of tutorials out there on the web, and I read a few of them to confirm that most people recommend the same process. I mixed 1/3 regular ol' latex paint, 1/3 fabric medium (mine is Martha Stewart's from Michael's) and 1/3 water. Before painting, tape off any areas of your piece touching the upholstery. The paint should be watery in order to penetrate the fabric, so it will be hard to control and might, ahem, get everywhere.
For the first coat, give your fabric a pretty good once over with a spray bottle. This will help the paint soak in...I started with a plain and simple 2" brush and applied the paint being careful that my last stroke was going with the grain of the fabric. For little nooks and crannies around the tufting or folds or cracks around the piping, use a smaller firm brush to really get your paint in there good. Ultimately, I used my fingers to rub in the paint and make sure that the whole chair had a uniform coat of the paint mixture. spray-bottle nooks-crannies-chair fingers-rubbing-paint
Let your paint dry for a while (I left mine overnight) and go over it with a fine grain sandpaper block. This step is important as it helps to soften the fabric and remove any areas where the paint might have set a little too heavy. This chair took 3 coats, but it's also a fairly dark color... I could see a lighter color on a lighter upholstery might not require as many coats! 3 coats of painted upholstery Can you believe how this thing used to look? And I'm sure you're wondering about the texture... guys, it's NOT ROUGH.. Pinky swear. If you were blindfolded, you wouldn't be able to tell what material is on the seat. The back around the tufting is a little rougher because it's tricky to get the sanding block in there, but it's more stiff than scratchy. close-upholstered-chair corner-painted-upholstery
This new chair is amazing. Like amazing aMAZing. I'm SO pleased with the color and it was much easier than reupholstering. And piping... I loathe piping. painted-upholstery blue-painted-upholstery elephant-upholstered-chair-paint painted upholstery label Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 11.29.34 PM


  1. Ummm, ahhhhmaaaaaazing. I've seen a lot about painting upholstery, and quite honestly, didn't believe it. But, clearly, it's possible. And the results are pretty dang awesome!

  2. I am wondering what kind of paint you used. Great color choice.