My Thrift Store Find- Painted Chair Upholstery Before/After

Since learning that it is possible to paint the upholstery I’ve had it in my head that I was going to find a chair and do it. There are different ways to paint fabric including actual fabric spray paint or Tulip fabric paint. I chose to use a latex paint/water/fabric medium mixture seen on Hyphenated Interiors and various other blogs.  I scored a chair for $10 at Goodwill that was perfectly suited to be painted.  In photos it doesn’t look too bad, even the color isn’t hideous, but I needed to match the pillows in my living room.  There were some marks on the seat that only paint would have covered so I promise I didn’t ruin a good chair!
Painted Upholstery Chair Before/After

I knew, because I’m lazy and hate doing a ton of coats, that I would need to pick a chair that was light in color. In total I did 2 full coats and went back to cover a few missed spots I noticed after the second coat dried. It took longer than I expected and was more effort too. Luckily I chose a chair with less fabric to paint.

painted chair before paintpaintedchairbeofre2

After one coat it was still pretty soft once I sanded the paint, but the coverage wasn’t there yet.


The material is a velour and, after painting, feels and looks more like a microsuede. The sheen the original fabric had was lost during painting which adds to that microsuede look. It isn’t nearly as soft as the original fabric but I wouldn’t describe it as rough or crunchy either.  Also, to take care of the scratches I rubbed a walnut over them, then washed the whole chair with Murphy’s Oil Soap, which made the wood look almost new.

I painted in all of the nooks and crannies but one and this should give you an idea of the texture difference.

My intention for this chair was to fill a corner in my front living room, a spot that wouldn’t often see an actual visitor. I figured that, if nothing else, the chair would look nice there. To tie the chair in more with my “mid century modern” decor I picked up an “as-is” lamp that I’ve been eying from Ikea for half off! I went there thinking of buying it full price, I just got lucky that day!

Painted fabric chair

The total cost of the chair after buying 2 bottles of fabric medium (1.99 each at Michaels) and a quart of latex paint ($13.00 Glidden brand from Home Depot) was $28.00.  The materials cost more than the chair itself!  Had I not been trying to match the look of my couch pillows and had used paint already laying around the cost would have only been $14.00.

  • I had no idea you could do this. And the chair looks wicked!

  • Great job. Thanks for linking to my tutorial (Hyphen Interiors). I’ll add your chair to my chairs page and link to you! 🙂

  • Elizabeth Bruno

    This looks great, and you used my favorite color too! Once we are in a place to decorate again I fully intend on doing some up cycling. Your remodel gives me hope that we can do more work on our next home that is sure to be a fixer-upper. By the way, did anyone else think the picture of the unpainted nook and cranny looks a little, er, lady-like if you know what I’m saying?

    • kimrosas

      Oh my Elizabeth! Yes…. I told my husband about my little nook and how I made sure to paint all of the crevices to avoid a bunch of vaginas showing up when the chair was sat in. It could be called the vagina chair if I didn’t. Glad I’m not the only one who went there 🙂

  • Katie S

    I alos had no idea you could paint fabric like that! And you rubbed an actual walnut over the scratches?!

    • kimrosas

      Yep, a shelled walnut. The oils darken and the nut slightly fills the scratches. It won’t work for deep scratches or all woods but worth a shot.

  • Caroann

    I have a question I don’t see answered on any of the “chair painting” blogs. I want to use my two chairs out on the covered patio so I don’t mind if they’re a little stiff. Must I use the fabric medium??

    • kimrosas

      I don’t think so. I saw one person who used only latex and it gave the fabric a leathery/vinyl look and was shiny. They used it as an outdoor photo prop.

  • Very pretty!

  • Shallwe

    Love the end result! Have my white wingbacks thirsting for color! You’ve inspired this lady to go for it!

  • Elizabeth Cummings Johnson

    Good for you! I had some nasty carpet on stairs of a house I bought…I had to paint cause I couldn’t afford to recarpet right away. Super clever idea!