the Chairs

Awhile back I was on the lookout for some new chairs. The old brown chair I’d adopted from Tressa had seen better days and was ready to go to the big, chair heaven in the sky.

There were a few things I wanted in a chair:

  • cheap
  • good lines
  • minimal embellishments
  • well built
  • good fabric

Well 4 out of 5 isn’t bad, especially since I got 2 chairs – FREE!

You might have seen the preview I posted on Instagram earlier this month:


What you can’t tell from the picture is that the fabric is a really soft velvet. They’re also super sturdy and heavy. Even the seat, which is the only removable piece, is a good 5 pounds.

While I really like the pale green color, there was a lot of… marks:

DSC_0294 DSC_0291And there are a few places where the fabric looks damaged – almost like cigarette burns but not burns:

DSC_0295The front of the chair looks really rough too:

DSC_0289Additionally the front right leg on Chair A split in half during movement. So I slathered on some wood glue and put it in place. These are not the most classy legs so I will be modifying them along with the remodel

DSC_0300Now, what to do? The idea of covering the chair in new fabric is tempting but the fact remains that I am rubbish at sewing and the original fabric is in good condition.

So I decided to paint.

This is only made possible by the fact there are not lots of tears or rips in the fabric and the marks are pretty light – it would be different if there were mud smears or some other… shit.

Here are the tutorials I visited for inspiration:

While chalk paint was interesting I wanted to use what I already had on hand and started with some of the Behr paint samples I had around. While I’m working on a few paint colors for a new project, having these available made it easier to get started.

Step 0 – Gather your Supplies

To start with, you want some “paint medium” which doesn’t sound like a thing but it is. It’s used to soften the fabric that you paint to keep it from feeling too crusty and it also called “fabric medium”. The average cost is about $1 per ounce but the little bottles are obnoxious so grab some 8 oz ones if you can. I’ve found them at JoAnn’s, Michael’s and Amazon.

The best deal I found was an 8 oz bottle for $5.99 and I was able to use a 25% off coupon at Michael’s to get 16 oz for under $10. Score.

Then choose your paint – acrylic, latex or chalk paint – check out the options in the links and choose the one you want to try. I went with an indoor paint sample from Behr.

Fill a spray bottle with water. Or, like me, realize you have broken your last one while scraping ceilings so empty a bottle of Fabreeze and fill it with water.

Some fine grit sand paper, if your chair has pills or rough spots.

A paint brush.

Step 1 Clean the Chair

This was fairly easy – I started with some upholstery cleaner in the stained spots and used a stiff cleaner brush (from a different upholstery cleaner). However in those areas the velvet texture of the chair became less soft. Since I like the feeling of the velvet this wasn’t ideal and I’m glad I started on the back/sides.

Using water and a rag, clean the fabric to remove dirt and hair. Trust me, you do not want painted on doggie hairs.

Step 2 Mix up the Paint

I started with 2 oz bottles of paint medium so first the whole bottle goes into a glass jar with lid. Then I  half filled the paint medium bottle with water and poured that into the glass jar. Third, I funneled the paint I chose into the bottle until it was full and then emptied it to into the glass jar.

With the lid on I shook it up fast in order to mix it well and then started brushing it on the back of the chair.

Step 3 Paint the Fabric, one section at a time

The paint mix is close to a stain, very watery, so be careful getting it on the fabric. I had the best luck dunking the brush and then laying it directly on the fabric. You may want to brush it on the “wrong” way and then smooth it out with the grain. However you get the paint on the chair (at the end I just poured what was left in my jar directly on), you’ll want to brush it into the fabric and go with the grain.

The easiest way to determine the grain is to run your hand over the dry fabric. One direction should be much smoother and it’s not always left/right or up/down. In some places where the fabric is pulled across a curve the gain is actually at an angle.

One question the other tutorials didn’t answer for me was how far the paint goes. The first 5 ounces (2 oz paint, 2 oz paint medium, 1 oz water) covered the back of the first chair.  The tutorials recommend 3 coats, the third being more concentrated. I do recommend starting in small batches and seeing how far it can go.

The second 10 oz I mixed up covered the left side and over the arm, across the front and a third of the seat on one side.

Some Notes so far:

The paint I chose is a damn close match to the original fabric. Which could be great to achieve the color I want but may also be difficult to cover the stained areas.

The sections I scrubbed with the brush were still rough after painting so as I move around the sides of the chair cleaning I’ll try different methods to clean without destroying the soft velvet finish.

Here are some progress pics for you!

Before painting:

DSC_0297First coat still wet:

DSC_0302Looking down at the arms can you tell which one has been freshly painted?

DSC_0314And which side here hasn’t been painted yet:

DSC_0312Pretty big difference! Now I’ll just keep working my way around to complete the first coat and it seems to be covering the stains well. The color is not entirely consistent yet which is why, I’m guessing, they suggest multiple coats!


2 thoughts on “the Chairs

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