How to Welcome Your Victorian Furniture into the 21st Century

Since I recently discovered for myself how well chalk paint works on fabric upholstery, I’ve had several more projects churning in my head – this one in particular.  I have this old Victorian ladies’ chair that I’ve had for 20+ years.  It looked a bit like this one:

victorian chair photo source 

Last year when I started going ga-ga for gold paint, I painted the wood portion of the chair to spruce it up – unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the true “before.”  I figured I’d do something fun with the wood frame and reupholster the chair at some point, so this is how that turned out:

7O3A0676  Ralph Lauren Gold Metallic Paint on wood trim

This chair belonged to my grandmother, and my mother had it reupholstered 25 years ago in this burgundy fabric. There is nothing that screams “Victorian” like the color burgundy.  And as much as I like the chair, I don’t want it to look so, so Victorian!  I remember back in the 90’s when I heard some friends describe my decorating style as Victorian (gasp!).   I really hated when they said that, but I did (and do) have lots of family pieces from that era.  So how do you take Victorian into the 21st century?  Get out the painter’s tape and get to work!

7O3A1378

This is how it looked after two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Aubusson Blue.  Not great – yet.

7O3A1379

It actually looked pretty bad, but I had faith that if I kept at it, it would turn out the way that I hoped.  So are you ready to see the finished product?  She’s soooo pretty and perfectly regal!

painted fabric upholstery finished chair fabric painted with blue chalk paint 

So here’s how I did it: I painted on the Aubusson Blue with a small paint brush, full-strength. After that dried, I applied a watered-down second coat.

using chalk paint on upholstery  blue chalk paint on fabric

Then, I took the chair outside, lightly sanded it, then wiped off the dust with a dry cloth.

blue chalk paint on fabric chair blue chalk paint on upholstery

One more coat of moderately watered-down paint.  After that dried completely, I finished with one more coat of just slightly watered-down paint.  After about a day, I came back and applied a coat of clear paste wax with a soft cloth, then buffed it off to a slight sheen.

chalk paint with wax on upholsterytop with clear paste wax and buff off with cloth

The finished fabric is soft to the touch.  It looks a bit like leather or maybe even a seersucker suit because of the sheen.  Maybe it looks like seersucker because of the texture of the stripes.

chalk paint on fabric blue chair gold accent

If the gold paint trim is not your taste, you could modernize such a chair with a bright contrasting color like yellow or orange.  I’m thrilled with my “new” chair, which cost me about $20 (half a quart of chalk paint).

annie sloane chalk paint on upholstery fabric blue chair

Are you brave enough to try this?  Please Pin this post or share it on Facebook if you know someone who might like it!

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Christine
7 years ago

That looks great! How has your experience been with you and others sitting in the chair? Does the paint crack? Do you find wax residue on your clothing? Do you have pets that sit in the chair and could potentially ruin your finish? It really does look great, but I would be fearful to put it to the test in my home (three little ones and a cat).

Christine
7 years ago
Reply to  Christine

On the up-side, I bet it is now stain resistant!

Dana Tucker
7 years ago

Another beautiful Decorologist project. I’m sharing 🙂

Emily
Emily
7 years ago

Very inspirational. I have several beautiful Victorian pieces that my mind is constantly working on. They seem out of place in my 50s ranch style house and I tend to prefer more minimalism in my home, so they seem very fussy. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to try this but I’m considering it after seeing how well yours turned out!

Susie
Susie
7 years ago

Simply stunning!!

Kelly
7 years ago

I love it! I am using Aubusson Blue on a chair project too. Looks so pretty in the finished picture in your room. I tried painting fabric before, but did not think to sand. I am going to give it a try, smart girl!

Susan
Susan
7 years ago

Your chair looks amazing! I have a Victorian rocker that was my grandmother’s. (I’m a Nana too so it’s REALLY old) its covered in faded lavender velvet. I wonder how velvet would take the paint? I’m tempted…..

Deborah
Deborah
7 years ago

I love your style,and everything I see you do. I have a pair of Victorian open back chairs,but am not handy,and am afraid to try it!

Barbara
Barbara
7 years ago

Love the chair it is beautiful! I have two naugahyde chairs from my parents in harvest gold, do you think chalk paint would work on them?

Georgia55
Georgia55
7 years ago

Fantastic, inspiring – thanks so much for sharing Kristie.

BTW loved the article on Houzz about what Designers do, your straight forward insight was so helpful. Thank you for the hours you put into this blog and the generous way you share your talent, I appreciate it more than I can say. 🙂

Nicole Stanley
Nicole Stanley
7 years ago

You did a great job on that chair. The chair turns out beautiful and this is an inexpensive way to spruce up the old things. I need to change the fabric cover of my dining chairs… I am bit nervous, as I am not expert in this matter. However, thanks for inspiration I would love to give a try.

Bridgitte
Bridgitte
7 years ago

Lovely project! Could you share – if you know – approximately how much paint it took to do this chair? I’m looking at buying the Annie Sloan paint on ebay, and just wondering how much to buy to cover a similiar size chair. Thanks!

Bridgitte
Bridgitte
7 years ago

Thanks so much Kristie – I love your site, wonderful color ideas! 🙂

nancy
nancy
7 years ago

Do you think it would be possible to paint a cotton-blend slipcover? Or would the paint wash out in the laundry? I had one made for my sofa but it isn’t wearing well at all so I’d like to try painting it a darker color.

Delaney Ferreira
6 years ago

Hi Kristie

Lovely project! It’s been a few months since you painted your chair, could you please update me on the condition of the fabric, any chipping or peeling of paint? ( if possible with a new photograph) I have a few items I’d like to look into painting.

Regards

Delaney

Linda Leyble
6 years ago

Hi Kristie – fantastic project! I just started painting a Loveseat today with ASCP. I have read so many different versions of doing this. I did a test first with almost full strength plus some water on the underside of one of the cushions. It came out nice – I sanded it but I could tell that if I didn’t put wax on it it would continue to leave some chalk residue on people’s pants. So I figured I need to spray the fabric first, then do a mixture of ASCP + about 40% water. This seems to be working better (no residue). I will do a light sanding and then maybe add a bit more paint and do a second coat. Sand again and then clear wax.

Just wanted to see if I am on the right track. I am going over a cheap shiny tapestry type of fabric. I guess different fabrics require different techniques. What have you found?

Thanks,

Linda

Debbie
Debbie
6 years ago

Hi can use emulsion paint to paint a sofa adding the fabric medium to the emulsion ?

Debbie
Debbie
6 years ago

Thankyou for your reply ? Am in the uk I’ve done lots of furniture up but my first time in painting a sofa, what paint would you recommend ? I’ve bought 2 fabric medium just don’t know which paint to use my sofa is the old velvet look.

Debbie
Debbie
6 years ago

My sofa is identical too the girl that painted the sofa blue we’re it led me to this site 🙂

Debbie
Debbie
6 years ago

Yes I’ve heard of that paint so il try that thankyou for the info

Deborah Freese
Deborah Freese
6 years ago

Really beautiful, as are all of your projects. I too have Victorian chairs. What is the gold paint that you used? I have been looking for the right color and have not found it.

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago

Thanks for the tutorial! I’ll surely be trying it this weekend! I wanted to know if you had any tips on painting the interior/nooks and crannies of the chair seating (like where the seat cushion meets the back)? TIA!

Terry Murphy
Terry Murphy
3 years ago

Dear me. I love your home and your design work in general; but this type of furniture calls to mind haunted houses and The Addams Family (even with the beautiful, blue upholstery paint). But, hey, that’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla — right? 🙂

Aarsun Woods
2 years ago

Awesome Victorian wooden arm chair, floral design and finish is really good. we also manufacturer in wooden handicrafts and furniture items from saharanpur, India. Thanks for sharing your designs.

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