One of the Most Shocking Things You Can Paint

Working on projects in my own home really helps me reconnect and be creative without concern about pleasing a client.  Of course, Mr. Man and the kids usually think my ideas are crazy (initially), but I am totally ok with that.



I’ve had this chair for about four years that I found at an estate sale.  I love the lines of it, and it’s super-comfy. I’ve been thinking about painting the frame of it a long time, but the upholstery had me stumped.  It was still in good shape and the pattern wasn’t bad, but the color was really creamy and looked dingy in my living room where I have a lot of white.  

louis chair

It looks better in this picture than it does in real life, trust me. 



I decided to go ahead and paint it in one of the new colors I had purchased of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint-Florence.  

annie sloan chalk paint florence

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Florence 



I figured I’d paint the frame and then find a new fabric and have it reupholstered.  The paint job looked good, but the color was definitely too vivid for the cream upholstery.  But if it were white . . . 

painting chair



Then I thought, if I’m reupholstering anyway, why not give painting the upholstery a try?  I knew you can do that with fabric paint, but I had also heard Dana of Bella Tucker Finishes say that she had painted chair fabric with chalk paint.  I started painting it with Annie Sloan Pure White and instantly loved how well it covered the fabric.  Crazy!

painting fabric in process



Now, it did feel a bit hard and crunchy at first.  But it looked great!  


painted fabric 


At that point, I decided to google it (you’d think I would have done that first, but I didn’t).  Different people have done different things, so I felt emboldened to experiment a bit.  So I lightly sanded it, then watered down a small amount of Pure White chalk paint and put a light second coat on.  

painted upholstery

chalk-painted chair fabric 


This second coat felt nicer than the first one – not as hard and chalky.  Since I always put a clear wax on everything I paint, I figured I’d try it on the chair fabric, too.  I applied it lightly and buffed it lightly.  Amazingly, the fabric feels great now – like leather, really.  And it looks smashing!  I added a bit of dark stain over the Florence to tone it down, then I introduced my “new” chair to the rest of my living room.  

painted fabric upholstery

 They didn’t even recognize her!


My next project is churning in my head now – painting the upholstery of a Victorian chair in a regal blue.  I’ll let you know how that one turns out, of course.  This one was fairly easy and didn’t require much paint because it went from cream to white.  Do you think I’m crazy, or do you love it, too?


Linked to:  Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Friday and Remodelaholic


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111 thoughts on “One of the Most Shocking Things You Can Paint

  1. CEIL TARWATER says:

    FABULOUS! and BRAVO!…LOVE that AS chalk paint!!…There’s just not much you can NOT do with AS paint! Be sure and (kindly) post more pix of your next painting project.

  2. Kelly says:

    Looks fabulous! Curious to hear how it wears, being that the chalk paint isn’t specifically for fabric. And…are those photos taken with your new camera?

        • Louise Scott says:

          I’d say doubtful, as velvet has the plush nap. But, hey, you could always give it a try. I think it would depend upon whether it was a natural fibre or not as to how well it ‘takes’. Have fun!

        • Jennifer says:

          I am curious if it felt like soft leather, or the kind that makes you stick to it and have SW-ass?
          I did a chair with the Latex paint, fabric medium, and acrylic, and it turned out like the latter. I ended up selling it at a yard sale for $3 even though I spent way more on paint supplies than that… PS I love your living room.

  3. Barclay Stone says:

    OMG – that’s hysterical! Loving the white paint! Is it comfortable? I would’ve thought that fabric paint would be kind of crusty feeling. The chair looks great! You’ve saved hundreds!

  4. Rebecca says:

    Love it!!! I really like your new sofa too! I am going to have to try painting my Victorian sofa one of the blues if I can talk my husband into digging in the storage to get it

  5. Terry Murphy says:

    Beautiful! I need to try this on an occasional chair that I have in my basement. High-quality chair with dated mauve fabric; thinking of painting the fabric a deep, rich red.

  6. Stephanie R. says:

    Looks GREAT!!! Love the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Florence that you picked. Would love to see some of your other projects. Please let us know how the chalk paint and wax holds up on the fabric. Thanks!!!

      • stefany says:

        hi, I can’t seem to find any information on the “Drying Time” when I search google- can you please help me? I would like to know specific hours or days it takes for the paint to dry? I am doing a small make-over for a friend’s restaurant and have a limited amount of time and would like to paint their banquette fabric upholstery. I need to know how long each coat takes to dry and the final coat…..1 hour, 1 day, 10 hours, 10 days?! Thank you so much, it would be SO HELPFUL to have this information!
        Also, if you can think of any tips or tricks to make the process go faster? I am not looking for a soft or supple finish….just a durable one that can be stiff (the upholstery already is stiff so that is not a problem). Can I do one coat only?

        • Kristie Barnett says:

          You need multiple coats to get the color consistent – but the good news is that you can recoat after an hour if you are using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I would wait a day or two before sitting on it, but it dries very quickly. Hope that helps!

  7. debbi in Texas says:

    I will always try paint first before investing in a new and expensive option. I painted all my old gold toned bath fixtures an oil rubbed bronze before putting the house up for sale, as a known feature, not hiding the fact. They looked fabulous and have held up well with occasional touch ups. Cheaper than investing in new and the new owners can finance that upgrade. Your chair looks fabulous and it can be a great option to purchase a great looking chair with ugly fabric before investing in reupholstery. Looks great!

    • Penni Shirley says:

      I am interested to know when you painted the gold bath fixtures how it held up and was it Annie Sloan Paint or something different?

  8. Arell says:

    It looks marvelous! I am wondering how it will handle people sitting on it? In the past, I have been too “chicken” to paint my furniture, but you and your blog have made me realize that it is possible! And with stunning results.

  9. Robin @ says:

    Bonjour great looking chair! So chalk paint works on fabric and I read your reply to the vinyl question, a Yes, so here’s mine … what do you think about the paint working on bonded leather {real leather that’s thin and bonded to some type of backing to stabilize / thicken}. I have 4 parson style dining room chairs in a real dark expresso leather and I definitely want to lighten up. Any thoughts or advice? Thanks! Robin

  10. Debbie says:

    I haven’t tried AS chalk paint on a chair yet, but had fantastic results on 2 old fabric lampshades that were discolored. I used AS Old White and the shades look brand new. Vacuumed and then wiped them gently with a damp cloth to remove any dirt and dust, then used 3 light coats of paint. No wax. They sit atop lamps painted in Emperors Silk (red) and look fantastic – best part I already had the paint for other projects so I didn’t need to buy anything to upcycle my 20+ year old lamps. I’m anxious to hear how the painted fabric holds up – chair looks beautiful!

  11. judykr says:

    I have that exact same chair. It never occurred to me to paint it. I think there is a small hole in the upholstery, though, so probably will have to reupholster it sometime. Interesting doing the woodwork in blue, though.

  12. Dana Tucker says:

    Your chair looks fabulous!!! I think Florence is in my top two favorite ASCP colors! Thanks for including the link to our project. You would not believe the traffic that post gets. It is crazy! People love the idea of a pretty cheap fix for ugly upholstery. Yours is amazing 🙂

  13. Valerie Petschulat says:

    I’m wondering if I’d dare to try it on my old but comfy sofa that I don’t want to spend tons of $ reupholstering!

  14. CityGirlCountryBloke says:

    Painting fabric!! Now that is something I can do because I certainly DO NOT know how to sew!! Love it and the chair looks awesome!

  15. Shannon Hickman says:

    In answer to your question at the end of the article – yes! I DO think it’s a little crazy to paint fabric without researching what would happen!! Then again, that’s one of the reasons I read your blog – – you try cool things FIRST, then see how it goes! You’re one brave decorator!

    I also love Bella Tucker Designs. Cool to see on Pinterest the things they do.

    Thank you for being so brave! In the meantime, you’ve just saved me a small fortune in lamp shades. I’ll just paint them instead of buying new ones!!! Thanks!!!

  16. Heidi Nyline says:

    Hi Kristie.

    Great chair. It looks awesome. I am finally tackling my first furniture repaint project in a similar colour. What are your thoughts on using the dark wax over a regular eggshell finish paint? Or is it only something you would use over chalk paint?

  17. Harriet says:

    Love your painted chair! I really enjoy adding color to my home in unexpected places. I would not have thought to paint the chair this color, but I love it! I have been using the Color911 app for my color inspiration …The app helps me visualize what colors go together, I’m going to see what colors I can paint my furniture to go with the rest of my living room, I’m inspired by your taking the leap – well done!

  18. Kim Chapman says:

    I have also painted fabric on a chair that was upholstered in a very durable but ugly flowered fabric. It took 4 coats of paint, but it looked great. I also waxed it.

  19. lori says:

    Love this and the chair looks awesome. Will have to try and the lampshade tip…perfect! Wax doesn’t get on your clothes does it? Hopefully, this isn’t a stupid question, I’m new to AS paint and in love.

  20. Carol Mulder Millspaugh says:

    I LOVE it!!!! Definitely on my list of To Do Projects!!! I knew it could be done too…. Now you’ve given me the confidence to go for it!!!!

  21. Mishelle says:

    Gorgeous! I can’t wait to try fabric. I have a project in mind. Might even get brave and try to stencil the fabric with Annie Sloan.

    Where did you get that amazing couch? I am looking for something similar! Love the style and color.

    Thanks for all the lovely inspirations.

  22. Michelle Grimes says:

    Amazing! Those colours would look fabulous in my living room too. You and I appear to have the same taste in colour schemes 🙂

  23. Jenn says:

    Your chair looks great! I decided to try it out ASCP on the fabric seats of my dining set. It has been tested by my kids for several months now and has held up great!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Well, make sure you tape it off really well with painter’s tape. And use an artist’s brush for the edges (that’s what I did). It also might help to water down the paint a bit for the edges.

    • Arael Seher says:

      I’m really curious about this too!! I’ve chalk painted and waxed lots of furniture so I know how it cures, but I know wax is not the most heat or moisture resistant finish so I’m worried body heat and sweat would affect the wax finish.. =/

      • Kristie Barnett says:

        All I can tell you is, the chair still looks great after a few years. It’s not a high traffic chair, but it’s held up well. Of course, the temperature and humidity isn’t very high in my home, and I wouldn’t sit on any upholstery if I were sweaty!!! 😉

  24. Taryn says:

    Love it! So my question (if you have time to answer) is about painting furniture. The people at the paint store really want me to use oil-based paints to repaint furniture. They are telling me it’s the only way to go, otherwise my furniture will be tacky to the touch (blocking?) if I use latex. What’s your opinion? Do you use wax to help with this issue?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      If you are painting kitchen cabinets or bookcases, oil-based is the best. It cures up harder, faster. But for most furniture, latex is just fine. I always add a coat of paste wax (and buff it well) over the top of anything I paint where I might set something on it. This helps things from “sticking” – but it also helps greatly if you can resist setting ANYTHING on it until the latex cures. A couple of weeks is usually good, although it can take up to a month for latex to really cure.

  25. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Think I may try this on the ugly vinyl wallpaper in our RV! Bet the people at your favorite furniture store wish they had you working in the back of their place!! That chair would SELL!!!
    Here’s something that helped me apply wax to a carved piece–get a brand new boot brush (the kind used for shoe polishing)–just the thing for those deep crevices!

  26. Judy hook says:

    Janet, i saw Annie Sloan do this on a chair on a show. She painted her upolstery red. Couldn’t believe it, beautiful. Yours is awesome. By the way, thanks again for the classes, I too think I have found my happy place.

  27. Joanne S. Kilduff says:

    Love it. I follow Amy Chalmers of Maison Decor and she also paints fabric. Makes sense you would have to sand lightly to take the “nap” that popped up from the first coat of paint. The same thing happens when I paint unfinished unsealed wood. The second coat is usually lighter. The bit surprise to me is you could use wax. Wow. Looks really great.

  28. Natalie A says:

    I’m researching painted pumpkin ideas for fall and seeing some done with AS Chalk paint and several is creams and turquoises. One name came to mind…KB. 🙂

  29. philipss says:

    pls am a nigerian and i do painting too cos i love it…….i cant get ur kind of paint here. i want to know if that CHALK PAINT is water paint or oil paint nd i also want to know how u painted without removing the cotton on the chair. Thanks

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  31. Lee says:

    What a fabulous makeover, I saw your link at Miss Mustard Seed who I have also just discovered. I am a blogger in New Zealand and excited that Annie Sloan’s company contacted me to work with them to help launch their paint in New Zealand as it is a new product here. I have never worked with it but excited now after reading your post to receive my colour charts so I can pick a few colours to work with. I am having someone else do the furniture initially as I am not a specialist but would like to have a go myself and feel encouraged by your post.


    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for you!!! It’s really fun and easy to work with, I can assure you. Good luck in your new endeavors and hope you will keep us updated as to your progress – I will be doing a few more pieces of furniture over the next week, so stay tuned!

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  34. Erum says:

    Hi, I’m just starting to learn about chalk paint and painting furniture. How did you paint the chair? Did you take it apart first so the paint would not get on the fabric or did you tape it all off? Thanks!

  35. Maria Gonzalez says:

    I love your chair! Great job! I have a big project I’m tackling and I’m not sure if it will work, I’m trying to paint polyester sateen fabric, have you done something like that and if so any tips or set backs?

  36. Cape Breton Painters says:

    Wow. It turned out fantastic. I have an old wooden gliding rocker that has been sitting in the garage for over a year now. Going to get it cleaned up and have the kids finish it as a weekend project with dad 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  37. Sharon says:

    Just found this site and loved the chair. I want to paint a flaky bonded leather chair. Could you please advise me on what kind of paint to use and where I can purchase it. I am going to lightly sand the flaky parts and then I am not sure what to do. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I hate to trash this comfy chair that is only 3 years old.

    Regards to you and love your ideas.


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  39. yukie groves says:

    Chalk paint on upholstered headboard: I have been thinking of chalk paint the upholstered (with flat weave cotton) headboard of the bed in creamy white color. I am sort of concerned if the painted surface might look and feel like vinyl . Can anyone tell me if the finish might diminish the soft effect of the feminine bedding?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      It probably would make the headboard feel a bit like vinyl if you use a wax over it, and it’d be too chalky if you didn’t use a wax. Still might be worth it if you don’t like the headboard as it is now!

  40. yukie groves says:

    I have a faded upholstered headboard. Would the finished surface of chalk paint make it like a vinyl? My concern is if the painting would diminish the feminine effect of the bedroom.

  41. Amy Havasy says:

    I am contemplating painting my family room chairs with chalk paint! They are used daily and I was hoping you could tell me how often your chair gets used and how it helped up? Thank you!!

  42. Debbie says:

    My chairs have fabric that is textured – almost nubby, not fuzzy, but definitely “soft”…more texture than velvet. I can’ find anyone whose has posted their experience painting that kind of fabric. Can it be done?

  43. Courtney says:

    My sofa and love seat are microfiber, and in need of a makeover, would this work on the microfiber? Thanks!

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  46. Janet says:

    So how has the paint held up on the fabric of this chair? I never would have thought to paint the upholstery, but that’s got to be SO much easier than recovering the chair and it looks great in the picture. I can just hear what my Mr. Man would have to say about something like this, but I don’t always listen. Those Mr. Men can be party poopers sometimes :). You are very creative.

  47. Logan says:

    Thanks for the tutorial and info! I’m thinking of painting two tub chairs shortly. I went into my local Annie Sloan stockist today to get some advice before I try it.
    They said it would be best not to paint pieces that are used very frequently more occasional furniture, as it won’t feel as comfortable do you find this with your chair? We use these chairs quite often as they are in our main living room and are so comfy!
    I also asked about waxing as so many tutorials say to wax it, but she recommended not waxing as the wax might leave marks on clothing due to people sitting on it with their body heat, have you noticed this issue at all?

    Thanks again!

  48. Naomi says:

    I am considering using chalk paint on 2 chairs and a sofa…..and waxing. My question is–how often will I need to re-wax chalk painted upholstery?

    Thank you!

  49. Melody Molinaro says:

    I’m just wondering if I can do this to old cushions for outdoor patio chairs. They are really dirty and stained, and I got them for free so if it all goes south mo big deal. Just wondering if it would be able to handle the weather, and if I should consider a topcoat of some kind. Thank you!!!!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      If the cushions are directly exposed to rain, I don’t suggest it. I painted a wood bench on my deck with chalk paint a couple of years ago and the paint has worn almost completely off now. Sorry!

  50. Jan says:

    I just wanted to share my experience painting on fabric was excellent. I wish it allowed me to post my pic! I watered my AS paint 50/50 and did 3 coats. It was a brocade, part of it was shinier than the other part in a “raised leaf” pattern. The paint made it all the same color but left a left a little of the raised pattern impressions detectable which worked well. I waxed it in my basement and let it cure for a couple of weeks. My basement is pretty low humidity right now since it’s winter, perhaps would have different results in the summer. But anyway the wax cured well, left no sticky residue. I was very careful not to overdo it though. Suggest keeping wax to a minimum and build up. When I tried sanding with sandpaper was stopped, afraid of ruining the look. I see a AS sanding black was used by Kristie, so may try that next time. But my fabric was not hard anyway, so found it not needed. It ended up being about the same texture as before, again I think because I did 3 very thin coats and let dry a couple of days in between as I have learned to not get in a hurry! :). I sold the chair within 3 weeks of posting!

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