Painted Upholstery Trial

Last summer, I visited a garage sale nearby, only without the garage.  It was more of a driveway and yard sale.  I brought home several pieces, one of which was this…this…this whatever-you-call-it.

Old Low Chair

What would you call it?

It’s very low – with the seat height of the Thumb Tack Coffee Table (15-18″ tall) there in the background above.  It’s low for a stool, way too low for a vanity chair, would work as a foot stool or ottoman, but what an odd shape!

My plan was to replace the dirty upholstery.


I decided to use it as a test piece for painting upholstery.  I’ve seen others paint furniture with paint mixed with fabric medium.

One Coat of Paint

But, I also read that you can use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint without fabric medium.   I used Lowe’s Valspar Super Flat Ultra paint and primer, which is a fair ASCP substitute.  Lowe’s color-matched the Valspar to Annie Sloan’s Louis Blue.

Valspar Paint

I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for the legs (in pure white), then roughed it up with sandpaper.

Chair Legs in ASCP

A little extra detail was added with a Hob Lob stencil using ASCP French Linen color.


French Linen is my favorite ASCP shade.  Here’s a better view of it in my Medicine Cabinet Transformed post.

Stencil in ASCP

The Valspar paint turned out stiff, but I’ve heard that after waxing, it feels like leather.

ASCP Clear Wax

I wouldn’t say it exactly feels like leather, but it’s certainly softer than before waxing.  It’s still fairly stiff, but smooth rather than the rough texture of the paint coating.

Painting Fabric Project

Whatever this piece is called, it made for a good trial.  It’s suitable as an accent piece.  I added an easy pillow that was made by this Pocket Pillow Tutorial.

Chair Complete with Pillow

Now that the trial is complete, I need to decide whether to paint a full sofa and love seat or make slip covers (nail-biter!).

What do you think?  Would you take the chance on painting a furniture piece so large?

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  1. wanda j says

    I wouldn’t if the fabric is really stiff.Will start breaking at time goes by and people sit and use it. Fabric need stretch when sitting on it. But try mixing something like fabric paint with it next time. Or just straight fabric paint. It is softer but will cost you more if don’t use coupons to buy.

    • says

      Hi, Wanda! I discovered with this project that you use a lot of paint because it soaks into the fabric a lot. It would take a boatload of paint and fabric medium, which you know isn’t cheap! Anyway, I don’t love the couch and loveseat anyway, so I may just donate them or something. Decisions, decisions…

    • says

      Yes, there is fabric medium to add to paint, but it is very expensive. Since it would take a lot of paint for these two couches, I was trying to do without it. A DIY fabric medium solution would be awesome! 🙂

  2. Sheryll & Critters. says

    I believe I would practice one more time…… with fabric medium added to the paint and underneath or in back of the fabric first. I can’t even seem to make myself even start to make slipcovers for my much needed sofa, much less reupholster it…… oh man that is work.

    Take some scraps of fabric and practice at least one more time……. I like the look of the cute little what ever it is. Looks like something French.

  3. says

    What an unusual piece! Al I can see in my mind is someone sitting there with their elbow resting on the rolled edge perhaps with a small tray next to them and their coffee or tea on it? Very Victorian! That’s a fun idea with the fabric paint but I think I’d keep it limited to a small project like this since you don’t know how it will wear. You did a cute job on it!
    Liz @ Infuse With Liz recently posted…Kitchen Dining Plate Rack Updated…again!My Profile

    • says

      Thank you, Liz. I hope you’ll remind me to report later how the paint is holding up. One draw-back is that this chair won’t get nearly the use that the couches get. 🙂

  4. Tricia says

    I remember seeing pics of seats/chairs like this one in a 1950’s bedroom. Not sure if it was made earlier but I saw it in a 50’s movie. Sorry, but I can’t think of the name of the movie.

  5. says

    It looks to me like something I would put in my dressing room and sit on to paint my toes! It would be low enough to comfortably bend over, and comfortable on the rump! 🙂

  6. Jeanne says

    I painted a loveseat, wingback chair, and foot stool a few years ago. I had made arrangements to have it recovered and the person never got back in touch with me. I had read about painting upholstery online and decided to give it a go. I already had the primer and decided to just go with Sherwin Williams paint. I detailed it here I’ve since rearranged but am still using the pieces. Some of the paint is getting a bit crackly in areas and I’m contemplating sanding it down a bit and giving it another coat of paint. The biggest drawback is that the grandsons were climbing and jumping on the ottoman and poked a couple of holes in it. So for now I have a throw draped across the footstool. I can take pics and send them your way if you would like, since I never followed through with maintaining my blog.

    • says

      Thanks for leaving the link to your couch project. It does look exactly like cream leather! I didn’t sand my fabric after painting, but it doesn’t feel as rough after waxing. If my paint treatment starts to crack, I think I’ll just re-cover it and be done with the process. I don’t like having to keep going back and re-doing some steps later on. This test piece has encouraged me NOT to paint my couch and love seat. That’s why we test, right? 🙂