Artsy Upholstery Makeover: The Painted Chair






I had wanted to do something with this particular chair for months and finally decided to be a little crazy and try painting the upholstery. But I didn't want to just paint it. I wanted it to become a piece of art. And I wanted it to still be comfortable to curl up in to sketch and read or whatever.

So, here's how I tackled it:

First, the upholstery had some annoying fabric pilling. You know those little balls of fabric that just look ugly. Well, I wanted to get rid of all of that and have a smooth "canvas". I grabbed some sandpaper and it was working well on "cleaning up" the fabric but was taking too long and too much effort. 
So I grabbed my rotary sander.
 I used a fine (220grit) sandpaper and sanded the entire chair (upholstery only). I used a fine grit because I wanted to be careful not to tear up the fabric.
I liked the wood the way it was, dark stain with a little distressed look to it so I left it alone.
 Then I mixed up my "secret ingredient".....a spray bottle with some of my favorite fabric softener and water (approximately 60/40 water to softener).

Working a section at a time I sprayed down the upholstery on the chair evenly to make it slightly damp. This did several things for me: it made the chair smell fantastic, it softened the fabric (that was already a bit softer from being sanded), and it helped the paint colors go on smoothly and evenly.
Not a big fan of the leafy pattern showing on the fabric....thankfully the abstract painting job covered it.
 I used a combination of acrylic paints (anything from little bottles of craft paint to some of my more vibrant hued artist acrylic paint tubes)
The colors showed really well on the ivory colored fabric but I did use some watered down white gesso as a primer in areas where I wanted lighter paint colors to show better.
 Notice I used a medium/large short stiff bristle brush on most of the chair. Easy to work with and helped me "scrub" colors into the fabric and into beautiful blends in the abstract design.

 I wanted the colors to flow over the chair as if it were one cohesive abstract artwork. So I lined up the cushion with the back of the chair to continue the colors onto the seat.

 I did the same over the arms of the chair, sticking with my original color palette throughout
 (the process took a few days to complete)
 I wasn't too worried about accidentally getting paint on the wood while I was working because it would easily wipe off with a damp cloth.
 When the paint colors were dry I came back with a fine grit sandpaper (this time by hand) and lightly sand over the upholstery to soften it back up. If any colors got a bit too dull from the sanding I touched them up with paint and then I sprayed a small amount of my water/softener mixture over the finished area.
*Repeat these last steps as necessary.
In the end my chair is vibrant and beautiful. It smells amazing and the fabric is soft and comfortable. I absolutely love it. And it's going in my art studio.
 *One last note: After this last picture I did go back and add an onyx metallic glaze over the wood when I was finished, and since it was a glaze the original wood color still primarily shows through.

I'm so happy I tried this and I will probably do it again at some point.

If you decide to turn an upholstered piece into a painted work of art I would love to hear about it and see the finished project.