It started out nice and simple as a little trip down the road to a favourite junk shop to collect some old books and knick-knacks. Very quickly it became an enormous DIY “Oh gosh, what am I going to do with all these chairs” kind of nightmare!
A friend and I discovered a lounge set consisting of two 2-seater wingback couches and two wingback chairs, in what can only be described as almost pristine condition, although they weren’t exactly to our taste. Someone had obviously gone to some lengths to look after these items with great care and love – kudos to the previous owner. Unfortunately I couldn’t live with the rather bold floral print, which another friend endearingly suggested looked like the aftermath of a fantastic night. I actually do like florals, just not to perch my rather lovely posterior on. Clearly, these purchases were in need of a few light adjustments.
So, the first task was to deal with a single chair. Some of you may consider what I’m about to share to be a permanent disfigurement of a perfectly gorgeous vintage chair. However, I think I’ve given it a new lease of life with easy cosmetic changes to give us a new looking, inexpensive, but cool seat.
In the past I have used chalk paint on a variety of different surfaces, timber, metal, concrete, plastic and glass. It’s easy to work with, dries super fast and has a lasting finish. I had heard of people using paint on fabric and my first thought was to wonder if paint, once dry, would harden and crack on such a porous medium. However, my second thought was, ‘What the hell, let’s try it!”
I did some research and found the best way to paint fabric was to use a spray bottle filled with water, lightly spray the surface area you wish to paint. Get a second container, pour in the desired amount of paint, then add approximately the same amount of water.
I couldn’t find the exact colour I wanted so I used an Old French Blue base, added a dash of Old White, a small tube of Teal and mixed well until it was smooth and creamy. Diluting the paint with water ensures an even coverage and allows the paint to dry more slowly enabling it to be absorbed into the fabric fibres.
So grab your paints and start painting!
This process will look a bit odd to start with as the coverage is quite sheer. I used three coats, allowing each coat 24 hours to soak in and dry. Partly as this fitted in with my schedule, and partly as the original colours of the fabric were dark and bold. Each coat doesn’t take long to apply – a half hour was all I needed.
The Final coat looked fantastic but the feel was still a little chalky. I wanted the chair to have longevity and feel smoother, so I decided to work with a light clear wax coating over the entire paint surface. I used a clean cloth and rubbed in small areas to start with. Once I had waxed the entire chair, I used a second clean cloth and buffed the daylights out of the whole thing. The finished look and feel of the chair is now like a very soft leather.
I ended up recovering the seat cushion in a complementary fabric as I wanted a specific look for this chair, however with the next one, I intend to paint EVERYTHING.
I have to say this is one of my BEST DIY PROJECTS EVER! It’s a practical and cheap solution to what would have been a mammoth as well as expensive total recovering nightmare.