Painted Fabric (French Chairs) Tutorial

I recently posted about the chairs I painted.  Today I am going to show you how I painted them without removing the fabric.  Painted Fabric!!

Painting the fabric as opposed to reupholstering is much easier!  Plus if you are like me I am really not an expert upholster.

As I previously noted in my other post, I was originally going to leave them just the way they are seen here.  They look beautiful in the photos..BUT don't let that fool you!


When I purchased them I instantly fell in love with them.  The lovely lines, there was zero nasty smell, and they just cried out to me!!  I loved the legs and the tufted backs.

But, then I as I was wiping them down, I pulled up the cushions, and I found a big red stain. It was stubborn..would not come out no matter what I tried.

 The fabric then started to fade...

This gave me the idea to go ahead and paint the fabric.  Why not?  Right?  I mean if worse came to worse I'd just remove & give it go with fabric.. oh please let this work! 

Before starting I painted the wood area, but then I decided I wanted some of the darker grey showing throw the really light grey when I distressed.  So as I was painting over the fabric I also painted all of the wood area.  I didn’t realize this until I was on my second chair (learning experience).  Also I got a few drops of the lighter color on the fabric, and even though I was able to paint over it, it took several coats.  Just be aware.

Supplies I used –

Behr latex paint from Home Depot

Fabric Medium purchased at Michaels

Water in a spray bottle


I mixed 1:1:1 ratio of paint, fabric medium and water.  I first mixed my paint & medium to make sure it was mixed well.  I then added my water.  I did a ½ cup of each at a time for every time I made my mixture.  It is going to look runny.  That is what you want.

I made sure the entire chair was completely wiped down & clean.

 The fabric was a shiny smooth type of fabric, which made it really easy to paint.

As you can see I had painted the wood an off white color..wasn't the look I was going for.

 I worked in small sections at a time.  Using my spray bottle, I sprayed a small section with water. This helps the paint go on more smooth and even.  I then painted that section.  You are still going to see the fabric a bit under the painted area.  Key is making sure your fabric stays moist where you are painting.  It is almost as you are more dyeing the fabric as you are painting it.

I let the chairs dry overnight since I started late in the evening (that’s the hard part for me..waiting)!!

The next morning I lightly sanded using a fine grit sanding block.  And, then I repeated my steps above.  I know some tutorials do not spray more water, but I did.  I felt it just helped move the paint easier and helped me get in the tufted areas.  I let it dry between coats and did one more coat exactly as above.  Between each coat I lightly sanded.


Next I did a coat of just paint & water (not using the spray bottle).  Let it dry.  Lightly sand and then did a look over to see if there were any places I needed to touch up.

 (My bad.. I forgot to take a photo)
I now had all grey chairs.  I used a really light grey color and painted over the wood area.  I used a 1” brush and my artist brush to get the edges nice & clean.

 I added little jewels!

Once it was all dry, I lightly sanded the fabric and distressed the wood.

I then waxed the entire chair with clear wax.


This is what worked for me.


I love how they came out, and they have since gone to live with their new owner!  The fabric feels like leather to me.  Not hard or stiff.  I had many customers stop in & sit on them before they sold.  Each one would say with shock they expected to be stiff or they didn't realize the fabric had been painted.
All in all I loved doing these chairs.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I hope this helps.

~ Lynn


  1. Thank you so much for this information. I have a love seat in my bedroom that I don't like the fabric color and have been wanting to paint it. Now I am going to go for it. Hopefully everything will turn out. It's hard when your on a fixed income to justify purchasing new stuff when the old is still good, but you want a different color.
    Your chairs are stunning - great job.
    Again, thank you.

  2. They turned out so beautifully, Lynn! They won't be in your store or long. Can't wait to head to the Haven conference with you!

    1. Thank you my friend!!! Looking forward to the conference as well!!

  3. They look wonderful... I have a couple of chairs that I need to do something with and maybe I should paint them.

    1. Thank you Marlys. I enjoyed doing this makeover and seeing the outcome.

  4. They look great! Do you think a darker color would cover a light pattern? It's a pastel floral pattern that I really don't care for.

    1. Thank you Cari. I am not certain a darker will cover the pattern if the pattern is raised any...the pattern flows into the paint. But, if it is just a pattern that is the color of the fabric (not sure this makes sense) then it should cover it just fine. It all depends on what the fabric is made of.

  5. oh my goodness! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the gray!

  6. Hello I hopped over from Share It One More Time! These turned out gorgeous! One of these days I am going to try this...

  7. Your chairs look awesome! I'm about to start painting a vintage chair for a client using chalkpaint. It never dawned on me that I could use latex with a fabric medium. I must remember this for next time - thanks!

  8. Lynn, I love the way they turned out. I have wanted to paint fabric for a while. Now I just have to find a chair to do. Thank you for sharing your tutorial at Share It One More Time. Cathy

  9. Gorgeous! Pinning to the Monday Funday pin board! What a great makeover!

  10. What an amazing transformation! I love the color you chose too! Thank you so much for sharing on The Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop!!

  11. Hello beautiful! This looks so amazing. Pinned. Thank you for taking the time to stop by! I hope to see you at our party tonight, it starts at 7 pm. We love to party with you!
    Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

  12. Wow, I'm amazed. I had no idea any of that existed...I've only heard of the ready-mixed fabric spray paint which of course would take like a gazillion bottles to cover anything. So good to know- thank you! I have a purple couch that is in desperate need of help like this. ;-) Also want to invite you to my link party this weekend- it'll be Saturdays at 8 pm at I'm hosting with a couple friends and would love to see your "Found & Foraged" projects. Hope to see you! (ps. coming by from the Kathe with an E party!)

  13. Those look beautiful! I painted my headboard but it was red velvet to start with so that took LOTS of coats and it was kind of hard since it was velvet. I just saw a chair at the thrift store today that I fell in love with but it was in pretty bad shape upholstery wise... and the whole thing was tufted... I can reupholster simpler things but I've never attempted tufting before... I completely forgot about the painting option! I'm going to go back tomorrow and see if it's still there now!



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