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painted upholstery DIY

A $30 vintage mid-century rattan empire armchair I bought at Canton, TX First Monday Trade Days needed a makeover. (If you have not been to this junk, craft, import, need a tetanus shot heaven—YOU SHOULD GO! Details here: Before versions of this chair can be found here and here

It was faded burgundy velvet, dusty, had a small hole in the rattan that needed to be patched, covered in cat hair or maybe raccoon?? But structurally was in great shape!

I can recover minor things like this chair. Things that you can use the existing fabric when unscrewed and staples removed as a template—I can do that. So once stripped, sanded, patched the rattan hole with wood glue I painted the wood in about 4-5 hours time. Next I used the existing upholstery as a pattern to cut, staple, sew a new back and seat of raw cotton blend canvas (about 3-4 hours time). Did not take pictures of that, but you can find plenty DIYs on that on Pinterest or just by searching online.

The point of this post—I painted the canvas after finishing the chair back and seat and before I attached to the wood base of the chair with satin finish interior paint (about 2 hours time). Why paint the canvas fabric? Because now it is dog proof, husband proof, kid-proof! Can just wipe that sucker off and IT STAYS WHITE! Or if I can’t clean it off—just touch it up with the same white paint again!! Even after painting it the canvas is still pretty pliable. Not stiff really at all.


Next chair—again from Canton First Monday Trade Days like $35 bucks I think? It is a 18th-century French Louis XV period arm chair reproduction maybe form the 80s or 90s. It was structurally sound with upholstery in good condition but faded from sitting in the sun. I wanted a nice modern color and clean white upholstery—but recovering this chair was not something I wanted to tackle myself or pay for. So I just painted the whole thing white with regular satin house paint I had!

First paint a light coat on the upholstery. You don’t want to soak it or it will stick to the foam (1-2 hours). Allow it to dry. Then a 2nd light coat that covers it completely wood and upholstery to finish it (1-2 hours). For the wood I just did quick dry brush strokes with the same paint trying not to get in the cracks allowing the carving to show up and look antiqued. The paint where it is thicker on the upholstery has started to crack in some places, but I kinda like the way that looks, too.


Last painted upholstery is a raw cotton blend canvas slipcover I made to cover the settee that is in my office. Can’t keep our coonhound off the settee. It sits by a sunny window and she thinks it is hers. Before she could ruin the settee for good:

  1. I made the slip cover. (You can find lots of info online for slipcovers.)

  2. Covered the couch with plastic so paint would not ruin the original upholstery.

  3. Put the slipcover on the plastic covered settee.

  4. Then painted the slipcover with white satin finish interior paint.

  5. Once dry our coonhound snores away on it all day long.

So far she has not gotten the settee dirty and her hair cleans up really easily. Can even sweep it off with a broom. And like the rattan empire arm chair the painted canvas on this is pliable too. Do not think it will crack like the French Louis XV period chair.


I will paint anything!!! Bet you can too. Hope you are inspired!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!



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