How to Paint Upholstery Fabric


I found this beautiful settee on craigslist for $75. It has been sitting in someone barn for a very long time and the fabric needed serious cleaning. I could tell from the lightness of the frame that this was a reproduction.
Normally I would reupholster it but knowing I wanted it to be white and with two little girls and three puppies, I knew it was a bad idea. So I decided to paint the fabric and gild the frame.
There are a lot of tutorials on how to paint fabric. It actually is pretty simple. I mixed 50% of Old white with 50% of water. I sprayed the fabric first before painting it. It helped the paint spread better. It took three coats to get the look I wanted. I let it dry 24 hours between each coat. Here is what I learned. The settee has this really pretty embroidery and I realized no matter how many coats of paint I paint, it will still show through. So the smoother fabric will probably work better.
It also feels like leather. So this isn't where I would want to lie down with a good book for hours. This would be a great statement piece. Got fur babies? Keep them away. Now, I got three fur babies and every time they jump on it, I can see their nail marks. It's not that obvious but if you are OCD like me, you WILL see it.
She is a beauty.

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Victoria Kirton

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • VictoriaC
    on Jul 21, 2016

    Hi Victoria..love your name, as I share it too...lol I got my antique couch at a second hand store and dumb me decided to have it done in a dark Upholstery. Do you think light chalk paint would cover it? I am very afraid to try this and is the Upholstery stiff after you do this technique? I have to tell you a story~because I have to tell SOMEONE..lol I went to our local thrift store on Mon to find a small cabinet for my craft room..I guy there had in the back of his truck the most beautiful ORNATE solid Oak Antique Bed with the high Head board and foot board, and wooden side rails..He asked me if I wanted it before he donated it..I said YES without a hesitation..He didn't have time to take it to my house, but a young man with a truck offered..He looked about 18. I live only about 5 mins away..HE reloaded the bed, brought it to my house. I tried to pay him but he wouldn't take it..Come to find out he is a Police Officer in my town and 30 yrs old..I gave him a Huge Hug and a big THANK YOU...... NOW, I have to decide if I want to chalk that bed in black or white, what would you do? thanks, Victoria (and sorry I blabbed, I am just so excited) your work is beautiful!

    • Freddie55
      on Aug 10, 2018

      Don't you brush the fabric afterwards to get it to a softer state??

  • Eileen Douglas
    on Aug 28, 2016

    What kind of paint did you use?

    • Susi
      on Oct 16, 2016

      Michaels carries a textile/fabric paint and also Martha Stewart has it---you can find it on Amazon. Just be sure to spray your piece first with water ( DON'T SOAK!) and then your 1:1 solution of thinned paint and water....test on a piece of fabric in the back of your piece before you begin---you may not want to thin the textile paint, but better to start slowly & build up than to apply too much and ruin your piece.

  • Barb
    on Sep 15, 2019

    Victoria, did you wax or otherwise finish it after painting?

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3 of 81 comments
  • Linda
    on Jan 7, 2017

    Did you know laying a strip of foil on the settee or any furniture seat when not sitting on it, will stop dogs jumping on it? Use the same foil, folding and putting away when not in use. About a week is all it takes!!!

  • Voula
    on Jan 23, 2017

    Beautiful redo. LOVE IT! I have dogs and leather sofas. I also have an upholstered couch they destroyed so it has to be totally redone. when they are older lol....like kids.

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