DIY Leather Ottoman: How to Paint Fabric to Look Like Leather

Katy | LaughCryDIY
by Katy | LaughCryDIY
9 Materials
2 Days

Today, we are tackling a DIY leather ottoman project that I have been wanting to do for a while. I'm working on a new makeover and I want a large, luscious leather pouf in the space, but they’re really expensive.

So, instead of blowing the whole budget on a leather pouf, I decided to get a cheap pouf and paint the fabric to look like leather. Can you paint a fabric ottoman? Let’s find out.

If you like cute decor and lying to your friends and family, you're going to love today's episode.

Tools and materials:

  • Latex paint
  • Fabric softener
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Containers
  • Spray bottle
  • 400-Grit sandpaper
  • Tissue paper
  • Darker paint
Thrifted pouf

I got this pouf from Facebook Marketplace. It’s 22 x 22 inches.

Moroccan Spice by Behr Paint

1. Mix the paint

I wanted a beautiful, warm, and rich caramel leather cover so we're using Moroccan Spice by Behr Paint. This will be the base color. We’ll go in with a slightly darker color later to shade. The base color is going to make the fabric totally opaque.

The thing about painting fabric is that we're not just painting a hard, thick coat of paint on top of it; you basically want to concoct a dye.

Mixing fabric softener with paint

There are a lot of different ratios you can use. Some people use paint and water, whereas others use paint, water, and fabric softener. I’m doing two-thirds paint and about a third of the fabric softener.

Yes, it's weird and it's gross, and now my paint smells like baby powder.

Spritzing the pouf with water

Spritz the furniture as you go to dampen it.

Painting fabric furniture to look like leather

2. Paint the first coat

You can be sloppy with the first coat; just make sure you’re working the paint into the fibers. Stippling is a great technique to use. Remember to keep the fabric well-hydrated as you go.

Once done, let the paint dry for a few hours.

Tip: choose a satin paint for a sheen like real leather.

Sanding the paint

3. Sand the paint

As you can see, the pattern is still visible, but that’s ok. However, it is very stiff now, so you need to go over it with 400-grit sandpaper.

Baguette the cat

Did I color-match my paint to my cat?

Painting a second coat of satin paint

4. Paint the second coat 

To combat the stiffness, I also added more fabric softener to my paint for the second layer.

Repeat the drying, sanding, and painting process until you can no longer see the pattern. For me, that took 4 coats of paint.

Painting darker paint

5. Distress the fabric

Ok, now we’re going to try something for a more “lived-in” look. Mix a slightly darker paint that is very watered down and paint a coat over the fabric.

Crumpling tissue paper over the darker paint

Take some tissue paper, all crumpled up, and press it over what you just painted. Then, peel it up and it should leave some interesting coloration behind. Repeat over the whole ottoman.

Tip: the darker the color, the more dramatic the effect will be.

Blending the darker and lighter colors

6. Blend

Let the paint dry, sand it down, and then we’re going in with one more technique: blending. Paint the darker color around the edges and the lighter color in the middle, then blend them.

DIY leather ottoman

How to paint fabric to look like leather

How to paint fabric to look like leather

Here’s the big reveal! This is such a cool, fun hack. If you find a thrift store chair or something, you can use the same technique on that. It really elevates the furniture. 

I’m so happy with how this turned out. Ultimately, it cost me $25 for the pouf and $10 for paint, so this was only a $35 project.

What do you think of this faux leather painting method and DIY leather ottoman? Let me know in the comments below.

Resources for this project:
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