TUTORIAL - Victorian Ladies Rosewood Framed Saloon Chair, Circa 1890

A wonderful group Grillo Designs Home Décor inspired me to share my tutorial of my painted chair. So, from Little Red Bag Productions to the “Artistic Queen” in all of us, here she is...
This project takes a bit longer to complete than some but each task is really quick and easy!

You will need


Spray Primer


Spray Shellac


Clear Wax


Tweezers & A Blade

Dust Free Rags

Clean her up to remove dust, hair, ew. You know. Then revitalize her ol’ bones with a Wood Conditioner (I like MinWax) and let her rest overnight…


Hello Dolly! In a well ventilated area, sand the frame lightly (a 220 or higher grit) then spray prime lightly. It’s ok if you get some on the upholstery! After a few hours of drying time, use an inexpensive, disposable brush to prime the balance of the chair. Here, I like to use Behr All-In-One Primer and Sealer. If you have tufting or crevices on the chair, use a smaller brush to evenly distribute to avoid paint build up. You’ll be surprised at how much of the fabric colour still comes through, in particularly the reds. This is what I refer to as the “Fugly” stage of the project – add it to your dictionary and hang in there - it gets better  After the first coat of primer, I lightly spray all of the upholstery with Zinsser Shellac. This is my little trick to seal the primer and dyes.  Repeat priming until the colour has vanished. (This chair took 3 thin“ish” coats).

Because you are painting fabric, drying times are longer to ensure the medium is absorbed. I left the chair 24 hours, at least before applying additional coats of both primer and paint.


Using “Chalk” paint (I gravitate toward Annie Sloan) & another disposable medium size brush, apply your first coat. The brush will fray and get a tad gnarly but it’s fine – keep at it! Push the paint into all the cracks and crevices and then take a smaller brush to the details to smooth and maximize coverage. You may notice “nubs”, threads and an whole new level of texture but not to fret - remove what is loose and we’ll address this later in the Tut. This particular chair took 4 coats and used 2 ½ 32 oz. cans of paint! Remember this is not a “quick” project – for optimal results, leave the piece for the night (or 2) between coats.
Once completely dry, you can rid of unwanted threads and nubs with a pair of tweezers and a blade. Gently lift the little invaders with the blade, hold with tweezers and cut them clean off (not OUT!) You can always dab a few drops of paint, a few times to the piece if you accidentally remove any.

You need the softest wax you can find. I like Annie Sloan Clear Wax. With a clean, dust free rag (cut up an ol’ bed sheet!), liberally though gently, apply wax all over. Blend it as you would your sunscreen. Let it cure at least two days! I know, it’s timely, but so worth it. Every now and then, revisit to wipe/polish gently. Repeat waxing at least 3 times.

Now that it’s protected, breathe a little. It’s shielded from any spills that may happen when finishing the frame.

The paint can be any colour/base/type you fancy. Here I used a blend of a couple of metallics for a soft, unique tone. Take a small, nylon brush (dollar store!) and apply your paint carefully all along the edging of where upholstery meets frame. (no more than 1 glass of wine when completing this task!)
Blend it nicely into the frame to prevent a distinguishable line between your detail and main applications.

Wait at least 45 minutes. Using a sponge brush or a larger nylon brush from the pack, paint the balance of the frame. I cut a disposable brushes’ bristles (say that fast, 3 times) down to approx. 1 inch and pushed the paint into the floral detailing for coverage. Big time-saver too.
Apply as many coats as necessary to achieve the results you like.

If you so desire, you can bring out the detail of the motif even more by dry brushing a bit of glaze or a complementary colour over it. Here, I used a gold metallic wax.
**If I had used regular paint as opposed to metallic, I would have applied 3 coats of PolyAcrylic and 2 coats wax after painting for maximum durability. With metallics, I find 2-3 coats of a hard wax does the trick. (MinWax Clear is my “go to”)

Wait ….. wait ….. wait ….! Up to a week before you perch.
Although I tucked mine away in my dressing room, it has hosted many items and people and is relatively unscathed.

Have a seat. You deserve it 

Tana, Little Red Bag Productions
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Samantha Witkowski Samantha Witkowski on Dec 28, 2016
    how is this easy? maybe for an upholstery master but definitely an awesome diy I'm feeling inspired

    • i'd say it's easy-intermediate. takes longer than usual as it must completely dry between layers... and is a little more expensive as more paint is needed than on a piece of wood furniture :)