Has anyone painted upholstered cornices?

Cheryl Hyslop
by Cheryl Hyslop
We just bought a home with cornices in five rooms. The fabric is dated but in excellent condition. Having them reupholstered is really expensive. I would prefer to paint the cornices without taking them down and having to re-install. Is there anyone out there who has done this or know of someone who has?
  13 answers
  • Gretchen Mercer Gretchen Mercer on Jun 15, 2015
    I have seen all kinds of upholstered furniture painted with upholstery paint...would think it should work. They are not hard at all to recover, either...just need fabric and a staple gun!
  • Cheryl Hyslop Cheryl Hyslop on Jun 15, 2015
    Agree re the recovering . . .However, this is a second home in Arizona and we are not planning to permanently relocate for another 2 years at which time I will be redecorating the house. The painting of the cornices is to be a temporary fix until then. Thank you for your kind response Gretchen . . .
  • Lillian Lillian on Jun 15, 2015
    I have not done it but it is on my list. There are many posts and tutorials on painting upholstery. I've seen enough successful diys to feel that it will work. The latest I saw used chalk paint. You really have nothing to lose. If it goes terribly wrong you might try thrift stores for enough fabric to cover the cornices temporarily. Actually unless you really want to try the paint you probably would spend less thrift shopping for fabric.
  • Dima Dima on Jun 15, 2015
    Before you add a color, coat them entirely with gesso. This is the coating on artists' canvas and will seal the fabric. You can find it online or in a craft store.
  • Dee Dee on Jun 15, 2015
    Annie Sloan Chalk Paint will work wonders on the fabric. You can use straight away from the can or you may thin it out. Good luck!
  • Sophia Sophia on Jun 16, 2015
    you can go to a craft store (Joanns, Michaels, Hobby Lobby) & purchase spray fabric dye & spray it on since you wouldn't want to submerge the cornice into a dye bath. You may even be able to make your own spray dye with a plastic bottle spray , dye , vinegar & water. I've been wanting to try that , its a nice alternative & will keep the integrity of the material looking soft. Paint makes it hard & it'll look like it was spray painted.
  • Malhotte Malhotte on Jun 16, 2015
    You can paint the fabric with any kind of acrylic house paint or craft paint. The downside is the somewhat rough or 'crispy' texture. Not a problem for the valances, but not pleasant on a chair. The first coat will be blotchy and absorb a lot of paint but subsequent coats are much better and more even. You could stencil an interesting design on them.
  • Linda Hanson Linda Hanson on Jun 16, 2015
    The only thing I might add to the above suggestions is to take it down if possible to paint so it is flat and gravity won't pull the fabric down when wet. Unless of course you would like the draped look. But once you've got that look it might be a nightmare to change it back.
  • Marie Marie on Jun 16, 2015
    Re: Cornices, I have done it. No one told me to do this but I SHELLACED them after paint dried and this worked to and gloss, preserve/ secure the paint.
    • Cheryl Hyslop Cheryl Hyslop on Jun 16, 2015
      @Marie Finally, someone who has actually "done it". Thank you Marie. What kind of paint did you use and was Shellacking necessary because of the kind of paint used? Could you please e-mail me a picture of your finished project??? Shellac yellows over time - how long has it been since you completed the project?
  • Marie Marie on Jun 16, 2015
    Hi Cheryl, I used Blue acrylic paint from the craft store but for the smaller ones used a bucket of latex from Lowes. You might need to use a spray gun if doing multiple pieces. It will be faster and the paint texture will not change as quickly. FOR THE SHELLAC= If that is a metallic fabric in your picture, try buying a " sponge" paint brush, cover it with a "silk" stocking first, then dip into your shellac instead of using the spray-on type. Do not over saturate!! It will look priceless! The type of paint I used had nothing to do with the shellacking. I just had heard that it would help to protect and preserve the paint from cracking with porous fabric. I don't mind sending you a picture but will have to get a baby to show, LOL. I am not very Tech Savvy.
    • Cheryl Hyslop Cheryl Hyslop on Jun 16, 2015
      @Marie You are toooo funny Marie!!! Thank you for the reply and application "tips". Just stop any 3-5 year old on the street and your photo will be on its way but not without a roll of the eyes and a shake of the head from the little sender!!! LOL
  • Shari Shari on Jun 16, 2015
    Painting fabric is not new. It has been discussed a lot here on HomeTalk. There are various tutorials here, on Pinterest and blogs. Normally though, the project is a chair or sofa but the same techniques could be applied to your cornices. Fabric is fabric. The two most common ways I've seen it done is either with multiple coats of diluted chalk paint and sanding between coats to help soften the fabric, or a diluted mixture of latex paint mixed with fabric medium to keep the fabric soft. Fabric medium can be purchased in the paint department of any craft store. Most everyone says the fabric feels and looks similar to leather after it has been painted. The main problem I see with trying to paint the cornices while in place is going to be the possibility of dripping. The tutorials I have read indicate that for best results, the fabric needs to sprayed with water first to help the paint soak into the fibers and doing that and painting several coats for each of the cornices, could get messy. In addition, since you will be working up over your head, that could get very tiring x 5 rooms of cornices. For more info on the different techniques and supplies for painting fabric, use the search bar at the top of the page to search the term "painting upholstery."
  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Sep 29, 2020

    If budget is not an issue, and you found the exact color for a fabric spray paint, that would be the way to go.

    If you can't find the specific color paint that you want and you want to do this cheaper, what I would do is buy ANY COLOR latex paint and add a fabric medium into it. Try liquitex fabric medium or ceramcoat textile medium. Just google these 2 products and follow the directions on the bottle to mix with paint. This allows your regular paint to be used on fabric keeping the softness.


    I love being able to use my own color especially when it comes to home decor. Good luck!