Things to Consider Before Breaking Out the Paint
- Texture: While most fabric will absorb paint, the factor that makes the difference is whether the material can be brushed, rubbed, or if necessary sanded without damaging. Being able to brush the material keeps it feeling soft and normal without turning it into a hardened or plastic-like surface (unless that is what you're going for). Upholstery that has a "fuzzy" quality rather than woven is ideal.
- Color: Look for colors that you can lighten a shade, or darken a shade rather than seeking a drastic makeover. This allows you to use minimal paint for maximum results...which means a soft finished product that no one will know has been painted.
- Print: No print or pattern is preferable, however a print that doesn't have too much contrast can still be covered without too much paint.
- Tufting, buttons, etc: Know that any part that has tufting, a lot of folding, or tucking will be more difficult to soften up, and any paint in those nooks and crannies should be well moistened if you choose to proceed.
My Midcentury Paint-OverI have two amazing (and oh-so-comfy) midcentury modern chairs I found online for just $30 a piece.
They are soft to the touch, firm to the tush, and easy on the eyes...well, except for that particular hue of ugly on the cushions. What's wrong with a light minty color you ask? For one it's not quite the color I'm going for in this particular room (or anywhere, ever), and for another it is more of a dingy mint color where some yellowy stains interfere with the color. Yep, these are the perfect pair of chair cushions to paint.
I am using Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan in Paris Grey. The chalkiness of the paint makes it perfect for rubbing off any paint accumulation thus keeping my cushions soft to the touch. It sands down to dust and perfection on furniture, so why not fabric? I started by watering down the Chalk Paint® to a one-third paint to water ratio (or basically as thin as it could be without losing color), and applying it in even strokes with a sponge brush. If you want to ensure good "bleed" of your paint (probably the only time bleed is a good thing in painting!), use a spray bottle to moisten the upholstery first.
I quickly brush across the chairs pushing the cushion hairs around with my sponge brush. Go with the grain, then against the grain, working the paint into the fibers.
Immediately after (or even during) paint application, rub vigorously with a cloth. When you are done painting each surface of the chair rub all the fibers in one direction so they lay down while drying.
Mid-dry (and it only takes about 10 minutes for the surface of the paint to begin to set up even though the cushion will be wet), use a stiff bristled brush (or your cloth if preferred) and give it a vigorous brushing. Once it has dried completely, if there are still areas that feel stiff to the touch, lightly sand (or brush) the area again. Usually the brushing works wonders and there is no need to sand at all.
And voila! I have changed the hue of my cushions from dingy mint to a flattering grey-blue, and the users will be none the wiser! Sometimes the subtlest changes make the greatest impact, see the cushion before, and the cushions after? ...Um yeah...no more dingy-icky. *rejoicing ensues* *also a quick dance party in which I say "uh-huh, it's my birthday"*