Finding the right piece
I purchased this vintage chair from my local ReStore a few weeks ago, intending to paint over the velvet. The fabric was pretty dated but in great shape, with no rips or stains, which made it perfect for this paint makeover. Please note that if the fabric isn’t in good shape it’s not going to work. Paint can only hide so much and it certainly won’t fix any holes. So, make sure you look your piece over thoroughly!
Choosing your color
You’ll need to choose a color that is darker than the color of the existing fabric. You cannot go from dark to light when painting over velvet, because your paint is going to be the consistency of a dye. Also, I’m working with our chalk synthesis paint formula because the One Hour Enamel does not mix with water!
I chose my signature color “Aegean Sea” because it matches my desk and fits the darker requirement needed for this makeover.
Prepping your piece
You’ll want to thoroughly clean your piece before you start painting it. Make sure you get any dirt and grime off, and vacuum the fabric. You do not want to paint over dust or pet hair, because ewww. Also, if you’re painting over a wood frame make sure you scuff sand it and add primer if needed.
Mixing your paint
Now that your piece is prepped, you can start mixing your paint. Please be sure to put a drop cloth under your piece because it’s going to be hard not to drip paint on the floor.
Next, take your water-based paint and put it in a large plastic container or small bucket, one that’s deep enough to add a lot of water to and stir. Pour in about 1/2″ (max) of paint along the bottom of your container and then fill the rest of your container with water. Stir well.
You want your paint to be thin and watery, like a dye. Mix up more paint as you need it. If you use the paint as-is or too thick it’s going to crack over the velvet. If you accidentally apply the paint too thick you’ll want to sand it off, once it’s dry. However, it’s best to not have to do it that way if you can avoid it.
Dip your brush and apply your first coat in the same direction as the nap of your fabric. You’ll want to go in one direction only to keep your fabric soft and smooth.
Depending on the design and/or colors of the original fabric you may still see some of it after you paint. But, it will be made more uniform/hidden by your paint.
I’ve learned after painting over a gazillion different pieces that it’s actually good to have some sort of texture or design. Otherwise, your piece can look really blah. It’s kinda like walking into a room where everything has been painted the same color and there’s just no visual interest. I hope that makes sense.
BTW, I start with the fabric first and do the wood last.
Drying time and details
Once you have your first coat of paint on the fabric you can move onto any trim or the wood frame. The fabric is going to take time to dry and you want it to dry for at least a few hours before adding another coat. And, depending on the coverage you may need to add 2-3 coats.
Once you have the fabric color you want you’ll need to let it fully dry out for the next 24-48 hours, possibly a little longer, before you attempt to sit on it. Your fabric will not rub off on your clothes once it’s fully dry and should be soft and smooth.
You will need to seal your painted wood, but not the fabric! Because you’re not sealing the paint over the fabric it will be slightly lighter than any paint sealed over the wood frame. But again, it just helps keep your whole piece from looking flat and gives it some added interest and dimension.
Now, if you’re a perfectionist this probably isn’t the best way to go…spend the money and get it reupholstered by a professional if you’re looking for perfection.
For those that can live with small imperfections and just want to update your pieces on a budget, this is a great option!
I added black to the previously cream-colored trim for a little extra detail, and to help tie it into my desk colors. Also, I added a little bit of black wax over the wood flowers on the top back of the chair. The rest of the wood was sealed with our clear wax.
I hope this tutorial was helpful and that you’ll give it a try! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Thank you, Julia.