Painted Wing Chair…it worked!

Painted wing chair…it worked! There she is, relegated to the corner of the upstairs landing.  Too loud and colorful to be seen in public.  I’m talking about this wing chair of course!  I won this wing chair as a raffle prize at the High Point Furniture Market many years ago.

This chair is still very comfortable and in excellent condition.  I just don’t care for the gemstone colors and checked pattern.  At one time I got an estimate from an upholsterer to the tune of $400.00.  The 10 yards of fabric needed to cover the chair was another $300.00…this would be a grand total of $700.00.  Don’t get me wrong – the chair is great but it is not a prominent piece in my home.  After upholstering, this would be the kind of chair that you could freely move from room to room throughout the house.

Before the wing chair fabric was painted

I began my research and Googled “can I paint a fabric chair” into the search engine.  A lot of information and sites came up but most pointed back to  Hyphen Interiors.  She gave a great tutorial on the painting process.  I read and re-read all of the information.  I followed most of her instructions, as I so desperately wanted this paint treatment to work, because I was tired of my chair looking like this:

The wing chair before the fabric was painted...I know you're jealous :)

I gathered my materials:

  • One quart of paint – I used Home Depot’s acrylic French Linen
  • fabric medium – equal to the amount of paint used – I used Martha Stewart brand
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic tarp
  • Paint brush
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Red Solo cups for mixing

Before i started to paint the wing chair - I gathered my materials


  • Make sure your chair is completely clean and free of dust.
  • I didn’t use exact measurements when mixing the paint concoction.  Using my Solo cup I mixed in approximately 1/2 cup of paint medium and a 1/2 cup paint. I stirred it very well and then added 1/2 cup of water. This mixture will be very thin and foamy – kinda like a latte :)

I chose to mix the paint and medium in a red solo cup

  • I removed the seat cushion and set it to the side.
  • I filled the spray bottle with water and began spraying the chair with the water, working it into the fabric.  A little scary when I started but I kept going with it.
  • I grabbed my paint brush and began brushing the paint on slowly and blended the paint into the fabric as I worked.  The last stroke should be painted with the grain.
This is in the middle of the first coat

This is in the middle of the first coat

  • When the paint mixture is wet, the paint appears thicker/darker but this mixture is more like a stain.
After the first coat of paint mixture

After the first coat of paint mixture

  • The first coat dried very light.  I let this first coat dry overnight.
  • Before starting the second coat, I used the 220 grit sandpaper and sanded most of the painted upholstery.  This seemed like a crazy idea to me and I was afraid that the paint/stain would come off – but it didn’t.  By sanding the fabric it smoothed and softened any stiff areas.  Don’t forget this important step.

Sanding down the painted wing chair

  • Do a second coat the exact same way as the first coat. Again, I let it dry overnight.

This is how the chair looked after the second coat:

After the second coat

After the second coat

  •  For the third coat I mixed up the entire Solo cup – half paint, half paint medium and only a drop of water.
  • No need to sand or spray with water for the next coats.
Third coat without water

Third coat without water

  • Being that my chair was going from darker color fabric to off-white, I needed to repeat the paint and medium process for a fourth coat.
  • I painted the chair legs the same color as the chair – good thing being that I slopped paint all over them.
  • I then antiqued the legs with stained paste wax

Look at how beautiful this chair is now – I LOVE IT!

Painted wing chair is gorgeous!

The chair truly is a beauty now.  The fabric is stiffer – like a painters canvas.  I think over time it will soften up.  The most difficult part about this project was using the spray bottle – my hand got a little stiff from all of the spraying.  It was also difficult for me to let the chair dry between applications – I wanted the end result ASAP :) – but I toughed it out and was rewarded with a beautifully finished painted wing chair.

The most expensive part of the project is the paint medium.  I used 40% off coupons at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby – the Martha Stewart bottles retailed  for $5.99 each.

Cost breakdown:

  • Chair                       free
  • Paint                       $6.00
  • Medium 4 bottles after discount  $3.59 each X 4 = $14.36
  • tarp                         $1.00 from Dollar Tree
  • paint brush           $1.00 from Dollar Tree
  • Sandpaper              Had in collection
  • Spray bottle            Had in collection

Grand Total                     $22.36

This project was well worth the time and work involved to achieve the look that I wanted.  Now my chair is proudly displayed front and center at my downstairs landing – punished no more.


Painted Wing Chair. A great DIY project to paint the fabric of an old chair.



    • 2 Bees in a Pod says

      Thanks Kristy! When we found your website we were over the moon…it is such a great idea and so cost effective.

  1. Auntie Linda says

    The chair is absolutely beautiful! What a great idea. All of my furniture is currently sitting in the drive-way waiting for me to come up with the right colors. Billy boy is not a happy camper

  2. Jill Johnson says

    I would have never had thought to paint something like that! I will definitely keep that in mind for the future!

  3. Bambi says

    I know that humble wingback chair, and it is now just beautiful! I did not know it was possible to paint fabric furniture. Just amazing!

    • 2 Bees in a Pod says

      Thank you Bambi! The transformation is amazing. I will update with a later post as to how the painted wing chair feels in texture and how the paint is holding up. So far, I am extremely happy with the results…

  4. says

    Love it!! Such an improvement over the original fabric, and I love the legs. Question..did you sand between each coat of paint, or just after the 1st one? Also curious if the fabric is less stiff now that it’s been several months since you painted it?

    • 2 Bees in a Pod says

      Hey Amy – I did sand between coats of paint. Initially, when the chair was completely dry it felt like soft canvas. Now it feels more like oil cloth. I use the chair daily and there has never been any chipping, scrapes or marring of any kind. I was completely happy with this project. The chair had been long forgotten and unused because I no longer liked the fabric. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. I am so glad I did.

      Hope this helps :) Let me know if you need more info.


      • says

        Thanks! I’ve always been afraid to paint fabric furniture but I think I may give it a go now. This is the best tutorial I’ve seen showing how to do it. I pinned it and I’ll definitely let you know when I try it!!

  5. Sheila Bowering says

    Love the transformation and seriously thinking about trying this. Just wondering if you or others have had issues with paint coming off on clothing as people sit on the furniture?

    • says

      Hey Sheila! I, as well as others in my household, have sat on the chair and have not had any issues at all. I love how it turned out and would absolutely paint another chair in the future. If you decide to do it let us know how it turns out!

  6. Renée says

    Oh my! Dying to try this but very nervous! Wondering about the longevity of the paint on the fabric. Want to do a wing chair I’ve had for years and needs a refresher!

  7. says

    I love this!- i just mentioned to a friend that i wished i could paint the fabric on my chairs- she replied, “check Pinterest”. But of course! fantastic ideas!
    Here’s a suggestion…How about using a garden sprayer for the water? Might give your hand a break :)

  8. Gale B says

    I love your results! I see that you sanded in between coats. Did you have to re-wet the material or just painted the next coat?

  9. Sydney says

    I am currently doing this exact project and was really losing faith with my choice of an off-white paint on my dark chairs. You’re tutorial has given me hope! I’m going to use more paint and medium than water and see how it goes! Hopefully it looks half as good as yours! I have two to do so it’ll be awhile though!

    • says

      Sydney – Keep going! It is so worth it in the end…we promise! It’s a;so important to lightly sand between coats. As you can tell from our photos…it was looking like a hot mess, but when you get to the half and half mixture it looks like 100% paint. If we can help you in any way – just holler! Good Luck!
      2 Bees in a Pod recently posted…How To Decorate Your Mantel For WinterMy Profile

  10. Lisa says

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! Question – do you spray the water on before every coat, or just the first and second? Same question with mixing the water in the cup, just the first two coats, right? And then you sand every time?

  11. says

    Wow ! I never thought of white paint before, my chair is white with sharpie stains on it. Do you think it will cover green marker with white paint ?I would be so happy if it did. You really did a nice job on your’s Kathleen

  12. says

    Hi, love the way your chair came out! I’ m currently working on one, testing on the seat cushion. Did you spray water in between coats or just sand?

  13. Joyce says

    Do you still use the medium or have you tried the D IY chalk paint recipes? Also did you put any kind of a sealer or wax on as a top coat?

    • says

      Hey Joyce – Yes, the use of the medium is a key ingredient. It keeps the paint from being hard and cracking once the paint dries on the upholstery. We have used chalk paint on fabric but only on a very small piece.We have not used any wax or sealer on our pieces. This was just our preference. Good luck – we can’t wait to hear your results!