Last week I shared my Fall In Love living room makeover with you guys and I was so excited that you liked my “new” club chairs so much!
They were a last-minute addition to the room, as-in: I acquired them and gave them an extreme makeover 5 days before photographing the room for the post!
I was pretty obsessed with finding the perfect pair of chairs for the living room makeover. This was difficult because for me the word “perfect” meant finding two smaller-scale midcentury-styled chairs at under $200 for the pair that didn’t need major reupholstery or de-stinking… Totally reasonable parameters, right?
Finally, I realized how crazy searching Craigslist every thirty minutes was making me and that it could take months for that “perfect” pair of chairs to pop up (despite my totally reasonable parameters), so I turned my sights to Ikea for something plain and affordable that perhaps I could DIY into something fabulous.
Right as I was ready to pull the trigger on a pair of Tullsta chairs (at $99 each they were *just* within my budget), my awesome friend Katja (bless her!) suggested another Ikea chair that, while out of the current budget, reminded me of a different pair of Ikea chairs I had initially passed over on Craigslist. Whew. This is turning into quite the tale. Confused yet?
These particular chairs (Klappsta) are no longer carried at Ikea so I can’t link to them, but they were being soldfor half the price of the Tullsta chairs. Add to that a much more modern shape and they were quite an attractive option. Suddenly, inspiration struck! A little black trim and I could totally fall in love with them…
They were a bright white, which was unfortunate given that they came from a home with a young puppy, but the low price and my desperation saw me immediately handing over the cash and loading them into my truck as if I were pulling off a bank heist. On the way home I mulled over ideas for cleaning the slightly stained upholstery, but once I saw them in the living room the problem solved itself – the white was just too bright and too cold for my moody room.
So naturally, with just a few days to go before the Fall in Love room reveals, I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at painting upholstery. I’d read about people painting chairs and sofas and rugs for years and always wanted to do it myself. With everything to lose, what wasn’t to love about the idea?
I went with Sherwin Williams Divine White color-matched in a quart of satin Glidden paint and picked up two bottles of Martha Stewart fabric medium* (I ended up needing more and subbing in a different brand, so three of the Martha Stewart bottles would have been perfect.)
*Today’s post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure here. I hope you all know by now that I do only share things I really truly love!
Step 1. I mixed the paint and fabric medium at a ratio of 2 parts paint to 1 part fabric medium. A little ways into the project, I found that adding just a little bit of water to thin the mixture down a bit was very helpful. I mixed it up in an old yogurt container so I could cover it in between coats.
Step 2. I used a spray bottle full of water to dampen the fabric on the chairs – I found that getting the fabric pretty decently wet helped spread thin coats of paint across the surface.
Step 3. I began brushing paint onto the chairs using my trusty angled Purdy brush*. Given the texture of the chairs, I really worked the paint around into the fabric at all angles.
This picture shows the chairs with one coat of paint on the body, but unpainted seat cushions. The paint made such a slight difference in color, but such a big deal in the room!
Step 4. After the first coat of paint dried, I was a little skeptical – the upholstery felt crusty and stiff, basically everyone’s main concerns about painted upholstery. But after reading this post from The Kim Six Fix, I tried sanding with 220-grit sandpaper* wrapped around a foam sanding block, and was amazed to find that the fabric regained its suppleness without losing any of the new color!
Step 5. The first coat left me with exactly the color I wanted, but it was a little streaky in some areas, so I sprayed down the fabric again and did a second coat.
Step 6. After the second coat dried, I was completely satisfied with the coverage (no more smudgy dirty puppy paw marks!). I did some more sanding.
In the end, the fabric ended up becoming a little bit stiffer, but it still feels like fabric when you touch it. Pretty much exactly like an outdoor cushion fabric. See how you can still see the texture and it doesn’t look shiny or tacky or (shiver) crunchy?
I do think it helped that my colors were very close together, so I didn’t need to use much paint to achieve my finished color. Overall, 10/10, I would definitely give painted upholstery another try in the future.
Step 7. Once the painting was finished (a two-day affair), I was ready to start the black trim. I wanted the look of piping, so the idea came to me to use 1/8” paracord* and stitch it on top of the fabric. For just a few dollars for 50 feet, the paracord was an insanely affordable option and it really does look like double-welt piping! I ended up using close to 150 feet on both chairs! So glad I wasn’t buying it by the yard! I used extra-strength upholstery thread to sew it on.
Safety notice: Wherever you cut the paracord, you need to use a lighter to seal the edge and prevent fraying. This creates molten plastic. Do not under any circumstances, in a fit of stupidity, touch said molten plastic while it is in its molten state. Have I used the word “molten” enough? Burns will result.
I pinned the paracord in place wherever there was a seam on the chair. Then I used little stiches underneath to secure one strand of paracord over the seam. Then I used a zig zag sort of stitch to sew the second strand of paracord to the first for the “double welt” look.
I chose sewing over glue because I wanted to make sure that all my hard work would last! I did end up hot gluing the trim around the very base of the chairs because it’s an area that will see very little if any wear.
One chair with finished trim, one without, and someone who is very convinced that I brought these chairs home just for her…
Sewing this trim on took for-freaking-ever. Hours and hours and hours. In all honesty, I still have a little bit of sewing left to do on the second chair – double-sided tape and pins came to my rescue for the room reveal photoshoot…shhh!
The lines aren’t perfectly straight, but I love the comic-book-style outline they lend to the chairs! I don’t think anyone who sees them now would immediately think “Ikea”, so it was all worth the time and labor invested!
And the chrome legs have sort of grown on me. Even I can see that more gold/brass would have been completely overkill.
I think they’re a pretty perfect addition to the room, don’t you? I love that I was able to give them such a cheap makeover using mainly hardware store supplies! Crazy!