Transforming a Chair Cushion with American Paint Company Chalk Paint

This is the Saga of a Chair. The poor thing is so traumatized I think it needs a therapist.

I don’t know exactly how I ended up with it, but it’s original owner was my brother and sister-in-law.  Every time my brother-in-law comes to my house, it is tradition that he must make a comment about it.  Usually something clever, such as “Pretty awesome chair.”  Or “So, where did you get that chair?”

To be honest, I’m pretty attached to it because when we moved into this house it was our only piece of furniture for a while.  Also, it’s wicker and a cool shape. David’s mom sewed a cover for the ol’ cushion out of a brown striped ticking and hem scraps from my Ikea Blad curtains.

One day (like, more than a year ago) that cushion cover ended up with newborn poop on it. After a few days of staring at it, I did the responsible thing and threw it into the wash on cold and delicate.  As responsible as I tried to be with my automatic washer settings, it came out a sad shade of blue.

In order to avoid having to take the thing apart and figure out how to sew a new one (you know, math and stuff), I had the brilliant idea of using Rit color remover.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Horrifying shade of browny-yellow.

I kind of knew deep down something like that would happen.

A few months later, I had the even more brilliant idea to make everything bad go away by using black Rit fabric dye.  (Duh!)

After many black dye washes, I began to accept the reality that I was the owner of a terribly ugly purpley-brown chair cover.  It kind of migrated to different spots in my house for a while until it was eventually banished to the garage.

It was really depressing.  I temporarily lost all hope in quick, lazy fixes.

UNTIL.  This one day when I remembered: Chalk Paint Fixes Everything.  And that I had actually seen some really ugly upholstery look really cool after being given a coat of chalk paint.

Chalk paint is a very special kind of paint made of clay and minerals (not to be confused with chalkboard paint).  I used a lovely golden yellow to paint the girls’ changing table and toy cubby.  It was really pretty, but the finish did not come out as I envisioned.  The brand I used before (Annie Sloan) requires that you wax the furniture to seal it.  I did not like the process or the outcome.  The matte finish came out more rustic than I wanted and also tends to scuff very easily.

I liked the American Paint Company top coat better than the Annie Sloan Wax because of it’s shinier more durable seal.  That is just a personal preference though.  As for chalk paint on the whole, I give it MAD, MAD props for being able to cover over ANY surface, including fabric!  It’s also non-toxic and water-based, so you can literally paint stuff in the middle of your living room with nothing but a bowl of water for clean-up.  (Which I did, when I was pregnant with Libby.)  The best part?   No sanding and priming!


You can make about any ugly thing cute again with chalk paint, I swear it.

So, here is my chair before:

Before Chalk Paint

I’m sorry, it’s a terrible and blurry picture, but it is all I could scrounge up.

Lucky for you, I missed photographing this chair cover in all stages of it’s development.  You can even see here that I impatiently began to paint before I thought to take a “before” photo.

I went out and bought myself a sample pot of American Chalk Paint in Orange Grove from a local distributor (locals, you can find that here.)

American Chalk Paint Sample in Orange Grove

Most people will thin the paint to their desired texture by adding bits of water.  I wasn’t sure whether the paint would soak through the fabric or not, so I chose not to thin the first coat at all.  I just blobbed it straight on with a paint brush.  (My intuition was correct on that, as I tried using some thinned out paint on the other side and it noticeably absorbed into the fibers.  If you are painting fabric, I recommend you do the first coat undiluted.)

Painting a Fabric Chair Cushion with Chalk Paint

It took two coats (two sample pots…one thinned with water, one straight) to cover my chair cushion.  Afterwards, I finished it with a coat of clear sealer.

American Chalk Paint Clear Coat

Chalk Paint Top Coat Applied to Fabric

Top Coated Fabric Cushion Cover

Here it is with a fresh top coat.

It took me a few days to paint because I can only do it in about five to ten minute increments, but for most people it would be a much shorter ordeal.

Oh, how I love a good, instant-gratification craft project.

When I finished, I actually really liked the texture!  The top coat took the chalky feel right out.  I’m not sure how to describe what it looks like…it kind of makes me think of vinyl or faux leather.  Like this:

Finished Chair Cushion with Chalk Paint

Finished Top Coat on Chalk Painted Cushion

So, next time your cloth upholstered furniture gets pooped on, you will know just what to do! Remember this mantra:  Chalk paint.  It fixes everything.

Transform a Fabric Cushion with Chalk Paint