Spray Painting Upholstered Furniture

I’m feeling a little better today and have been busy catching up on house work and other projects, but I wanted to get one last post in before the weekend.

As you all know, I’ve wanted a pair of x benches to put in my bedroom for quite a while now. Even the basic, plain white x benches from Ballard were going to run me about $400. So, I scoured eBay and Craig’s List. A few months of searching later, I found these bad boys on Craig’s List for $15 a pop.

Now, some people say the granny/Sante Fe 80s are back. Though many an eyebrow was raised over this room published in Domino, designed by Kelley Wearstler. Is it ugly or cutting edge?

Whether Santa Fe seafoams and peaches are back or not, the x benches were purchased for my bedroom and I needed them to be dark.

I considered reupholstering the benches myself. But I am in the middle of THREE upholstery projects right now and the idea of doing all that piping was making my head spin. Can you blame me?

{Nothing beats spray painting in the snow}

So I called a number of professional upholsters. The cheapest quote I got was $175 per bench (not including the fabric) just for the labor. Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks.

Enter: Google search “spray painting fabric”

After one coat of Navy Blue upholstery spray paint

I’ve read online that you can use regular old latex paint (brushed on) or spray paint from the hardware store to paint upholstery. I was a little skeptical with that prospect (though I plan to try it out in the very near future), so I decided to go with a special spray paint made for upholstery by this company that promises the painted fabric will stay soft after drying.

The customer service was great and I received my three bottles of navy blue spray paint the day after I placed my order. {P.S. enter ‘thanks’ in the checkout for 10% off your order}

Upholstery spray paint colors currently available.

Verdict? I found that the painted fabric was a little stiff at first, though it was softer than I expected. It’s been about 3 weeks now, and the fabric has really loosened up. Still, I don’t think I’d paint a whole sofa. I’d stick with smaller upholstered furniture – benches, headboards, dining chairs, etc.

Anyway, after the paint dried, I decided to use some black fabric paint on the piping (applied with a brush) to make the benches pop a little more.

What do you think?

  1. Jill

    wow!! i recoiled at your title but they turned out so great. i’m impressed.

    thanks for sharing.

  2. First of all — Kelly Wearstler’s room is a no go for me. I searched that photo to find SOMETHING, just one piece that I could like. Nothing.

    Your benches are awesome. Nice work.

  3. Anonymous

    sit on it for awhile wearing white pants and then tell me about it… ???

  4. Jenny

    Hi Anonymous,

    This project’s been done for about a month now and I haven’t had any problems with the paint rubbing off on clothing. Maybe if I had used dye, then there might have been an issue. But there is no reason to worry about the paint staining.

    Thanks for stopping by!


  5. The stars must be aligned both your blog and Eddie’s featured spray painted upholstery today. He used silver spray paint on a chair! I think the benches are great.

    PS Not into the sante fe peaches…

  6. Wow. I can’t believe that’s paint! I have two equally hideous x-benches in my basement and I might just give this a shot before I take them to get reupholstered.

  7. Sarah

    I know Kelly Wearstler is supposed to be fabulous and all but I can’t dig it.

    I think it was definitely a courageous move on your part. I couldn’t tell if you were pleased with the result. Do you think you can still see the old Santa Fe pattern through the paint?

    The Estate of Things

  8. Renee

    I’m impressed that you had the guts to do it. I would have bought all the stuff and then chickened out right before the first spray.

    (Seafoam green and peach? Maybe. Santa Fe prints? Not in this lifetime)

  9. Anonymous

    I’m doubtful. Revisit with us your opinion on the benches after a couple of months.

  10. Jenny

    Thanks for your comments, guys.

    Sarah, I actually really like that you can see the pattern of the old fabric through the new paint. I think it is cool and ethnic and adds some depth to the fabric. It was the seafoam green and peach coloring that was turning me off to the old fabric.

    Anonymous – I’ll be sure to post if I have any problems in the future. I was really skeptical, too, and figured I didn’t have much to lose – worst case scenario I could just pull the painted fabric off and reupholster the benches. But, I really am happy with the result. I would even say that the painted benches are getting better with time!
    Thanks for your comment.

  11. Wow, you have wanted those benches for a while! Congrats on finding them! And what a crazy technique! But I love that it’s so out of the box!

  12. paula

    first off I love your room. Second, I had no idea this was possible! They look fantastic.

  13. First off – I’m so not into the Santa Fe thing coming back. However, I really like everything about that room minus the wallpaper. The wallpaper screams Carmella Soprano (the ultimate peach and seafoam girl).

    Secondly. Really cool makeover on the benches. They look great in your room!

  14. Rowena

    HATE that Kelly Wearstler stuff. HATE with a passion. Like the Gardner, I also scoured those pictures for something I liked. Think I found a bowl.

    Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should, I think.

    However, I love those refurbished benches… although I do wish I didn’t know the previous pattern, which shows up slightly through the paint. It looks subtle under the blue, but I keep seeing the 80s.

    Love the idea of painting the upholstery, at least in small doses.

  15. Mary

    Wow, what a brilliant idea!I’m always looking for frugal ways to redecorate my home, and I’ve never heard of spray painting upholstered furniture! i love the way your benches look and what a money saver. thanks, mary :O)

  16. ^that was me. wrong email.

    i think they look really cool jen.
    …i have this old chair.

  17. I’m so inspired to try this! And it’s not very stiff, you say. I like it. What a fun option. Thanks for sharing your experience. cheers, -susan

  18. I can’t even say how disappointed I was in the Kelly Wearstler domino spread. After watching her on Top Design, I expected a bit kooky, maybe veering off into crazy on occasion, but somehow it all working. At least from my perspective, none of it worked. That bedroom being the worst of it.

    RE: the stools. I was a little skeptical on the color in some of the first pictures, but the ones of them in the bedroom won me over. They look great!

  19. Terese

    Those look soooo good. Who’d have thought that product would have existed! Yay google!

  20. Meg

    I never realized people did Granny Santa Fe on purpose!! I just assumed it was an unfortunate accident :D

    Love the benches! Since this is paint do you think if you used them on a dining room chair and spilled food on it that it would clean up better or worse than regular fabric? At least you’d be able to give it a fresh coat when it got too stained!

  21. Emily

    Wow, I would never have even thought such a thing was possible, let alone desirable – but the benches look great! I’m feeling inspired to do a few furniture fixes of my own now!

  22. mary beth

    Hey Ever since my hubby told me he had gotten a “quote” of over 1G to reupholster our sofa, Ive been toying with the crazy idea of spray painting it! Could not believe my eyes when your blog came up! He would absolutely die if I suggested it. Im glad this option is out there for smaller pieces anyway! I’m still chuckling about having the idea on my own and seeing it here!

  23. Laura

    LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!!!! I have been on a week long blog hiatus due to an intense amount of grad school work. What a great surprise, for my return. These X benches made my day. They are great. Welcome back me!!!!

  24. Very nice! I’m really impressed. I’ve heard of this before but wasn’t so sure. Yours look really great!

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  25. Sarah

    Either way Jenny, painted or recovered they were a great find and a great addition to your room.

    The Estate of Things

  26. Love Kelly Wearstler but don’t care for that room!

    Always wondered if spray painting would work on upholstery but was concerned about stiffness- was so glad to see your post on this. The benches look great!

  27. Anonymous

    What wording did you use to search for the benches on Craig’s List? My attempts returned a lot of benches and car parts, no cute little upholstered items. Thanks!

  28. Jenny

    Anon –

    It took me a long time to find these benches on Craig’s List. Though they can easily be found on eBay (but they are pricier there). I used the search words:
    x benches
    x bench
    x stools
    x ottomans
    I hope you have some luck. If you want, you can tell me what city you live in and I can try to help you search a little.


  29. LindsB

    This is great, I never knew there was such a thing. This bring so much potential to all those craiglist finds now.

  30. karla

    love the benches. I am getting ready to do some chairs also found on CL.

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  31. Anonymous

    Those colors look so, so, um, 80s, no, I have it! Golden Girls!

    Your benches look fantastic. Great job. Maybe I’ll try it on my velour “egg” chair (a faux knock off of the great one).

  32. Anonymous

    PS I’m going to appall you, but those patterns were also very popular in Scandinavia – land of wallpapers – I had to live with that for a year.

  33. Hee. Today I stumbled across these on 1stdibs.com. $900. And y’know what? Yours look better.

  34. Claire

    I would have never thought to spray paint fabric, but I am so glad that you did!! Do you mind revealing the source of your paint again(the link didn't go through for me)?

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  36. I've seen the paint on the internet but didn't try. Nice to see it worked so well for you. I might try a recliner that I just can't figure out how to re upholster.
    ps. That room by Kelly Wearstler would be ugly inany time period that I have lived through and I'm in theory granny age (no actual grandkids). The room does look like a mistake as another commenter said. As in you start with a certian style and then just add things without any regard to whether they look good, but just because you need them or someone gave them to you. Don't need
    a designer for that! Kathy

  37. Jenny-

    I realize I may be reaching but would you suggest painting a wingback chair? I know you said no to a couch, but I'm wishful thinking. I plan to make a slipcover at some point but would love even something temporary. I'd love to hear your verdict.


  38. Nice!
    I have totally done this before but was sort of embarrassed because it felt like cheating, but I guess it's a legitimate technique! Those stools look great!!

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  40. I just came across this post but I LOVE it! I'm having the same sort of dilema- I see fabric benches that I need for my bedroom at thrift stores and on CL but the thought and expense of reupholstering prevents me from purchasing…thank you AGAIN for your inspriration.

  41. Anonymous

    Next time, try the spray paint that florists use to change the color of silk flowers. The array of colors is vast. I've sprayed hats and shoes and purses with great results so why not furniture.

  42. great job on the benches! and where did u find that amazing rug? wow – u have excellent taste :)

  43. Robyn

    Hats off to you, I think that's the best DIY fabric quick fix yet! I didn't even know that there was a fabric spray paint product. Also thanks for the Folex tip. Just came across your blog, Love it! Though I adore Kelly I'm inclined to think the referenced design "ain't" cutting edge :)


  44. Kazaan

    They look great! I am amazed that the paint wouldn't just harden, flake, and peel. My Mom always says you can paint ANYTHING. I guess she's right. And I must say, it is a wonderful way to save $$ on reupholstering! Thanks for the post.

  45. Looks great! Now you've got me wondering whether I could spray paint my awful floral curtains?

  46. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Love the way the benches turned out. I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing, I definitely need to try this out.

  47. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this post you just saved me $1600 on a new couch

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