A Red Painted Wingback Chair - change the color NOT the fabric!

Do you have a favorite chair that is in great condition but you dislike the fabric? Does replacing your favorite chair not fit your budget? Perhaps it has sentimental value and thought of getting rid of it is too upsetting. Today I'm sharing an affordable option that won't break the bank. Did you know that you can paint upholstery?

That's what I did after exploring all our options and today I'm sharing how I updated our 80's burgundy chair with a can of paint. A Red Painted Wingback Chair - change the color NOT the fabric.

Red Chalk Painted Wingback Chair

This is what the chair looked like before...

Wing Chair Before being painted

We purchased the wing chair at an auction several years ago and it's been the go-to chair in our living room. Replacing it was not an option and so I covered it with an inexpensive red ticking stripe slipcover ordered online.


Slipcovered Wing Chair Before Painting Upholstery

While it certainly made an improvement, I was constantly straightening and tucking the fabric back in after anyone sat in it. I looked into having a custom slipcover made but that too was over our budget. For a hot minute I considered sewing my own custom slipcover but remembered my limited sewing skills.

The light bulb moment

Enter the color Emperor's Silk by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™.

Close up of wing chair after being chalk painted

I love how the burgundy fabric combined with the dark red gave the chair pink undertones; not too pink and not too red. The color pairs so nicely with the lime green accents in the room.

Here is a close up of the color...

Wing Chair painted with Emperors Silk Chalk Paint

These pictures were taken before applying a coat of clear wax which deepened the color and softened the fabric so it feels like leather. 

From Burgundy to Light Red Chalk Painted Wing Chair

Supplies for painting upholstery

  • Chalk paint
  • Paint brush (my preference is a round natural brush)
  • Spray Bottle with water
  • Bucket of  water
  • Clear wax
Supplies for chalk painting upholstery

How To Update A Wingback Chair By Painting The Fabric


Wing Chair Upholstery Painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™

I've used regular paint brushes in the past but my personal preference for upholstery is using a small round brush.

Step 1 The first coat of paint

  • Work in small sections.
  • Use a spray bottle to dampen (not saturate) the fabric as you work.
  • Have a pail of lukewarm water at your side. 
  • Dip just the tips of your brush into the water and then into the paint.
  • Apply long even strokes moving sideways and up and down for even coverage.
  • Continue these steps until the entire chair has been painted.

Step 2 The second coat of paint

  • Wait approximately 12-hours for the first coat to dry completely.
  • Work in small sections.
  • Use a spray bottle to dampen (not saturate) the fabric as you work.
  • Apply chalk paint in long even strokes.
  • Let the paint completely dry between each coat. 
My chair took five coats of paint for full coverage over the dark burgundy fabric and 12-hours between coats.

Step 3 Applying clear wax

  • Allow the fabric to dry completely (it may take a few days) before this step.
  • Using a wax brush (my preference) or a lint free cloth, apply a light coat of clear wax, working it into the fabric in a circular motion (like applying hand cream) in small sections.
  • Wipe off the excess wax as you work in sections. 
  • Wait at least 30-minutes or the following day and buff the wax with a lint-free cloth. The goal is to soften the fabric but not leave a shiny sheen.
  • The fabric will feel like leather and it softens over time.
  • Avoid anyone sitting in the chair, especially with dark clothing like blue jeans, until the wax is cured (around 30-days).
Wing Chair fabric chalk painted red

Chalk painted wing chair AFTER

I'm quite pleased with the transformation and all it cost was the price of a can of paint.

If you're wondering why I have no furniture in the dining room behind the chair, it's because I have some sweet thrift store finds that I'm working on that will go in this space.

Update: you can find them here in my posts Duncan Phyfe Dining Table and Duncan Phyfe Dining Chairs. I also repurposed a thrift store headboard into a Dining Bench for this space too.

Chalk painted wing chair and ottoman

A Chalk Painted Wing Chair Before and After

So for a fraction of the cost of my original plan to have the chair upholstered, our go to comfy living room chair has a brand new life. I hope my painted wing chair has inspired you to attempt painting one of your favorite chairs.

I also painted a French Provincial Chair white a few months ago. With this one I learned the importance of waiting 30-days before allowing anyone to sit it in. I brought the chair into the living room while hosting a party just a few days after waxing it, and sadly the denim from the guest's jeans rubbed all over the white seat.

I painted a third chair for a client and you can see that makeover here in my post Antique French Provincial Armchair.



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