So I did something crazy. Since we’d like to take our $25 hotel-ish dining chairs to a crisp not-patterned apple green (the curtains I want to make will be patterned, so I just want chairs in a fun color but without a pattern that I’ll tire of) I decided to paint them.
I know. Insane. But I didn’t think I had much to lose since the backup plan is to reupholster or slipcover them (both of which would still be entirely possible if I didn’t like how the whole painting thing turned out). I went into it as a hmm-this-experiment-should-be-interesting thing. Nothing was guaranteed and I felt like a crazy person the whole time. Yup, I was skeeeeered. I mean who paints a chair? Well besides a few amazing bloggers who have posted about how well it went for them. For example, this tutorial was up on my iPhone the entire time for reference and encouragement. Just look at Kristy’s amazing chair transformation. She did that with paint!
So here’s how it all went down. I pretty much just based my method on Kristy’s breakdown with a bit of flexibility since the directions on some of my supplies conflicted with a few steps. And speaking of supplies, here they are (that’s the Top Chef finale in the background BTW):
I got three tubes of “Fabric Painting Medium” and three tubes of acrylic paint in cheerful apple green from JoAnn Fabrics for under $10 total. I also picked up a quart of satin interior paint by Glidden in Granny Smith Apple (I thought it was meant to be since I’ve always talked about “apple green” chairs).
Then I just followed Kristy’s directions for the most part (admittedly not to the letter because I was also trying to adhere to the instructions on the back of my specific fabric medium, so I tried to walk the line between those and Kristy’s) and mixed one part latex paint and one part textile medium in a bowl. In order to get an even ratio I even got all type-A and dumped out the fabric painting medium into a measuring cup so I would know how much paint to add to keep the amounts equal. Here you can see that it was about a third of a cup:
Of course I accidentally dumped way too much paint into the measuring cup so I had to pour a good amount back into the can, but I was definitely happy that I wasn’t just trying to eye things (would’ve had way too much paint in the mix).
Eventually I got down to a third of a cup of latex paint and poured that into the third of a cup of fabric painting medium that I already had in the bowl.
And mixed that up with a brush that I had on hand. I was a little worried because the whole thing was looking pretty yellow but paint is always kind of an odd color until it dries and gets darker.
Then I added about a quarter of a cup of water to the bowl to thin things out a bit per Kristy’s suggestion. Next up was spraying down the chair with water (I reused an old cleaning bottle) so it was moist and ready for paint to glide over it evenly (instead of soaking up too much and getting all clumpy).
Here’s an in-progress painting shot that John grabbed over my shoulder as I went (I was too afraid of getting it wrong to stop and pose for a clear pic).
And here’s the after. Well actually I still had a few more steps left, hence the “wait a minute I have to hairdry the chair” title. John asked if I wanted to watch The Soup and I said, yup you guessed it: “wait a minute I have to hairdry the chair.” Which struck John as hilarious for some reason (I can’t imagine why) and he proclaimed that it had to be the title of this post.
The reason I was supposed to hairdry the chair was to set the textile medium (it needs heat, and when you can’t toss whatever you’re painting in the dryer, like a chair, you can apply heat with a hairdryer. But I reread the instructions on the textile medium tube and it said that I had to wait a day for the heat-setting step. So we watched The Soup and my crazy painted chair sat in the corner of the living room drying.
Here are a few first impressions:
- It’s way too neon and not as apple green as I’d like (my fault since I chose the color, but that could be fixed with different paint).
- Man, that took forever! Over an hour and a half to paint one chair (I applied a few even coats for better coverage). That factors out to 12 solid hours to do all eight chairs.
- It looks kinda cheap and those annoying swirls in the fabric still show through. See?
And here’s where we ended up after sleeping on it:
Slipcovering or reupholstering is a better solution for us since we’re not happy with the swirly texture that still shows through, the semi crunchy feeling (they’re not as smooth as vinyl, more like a rough burlap), and the odd look of painted seams (the flat parts of the chair don’t look as crazy, but the seams/folds in the corners just look gunky and unconvincing – as if they’ve very clearly been painted – since they have).
This method is obviously one of those it-depends-what-you’re-painting experiences. Because seriously, how amazing is that turquoise painted chair at the top of this post? I’ll save you the scrolling trouble. Here it is again (with a full tutorial here). So inspiring, right?
And although we didn’t have the same success, we’re glad that we tried this whole crazy process just to have it under our belts and share it with you guys (well, we didn’t end up applying the last coat of acrylic paint to finish things off because we decided to abort the mission, but I did later hairdry it to set it). And it’s definitely set for good, so for anyone wondering if a painted chair will rub off on the person who sits on it, nope. It’s just like how you can wear and even machine wash your painting clothes over and over again without worrying if they’ll smear. Once that paint is set into your shirt it’s hard and permanent (and the fabric medium is meant to help soften the paint so it’s less crunchy, in case you’re wondering about that additive).
So as of right now the green painted chair is living in the crazy cluttered playroom while the other seven unpainted chairs are still hanging out in the dining room waiting for reupholstering or cheerful apple green slipcovers.
We’ll keep you guys posted as this crazy chair adventure continues. Who knows where we’ll end up (our guess is slipcovers but you never know)…
Psst- We’re talking about how kids never fail to want the only non-toy items within their reach (the remote, your cell phone, the keys, your sunglasses) and we’re divulging Clara’s very favorite (and admittedly very weird) not-a-toy toys over on BabyCenter.
That’s right, Karl‘s legs are pale no more. After some thought we decided to give all 12 of our sectional’s cheap looking birch legs a coat of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint to deepen them and give them a subtle sheen and dimension that brown paint just wouldn’t offer. It was pretty easy except it necessitated a bit of Karl disassembly. Poor guy.
But once we got all of those legs off it was as simple as sanding each of them with low grit paper by hand (I used 60 grit stuff I had around).
Although the legs looked pale and stain-less, they actually had some sort of clear finish on them (here’s one before sanding):
So in order to get the best adhesion for long-term durability, we wanted to make sure to create the most gritty (and grippy) wood surface that we could. Hence the quick sanding step (here’s the same leg after sanding):
It’s subtle in the pics, but hopefully you can see how the sandpaper stripped off that shine and left the wood looking raw and ready for paint (which always sticks a lot better to non-glossy surfaces).
And before I sprayed them, I also removed the little furry floor-protecting pads on the bottom since I didn’t want them to get all gunked up with paint. They peeled off pretty easily and still had enough sticky stuff left to go back on nice and securely afterwards.
So after each leg was un-padded it was time for their little makeover. Here’s what I went with: Rustoelum Universal Metallic spray paint in “oil-rubbed bronze” with a trigger spray nozzle. It’s pretty fumey stuff so I laid out some cardboard and did all the spraying outside while wearing a mask that I’m sure freaked out all of the neighborhood squirrels.
Here are all of Karl’s legs after being doused with coat one of their new “spray tan” (I actually applied three thin coats for super even and non-drippy coverage):
Oh and for those of you looking for a few quick spray painting tips, here ya go:
- Skip the cheap $2 stuff in favor of the $6-7 quality stuff (I like Rustoleum’s trigger spray nozzle because it goes on thin and even and doesn’t get all over your fingers).
- Always keep the can moving. If you’re a-sprayin’ your arm better be a-swayin’.
- Keep the nozzle about 8-10″ away from whatever you’re spray painting.
- You really want a mist, not a heavy wet coating.
- Three thin and even coats are better than one thick and drippy one.
- Spray paint has yet to go no-VOC, so apply it outside with a mask, and let it fully cure as long as the can recommends outside whenever you can (usually 24 hours, we try to double that just to be even safer).
- You can “seal” any spray paint (to limit any off-gassing at all once you bring it inside) by applying two thin coats of Safecoat Acrylacq, which is low-VOC and non-toxic.
So once I applied my three supa thin coats of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, I just let them “cure” outside for 48 hours (12 of them were spent in the sun and the next 36 were spent in the carport because I worried it might rain) while our living room looked like this:
Yup, for two days that was the look. It was actually kind of fun to sit on our super low sofa. And Clara had a ball climbing on and off of it like she never could when it was up on legs. It was almost a shame to put them back on. Except for the fact that our living room looked crazy and getting off of such a low sofa while holding a 20 pound baby girl wasn’t exactly enjoyable.
Thanks to two days of outdoor drying time, by the time I brought in our newly bronzed legs they were nice and hard. Almost coin-like thanks to the oil-rubbed bronze paint that created a sleek finish. It’s hard to depict that in photos, but it has a nice metal-like sheen when you see it from different angles. And when the light hits it, it sort of bounces off and reflects like glass. Thankfully they didn’t smell all nasty and spray-paint-y after 48 hours of drying time outside (even when I stuck my nose right up against them like a weirdo). If they had I definitely would have applied two thin coats of Safecoat Acrylacq as I mentioned in the last bullet above though.
Then all that was left to do was to stick those furry floor-protecting pads back onto the bottom of each leg and cheer John on as he screwed them back into place (he’s the allen wrench ninja of our house). Bam, Karl was back to his old self. Only slightly more handsome and dapper. And can I just say that it felt inordinately awesome to have the living room put back together again?
See how the side of this leg seems to glimmer in the pic above? That’s the difference between choosing a metallic oil-rubbed spray paint and a deep brown paint or stain. That smidge of glitz just does it for me. But of course stain or paint could have totally worked too, it just depends what tickles your fancy.
Actually from certain angles and in lower lighting situations (like at night) it reads a bit more like a rich chocolate wood stain, which we definitely don’t mind.
So just for kicks, let’s flash back to Karl’s legs when they were all pale and birch-y:
And here’s the man of the house now. The difference isn’t heart-stoppingly amazing or anything, but as far as details go, it’s definitely a bit less “look at my squat little birch legs” than the original look. Most of all, look how happy Beansie is about the change. Just kidding, she’s just psyched to be on her favorite rug ever with a few toys. Oh to be a baby again.
And it’ll probably feel even more cohesive in there when we add oil-rubbed bronze curtain rods to the window and sliders (along with all the other stuff we’re craving, like a big console table behind Karl and a larger entertainment unit to add balance). But for now we’re just loving how our giant $1,248 sectional looks even more like the too-rich-for-our-blood $4,496 version from Room & Board that we fell in love with a while back:
Yay for a little sectional elevating sandpaper & spray paint adventure. If only my blindingly pale leg problem was that easy to solve…
Psst- Check out the weirdest baby toy that we’ve ever seen (p.s. Clara adores it) right here on BabyCenter.