Many thanks to Wagner for the beyond useful paint sprayer and sponsoring this post. Of course, all opinions and bad grammar are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for details.
What do you do when you have a piece of furniture that has seen better days, but you can’t seem to part with it? The obvious answer is to paint it or upcycle it!
When my mother died, among many other things, I brought home her office chair. My mom was a workaholic. Not in the negative way that you would normally associate with the workaholic label. I don’t remember ever feeling like she didn’t have time for us, but many of our long talks took place around her desk, in her office. Her passion for work was simply a part of her – she thrived off of business savvy exchanges, constant learning, and hard work. And salesmanship? Whew! I swear, she could sell mud to someone in the middle of a flood. As a result of all of this, she clocked many, many hours in that chair. It is a piece of furniture that still means a lot to me and reminds me of her whenever I see it.
Unfortunately, the chair had seen better days. 12-years ago, the chair was gently used. But today, the chair was falling apart and needed a make-over, STAT. Somehow, the arms had both come off, and one was lost – I’m still holding out hope that it will turn up somewhere! Hopefully, I’m not the only one who loses things in their house! The faux leather seat was torn, and the finish was chipped and scraped all over. I gave the chair a new finish and recovered the seat. Usually I would have used a heavy duty fabric, but since I didn’t have one, I decided to paint fabric with a Buffalo check pattern for just a little bit of an on-trend look. To keep the cost down, I used a piece of canvas drop cloth as the seat cover and painted the pattern on using two colors. I went with gray and beige shades to keep things neutral and light. A coat of clear wax keeps the chair pad protected. The color combination is very calming and a sweet contrast to the dark wood tones of our home office. Here’s how I did it:
Painting a Buffalo Check Pattern
Supplies you’ll need –
- 1 1/2″ painters tape
- Acrylic paint in 2 coordinating colors
- Paint brush
- Clear wax
Using the painter’s tape, tape two pieces, horizontally, side by side every 3″ across your surface. This will create 3 x 3″ squares in the finished check.
If possible, run a small line of paint down the edges of your tape lines to seal the edges. This ensures a crisp line when you remove the tape. Allow this to dry.
Paint between the tape lines using your darkest color – I used a dark gray, and remove the tape before allowing the surface to dry.
Now, tape two pieces, vertically, side by side every 3″ across your surface going over the first set of lines. It’s best to start from the center to ensure an even pattern. Again, seal the edges and fill in the taped off area with your darkest color. ALLOW TO DRY.
Using the tape, create a grid by again adding tape lines horizontally, following your original tape lines, then paint the squares that have been set up by the grid of tape in your contrasting color – I used white. Remove the tape and allow to dry completely.
Brush on a coat of clear wax or another plastic coat sealer. If you’re painting this on fabric, this will also soften your fabric slightly, removing the stiff feeling of paint on fabric!
Covering the Chair Seat
To recover the seat, remove the seat pad from the chair. Most chairs have 2-4 screws attaching them to the base and will come right off when you remove these.
If the fabric underneath is in good condition, I’ve often left it on and just removed the cover piece – you know, that piece that covers the staples and makes it look all clean and pretty that I can’t remember the name of right now!? In my case, the fabric was torn and had to be removed. I did this with a pair of pliers, prying up the staples. Fun stuff.
To put the new fabric on, cut a piece of fabric roughly the same size as the chair pad, with enough fabric to wrap around all four sides.
Lay your fabric on a flat surface, pattern side down and center your cushion on top of it, face down.
Starting at the front of the cushion, pull the fabric up and around the seat and then turn over the raw edge and staple along the edge, about an inch in. Repeat on each side, pulling the fabric taut and straight as you go.
To finish the corners, pull the center of the fabric over the corner, pulling tight and staple. Then, pull the fabric on either side of the center over, pleating and pulling taut, stapling around. Cut excess fabric off and staple the edges down. Repeat on the other corners. Staple down the liner on the fabric staple line, turning over raw edges as you go.
Attach to the chair. All finished!
Painting the Chair:
To paint your chair, you’ll need to:
- Make any necessary repairs
- Prepare the surface – give it a good cleaning and lightly sand to remove any shine. This will help the paint to adhere better
I’ve had success with painting chairs using spray paint, and also by hand, but I decided to try out the Wagner paint sprayer that I received during our Game Room Makeover. #badhairdontcare #momjeansforpainting
Don’t worry, though, if you don’t have a paint sprayer, you can achieve the same look by painting by hand, using chalk paint and a polyacrylic coat for protection.
The sprayer I have (Wagner Flexio 890 Paint Sprayer) comes with two spray heads. One is for more detailed work such as crafts and furniture and was perfect for this job.
The sprayer is easy to put together and to use. It’s quiet and light. And, you can paint using virtually any kind of material. I used a chalk type paint which enabled me to apply the paint without a primer, followed by a thinned polyacrylic to protect the finish, both applied with the sprayer. I get asked all the time if you can truly use chalk paint without a primer, and the answer is YES! Chalk paint is lovely to work with and is most often self-levelling. It’s even nicer with the sprayer because there isn’t a brush mark to be seen anywhere. The best chalk style paint I’ve ever worked with is made by Wise Owl – it’s a bit pricey, but the coverage is fantastic. Take a look at this post for more information on Wise Owl paint.
Reassemble your chair, reattach the seat cushion and you’re done.
I added a flokati pillow that has been around for a while and has been moved from room to room multiple times – I love things that can live anywhere in your home! The pillow adds just the right amount of texture and softness. This secretary chair was a simple, quick, inexpensive upcycle. And, I can’t be happier with how the chair turned out – I’m positive my mom would have liked it as well, and I hope you do, too!