Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Can Paint Anything

When we sold our B&B, most of the furniture went with it. So when my parents' living room furniture was up for grabs, we took it, even though it wasn't really our style. It's about twenty-five years old and the upholstery has seen better days.

I tried slip-covering it, but unless you're willing to spring for custom-fitted covers (which can cost as much as reupholstering the thing) it's not really worth it. I watched it horror one day as a friend sat in the slip-covered chair. Every time he moved, or even inhaled, it inched up. Fortunately, he stood up just before it could launch its attack and surround him.

So what to do? The chair was comfortable, but just a little ugly. It would have fetched next to nothing at the auction, so I was in a state of having nothing to lose. I was going to try painting it. After all, people have been painting on fabric for hundreds of years. The fabric is usually stetched on a rectangular frame and hung on a wall when it's done, but the principle still holds.

Out came a gallon of leftover red latex paint. And before I knew it, I had a whole new chair. I stapled the skirt underneath it and added casters (love moveable furniture), just to finish it off.

You can paint any smooth fabric. Velvets or corduroys will end up crunchy, but chintzes and twills give a feeling a bit like leather when you're done. Use a latex paint in a colour you love. I try not to put too much paint on the brush at a time.

And if the cushions have a zipper, open it up until the piece is thoroughly dry. By this I mean until all the moisture from the drying paint has evaporated from inside the cushion. This can take up to a week, depending on the weather. You can sit on the cushion after a half-day or so, just leave the zip at the back open.

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