Have you seen the articles and sites that tell you that you can paint your upholstered furniture? I’ve seen quite a few of these over the years and I thought…really? I didn’t think that it was possible and I didn’t imagine that I’d like the results. I have a couple of quality pieces of furniture that could use spruced up, but I really didn’t think paint was the way to go for them so I moved on.

But, as we renovate our basement, I wanted to see how I could cut some corners. The room is for the kids so I wasn’t about to spend a lot of money on new furniture that was only going to see Mountain Dew spills and Cheeto stains so I slipcovered our old sofa and chair and I pondered what to do with the red (and stained) ottomans.

Red doesn’t go in the room anymore and besides look at the top of these. Yuck!


I figured that I had nothing to lose by trying to paint these. If it didn’t work, I’d just throw them out. I certainly didn’t want these to stay in the room like they were. So this is what I used:

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  • Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in Amherst Grey (it’s what I had on hand)
  • Martha Stewart Fabric Paint Medium. Amazon does carry Liquitex, Michael’s has both, you’ll find it in the acrylic paint section.
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Container to hold paint mixture


The first step to this process is to thoroughly wet the fabric with water using the spray bottle.

To make the paint mixture, combine one part paint, one part fabric paint medium and two parts water and mix thoroughly. It will appear very runny. Apply one coat of paint to upholstery. At first, it will seem to cover fabric but as it is absorbed, it may not look like it’s covering very well. That’s okay.

This is after one coat:

Let dry for 12-24 hours. At this point, you can sand the fabric with a 200 grit sandpaper if you’re not happy with the texture. I didn’t bother with this step.

Resist the urge to add another coat before the 12 hour mark. The fabric must dry completely. I learned this the hard way, the second coat I put on after only a few hours was worthless.

You’ll really notice results after the second coat.


The drying time isn’t as long for subsequent coats. After three coats, here’s the results:

I don’t care for the picture above because you can see the wrinkles of the ottoman, but I did want to show what paint looks like on an old piece of furniture.


Now, was it worth it to me? Yes. The ottomans look much better than they did and they will serve their purpose in my basement. However, the texture is completely different than it was. Instead of the soft microfiber feel, they now feel a little like plastic. I’ve read some DIYers describe it as a leathery feel. So while I may consider this for an accent chair, I definitely wouldn’t do this to a sofa or my beautiful, but outdated wing chairs. If I wanted to change those, I’d go with slipcovers.