Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fabric Paint Office Chair Makeover - A Cautionary Tale

So, I’m on the fence about this project but I promised myself that I would share both my DIY successes and my failures.

Back when I posted about my own makeover, I alluded to a project that would either be a success or an epic fail. It’s finished and in the end, it falls somewhere in the realm of “it’s alright.”

From far away it looks great, but I cannot say that I would recommend this method to anyone, nor would I do it again.

Fabric Paint Office Chair Makeover WM

This makeover fought me every. step. of. the. way.

Nothing went according to plan.

I bought a $30 chair from Canadian Tire thinking that I could make it look pretty because my current office chair hurts my back. Mr. Mechanic likes to tell me it’s not the chair but the amount of time I spend in the chair now that I’m blogging. He’s probably right.


Office Chair Original Before

When I finally took it out of the box (almost a month later) I realized that I would not be able to cover it with fabric like I had been planning because of the bump on the backrest. I have never done upholstery before and I can’t sew. I was doubtful that fabric would conform to the shape of the chair cushions.

On to Plan B: Fabric paint or, more specifically, Martha Stewart’s Fabric Medium added to black acrylic paint (also Martha Stewart).

MS Paints WM

I had a 40% off Michaels coupon so that this $10 bottle would only be $6.00 + tax, but I got distracted when I was leaving the house and left it at home so I could only use the in-store coupon for 20% off.

I also bought 2 bottles of Beetle Black paint since I already had a bottle at home from my wooden signs and figured this would be enough.

Silly me!

After removing the plastic backing from the seat and backrest, I got ready to paint.

I mixed the paint and fabric medium according to the directions and applied it generously with a foam roller.

The chair fabric was a light gray colour originally and it felt a bit like burlap.

Before Paint Collage WM

Three bottles of black paint later, you could still see the white batting through the fabric in some places.

As an added bonus, the somewhat scratchy fabric had become crunchy. Great.

A few days later I bought another bottle of paint. I figure I spent over $20 on the black paint and fabric medium. Note to self: stock up on black paint when it’s on sale.

Using every last drop from bottle #4, I was able to cover the light spots.

Then, I left it to dry for a really long time.

Partly because I was discouraged and partly because I did not want to sit down and end up with a black bottom!

Finally, it was time to stencil.

I already owned a Martha Stewart stencil and had seen it used for many blog projects. I decided to use two colours – Pollen and Gray Wolf because the accent colour in my office/craft room is yellow and the rug is gray.

Here’s where the “from far away it looks great” comes into play.

Before and After Chair Labels WM

The stencil colours look great together and I love the design BUT the contours of the chair and my decision to use a foam brush to apply the paint made it blotchy in some places and very sparse in others.

Chair Backyard WM

Lesson learned.

Chair Collage

The final chapter of my office chair debacle occurred during the assembly.

I was very proud of myself for putting it together without any help. I took photos of the finished chair and proceeded to bring it inside.

Then, I sat down on it and realized that the seat cushion was backwards. Geez!

Luckily it was a quick fix that made it {slightly} more comfortable.

Inside vs outside chair

The chair is now in my office, but I go back and forth between sitting on it and sitting on the old chair (I may or may not put a plastic bag on the seat).

Yes, it looks pretty but the seat is far from comfortable thanks to the crunchy fabric paint and the bump in the backrest sticks out in just the wrong place.

I will continue to keep my eye out for a stretchy fabric.

However, I might not need to worry about makeover number two since the reviews I read online say that the back of the chair snaps off after a few months!

I’m sure fabric paint is great, just not for this project!

Thanks for reading my cautionary tale :)

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  1. I think that is really, really cute! I love the stencil you added!


  2. Hey. That's not so bad! The colours are great and the black covered really well.

  3. I think it looks pretty! Sorry its uncomfortable :(

  4. If you were my student, I'd say, "You worked so hard on this project! I like the way you kept trying, even though your first plan didn't work out! Way to persevere!"


  5. I love that you shared your "craft ehhh" - not quite a "craft fail" but not quite a "craft success." The pictures on their own would indicate a "craft success." Great color choices and stencil placement! You could've claimed the mottled look was the effect you were going for. :D But when it comes down to a chair's function, if it's not comfortable you aren't going to sit in it. If you decide to have another go round with the chair by covering it with fabric you could probably add some padding to the seat & maybe some padding to the back rest as well - except don't pad the bump! If that doesn't work, maybe you could completely remove the back of the chair & use it as a rolling stool? Or give it to a kid in grade school who might not be bothered by the placement of the chair back bump because of the difference in height. I spend a lot of time in my office chair either crafting or on my computer & I usually sit on a throw pillow for a little extra hiney cush. I hope next time it's beautiful and comfortable!

    1. Hi Geri!

      Thank you so much for leaving such a thorough comment filled with great suggestions :) I am definitely learning from my mistakes and am discovering what happens when you take shortcuts. Twice as much work down the line!

      Unfortunately my chair never graduated to new office chair status because of the discomfort. That, and one day I looked at it to find that a swath across that front had lost its paint mysteriously! I can only imagine what could happen to my clothes if the paint came off with such little wear and tear.

      I think I'll move it downstairs to my crafting space in the workshop and cover it with something just in case.

      I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog :)



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