Last week I shared my Fall In Love living room makeover with you guys and I was so excited that you liked my “new” club chairs so much!
They were a last-minute addition to the room, as-in: I acquired them and gave them an extreme makeover 5 days before photographing the room for the post!
I was pretty obsessed with finding the perfect pair of chairs for the living room makeover. This was difficult because for me the word “perfect” meant finding two smaller-scale midcentury-styled chairs at under $200 for the pair that didn’t need major reupholstery or de-stinking… Totally reasonable parameters, right?
Finally, I realized how crazy searching Craigslist every thirty minutes was making me and that it could take months for that “perfect” pair of chairs to pop up (despite my totally reasonable parameters), so I turned my sights to Ikea for something plain and affordable that perhaps I could DIY into something fabulous.
Right as I was ready to pull the trigger on a pair of Tullsta chairs (at $99 each they were *just* within my budget), my awesome friend Katja (bless her!) suggested another Ikea chair that, while out of the current budget, reminded me of a different pair of Ikea chairs I had initially passed over on Craigslist. Whew. This is turning into quite the tale. Confused yet?
These particular chairs (Klappsta) are no longer carried at Ikea so I can’t link to them, but they were being soldfor half the price of the Tullsta chairs. Add to that a much more modern shape and they were quite an attractive option. Suddenly, inspiration struck! A little black trim and I could totally fall in love with them…
They were a bright white, which was unfortunate given that they came from a home with a young puppy, but the low price and my desperation saw me immediately handing over the cash and loading them into my truck as if I were pulling off a bank heist. On the way home I mulled over ideas for cleaning the slightly stained upholstery, but once I saw them in the living room the problem solved itself – the white was just too bright and too cold for my moody room.
So naturally, with just a few days to go before the Fall in Love room reveals, I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at painting upholstery. I’d read about people painting chairs and sofas and rugs for years and always wanted to do it myself. With everything to lose, what wasn’t to love about the idea?
I went with Sherwin Williams Divine White color-matched in a quart of satin Glidden paint and picked up two bottles of Martha Stewart fabric medium* (I ended up needing more and subbing in a different brand, so three of the Martha Stewart bottles would have been perfect.)
*Today’s post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure here. I hope you all know by now that I do only share things I really truly love!
Step 1. I mixed the paint and fabric medium at a ratio of 2 parts paint to 1 part fabric medium. A little ways into the project, I found that adding just a little bit of water to thin the mixture down a bit was very helpful. I mixed it up in an old yogurt container so I could cover it in between coats.
Step 2. I used a spray bottle full of water to dampen the fabric on the chairs – I found that getting the fabric pretty decently wet helped spread thin coats of paint across the surface.
Step 3. I began brushing paint onto the chairs using my trusty angled Purdy brush*. Given the texture of the chairs, I really worked the paint around into the fabric at all angles.
This picture shows the chairs with one coat of paint on the body, but unpainted seat cushions. The paint made such a slight difference in color, but such a big deal in the room!
Step 4. After the first coat of paint dried, I was a little skeptical – the upholstery felt crusty and stiff, basically everyone’s main concerns about painted upholstery. But after reading this post from The Kim Six Fix, I tried sanding with 220-grit sandpaper* wrapped around a foam sanding block, and was amazed to find that the fabric regained its suppleness without losing any of the new color!
Step 5. The first coat left me with exactly the color I wanted, but it was a little streaky in some areas, so I sprayed down the fabric again and did a second coat.
Step 6. After the second coat dried, I was completely satisfied with the coverage (no more smudgy dirty puppy paw marks!). I did some more sanding.
In the end, the fabric ended up becoming a little bit stiffer, but it still feels like fabric when you touch it. Pretty much exactly like an outdoor cushion fabric. See how you can still see the texture and it doesn’t look shiny or tacky or (shiver) crunchy?
I do think it helped that my colors were very close together, so I didn’t need to use much paint to achieve my finished color. Overall, 10/10, I would definitely give painted upholstery another try in the future.
Step 7. Once the painting was finished (a two-day affair), I was ready to start the black trim. I wanted the look of piping, so the idea came to me to use 1/8” paracord* and stitch it on top of the fabric. For just a few dollars for 50 feet, the paracord was an insanely affordable option and it really does look like double-welt piping! I ended up using close to 150 feet on both chairs! So glad I wasn’t buying it by the yard! I used extra-strength upholstery thread to sew it on.
Safety notice: Wherever you cut the paracord, you need to use a lighter to seal the edge and prevent fraying. This creates molten plastic. Do not under any circumstances, in a fit of stupidity, touch said molten plastic while it is in its molten state. Have I used the word “molten” enough? Burns will result.
I pinned the paracord in place wherever there was a seam on the chair. Then I used little stiches underneath to secure one strand of paracord over the seam. Then I used a zig zag sort of stitch to sew the second strand of paracord to the first for the “double welt” look.
I chose sewing over glue because I wanted to make sure that all my hard work would last! I did end up hot gluing the trim around the very base of the chairs because it’s an area that will see very little if any wear.
One chair with finished trim, one without:
Sewing this trim on took for-freaking-ever. Hours and hours and hours. In all honesty, I still have a little bit of sewing left to do on the second chair – double-sided tape and pins came to my rescue for the room reveal photoshoot…shhh!
The lines aren’t perfectly straight, but I love the comic-book-style outline they lend to the chairs! I don’t think anyone who sees them now would immediately think “Ikea”, so it was all worth the time and labor invested!
And the chrome legs have sort of grown on me. Even I can see that more gold/brass would have been completely overkill.
I think they’re a pretty perfect addition to the room, don’t you? I love that I was able to give them such a cheap makeover using mainly hardware store supplies! Crazy!
Julia Konya says
totally a perfect addition to the room. Love the gif too
Thanks Julia! I thought you would like it 🙂 I can't get a good picture, but each cat has claimed their own chair and curls up there when I'm sitting on the couch working – it's so cute!
Cassie @ Primitive & Proper says
AAAAH!!!! these are SO amazing. and the pillows rock. and you rock. everything is awesome.
Thank you Cassie! I've learned that I definitely have a thing for needlepoint pillows… I just picked up another one last week! #thriftscorethursday 😉
the surznick common room says
This is awesome, Brynne!
Thank you! <3
Holly Goode says
Those chairs are awesome and really make the room. Great job with the sewing!
Thank you Holly!
Amy @ Homey Oh My! says
CRAZY how some black trim completely transforms them. They're freaking amazing, Brynne!
Thank you Amy! I'm so glad you like them!
Caitlin @ Desert Domicile says
Such a great addition to your living room! I love the trim you added!
Aw, thanks Caitlin! <3
Okay, first off, I keep getting sidetracked by your SWAN PINCUSHION! What?! A swan pincushion would be enough to get me to sew, I think ;). And then also I don't understand what you mean about more brass and gold being overkill? That doesn't really make any sense, Brynne. BUT! Then I got over those things and looked at the chairs, and you did such an amazing job with them! I love them. And I'm glad to read of your adventures in fabric painting, because I've got some chairs that need that to happen to them, too!
Ha! I'm terrified of sewing machines, so Mr. Swan Pincushion helps motivate me to hand sew! It was a Christmas gift from my parents years and years ago – I have a matching miniature scissor necklace too!
And thank you for reassuring me that I can keep adding gold to my home with reckless abandon 😉
This turned out FABULOUS! What a genius idea!
Thank you so much!
Trisha D says
How lucky you found those guys on Craigslist for cheap?! What a clever idea to use paracord!! You should already know I'm OBSESSED with them, now come up here and make me a set!!
I thought you might like the color scheme 😉 I know – I'm so glad I was able to save so much by finding a used pair!
Ashley Mayes says
Love how you transformed them.
Thank you so much Ashley!
Christie Selken says
I really am in love with these chairs! I think the trim really gives them a punch, and they look perfect in your space. Awesome job…you go, girl!
Thank you Christie! I'm so happy they turned out the way I envisioned them!
Audrey @ Oh So Lovely says
bravo!!! they look fantastic and so does your room. love your style. 🙂
Thank you so much Audrey!
Kim @ NewlyWoodwards says
You are AMAZING. Painting the chairs? And SEWING on trim? In 5 days. They really look fabulous.
Well, 75% of the trim… Maybe I'll give myself until Christmas to finish the rest of it 😉 Thank you Kim!
Amy Lee Scott says
Brynne, this is GENIUS! I love that even a sewing klutz like myself could probably do this hack 🙂 Love it!
Amy | Club Narwhal
Thank you Amy! I'm a sewing klutz too, so thankfully this wasn't hard, just time consuming!
For My Love Of says
I'm so impressed! I know nothing of sewing so it's incredibly impressive you pulled off the piping look in such a way. I love that you attempted fabric painting. It's something I want to try one day, so I'll try your method.
Thank you Corinna! I'm not great at sewing, so I was really happy I was able to get a piping look without needing to *actually* make real piping!
Tania @ Run to Radiance says
Brynne! So fabulous. I need an Ikea shopping trip with you! 🙂
Thanks Tania! Yay, Ikea shopping trip!
Lets just build a house! says
these look SO great!!! good job, they don't look ikea at all!!
Yay! Thank you Trina! I'm so glad 🙂
Karen @ a house full of sunshine says
So gorgeous – I love these!! Can't believe they were a DIY. They look so classy!
Thank you Karen! That kind of response just makes my day 🙂
Anna [DirectionsNotIncluded] says
So much fun! I love the way they look in your space.
Thanks Anna! They weren't at all what I was originally envisioning, but they ended up being perfect for the room!
Sarah AKA The Thriftress says
These chairs blow my mind! Truly and inspired DIY!
Thank you Sarah!!!
P.S. Sorry for blowing your mind… hope it wasn't too much of a hassle 😉
You must be a patient person. I'd lose interest about 5 minutes in. They look so good though! So good!
Not patient, just incredibly stubborn and determined to have things my way! 😉
Thank you Michelle!
Amber Wills says
Beautiful!!! Also I'm super impressed with the hand sewing skills!!!
Nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills, hand sewing skills… I got 'em! 😉
Katja Kromann says
Brynne!! These chairs are such a great addition to the room and I can't even get over how great they look with the black piping. So fabulous. I just love how it turned out. Also, I am not missing any tulsa chairs in your room 🙂
Thank you Katja! It's all due to your intervention! Thank you for calling me out on the Tullsta chairs! 🙂
Lydia Pudel says
Thank you so much Lydia!
Mekenzie @ interiorsbykenz.com says
They look so high end and custom now! You killed it on this project! Great job!
Thanks so much girl!!
Dear Emmeline says
sewing on trim was genius! they look great!
Thank you so much!
Krista thehappyhousie says
These are amazing Brynne! They are stunning and I would have never guess puppy-stained Ikea hack! Fab job:) You are my hostess pick of the week this week at Work it Wednesday tomorrow:)
Thank you Krista! I can't wait to stop by!
Gail Wilson says
Brynne!! wow! absolutely amazing job on these chairs! Catching you!
Thank you so much Gail! I can't wait!!!
Creative Dream says
Amazing! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays 😀 Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.
Thanks! I'll have to check that out!
Jennifer@The Chronicles of Home says
These looks REALLY good, Brynne. I'm so surprised at the materials you used – smart! Sewing welting is not my favorite job.
Thank you Jennifer! I don't own a sewing machine, so I was so excited to find an alternative!
Your chairs look amazing!!! And using paracord? How genius is that?! Great work, I love your whole room.
Thank you so much Sarah!
Linda - Calling it Home says
This is so well done! I just had to know how you did it…and now I do. Excellent job.
Sam Seidor says
Great job on the chairs! Can you please tell me where you got those perfect green curtains? I’ve been searching for something similar for years and never seem to be able to find the right shade. Thanks.
Thank you so much, Sam! I’m glad you found the answer in the other post! Those curtains are my favorite ever!
Lois Black says
Fabulous and stunning. Great job!!!!!
Your diy project is the answer to all of my sofa/chairs prayers (say that three times fast). I have been looking for a white sofa with black piping and I’m going to give this a try. Yay for your beautiful diy!
That’s so awesome to hear, Victoria! I’m so glad! Although the DIY took a long time, it has been so worth it – everyone always comments on those chairs! My best tip: wear a thimble! (I may have had to clean a few drops of blood out of the white chairs while working on this! ?)