Wingback Chair Makeover


I slowly start on the right side of the thrift store and work my way around to the left.  My eyes are like scanners that pick up on anything that has any value.  I try not to look too far ahead, focusing on just what is in front of me, so I don’t miss anything.  It’s very easy to scan too quickly.  Take your time.

This beautiful wingback chair was definitely something I wouldn’t get by with out noticing.  It was in perfect condition.  It must cost hundreds.  I searched for the tag.


There’s no way.  They must mean $99.99.

Wingback Chair Makeover (painted)

My daughter and I examined the chair more closely.  I mean, if it’s $9.99 there has to be pee stains, or a rip, or something.

There was nothing.

I was going to go verify the price, but then I thought.  NO.  A voice told me to grab the tag and go pay for it before someone else does. So I did.

After the lady handed my receipt, she asked me where the chair was and if I could show her.  I thought for sure she would say it was priced wrong.  Not a peep.


Make over an old chair with paint and upholstry tacks.

I actually liked the mint green color.  We left it out in the garage until I could vacuum it…who knows where this chair has been.

I decided to finally tackle the makeover right before Christmas (crazy).  This big guy sat in our kitchen for a couple weeks while we worked on it.  I say we, because my husband helped a lot.
Painting a Fabric Chair


Here’s how we did it…step by step. (don’t forget to order your upholstery nails ahead of time.  There are many choices on line or in hardware stores.  The ones I used are below)

1. Vacuum chair.

2. Choose paint color. (I used Behr Ultra in BLACK-eggshell sheen)

3. Put chair on several drop cloths.

4. Mix paint with 1/2 water, 1/2 paint. (I used a jar to store mine in and I wrapped the brush in tin foil and put in the freezer in between coats.

5. Put 1 coat of paint on chair.  It will take more than usual because of the consistency of the paint and the porous fabric.

6. Let dry.

7. Put another coat on entire chair.  Let dry.

8. Sand chair.  You can sand the chair by hand, but that will be difficult.  My husband used an electric sander (100 grit).  Sand until it’s soft, don’t worry if you can see through to the old fabric.  (wear a mask when sanding, and do it outdoors or in garage) Vacuum chair with the brush attachment.

9. Bring chair back in (it’s cold here), and give it another coat.  Let dry, and give another coat.  Let dry.

10. Repeat #8.

11. Repeat #9 if necessary.  The goal is to get to a color you are happy with.

12.  No matter how many coats you put on, you have to sand that last coat to get the chair to be soft.

13.  Vacuum the heck out of it when you are satisfied with the color using the brush attachment.  Cheese cloth works too.

14.  Hammer in your nails.  You can add a little or a lot depending on your style.  I looked up images of wingback chairs and that gave me an idea on where to put the nails.  They went in easily, but you have to be patient in lining them up.


Chair Makeover w: paint & tacks

Painting a chair and adding upholstry nails will give an old chair new life!

Adding upholstry nails is easy!

Best Upholstry Nails (to add to existing furniture)

Now, is this chair perfect?  No.  Is it rough in certain areas, yes.  Do I love it?  Yes.

For $9.99…it changed the entire look of our living room.  I absolutely love the “velvet” look the black paint gave it.  It’s very rustic, but chic.

Hey, it even matches my daughters boots.

Hope you enjoyed my “Wingback Chair Makeover”.



Make over an old chair with paint and upholstry tacks.How to transform a thrift store chair with paint!


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46 Responses

  1. Julie W says:

    I LOVE it! I desperately need a chair for our living room, but I keep passing on the less savory chairs I run across. I always hear my husband’s voice in my head phoo-phooing that ugly chair, and whining about refinishing it. I should just grab that bull and paint it into submission!

  2. That is just plain awesome!!!!!! I had no idea you could paint and sand until soft. So cool. I have a $12 chair in my garage that I am going to try this with!

  3. Paige.Rose says:

    Julie, what a great find number 1 ,& two how awesome of a job did you do on this chair!! I love the color & the detail- perfect!!!


  4. Gina says:

    OMG – I love it!!!!! I have 2 hunter green velvet ones in perfect shape. However our entire house colors have changes & they no longer match anything. I would love to do this. A black would look fabulous in my rocker glam office. Thank you for the inspiration.

  5. I love it, what a fabulous find. Great makeover and super tutorial.

  6. JoNell VanNorman says:

    Have you ever painted Leather furniture? If so how do you do it and will it hold up to everyday wear? My sofa is dark green and has no finish. Its in great shape just tired of the color…thanks

    • Julie says:

      Hmmm…I have never painted leather. That’s a tough one because the paint needs to penetrate the fabric. I’m not sure it would with leather. You could try it on the bottom of a cushion?

  7. Rose Burroughs says:

    Will paint get on your clothes when you sit in it??? I absolutely love this!!!

  8. I have been searching everywhere for a chair like that!! Now I am more determined than ever to find one, and paint it neon fuchsia, LOL I had no idea that you could even paint a chair like that, Julie….I am quite impressed!

  9. Lynn says:

    Is the chair blue now or more black? It looks blue to me in the picture. I have a blue velvet chair that I could try. Just need to know what color the final product is. Thanks.

  10. Love it! I did not know you could this! Thank you for sharing. I may consider it for a chair in my daughters room but my hubby will need to sand.

  11. Sue says:

    Hi Julie,

    Have you tried to use stain on upholstery? And if so, what kind of stain did you use?

    Thank you, Sue

    • Julie says:

      Hi, Sue, no I haven’t. At first that sounded like a good idea, but stain smells so bad…and it doesn’t dry as dry. It worries me.

  12. deidra says:

    Wait… can paint on material?

  13. Eileen says:

    I have dyed sofa & chairs (Rit) and they have turned out great.
    Love your chair!

  14. very pretty! I did one recently using fabric dye after reading about a few other bloggers who have done it this way. Well, the chair looks great but the dye rubs off on your clothes! I am not sure what to do about it, I have thought about perhaps some sort of sealer. If you use a paint sprayer the color goes on great, very uniform and no brush strokes. I bought mine at Lowes for about $99. I love it!

  15. Heather J says:

    I have a wing back chair with a floral pattern on it. Do you think paint would cover the design or do you think it would show through. I wish I had a solid pattern like yours….i love the brush strokes and velvet look of yours? Any advice would be sooooo appreciated…Thanks for sharing!

  16. Heather J says:

    Thanks for the reply! I think that I’m going to give it a shot! I’m headed out to get supplies and try to bring this chair into 2015:) lol Thank you! Have a great day! I love Redhead can decorate! Will definitely be a regular from here out:)

  17. Lulu says:

    Do you paint the seat with the cushion in or do you take it out. Thanks!

  18. Sue says:

    Is there a way to do this without sanding? That is my only drawback as I have no equipment.

  19. Jane Ashley says:

    is the chair soft or stiff? I want to do a burgundy brocade Victorian sofa and don’t want it to be stiff.

  20. Rebecca C says:

    You know there is a company that has decorative tacks all together on a strand for easy application-and all the choices are so cool. I cant remember the name but i know its in my likes. Your chair stopped me from scrollibg at 430 am-great job!

  21. Cheryl says:

    I love your chair!!! So did you only use paint & water??? Other posts I am seeing used fabric medium among other things…also wondering if paint has faded off onto clothing, etc???
    Thanks for your wonderful post with great photos?

  22. Kea says:

    You did a BEAUTIFUL job!! 1. Is the egg-shell you used oil-based or water based egg-shell? 2. I can’t seem to find that brand in the UK… will any egg-shell be OK? 3. How many litres did it take to cover that chair. 4. Do you wax it at the end like you would with chalk paint?

    Thank you SO much!! <3

  23. I love the chair. I am presently work ing on painting a wingback chair. I never thought about using tacks but that would jazz it up even more. I thought I had to send it by hand. Now I know I can use a electric sander on fabric. I have all kinds of -itis, so whenever I finish a job my hand hurt tremendously. Using a electric sander will help. Thanks so much for all of your ideas. My I
    ask how many tacks did you use?

  24. A. Golden says:

    Julie, was scrolling through some of your projects, loved the mirror painted gold (my favorite color), and your redo of the wingback chair. I found a really heavy mirror at a thrift store for $10. I already knew I wanted to paint it gold just haven’t done it yet. I’m in a small rental condo. I’m a DIYer from way back. Do you think I can tackle this project on my patio?
    Also, the wingback chair project. I’ve been eyeballing thrift stores looking for 2 chairs. Did you get new fabric for your chairs or did you paint over the existing fabric?
    All advice will be helpful.
    Thanks, A. Golden

    • Julie says:

      Hi A. Golden! Thank you for stopping by. That’s an oldie, but it was fun. The chair was “ok” it was kind of rough in texture. Be sure to explore more updated techniques for painting fabric. I used the original fabric that was on the chair. And as for the mirror…I used spray paint for that in my open garage, but obviously in an apartment like we are in now, I am using good ole fashioned paint and brush. Look for latex water based metallic gold paint and still ventilate the room until it’s dry. Use a brush obviously and you could do high gloss so no top coat is needed unless you want a “flat” look that isn’t shiny you could go with flat sheen (I hope this makes sense). I just painted clay leaves in a metallic gold in our apartment and loved it. I am posting about it tomorrow sign up here:

  25. MT Dolly Hall says:

    Loved the redo on the wingback chair and the addition of the nail heads, but what I didn’t like was the back and forth brush strokes seen on the chair. Any idea on how to avoid them and make it seamless?

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