Painted and Upholstered Wingback Chair Reveal

By on March 26, 2014
Upholstered and Painted Chair

Last week I showed off my latest yard sale find, which was this old wingback chair with yucky and ripped up stripe fabric but it had a wonderful solid wood foundation to work with. I’ve finally finished it and I’ve got a ton of pictures and information to share with you.

First, let’s recall how this old girl looked before we set out on this makeover project.

Wingback Chair

She was quite the lovely piece. I loved her curves, her carvings and the shape. The fabric was a mess (covered up by the white patches you see on the sides) but I knew I could recover it so considering I got it for less than pizza night, I grabbed it! Of course to make this chair match my bedroom design, I would be painting the boring brown wood into a lovely chalk paint black and adding some lovely red damask fabric (Love the Hobby Lobby 30% off sales!).

Removing Fabric

The first thing I did was to get this chair stripped down to the bare bones. I’ve never tackled an upholstering job before so I have to admit I was really scared. What if I ripped all the fabric off and then couldn’t get my new fabric on? Well, I threw all caution to the wind and just went at it. Of course, I’m not a professional upholstery expert so I didn’t have all the right tools I’m sure. I used a flat head screw drivers and a pair of needle nose pliers to get out the staples and metal trim (if that’s what it’s called).

Ripped off Junk

I still can’t believe just how many staples there was on this thing. And that awful metal trim with jagged edges that wanted to rip and pull at my fingers…it was pure hell. It took a full 3 hours just to get everything off of it. My hands were so sore by the end of it, I had to stop for the day due to my lack of being able to grip anything. I did my best to keep the fabric intact so that I could use the pieces later to cut my new fabric with.


Strangely, I also found myself about .27 cents richer during this project. For some reason, money started falling out of the chair when I took the back off. They seemed to be strategically placed to reward me just as I finished removing the last few staples. Thank you furniture goddess. :)

Now that my chair was naked, let’s admire her in all her glory shall we?

Naked Chair


The front looks great, but from the back, she’s quite ugly.

Back of Chair

That’s ok chair, we won’t judge you.

I have to say, if you’ve never upholstered furniture before and you were just a big ol’ chicken like I was, stop being afraid. I had no idea what I was doing but once I took the fabric off and saw how it was actually put together, it was super easy to get it all back together.

Homemade Chalk Paint Recipe

Next, it was time to paint the wood. I used my own homemade chalk paint and painted her up in this beautiful dark gray…almost black chalk paint (was called jet, from BEHR). I absolutely love the finished color and only needed to do one single coat of paint on her.

Closeup of Paint

Since I used my homemade chalk paint on this piece, I decided to keep it all on the cheap and instead of using my Annie Sloan clear was, I ended up using just some plain old Minwax finishing wax in natural. I just grabbed a new clean white cloth (which I keep on hand by the box full) and gently rubbed in some of the wax and then wiped any excess off. The result was absolutely gorgeous. I finished it off by gently sanding with a fine grit sandpaper on the edges to give it only a slightly distressed feel to it. I forgot to take a picture of the distressing before I put the fabric on so if you can get past the finished stage of this picture, here is a closeup of that.

Distressed Arm

Next, it was time to cut out the beautiful red damask fabric.

Cutting Fabric

I started off by taking the pieces from the chair and laying them face down on my fabric, lining up the direction of the new fabric and doing my best to make sure things were centered. Mainly I was concerned with the seat and middle back piece, since those are actually centered.

There should be a picture of my actually stapling the fabric onto the chair right here but…I wasn’t able to get any pictures of me actually stapling the fabric onto the chair, mainly because I was doing this project alone and nobody was around to capture this beauty in progress. So you will just have to take my word for it that I stapled it. Yes…I stapled the bajesus out of it…just like how I found it. I own this stapler which I do love, but an air compressed power stapler would have been easier and less stress on my poor hands. I wish I would have taken pictures of the blisters I formed during this project.

When you are stapling your fabric, I have one major tip for you:

Make sure the RIGHT side of the fabric faces out…ya know, the nice side.

If you staple it on backwards with the wrong size of the fabric facing out, you not only ruin that lovely piece of fabric because you have to rip it right back off with the pliers and the fabric can…and probably will tear, but you also may cry in the process. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything (insert sarcastic smug face here).

Other than that, just keep a firm “tug” on the fabric as you go around all the edges with your stapler keeping your staples as close to the edge as you possibly can to make it easier to cover up with the trim.

I did absolutely no sewing with this project, but I did sort of fold my fabric under so it had a nice edge. You don’t have to do this…the trim should cover up your edges completely if you get one wide enough, but I did it just to keep things looking neat.

Gluing on Trim

After the fabric was stapled onto the chair, it was time to take care of the trim. I picked up the black trim from hobby lobby for a few bucks and just used my sad cheap little Walmart glue gun to attach it. It actually worked pretty darn well! I started off using fabric glue to apply it, but that ended up a sticky mess so I ditched that idea. I forgot I even owned a glue gun but once I found it and started using it, it went by really quickly. As you can see in the finished chair below, the only place I had to do any visible trim was the strip in the front near the bottom of the seat and the main surround border in the back.

Upholstered Chair Makeover

I am so absolutely thrilled with how this chair turned out. Yes, it was a learning process for me and yes, I did make some mistakes during it, but I’ve definitely learned. My next upholstery project will go much smoother! What do you guys think?

I’m partying with:

Savvy Southern Style Ducks 'n a Row Whatever Goes Wednesday Power of Paint Party That DIY Party

About Misty Spears

I absolutely love all things DIY, especially when it comes to decorating my own home. I’m a thrift store junkie and my head just explodes with ideas to repurpose old junk into something practical and beautiful when I come across that perfect treasure. I’m a wood furniture rebel and try to paint every surface I can to bring color into my life. My life revolves around my family and enjoying every moment that life serves up to me. You can connect with me on Twitter @diyhomeinterior, Instagram @mistyspears and see my pins on Pinterest for a sneak peak into all the DIY projects I am working on and crazy life happenings.


  1. Virginia

    March 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    You did a great job on the chair. I’m posting one I did on my blog on Friday and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be! So I commend you for how great yours turned out!

    • Misty Spears

      March 26, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Thank you Virgina! I will stop by your blog on Friday and check yours out! Are you hands hurting as bad as mine are? lol

  2. Bonnie Gean

    March 26, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I’m not fond of solid color chairs (hence, I don’t like our living room furniture HE picked out), as I am the many colored flowers type, but you did a great job on this piece!

    • Misty Spears

      March 26, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks Bonnie! I typically don’t do solid colors either but this had a nice raised damask pattern so i went with it. Once I get a bit closer to finishing my bedroom I will show you what I’m pairing this up with (a beautiful textured pillow) and you’ll see why I went with the solid. It’s hard getting a vision across with only a single piece of furniture when it’s part of a whole room.

  3. Jen

    March 26, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Blown away by your skills. It looks amazing. I love the black and the black trim you used on it! Great job!

    • Misty Spears

      March 26, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      Thank you Jen!I saved a bit of the fabric as well as some trim so make a matching pillow to place elsewhere in the room…of course that has nothing to do with painting furniture, but still…I’m gonna make it…and no, I won’t be sewing lol

  4. Scott

    March 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Always wanted to try upholstery, but too scared of ruining something. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a chair at a yard sale I can practice on.

    • Misty Spears

      March 26, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      That’s pretty much how I felt. I figured if I could find a chair around $20 or so to practice on, if I screwed it up, I wouldn’t feel bad cause it was only $20. I did spend another $40 on the fabric, but still, I’m very happy I didn’t tear it apart to badly. hehe

  5. Marilyn Thompson

    March 26, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Love the chair, what a great job! You can see it smiling once again.

    • Misty Spears

      March 26, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      Thank you Marilyn. Yes, I think I do see her smiling…especially when I plant my butt on her. I do have a funny story to share about this chair already that happened this morning with the chair and my baby monster. Let’s just say, baby monster has already left her mark of love with the chair. :)

  6. Alexandria Ingham

    March 26, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    That chair looks amazing now. You did such a great job. I really wish I had the time and patience to take on tasks like this.

  7. Lina Bouc

    March 26, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Holy moly, that chair is gorgeous!!! It takes a special kind of person, with an amazing level of patience to complete such a project. I am one of those that want to rush it, and thus a mess. Your hard work and poor hands created one of the most beautiful chairs I’ve seen! Nicely done.

    • Misty Spears

      March 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      :) Thank you Lina. It was definitely a labor of…shall we say love? Maybe, who knows. But yes, I agree and I love my new chair!

  8. Cynthia Dixon

    March 27, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Wow Misty! You did an awesome job. I know you must be proud. It feels good to stand back and admire something that you’ve done such as this. If I walked into your home and saw this piece, I’d have no idea what you’d done to it, unless you told me.

    You keep this up and you might have another business model on your hands. LOL

    Keep up the great work you’re doing – awesome!

    • Misty Spears

      March 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      You know my husband said the same thing to me Cynthia…and I’m actually helping a close friend of mine with choosing paint colors and decorating aspects for her home. As much as I love it though, this is all for my own home. I don’t know how well I’d fair helping others. Plus…I would have a hard time giving or selling some of my favorite pieces.

  9. Michael Levanduski

    March 27, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Very impressive! Those chairs look great, and your tutorial is very helpful. While this isn’t a home improvement job I’m likely to do, I am very impressed with the results!

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Misty Spears

      March 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you Michael…and come on…you should totally do a chair! Give in to the pressure…just do it.

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