accessoriesbefore and after

before & after: painted sofa

by Kate Pruitt

I admit, I’ve been skeptical about painting fabric to change up the color of a piece of furniture, but I think today’s first Before & After from Stella Poore of Mon Petit Studio may have changed my mind. Having snagged this incredible sofa for only $25, Stella decided to take the plunge and paint it black to achieve a nice modern/classic style mix. She was equally dubious, but after sourcing a list of materials online from Fabric Bliss, she decided to give it a try. The results look amazing — so much more luxurious than I would have guessed — and apparently the sofa feels great, too. For such a low price, Stella has scored an incredible statement piece that fits perfectly with her decor. Amazing job, Stella! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: From start to finish: 2 days. Day one: We spent about 1 hour cleaning any dirt and debris off the sofa, 2 hours carefully taping off all the trim, and then we painted the sofa itself and one side of the cushions with one coat of paint, which took about 3 hours with two of us. Day two: We painted to opposite sides of the cushions, took care of any missed spots on the sofa, and removed the tape. That took about 1 hour. About 7 hours total.

Cost: Cheap, cheap, cheap. We bought the couch for $25. Two quarts of black paint cost us about $17. Four bottles of textile medium from Michaels (Delta Ceramcoat Brand), about $25. Two bottles per quart were used. Three standard 1″ and 2″ bristle brushes, about $10. One roll of blue painter’s tape, about $5. Total (including the sofa itself): $82

Basic Steps: We first cleaned it off REALLY well, removing any dirt and debris from all the nooks and crannies and tufting. Then, we taped off all the trim. Taping probably took the longest but was also a very important step to achieving a clean result. Then, we painted! We started with the hard part: the tufting on the sofa itself and then moved on to the rest of the sofa and finally the cushions. We tried to follow the grain of the fabric while brushing on our paint and made sure to spread it as evenly as we could.

I think it’s really all in the prep work. If we had not taken the time to thoroughly clean out all the little folds in the tufting and taped off all the gorgeous original trim, I’m pretty sure it would not have come out so clean. Also, the paint tightens the fabric a bit (which I LOVE due to the already very tailored look of this sofa), but it’s important to keep that in mind. The texture feels pretty much like the screen-printed part of a t-shirt. The best part? It’s super resistant to spills and dog hair! — Stella

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  • I live down the hall from this sofa, and have been marveling at it in my head every time I walk by. Fabulous!

  • Wow, I can’t believe this is painted! It looks great, and makes me want to go out an find a great, cheap, old sofa to paint myself!

  • That is awesome and yet still so hard to believe. I’d love to read a follow up on this DIY to see how the paint holds up with use. It looks beautiful!

  • That’s amazing! Question: do you think spray paint (for fabric) would work as well or do you only recommend rolling or brushing?

  • I am shocked this worked so well but I love it! The fabric now looks like leather and the black is do dramatic! Great job

  • It’s common here in France to find huge sofas for 50 euros because nobody has the space to use them anymore, but 25 dollars… I want one !! (actually, I want three of them and the space to place them).

    I really loved the pale green fabric from the “before”, but the cushions not, so I really love the final version and how well it fits into the amazing decor ! (House tour to come ?)

  • So amazed by this project! Living in Savannah Georgia I find vintage/antique furniture like this everywhere around town, but was always wary of how to do a complete revamp on a couch like this! Thanks for the great tips, I really want to try this now :)

  • This is a fantastic transformation! What type of paint did you use? I’m assuming just any old semi-gloss latex paint wouldn’t be optimal because of may transfer to clothing with wear? What a gorgeous couch!

  • So this sofa is just painted with Fabric paint? I have been hearing some buzz lately about painting furniture rather than re-covering it. I think the idea is great, but will the paint hold up over time?

  • I’m inspired. Can’t wait to try this out on a piece of my own. Thank you so very much for sharing. It looks so polished and expensive. Great job!

  • Most paint has an oder of some sort; curious also to know brand used; Its beautiful!

  • That is a beautiful sofa lovely curves. I have done scenic paintings on furniture before but never seen it done like this. It looks great I wouldn’t have thought it could turn out so well. Thank you for the post very inspiring. I love reviving these old pieces :)–

  • Why don’t we see you actually painting the sofa? Will it wear off with use? Is it waterproof? Did you brush or spray? What seems ingenious may not hold up over time.

    • gary

      thanks for representing for the resident skeptics. just a note: people don’t always shoot every aspect of their project because 9 times out of 10, they aren’t doing house work with the specific plan of having it posted on design*sponge. we request as many pictures as we can get, but we generally trust that people aren’t lying about something they’ve done unless it’s obvious something is fake.


  • Hi Everyone! I’m Stella (the gal who painted the sofa) I am so overwhelmed by the response that our sweet little sofa has gotten! Making it all the way to the fabulous Design*Sponge is just DIVINE! Thank you all so so much for your kind words! We are truly so excited with the outcome! I wanted to chime in and answer a few questions so that you can all go ahead and find a sweet vintage piece and paint it yourself! :)

    1. We scored the sofa on craigslist. She was asking $25 and I did not flinch as I said, “I’ll take it!”
    2. The durability: It is SERIOUSLY durable. I mean, I can’t speak long term as it’s only been a couple of weeks but I have rubbed all sorts of fabric swatches on it (I really was concerned that someone would be leaving with a charcoal bum) and NOTHING comes off. I also have a big boy doggie (100lbs) who has laid on it and his big fat nails and dog hair are no match for the fabric. Also, I tried a tiny bit of water and it does not seep through… it just sort of sits on top.
    3. What does it feel like? Well, it LOOKS like leather but it kind of feels like the screen printed part of a t-shirt. It has the density of fabric used in outdoor furniture; thick and strong.
    4. I have heard of people spraying but we only tried brushing it on. We tried rollers too but we felt like the brush was allowing us to spread the paint more evenly and not just “globbing” it on.
    5. What kind of paint? To be specific we used Valspar Latex paint (yup, the stuff you put on your walls) in flat black. Didn’t even have to have it mixed, they have black right on the shelves. We mixed 2 bottles of textile medium (Ceramcoat Brand) in each quart used. My understanding (and I’m no expert – this is the only sofa we’ve ever painted) is that the textile medium adds an elasticity to the paint preventing it from cracking.
    6. I honestly wish I had thought about taking a few pics during the painting process… truth is, it just didn’t take that long. So, I just took a before and then the after shots. My husband and I were able to complete this project from start to finish in under 7 hours! Also, Grace is right. I would have never imagined that our little project would end up on Design*Sponge!

    Thanks again everyone! :)

  • ITA, it looks amazing. I have a gorgeous but faded camelback sofa that I’m preparing to slipcover, but this look would work just as well. I would absolutely love to know thow this wears, and whether it is kid-safe.

  • Ah! Forgot to add…

    The smell thing. Yes. It totally smelled like paint for about 2 days. I sprayed the heck out of it with Febreeze on both those days and voila… The paint smell is 100% GONE. :)

  • Who would of thought 25 bucks worth of paint could make me wanna cry. Gorgeous! Clever!

  • I was thinking of painting the fabric on chairs I inherited from my grandparents (beautiful lines bit stained fabric) but was not sure how to go about it. Thank you so much; you have just saved my dining room. What a fabulous tip to add the textile medium to house paint. I love the unique details on the sofa, and how you transformed it. What a find for $25! You’re brilliant.

  • The after is beautiful, but I really prefer the muted tone-on-tone gold/greens in the before. I guess it was just in bad shape?

  • Didn’t know this was possible! The result is amazing. But I agree with loora, I also love the pale green version. Though I noticed that the sofa is not covered in just 1 fabric.

    Though I would opt for classic round (brushed cotton?) pillows in stead of the fluffy ones. They’re a bit too kitschy for my taste and in my opinion divert from the beautiful shape of the sofa and the woodwork details. Maybe a simpler version of this one: http://www.etsy.com/listing/77918816/made-to-order-1960s-vintage-inspired
    The long feathery pillow looks perfect and made for it though!

  • Swoon! Now I just need a fabulous couch to land on…

    Really fabulous in idea and execution. So much cheaper than re-upholstery and love the idea of it being dog resistant :-)

  • Holly crap. This is fantastic. I’ve always been skeptical about painting furniture, but this is absolutely beautiful. Great job! You’ve got me thinking twice about some thrift shop chairs now.

  • I’ve been eyeing the paineted furniture situation for awhile now. This is just the perfect application: glamorous and timeless. Black was the excellent choice. Projects like this truly represent the best of what’s happening today. And you CANNOT BEAT the price. Long live the painted black sofa!

  • just beautiful – if i had found that couch for $25 i would have carried it home on my back, what a deal!!!!

  • I love everything about it – love that you made it “yours” and did what you wanted with it.. it is simply stunning. Thanks for sharing because I had NO idea that you could paint fabric!

  • Just picker up a French provincial chair this week with the idea of painting it. Thank you for helping me with info! Another new world of design has opened up to me! Oh dear …. Best get moving.

  • You painted this?!?! Does it feel soft like a couch, or does it feel all hard and crunchy? All your work is amazing!!!

  • Wow, very impressed! Like everyone else, I have NEVER even considered that you could paint fabric! I’d think it would bleed through and soak the cushion of the coach. Thanks to Stella for sharing the additional details of how she mixed the textile paint with the regular paint. I want to try this myself! Thanks for sharing!

  • LOVE THIS! The couch looked like it has a heavy duty upholstery fabric. Can you use this method on suede-type couches?? I’ve used fabric paint but I’m not sure if it would work on other types of couches? Any thoughts?

  • This is amazing. I will be sure to keep this possibilty in mind when scooping out thrift store furniture. Thank you so much for this post, it is really helpful, and adding the type of paint used, too.

  • Amazingly beautiful! I have a cheap wing chair I was given, which has good lines but a hideous Aztec print on the upholstery. I don’t want to pay to have it reupholstered (it’s really not worth it) and I don’t like the look of slipcovers. I think I will try this! The fabric is less “silky” than what appears to be on this couch, but it really can’t hurt to try… I’m really not even using the chair right now because the fabric is so ugly. I wonder how a different color would look… and I might try a low- or no-VOC paint to minimize odor.

  • Wow, it looks like a fancy leather couch now! That’s awesome. I had never heard of painting furniture- that’s really cool. Great job and amazing transformation!

  • Hello Stella della Sofa DIVINE ! What a lovely piece you’ve created and so inspirational.
    I’m going to try my hand at this technique and would like to know – What size bottles
    of Ceramcoat textile medium did you mix with the quart of paint? I checked Amazon
    and they come in 20z. and 10 oz. bottles. Please advise. Molto Grazie !!

  • For those who have a soft, thinly upholstered couch and want the color change without it being leather like in feel (read:hardish) you can go to Joann or any store like that and buy the fabric spray paint. It will change the color but not harden the fabric. I saw them do it on Nate and Today show and the results were awesome. Also, price is probably equal or less in the long run depending on the size of your couch. I love this look and idea too tho! Especially on repelling dog hair!

  • Love this… I’ve thought about doing something like this with some accent chairs. What a beautiful piece … love the lines and what a dramatic difference the colour change makes. Well done

  • This is such a great inspiration and thank you so much for all the how to information . I have a little love seat in a similar style, that I got on craiglist . Even though it is cute the way it is, I might give this a go.

  • Congrats on the sofa !! What an awesome modern touch to this frame! I want to ask: I have a wing back framed love seat with corduroy type upholstery fabric. Will this type of paint work on corduroy?

  • I think this is incredibly fantastic… I do have one question!

    PLEASE tell….. my husband does carpet and upholstery cleaning… how will this affect the paint job if the couch ever needs cleaning? I would love to do this with my beautiful couch, but he needs to be satisfied that I’m not ruining his highly cherished/inherited ornate couch! Thank you.

  • One more question…how did you paint the woodwork? Plain spray? Brushed? Sealed? This is AMAZING!!

  • “Great Idea” after seeing your sofa and how beautiful it loooks,I decided to use
    this method to paint an old wing chair that has been around for years.I tried to
    have it recovered but they wanted almost $500.00 .I also used Valspar Interior
    paint and primer in one.Matte finish.The material that originally covered the chair was like a crushed velvet the small patterns.I gave the chair two coats the
    first,I allowed it to dry, thats about six hours.I then did a second coat which coverd all the patterns on the fabric.It turned out beautifully.Everyone who has seen it cant believe that the chair was painted. I am very pleased and will
    now give me the oppertunity to paint a second wing chair now in my master bedroom. THANKS FOR THE INFO.,

  • I really want a seagrass sectional couch, but I don’t have 10,000. to spend on one. BUT I did buy a really cool zen sectional for only $80 at a reasonable priced trift store ann I LOVE it. Does anyone know if I can wallpaper the frame and then I could just recover the cusions myself. I like to be able to take the covers off and wash them. I found really cool wallpaper in vinyl that looks cool. I was going to use grass cloth, but my cats would rip that apart in 2 seconds, literally.

  • I love this!! I want to do this to an Ikea Leather sofa that I have. Could you please update us on how this sofa is wearing? Perhaps even with a follow up photo? You’ve inspired me to do this, but I literally can not afford to lose a piece of furniture, so I need to be sure it will hold up for at least 6 months to a year. Thank you!!

  • I just painted a couch. I used your directions and it seems really hard and not very comfy. It looks amazing though. Can you offer any suggestions to soften it up at all? :) Thanks for any help!

  • Stella, this is fabulous! Proof that all it takes to proudly own a stunning and very unique piece is courage and effort. The courage to try something new, using your imagination and personal taste (it is your sofa, after all;). As well as the effort to do your homework, which clearly resulted in good product choices. Personally, I love your “kitschy” pillows! If only more people made such bold choices in home decor. Also, I greatly appreciated your detailed and concise information! Thank You and WELL DONE!!!!

  • The couch looks good. But I have to tell anyone interested in doing this what they might want to be aware of. We recently decided to spraypaint our couch with Simply Spray fabric paint. Its a 2 cushion couch, can probably fit 3 people on it but 2 more comfortably. It’s not huge. We read on the blog that it would only be 12 bottles and that it would remain soft. We ran out of paint after 12 bottles and purchased another 12. We have now run out of that as well and it is still not covered. On top of that it is no longer soft. It is in fact very hard and feels almost sticky. We also washed one of the cushions and it did in fact wear off A LOT. It also does come off on our skin and clothing. We are incredibly unhappy. We had a very nice couch. It was white and very easy to clean. The problem was, we have a dog and would constantly have to clean it. We thought having a darker color would solve our problems. We could have easily sold the couch. Now it is half done and we are $300 in on paint. Not only can we not sell this, we have to buy a new couch and spent all this money in paint. I dont know, I’ve read blogs where people are happy, but this took many hours to do, very space consuming, basically had no living room for 6 days because it takes 3 days each time. Just a total nightmare, waste of time and money.

  • Read your blog I figured I would give it a whirl I used krylon it said use on fabrics as well I did it was a very victorian pink with a floral patter now it is a light burgandy with gold not really hard to touch color change was a bit drastic for me but 30 dollars did all three pieces husband loved it we were looking at 7000 to get the red version of the sofa we had thank you

  • This is awesome.

    And very inspirational. I’m going to paint my this leather chairs and googled painted furniture and stumbled upon this post. Great minds think alike, lol, very cool to see someone else has done it and the results turned out so fabulous.

  • So I picked up the paint for this project. I didn’t realize that I purchased paint with primer. Do you think I should use it or go back and get some without primer? I have no idea how I didn’t notice this at the store. Suggestions ?

  • Hi, it’s been almost a year & 1/2 since you posted this project. I really want to do the same, but I’m debating against two methods. So I’m wondering, how has your couch held up? Any crackling? Fading? Suggestions? Or has it just flawless? :) I really love to hear!


  • Was thinking about painting my sofa and was looking for inspiration and found this!! Totally in live with it and in full speed ahead on my project!!

  • How does the sofa smell? Are there any toxic odors or residue? I worry that if I paint my sofa it will have have chemicals in it that my kids can lick and get sick from. I also came across this company in Wired Magazine, http://www.furnishpal.com/ which apparently can make you a custom printed sofa? Anyone know if it is any good? I am exploring the option of painting an old sofa versus buying a new one with a custom printed design which is a little bit more in cost.

  • Is there any way to paint fabric that has been treated with a stain repellant? I did the water test and the water beads up on the fabric and rolls off. Thanks

  • very nice :) I am dealing in sofa and furniture for 5 years now . I like your way of doing things , personally, when I have the budget I use upholstery or leather fabric paint from simplyspray.ca from time to time .