Furniture Makeovers

How to Fix a Painted Fabric Flop

Avoid some of the pitfalls when painting fabric | #sponsored HomeRight | The Chelsea Project |

Hello Friends,

This summer, I finally had to face it.

Yep, I finally faced the fact that all of the outdated fabrics in my home weren’t going anywhere…. and it was time for action.

The truth is I had seen various techniques for painting upholstery, but never really felt like I found the answer for updating my own outdated pieces.

So last week, I bit the bullet.  And now, after a few hiccups, I can honestly share how to avoid some of the pitfalls when updating upholstery with paint.

Here’s what happened.

Painted fabric is easy as 1-2-3 | #sponsored HomeRight | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comDisclosure:  I was provided a paint sprayer and shelter tents by HomeRight in exchange for writing a review. Although this is a sponsored post, all fabric painting flops and opinions are 100% my own.

How to Create a Painted Fabric Flop:

Just so you know, it takes real guts to show you the flop.  I could have left off the first part of the story, but felt I owed it to you to let you know that I find my way by walking the journey.  By reading this post, I surely hope you are spared some of the heartache.

Step 1:  To Prime or Not to Prime

Yes, for this fabric, definitely prime!  I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want a white undercoat to the fabric and yet the red stamps could show through if there was no primer.  Now we all know that if this piece was made of wood, it’d get a good shellacking.  But fabric? What kind of primer is best?

Ottoman before painting the fabric | #sponsored HomeRight Sprayer Max | The Chelsea Project |

Step 2:  Choose Wisely

I tried priming with the actual chalky-type paint (lower left) that would be used for the final coat, but that didn’t work.  So I switched to a black chalky-type paint and it seemed to totally block the stamps.

Two different primers battle against a red stamp | How to Fix a Painted Fabric Flop | #sponsored HomeRight Sprayer Max | The Chelsea Project |

Step 3:  Let the Priming Begin

Yes, do let the priming begin, but take heed. Here’s where my plan veered off course.  I only spot primed over the red stamps.

Red stamps spot primed with black chalky paint | #sponsored HomeRight Sprayer Max | The Chelsea Project |

Step 4:  Apply Custom Color

Then I applied the custom color made into a chalky-type paint (product info here) and BEHOLD… the flop.  If something could go wrong, it did.  This had quickly become the Murphy’s Law of fabric painting.

The painted fabric flop before the fix | #sponsored HomeRight | The Chelsea Project |

OK.  New plan………

How to Fix a Painted Fabric Flop:

Step 1:  Break Out the HomeRight Spray Shelter

To fix this flop, even coats of both primer and paint needed to be applied to the ottoman.  To get this process going, the shelter tent was popped into place.  It took all of two seconds.  Simply pull the shelter from the zip bag, pull back the black elastic tab, and place it on a flat surface.

 The shelter will pop up like a pansy out of the snow.  

There is zero assembly.  Notice that there is a vent in the back that can be opened or closed.  If it is open, some spray overflow may spritz a few inches past the protective screen. 

The HomeRight Spray Shelter | The Chelsea Project |

Step 2:  Break Out the HomeRight Finish Max

At this point, the ottoman had already been completely primed with the black chalky-type paint using a brush. Why… oh why…. did I waste my time and energy?  Trust me, I should have sprayed the primer.  But I did spray the top coats (it took two) using the HomeRight paint sprayer according to the manufacturer’s directions. 

The HomeRight Sprayer Max | #sponsored | The Chelsea Project |

Step 3:  Make the Fabric Painting Flop Disappear

The entire ottoman was painted black before the topcoat was applied because I wanted to accomplish three things:

 (1) Completely block the red forever and ever.

(2) Remove the splotches that occurred early in the process.  And,

(3) create a layered look to the finished product.  Ever notice how different colored threads are woven through fabrics?  Yea, we need to get this look….. only with a black undertone….not beige.

Fabric ottomans are painted using a power paint sprayer | #sponsored HomeRight | The Chelsea Project |

Sidenote:  Yes, I had to move the tent because of a bad encounter with an angry squadron of fire ants. I’ll spare you the photo of my swollen foot. 🙁  

But will say that the shelter is as light as a feather.  It is as easy to handle as an umbrella.  Oh and did you notice…. it has loops on all four sides that attach to bungie cords in case your spray day is a bit breezy.

 Step 4:  The Fix is In

The painted fabric fix | How to Fix a Painted Fabric Flop | #sponsored HomeRight | The Chelsea Project |

And here, dear Friends, is a look at the ottoman after two coats of spray paint using the HomeRight Finish Max.  It looks like this without any sanding or other treatment.  It is truly a before and after.  Yowza!!  I’m so thrilled.

Side of the ottoman fixed with spray paint | #sponsored HomeRight | The Chelsea Project |

Just for jollies, I managed to catch the light so that you can see the black peeking out through the gray paint.  It really is hardly noticeable other than there is a depth to the new fabric color that would likely not be there without the black primer.  To get this fabric nap (the mottled look), I had to use a special lens.

How to fix a painted fabric flop using the HomeRight Sprayer Max | #sponsor | The Chelsea Project |

 For more projects in this series:

Outdated artwork makeover (behind the ottoman)  is here.

10-minute side table makeover (for this room) is here.

How to lighten without going white is here.

And please, don’t forget to pin and share….

How to fix a painted fabric flop with a HomeRight Finish Max #sponsor | The Chelsea Project |

Many thanks to the good folks at HomeRight for providing the wonderful shelters and paint sprayer that saved the ottoman.

More projects using these products are already underway….

Patio swing refresh

Patio furniture refresh

Cedar arbor refresh

I do hope you will join us….. 


#homeright #homerightfinishmax #homerightfinishmaxsprayer







  • Reply Carolann September 13, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I love the way it turned out! What a great save! What a terrific project for the paint sprayer and shelter. Great save Susie!

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 13, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Thanks so much Carolann. I truly love the HomeRight family of products.

  • Reply michelle james September 13, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I love it! It turned out fabulous as does everything you create. I love my sprayer and I think I need that tent! Great post and thank you for showing us your flop.

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks Michelle. You’re a doll!!

  • Reply Jeanne September 13, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Wow – amazing transformation…paint on fabric…wow…thanks for sharing, Susie.

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks Jeanne.

  • Reply Toni | Small Home Soul September 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Way to recover from a flop, you did it beautifully! I think it’s important to share the flops and or challenges we face, it keeps it real and let our readers know that things don’t always go perfectly as planned.

    I love my spray shelters, and the small one is going to be perfect for painting little things in the garage this winter.

    I have yet to paint fabric but I have a chair that I am considering and will surely use your tips to make sure I get a nice finished product.

    I always love your projects, you have such a way with decor! I’m looking forward to your next big reveal as you work to make over your interior.

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 17, 2016 at 8:11 am

      Thanks Toni! I LOVE the HomeRight products. I have a gazillion projects planned.

  • Reply Wendi@H2OBungalow September 17, 2016 at 5:50 am

    I love my HomeRight Paint Shelters and sprayers. Don’t know what I’d do without them. You were smart to share the flops, I’ve thought of painting fabrics in our home, but haven’t tried it yet. Good advice on using a primer! Pinned to my Painting Techniques Board:)

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 17, 2016 at 8:07 am

      Thanks Wendi. Appreciate so much!

  • Reply Cozy Farmhouse Cottage Ottoman Slipcover - The Chelsea Project September 22, 2016 at 4:05 am

    […] what on earth I’m talking about, you can catch the antics from the first ottoman refresh by clicking here. But do make sure you come back to this post and see how this sweet little ottoman gets its new […]

  • Reply Spray Paint Furniture the Easy Way - The Chelsea Project October 10, 2016 at 6:08 am

    […] Their argument is that I can simply use the big shelter’s little brother. To see the tabletop version in action click here. […]

  • Reply The Day My Swing Wore a Raincoat - The Chelsea Project November 10, 2016 at 8:00 am

    […] and their Finish Max Sprayer to save a furniture refinishing flop.  If not, you can click here to see.  This was actually the first time I used the HomeRight […]

  • Thanks so much for your comment!

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.