Painting couches?! I know it sounds a little crazy, but it is possible. Painting our couch showed me that you can get a good result, but unfortunately ours was not a very good candidate for painting (I'll explain why below). The finished couch looks decent in the living room, but if you get up close, it has some flaws. I actually finished this project a long time ago, but was too bummed with the finished job to take pics.
And Target is pretty much to blame for the whole thing! It all started with this lovely settee that we ordered from Target's website ~
Now, I know color varies a little bit on your computer screen, but that picture was so far off the mark! Instead of a bright, vibrant yellow, we ended up with a pale, pastel color. See below. It's not a terrible color, but definitely not what I had in mind for the room.
I hadn't really found any similar couches to replace it with, and I didn't want to deal with trying to ship such a huge thing back to return it, so I dealt with it. I thought maybe the color would grow on me, but weeks later I was still grumbling every time I walked past it. Finally I started doing a little research on painting furniture, and decided I needed to give it a try. It was a little nerve-wracking to test it out on a brand new couch (that we just paid hundreds for), but my research had me pretty confident about the whole project, especially since we just needed to change the color a little!
First I perused the craft paints and picked out my favorite two yellows. I took apart the couch, tried them out on a hidden area, and was getting pretty excited.
From all of the tutorials I read, for each coat you want to mix 1 part paint, 1 part textile medium, and 1 part water. The textile medium makes the paint a little more flexible, and it will adhere to the fabric a little better. For the first coat, you may want to spray the fabric with water first, or use more water in your mixture. I didn't notice much of a difference at the time, so I skipped that step.
Once the paint dries, you rub everything down with sandpaper to soften it up a bit, then do another coat or two until opaque. Simple enough? Naturally I had a few unexpected problems!
1) Hobby Lobby only stocked about 3-4 bottles of the yellow craft paint at a time, and it didn't take me long to get through those. The store wouldn't re-stock for a week, and sometimes missed a week (maybe I bought it after they'd sent in the order for the week). I checked the other craft stores in town, and didn't have luck with those, so then I started driving to every Hobby Lobby in nearby towns. I was having to hit store after store for weeks, and the project dragged on. I probably should have just asked the employees to order a big batch for me, but I kept thinking I only needed 4 more bottles & I'd be done (I was wrong again and again). In the end I needed about 20 bottles of paint, though I wouldn't have needed quite so much if I hadn't made a mistake (see #4).
2) Apparently velvet is not a great fabric to paint, with its longer, fuzzy fibers. This might not have even been a problem if the couch was mostly large, flat areas, because the flat back & sides of the couch turned out pretty nice & soft. But everywhere there was a pleat or tuft, I ended up with rough edges that would just not sand down to get soft. :( And with a tufted, velvet couch, I was pretty much doomed from the start!
3) Since the tufted seat of the couch still had a lot of rough spots, I pulled out a coarser sanding block to see if that would help. Unfortunately all it did was leave a gray color on the fabric that I couldn't remove, making the seat area look pretty dingy.
4) After I'd done about 2 or 3 coats on the whole couch, and was ready to be finished, I realized that the paint had not gotten down to the bottom of the fibers, and the pale yellow was peeking through in some spots (especially in cracks along the pleats). Remember how I skipped that extra watery coat for the first step? Yeah, that probably would have helped it really sink down there. I ended up having to buy even more paint for another coat and really soaking the thing.
In the end, I love the color, and we do get lots of compliments on the couch. Just don't look at it too close! While the paint job is a little rougher & more uneven than I would like, I suppose I would be even grumpier with the couch if it were still that pale yellow color. But I don't know that I would recommend furniture painting unless it is a very flat, and not a plush fabric!