Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Leather Chair Rehab

Now that my studio is up and chugging away at full steam, I'm finally getting to some home decor projects I'd been putting off due to lack of space. My most recent project was a rehab of this lovely chair.


I found this back in October in a local thrift store, for a whopping total of 11.00.


It is a large, heavy piece of furniture, beautifully made with great lines and a comfy, firm seat.


It had obviously been well-loved because the leather was in sorry shape, but beyond that, and a few dings to its wooden feet, I couldn't find a thing wrong with it. It came home with me and has been sitting in my studio ever since.

The plan was always to try painting it to see if I could "repair" the scuffed and pitted leather. When I told people that was my plan for it, I got a lot of shocked stares and a few, "Why would you paint it??" questions. But the truth was, it wasn't going to be comfortable and warm to sit in with the leather so scratchy and damaged. I had high hopes that paint could heal its wounds and restore it to something that could again be well-loved.

Up it went onto a table and the first task was to sand the rough patches of leather and wipe the whole thing down with some rubbing alcohol to try and tame some of the oils and tannins that could wreak havoc with my acrylic paints. Then it got a first coat of Gesso.


Terrible coverage, and indeed, the tannins crept into the gesso, staining it a little. So, a second coat...


... with somewhat better results. The coverage was pretty good, though still streaky, but I was afraid to use more Gesso for fear of putting so much paint on the thing that it would just turn to stone. It was time for a coat of paint...


I used a latex house paint and while I had been worried that this, too, would go on streaky, I was wrong- the coverage was nearly perfect, except for spots I simply missed. So far, so good. The leather still felt supple and soft, and most of the damage was now covered. Time for a second coat of paint...


Even better. And because I'd felt that the color of the first coat had been a little more pink and flesh-toned than I wanted, I'd added a bit of brown to the mix before painting.



Still a little pink-ish, but getting close enough into the mocha range I'd been seeking that I was satisfied. The leather was still soft and flexible.

Time for some text...


I used heavy-bodied acrylic paint in a squeezie bottle for this step and just journaled some of my favorite words and sentiments all over the piece. I wish my handwriting was better; this is the point at which I became less satisfied, but for 11 dollars and a quart of paint, I was pretty happy over all.

I lightly sanded and painted the feet, and last night, it got installed in its new home, one of the upstairs bedrooms.


I hope it enjoys many years of use by happy, comfortable readers. And from now on, I won't be intimidated by great furniture with shabby leather because I know that paint cures all ills!

Happy creating!

22 comments:

Nina Lise@Mrs Moen said...

That is so cool, Judi, a piece of furniture and art at the same time. I had no idea you could paint leather and keep the softness; do you know how well the paint will sit with wear?

Liz Kettle said...

Beautiful Judi! Keep us posted on the wear. I have to awesome leather chairs that the cats have damaged. This might be the solution I have been looking for.

Kathy said...

Looks wonderful! Hard to believe it's the same chair. And now we are all ready to experiment on our old leather furniture!!!

Kat Scott said...

The chair looks fabulous... I can't believe the leather still stayed soft and the paint doesn't crack when you use it. What an awesome idea!

Bev said...

I LOVE THIS! What an amazing job you did. I'm proud of you...Mom

jgr said...

This is just. SO. amazing. It looks brand new and I love the journaling! WOW!

elle said...

My gosh! You just may have started something! lol

Regina Dunn said...

Very wonderful! The text was a great addition.
Here's a tip for everyone...I had a pair of red shoes that got water stained. Two different shoe repairmen told me they couldn't be fixed. They said the stains would show through any dye they put on; even black dye. So I painted them with Jacquard red neopaque paint. They look great now and the stains do not show. I oversprayed with Scotchgard so they wouldn't get water stained again.

susan buchanan said...

great post. thanks.

DeCamp Fiber Arts Studio said...

It looks terrific! Wish you could operate on two of my chairs!! :-)

queenopearls said...

Judi, you rocked the chair. :) It looks gorgeous! I bet the same is possible with a fabric chair... or loveseat. :)
Did you put a sealer over the top like Renaissance Wax?
Thank you so much for sharing this process.
Christina in Cleveland

Lynda said...

Judi, This is awesome. I had no idea where you were going with this. And your writing is wonderful.

ART*ticulation said...

Judi this is amazing I have to say I would have never thought it would still be soft and subtle. Excellent job, now you have planted the seed I may just have to try this when our leather furniture is trashed by the cat Lol!
Greeeeart job!!!!

Pamela said...

Did you spray paint or use a brush? I love it!

joanell said...

i am inspired - will watch for a great chair of my own - thanks

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

This is the very best way I know of spending $11.00..............you are a wealthy soul! Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Doodles said...

Big Chair Love! What a stroke of genius to paint a leather chair! Thanks so much for sharing such a great idea!

carol said...

Amazing! Beautiful!

Pamela said...

Hi Judi. Beautiful chair! I believe I'll give it a try. Did you use spray paint?

Ronni Hunter said...

I painted a pair of leather shoes with gesso and acrylic paint. They looked great until I wore them and then all the paint cracked off in the creases of the leather. Now they look terrible! LOL! I hope you painted chair works out better than my shoes. I really looks lovely!

Shoshi said...

I've never seen anything like this before! It's brilliant. I am using Dad's old brown leather wallet which is also very worn and scuffed but the leather is still soft. Maybe I could do something similar.

Shoshi

PS If you are already moderating comments, you don't need word verification in Blogger, and can disable it, which makes posting comments a lot less tedious for your visitors!!

Crazy Ravens Studio said...

I am considering painting our leather chairs. How is your paint job holding up? I was consider using a matt polycrylic to protect the finished piece.