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I Painted My Sofa! (Before & After)

Well, y’all, I painted my sofa this weekend. Here’s how it turned out.

DIY Painted Sofa - before and after

So let me back up a bit.  🙂

Y’all know that I’ve been dragging my feet on reupholstering this sofa, right?  Well, I finally realized why I’ve been dragging my feet on it.

I don’t really love this sofa.

I mean, it’s okay.  I really do love the English rolled arms, and I like that it has a skirt.  But that’s where my love for this sofa ends.  I don’t like how the back cushions look, and I really don’t like the seat cushions.  So the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on fabric and supplies, and then spending several days of my time (and my mom’s time!) reupholstering this thing was less than thrilling to me.

So I want a new sofa.  But I can’t just go out and buy a new sofa right now.  So for now, I painted this one.  🙂

I started with a tutorial from Hyphen Interiors (link no longer available), and then read about Kristi’s experience here, and then used their info, made my own tweaks to the process, and wound up here.

painted sofa 6

It’s definitely a temporary solution to my sofa situation, but I think it looks pretty darn good!  And it definitely looks a heck of a lot better than this beast.

living room sofa needs reupholstering

The process that I used is really pretty easy and straightforward.  Here’s what I used:

  • 1 gallon of latex paint in an eggshell finish (I used Behr paint in a color called Stepping Stones from Home Depot, and if I did it again, I’d use flat paint)
    (I didn’t use an entire gallon, but for a sofa this size, it definitely requires more than a quart.  And since the cost of two quarts is more than the cost of one gallon, I bought the gallon.)
  • 8 8-oz bottles of Delta Fabric Medium
  • Water
  • Purdy paint brush (I used my favorite 2-inch XL-Cub)
  • Scrap piece of MDF (plywood or cardboard would have worked as well)
  • Drop cloth
  • 220-grit sandpaper

And that’s it!

On the first coat, I mixed up my paint, fabric medium, and water in a 2:2:1 ratio (2 parts paint, 2 parts fabric medium, 1 part water).  I mixed it together really well and started painting.  And yes, the first coat looked really awful!

painted sofa 2

Now I did start off using a spray bottle full of water and saturating the fabric before painting like the tutorial said to do.  But I only did that on the far left section of the back, and you can see that it’s the section where the paint covered the least.

On the middle section, I decided to forgo the spray bottle (not only because it was messy and I didn’t see that it was making much of a difference, but because it would have doubled the time it took to paint this sofa!).  So on the middle section, I just painted and then rubbed in the paint with my hand.  You can see that it covered just a bit better.

And then on the right section, I just painted it on.  No spray bottle, and no rubbing the paint in with my hand.  Just painting.  It still soaked into the fabric really well, and it was a lot easier and way less time-consuming.  So that’s the method I used from there on out on the rest of the sofa.

I left that to dry for a few hours, and then came back to do the second coat.

For the second (and third and fourth) coat, I made the mixture 1 part paint to 1 part fabric medium.  I left out the water completely.  I also decided to lighten my paint, so I added some of my  Polar Bear (the white on my trim) to the paint I had purchased.  So my mixture was 1 cup of Stepping Stones, 1 cup of Polar Bear, and 2 cups of fabric medium.

Here’s how it looked after the second coat…

painted sofa 4

The second coat covered pretty well!  I was beginning to think I would only need three coats, but I definitely needed four.

Here’s how the seat cushions looked with a second coat.

painted sofa 5

Of course, after a few minutes, the paint soaks in a bit more and the pattern on the fabric starts to show through.  But that’s still a huge difference between the first and second coats!

To paint the skirt, I found a scrap piece of MDF, and just slid it behind the skirt.  This made it so much easier than trying to hold the skirt in one hand and painting with the other.

painted sofa 3

The only other thing I did was sand the sofa after the third coat, because the fabric does seem to feel rougher with each new coat.  Sanding it made it smooth again, and also seemed to soften it up some.

Like I said, it did take four coats.  But the good thing the first coat takes the longest, and each subsequent coat seems to take less time than the previous coat.

In all, I spent about $67 on this makeover ($26 for the paint, and $36 for the fabric medium with a 25% off total purchase coupon at Michael’s — plus tax), and it took me two days to complete working by myself.

So here’s some info I know some of you will want:

  1. It now feels like brand new outdoor canvas.  It’s not soft like cotton, but it’s also not hard and crunchy.  Update:  I actually think it feels more like a very soft, supple leather than outdoor canvas.  Or possibly a hybrid of outdoor canvas and soft supple leather.  🙂
    But what it is NOT is crunchy, hard, or scratchy.
  2. It does have a sheen to it (which is why I’d use flat paint if I did it again).  Matt says it looks like leather.  It doesn’t look like leather to me, but it does remind me of that Polished Apple shiny cotton fabric that was so popular in the 80s.  I’m going to try to find a matte spray that I can use on it to tone down the sheen.  HOWEVER, I do think this process would work beautifully if you want to turn your sofa in to a leather look.  Use just the right colors over smooth fabric (mine was cotton upholstery fabric, so it had no texture to it) and I really do think you could achieve a leather look.  (I don’t think mine looks like leather because you generally don’t see skirts on leather furniture.)
  3. I do think it’s very durable.  I tried scratching the paint off with my fingernails after the third coat, and it didn’t even budge.
  4. It probably takes a few days for it to cure completely.  Right now, it still has a bit of tack to it.  You know how you can paint a bookcase with latex paint, think it’s dry, put books on it, and then realize that the books have stuck slightly?  It’s kind of like that.  Latex paint just takes much longer than we generally think for it to dry completely.  I’ll let y’all know how long it takes.
  5. The sofa does smell like paint right now (since I just finished last night), but I expect that smell to dissipate and completely disappear, just like it does when you paint your walls.
  6. I would not recommend doing this to a sofa or chair that is used on a daily basis.  It’s just not going to be a sofa that you want to snuggle on.  So don’t take your main sofa out of your family room where the family watches t.v. each night and paint it.  Your family will hate you for it.
  7. I wouldn’t recommend this for a final, long-term, indefinite solution to an ugly seating problem.  As an interim solution, I think it’s awesome and budget friendly.

I think that’s it.  🙂

All in all, not too bad for a $67 makeover, right?

painted sofa 7
painted sofa 8

Update:  I’ve had at least 50 people say that they think this will flake and peel off.  Time will tell how this wears, but consider this…

Have you ever been painting something, accidentally got paint on your clothes, and didn’t realize it until it was dry?  That paint is virtually impossible to get out of your clothes.  In fact, I’ve never been able to get dried latex paint out of my clothes.  So I can’t imagine this flaking and peeling, especially considering that I added fabric medium to this paint.

Heck, even on my paint shirts that have paint all over the front of them and have been washed 50+ times, the paint still won’t come off!  Yes, it cracks, but that’s after the shirts go through the dryer many times.  The heat from the dryer is what makes it crack.

So I’ll keep y’all posted, but I’ll be incredibly shocked if this paint flakes and peels.  I don’t see that happening.



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  1. That looks awesome! I tried a similar approach on an ugly couch and gave up on it. I am so surprised that you could cover the pattern so well.

  2. Excellent post and info!! Thanks for linking back to my tutorial. I’ll add you to my chairs page with all the examples so people can read all of your tips!

  3. It looks beautiful. I never knew you could paint a sofa !!! Wish mine was still in good enough shape to paint. Alas, six kids jumping on it broke a third of it.

  4. Fantastic job. A wonderful idea for a temporary fix. I do have to agree with Matt. It definitely looks like leather in your pictures. Can’t wait to see some throw pillows on it.

  5. SO FUNNY YOU POSTED THIS TODAY!! We cleaned our garage out yesterday and I told my husband to throw out this red chair I have & he said he loved the chair, well I hate the color, soooo I said well, I’ll just paint it! I googled tons of tutorials last night & pinned them all. Now I will be using yours too 🙂 Question: My chair is more of a felt-ish material. You know, like more fuzzy. I can’t think of the word for the material.. any advice for a soft material like that? If not I will use the trial and error method like you did & cross my fingers! haha

    1. Actually, the post that I linked to on Hyphen Interiors shows a chair that has the velvety type material on a wingback chair. Definitely read through that. I think on fabric like that is where the added water would come in handy.

  6. Do you need to paint in one direction? Your fabric appears to be pretty smooth. Just wondering if you can see brush marks. I have a couple of chairs in my flea market booth I have been considering painting, and they have a bit of a raised pattern.

  7. It looks beautiful ! I have seen some photos with chalk paint (ASP) – if you look on Jute (they are in Spice Village) – I think she has some painted photos on Facebook.

    Great job on your sofa !

  8. I’ve read about this before and have always been skeptical. It’s definitely something I’d like to see/touch in person some day.

    Your pictures of it do have a lightly leathery look to it.

    Perhaps some day I’ll give it a whirl on a chair I don’t have plans to keep much longer. I’d really like to have the first hand experience and it doesn’t appear anyone else I know is going to be the guinea pig. LOL

    1. I wondered that myself. The couch looks great and was a great money saver compared to recovering it.

  9. I’m wondering if this could work on the seats of my dining room chairs I need to recover for the second time (4 small kids!) I’m a new DIYer. What is fabric medium?

    1. Fabric Medium is a liquid you add to paint when you plan to apply it to fabric (think tee shirt painting, jeans, etc). Michael’s sells it, and I’ve used it on tee shirts. It seems to make the paint dry in a still-flexible way so that it doesn’t crack when the clothing item is washed and dried, although I don’t put painted items thru the dryer. Kristi stunned me by using paint on a sofa! She is ingenious.

    2. Cynthia — I painted my dining room chair covers over a year ago (used left over paint from a cabinet I painted) and they have held up great. If you have old cushions or other fabric furniture it is certainly worth trying.

      Has anyone used this technique on outside furniture cushions. After three years my cushions for my wicker patio furniture are faded and will be costly to replace — any comments if you think paint will work outside?

      Thanks, Jean

      1. I have used spray paint on outdoor cushions and while it looks okay, I don’t think I would do it again. I prefer the cushion covers I made with painter’s canvas and watered down acrylic paint. I painted stripes on the washed and dryed canvas-no taping-no sewing. When they were dry I wrapped them around my old cushions and fastened them with safety pins. To wash them I just hose them down (although the pins will rust if they are not dried off) I may try hot glue to stick the seam next time. After 3 years the cushions have not faded at all and I don’t anticipate they will. They were much cheaper than buying new ones and look great!


      2. I use Satin Nickel Rust Oleum spray paint without fabric media on outside cushions and they hold up well. To soften, I lightly sand with a fine sand block.
        For indoor dining chairs with old/dark cushions I sprayed w/water, then painted few layers with diluted white enamel paint, then sanded with fine sand block to soften (after drying). As a result, the fabric and the pattern show through, but have whitewash light background.

      3. I Have painted my old cushions for outdoor. It was perfect! Matched my shutters and door trim and I did it with left over paint! I used exterior semi gloss. No medium added as I figured if it failed I’d just buy new! It was a test. They weathered well. On an uncover d deck. And I left them out all winter !

  10. It does look great – I did this on a small chair I inherited from my mom which I didn’t have time to recover/reupholster. I can’t wait to see accent pillows as well! Are you thinking of a nice soft throw – something you can change with the seasons?

    1. What a great idea, I am looking at used motor homes/ trailers and some of them have such dated material. I did not want to look at that flowered material every where but did not really want to spend the time/money to redoing everything. This is a perfect alternative!

    2. Linda, thank you for your comment! I was just getting ready to tear the valances out of our RV because I hate the fabric pattern. I think I will try this on the valances and the built in sofa and benches.

      Kristi, I love this blog/website. I am learning SO much. Keep up the great work!

  11. My friend is an artist and paints upholstered furniture all the time! She’s on facebook…Anita Caldwell Jackson and SOFA art gallery. She’s done some amazing things. She usually doesn’t paint the cushions that you sit on, but has them reupholstered. One sofa has been in her gallery for a couple of years and is still in great shape.

    1. I only live about an hour and a half from McAlester. I should stop there when I go visit my daughter at SOSU. There are no pics of painted furniture on her facebook page…. bummer.

  12. I think the material you were speaking of is polished cotton. You still amaze me. Love your blog. And energy.

  13. This is great! You have done a great job, as usual! Where do you get your energy. Seems your mom enjoys all this, too. Thanks for sharing your incredible ideas.

  14. Im speechless…Wow! My mouth always hangs open at the things you do. Paint a couch. Paint a bathtub. What next? How fabulous you are! The couch looks so good.

  15. Well, once again you have presented me with a possible solution to a problem I have! Yeah!!! Now if I could be so bold as to ask your opinion on my problem. My couch looks horrid – I am not talking a couch with a little stain in a spot or two. I am talking like a MAJOR eyesore. The material is what I am concerned about painting as it is called Ultra Chaps Buckskin Nubuck. I have tried cleaning with recommended cleaner and sanding it to no avail. The lines are good as is the structure so I hate to just give up and spend a fortune to reupholster and my only alternative at this time is to throw a cover on it (which I hate). Also, my husband is like Pig Pen from the Peanuts characters so whatever I do has to be somewhat cleanable. I know you said you wouldn’t use it on a couch that gets a lot of use so maybe it’s out of the question, however, I could just switch the older couch for him and put the new painted one in the living area and it would look nicer. Sorry, I am babbling. Anyway, I really just want to know if you think the material I am talking about could be painted?

    Thanks so much for any help and I love your stuff you do!

    1. After reading all of the posts that I read, I’m convinced that just about any fabric can be painted. Definitely read through that post that I linked to on Hyphen Interiors blog, because I think that the fabric you have (which I’m assuming is like an ultrasuede) would do better if you follow her tutorial exactly, using the spray bottle and added water.

    2. I wonder if instead of using paint you use stain and perhaps go a bit darker than what you have, you could test it on say an underside of an edge perhaps with or without the fabric medium and see how it works. Also some have a built in sealer which may be a bonus. You may discover something great.

  16. Never would have thought of painting a sofa. Any thoughts on what you’re looking for in a new sofa? Shape, color, etc.? I’d love to see how a boxier (is that a word) looking sofa would in this room.

  17. Your blog is my absolute favorite decorating blog! Laughed at how you called the ‘old’ sofa, the beast! I’ve also had a few pieces with names! LOL Thanks so much for this wonderful information…will be pinning it for future reference!

  18. Interestingly enough, I just read a tutorial on painting upholstered furniture this weekend – apparently, we travel in the same space!! I just want to add another perspective to the overall appearance of this sofa. The eggshell finish does give it a sheen but I don’t think it looks like leather. It reminds me of an ivory fabric that I’ve seen from Robert Allen that’s available in a “luster sheen” finish and retails for $35 per yard! So well done on achieving a similar effect for low $$ on a temporary piece! Just a thought – do you think if this piece was more frequently used it would soften over time or do you think the surface would crack, discolor, etc.?

  19. I was extremely excited when I saw this link on my Facebook page and immediately started reading on how to do this to my living room furniture. I was actually about to call my husband at work and let him know what we (he) was about to do. My only complaint is that after I read all of the instructions and looked at the tutorial, I then realized what you said “This does not work well on everyday furniture”. I would potentially post that at the very beginning so people don’t feel like they kind of wasted their time reading all of this. It’s an awesome technique and great idea but I can’t use it. The furniture I was getting excited about is everyday, lived on furniture. Thanks.

    1. Well, I think I would expect most people to not only read my entire post before jumping into this project using their own sofa, but perhaps also take at least a few minutes to mull it over, consider all of the advantages and disadvantages, and even to click on the links I’ve given in this post to read other people’s experiences and results. At least I did. I spent about two hours researching it, and reading several different sources, researching different techniques and different outcomes. So I don’t really feel the need to rewrite my post or re-organize the info in it.

      1. I totally agree with you Kristi, you are not only sharing your experiences with us, but you’re also being honest about it too which allows your readers to decide for themselvs. Majority of us that subscribe/read your posts read the ENTIRE post because we love your work and want to “hear” all about it whether we get up and try it ourselves or just being allowed to enjoy the journey with you. You’ve done a fantabulous job as always and I wouldn’t change a thing!

        From a reader that reads your ENTIRE posts! 🙂

      2. My way of thinking is no amount of time researching is wasted! I may be over 50 but never too old to learn something. Keep it up Kristi…..LOVE IT!

  20. Geez lady, painting a sofa…. I would never have the patients to do something like that. You are a dertermened person when you want to get stuff done… well done…!!!

  21. I love the transformation! I do agree with your hubby that it looks like white leather. I wouldn’t do a thing to take away the sheen, I love it as it is!!! Thanks for sharing this process.

  22. It looks fantastic. I remember seeing them do this years ago on “Trading Spaces” but it didn’t look anything like this. Would be a good solution for a cute little occasional chair, that is sometimes more decorative than used. I love it.

    So enjoy reading about your projects. I love to decorate my home, indoor & out. For many years I was on a very tight budget being a single mother…….so most of my house was decorated in garage-sale-repainted-by-me. It was very cute & I received lots of compliments.

    Now I’m a grandma, but still love to decorate. I enjoy the compliments, but really decorate for myself….my likes.

  23. How does it feel to sit upon after it was painted? Is there stiffness? How is it flexible enough to not crack?

  24. Love the way the print was totally covered up. Turned out lovely. I was also to do the same with my windback chairs and they are still lovely. The kids love the chair. Its their go to chair and my visitors have not yet complain about the texture.

  25. This is gorgeous!! I may try this sometime…..I did use fabric spray paint to paint a chair, um not so great!

  26. Most brilliant thing ever. “Oh my God, where’s my paint?!” screamed the mother as her children looked on, horrified.

    My life will never be the same!

  27. I do a lot of fabric painting a a fiber Artist and I would have used and suggested Jaquard Fabric paint if I had known you were going to attempt this but then after using the best fabric paint other than Prebo, you could have probably bought a new sofa. I would think the sofa is rather stiff and uncomfortable but not? You wouldn’t get that effect with Jacquard and the additives with fabric paint. I will be using it on my sofa (a white heavy duty canvas) when I decide to change it in the future to go with my fabulous woven rug.
    Still you did a brave less inexpensive thing to get you by and I say BRAVO!


  28. OMG! The Beast now looks like a high end leather sofa! I really like the lines and the design of the sofa now that you can really see them. I know you want to take down the sheen but polished cotton anything is very expensive. You may change your mind about toning it down after you’ve lived with it a few weeks. I wouldn’t change the write up for this tutorial either. If you are considering doing it, you would naturally read the WHOLE tutorial for the pros and cons and then decide if it is doable for you. Thanks for another amazing tutorial! Now I’m off to find something to paint!

  29. This is awesome. Thanks for doing this and sharing. It has inspired me to paint an old stained chair that I just love!

  30. Years ago when my kids were young, I painted a love seat with paint I had on hand. Went from a denim blue to red. It was for their TV – play room. I didn’t use a medium, straight paint & sanded between coats. My kids used it for years and then we donated it to our church youth group’s hang out room. It’s still there, pretty indestructible.

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You always seem to read my mind. God bless you!! I am just about to do this very thing and this tutorial has helped so much! Thanks again for all the great tips you so freely share with us. Your blog really has been a blessing to my family as we try to make our little home more ‘homey’ on a budget.

  32. This is an amazing post……I just had to tweet it out … (Nearly 12,000 followers) … Hope you pick up more followers, too.
    Keep on posting….we love it!

  33. This is AWESOMELYFABOULOUS! 😀 There was a FAB huge overstuffed chair I saw recently at a local thrift store for like, $35, and I wanted it SOooo bad, but the fabric was just awful! I think I will go back and see if it is still there and buy it just for this DIY project!

    And, I too, think that from the pictures, it looks a lot like leather.

    Well done, Kristi!

  34. Once again, you never cease to amaze! A great idea for a temporary fix. I’m looking forward to seeing it accessorized with pillows, throws, or whatever you decide to go with. BTW, can you iron the skirt to get out the wrinkles, or is that just a result of the process that you will have to live with?

  35. I read all your posts, even ones that I am not—at the moment—interested in doing. For one thing, I may be interested in the future. For another, they often make me realize that something CAN be done. Finally, sometimes they send me off on a tangent with ideas that I might never have considered before. So thanks, and good work!

  36. Kristi,

    I knew you’d get to that sofa! It’s amazing! I don’t think I would have even considered painting a sofa. But after reading about your experience – it makes sense! Now that you’ve tackled your “elephant in the corner”, I guess it’s time to tackle mine ;). You’ve really inspired me and I have been doing many DIY home improvements over the past couple of months. The difference in my home is huge! Thanks for being so inspiring and never running out of ideas and energy!

  37. Oh my gosh – it never would have dawned on me to paint a sofa!!! I love, love, love your blog and all of your projects are wonderful. You must be like the energizer bunny…you get so much done so quickly!!! Thank you for sharing with all of us. Blessings to you and Matt.

  38. I’m back with a question. Did you paint the deck area under the seat cushions or just leave them as is? If that area was okay or cleanable, than I would not do it. Just wondering what you did. Thanks for sharing!

  39. I am very impressed Kristi! That looks fantastic. Often refurnishing something is a lot more rewarding than buying new! Great work. And the fact that I thought the white sofa WAS the before shows just how seamless the paint job was. Keep up the awesome stuff.


  40. Love it, and now have a plan for what we lovingly call “the ugly chair” in our living room 🙂
    Did you clean it prior? Mine does not have any visible stains but just regular wear dirt on it.
    Can not wait to see how yours holds up. Do you guys use it/sit on it often? I also think it looks like leather and would not try to change it. Beautiful!! Some day I would like to try to make those lamps also, they are amazing!

  41. Giant a-hah moment here!! I have a super old golden chair that is ugly and sits in my boys’ room. I think I will try out painting it just for fun 🙂

  42. I have seen a few painted chairs and I painted a few lampshades but never a sofa. Looks GREAT!! I absolutely think it was the perfect temporary solution for you and WAY cheaper and easier than your other choices. Your room is coming along so good. Can’t wait to see it to completion along with the rest of your place.

  43. Hi. My concern about painting the fabric on chairs and couches is that I’ve sat on some that a friend of mine had done, much in the way you did yours, and even though they were about 6 mo. old, the paint would end up coming off a little bit on your clothing and looked smudgy after awhile. Any comments on that? Is this like painting a rug? That is something I am considering doing because I just cannot afford new carpeting at all, any time in the foreseeable future.

    1. I think that’s why she added the fabric medium. It is suppose to make the fabric flexible, washable, penetrates fabric fiber for permanency and the paint won’t run or bleed. My bottle says it dries flexible on fabric with no cracking. You may want to link over to the other sites she referenced and check out the process and follow up questions before you give this a try. Your friend may not have added the fabric medium to her paint, which could be the reason it has not held up as well.

  44. very impressed with the sofa.. I didn’t know you could do that to upholstered furniture. what a great idea. curious to see how it holds up.

  45. Wow!!!! Incredible…..what gumption you have.

    Another blogger painted a chair fabric silver and it was fantastic, so this was not a complete surprise…it looks great Kristi!

  46. Wow that came out great! I have a leather sofa that I want to upcylce/reupholster but I haent found any tutorials on it. Im trying to avoid throwing it away and buying a new sofa.

  47. WOW! That looks great! All I want to do is paint a small chair to see what happens and I’ve been a huge chickenshit and avoided doing it.

    Would love to see what it looks like when people start sitting on it and stuff but I do agree with you that when you get paint on your clothes and it dries you can’t get it out…so I think you are good to go!!

  48. Whaaaaaa?

    You got balls, girl. Don’t know if I would want to spend time sitting on it though.

    Another creative “temporary” solution. Kudos.

  49. Great job! Makes me want to experiment with what I’ve got or try and find and ‘el cheapo’ upholstered anything and just paint it! Love, love, love your ideas and all the helpful hints and instructions. Wish you were my neighbor!

  50. YOu did a great job! do you know if you can pain a leather couch??
    i have see one person paint her leather boots. and they turned out great.
    just wondering.

    1. I know that it has been a while since you posted your comment but I would appreciate if you told me what happened to the fabric after three years of daily use. Did it crack? Did it peel off?
      Thanks in advance.

  51. I love the way this turned out! I have never painted any of my upholstered furniture, but this definitely makes me want to. Thanks for sharing!!



  52. Looks great! I wonder what it would look like if you removed the skirt and/or “tucked it under” to expose wooden legs and wood trim (or added trim). I have a sofa with fitted back cushions like yours with mahogany trim around the base (simlple flat rectangle appearance that wraps around all 4 sides) with matching legs that are tapered cylinders (if that makes sense?). It makes the sofa feel lighter and it also adds a contrast of materials and texture. PS I love the fireplace too!

  53. I think this turned out great! Even though it’s temporary, it gives you an idea of how a sofa this color and size will look now that you have most of the room’s pieces in place and will allow you time to decide exactly the style sofa you want without feeling rushed because you can’t stand the floral monster! A win win all the way! Hugs, Leena

  54. I love the way it shines and looks like leather. It’s a nice texture contrast to your ottoman. Thanks for giving such a great tactile description. I’ve seen it done on the HGTV makeover shows and wondered if it was uncomfortable or durable. Sounds like both!

  55. Kristi — spent several hours last week skipping between the upholstery painting blog posts and bookmarking them and have now added yours to the mix! Actually, yours may work best for me cause the parsons chairs I NEED to paint are a similar fabric and scale of pattern. Except think tropical flowers and fauna. Hence, the NEED to paint! As I really intend to slipcover the chairs but don’t want the patterned fabric to show through, I think I’ll check Home Depot & Lowes for light colored oops paint. I’ll send you the link (and link back to you as well) once its done.

  56. Hobby Lobby sells a spray paint for fabric furniture. I have thought about buying it and trying it on a chair. Not sure how many cans it would take to do a sofa but they have several colors available. I have talked to a few people that have used it and they say it is great! You did a great job on your sofa…thanks for sharing!

  57. Love it! I painted a cloth chair two years ago. Still looks great. Hopefully, your sofa will hold up as well. I look forward to updates.

  58. Kristi – I am SO glad you tried this and posted about your experience! We have one of those ‘just for looks, never gets used living rooms’ that has ugly furniture in it. I’ve been so tempted to so something with it, but wondered how well it would really cover the pattern. You’ve convinced me! Thank you!

  59. I never would have thought of painting upholstered furniture! What a great idea – thanks for sharing! Hmm… there is an ugly green chair in our house that is suddenly whispering about a paint job. 🙂

  60. Wow! What a fabulous result! Thanks so much for the links to the other tutorials as well as your own. A great idea to consider with GW and Craigslist finds! I appreciate the inspiration you have given!

  61. Holy wow. My mouth literally dropped open when I saw this. No really this is great. In a million years I would not have known you could paint a sofa. And yes it does look like leather to me. Now I’m thinking I could do this with my lawn furniture cushions. Cheers

  62. Ah, so you jumped right in and got to it! Gotta love a girl who just gets the job done!
    I painted an old patio lounge chair recently and can’t wait to try it out when it gets warmer. It does feel like hard canvas, not something I would want to cuddle up in for too long, but I will see how it goes.

    Not sure if I would be brave enough to try it on my couch just yet though. I will be patiently waiting to hear how this is holding up for you and maybe we can compare results.

  63. Just got back from out of town and saw this couch. Excellent idea! I’m going to try it on a footstool that needs a different color. Then, well, if it turns out for me, I’m gonna go a little nuts!! Thanks, Kirstie, you rock!

  64. Great post-thanks! I am someone that researchs everything well before I do it too-sometimes to a fault and the project never gets done! My dilemma is that I have 6 upholstered dining room chairs-and I would really like to paint them because at the moment the $’s are not there for slipcovers or reupholstering. The fabric on the chairs are like a tapestry type of fabric. In all my research I have not come across this type of fabric painted. Is that because it’s impossible? Has anyone else come across a tapestry style fabric painted on the web? I may just do one to see how it works because I REALLY don’t like them. I realize the pattern would probably show through-but I can live with that. Any advice? thoughts?

  65. Inspiration – I have an office chair that I was attempting to sell because it doesn’t go with the beechwood and ivory in my office, however this gives me the idea to paint the plastic and fabric so that the color actually fits in with my everything. Yay me!

  66. I was given an Ikea canvas loveseat that was ivory before it was painted black. Since it is comfortable to sit on and not scratchy, I am relieved that the previous owners did such a good job painting it. I want to repaint it a medium/dark red-based pink, but I am concerned as I only have enough money to do it once.

    I have looked for how-to’s on repainting a sofa, but oddly enough, there are none:) Any tips or suggestions from you or your readers would be most welcome!

  67. You did a fabulous job on the sofa, it looks great. I have 2 queen anne chairs I need to do as soon as the weather permits. I can’t stand the smell of paint in the house so they’ll have to go on the porch. Great job. Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us.

  68. The paint wont chip off! I did mine the exact same way two years ago and it looks the same today as it did when i first did it! Yours looks awesome! Great job!

  69. I think it looks like leather too..mainly because of the slight sheen. In person it may appear differently. I think if you did a brown or black it would really have the appearance of leather. I agree with you as for the cracking and peeling..having gotten paint on various fabrics over the years..thick and thin layers ..they never came off. It might eventually crack but I think it would take a lot of wear and even abuse for that to happen anytime soon. That sofa may have a longer life than most..

  70. Your sofa is beautiful. It looks just like leather from the pictures. I’m amazed that the floral pattern didn’t bleed through, especially since you painted white over a dark floral. So many that I have seen on Pinterest have the pattern bleeding through.

    Thanks for the tutorial. I have a chair I’ve been thinking of painting.
    Sue V.

  71. Thanks for sharing your incredible ideas. This is beautiful sofa with lovely curve. I love your posts. Your sofa is gorgeous. You did a fabulous job on the sofa, it looks great. Thanks for sharing your talent and creativity with us. I have done scenic paintings on furniture before but never seen it done like this. Thank you for the post very inspiring.

  72. OMG I cannot believe how this turned out — I LOVE IT! Now if only you had done this sooner!! LOL I had a sectional, with a custom denim cover. It was originally for my kids playroom and when we moved to the house we are in now, with no playroom, I had it in my front living room. I HATED how the denim faded, and it just looked so worn and tired. I tried dying it with RIT dye one weekend; I’m sure my neighbors thought I was a witch, in the backyard stirring huge buckets of fabric. The denim would just not take. It looked worse after the dye, now a strange purple color. After much sole searching, I just donated it to Goodwill. I so wish I knew you could paint a sofa!!!

    Love you, love your blog, love your projects 🙂

  73. Wowser did this come at the right time!! I came across your blog from Pinterest (of course) and just subscribed to your blog. I have 2 wing back chairs that I had custom made 12 years ago. The fabric has a lot of texture and I have been doing a lot of research on this very subject, anyway I went last night and bought some fabric to make for lumbar pillows and for color inspiration. I tried to find the fabric medium at Hob Lob and they were out so I’m headed to Michael s today to find some. I plan on painting the entire chair a linen color and on the back I’m going to “try” and stencil a quatrefoil pattern a taupe color which matches the material I bought for the pillows, I’m so excited to try this and you just answered any questions I was still a little unsure about…and I THANK YOU.

    I truly hope that you don’t take to heart the negative comments that some people just have to say, like other people have commented, read it, research it, whatever it takes, it surely didn’t take them that long to read through the post and you were just giving advise (which I personally appreciate so much). Like my mother always said “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say it or keep your mouth shut!”) I just want to say thanks again and I’m enjoying your blog so much and Love the tried and truth about your projects.

  74. I was reading this blog because I am abput to embark on the same project. I am wondering if mixing some Febreeze/fabric refresher in the paint mixture might cut down on the paint smell but still go on smoothly. Any thoughts?

  75. This looks amazingly good! I am looking for a solution for my family- four children 6 and under. Would you think this would work to waterproof the couch? If too scratchy, would a washable slip cover make it comfy enough?

    1. I’m pretty sure it would be waterproof, or water resistant at the least. It’s at least as water proof/resistant as outdoor canvas. A washable slipcover would definitely make it more comfy, but I think that kids probably wouldn’t mind the feel of the painted sofa.

      1. I’m thinking of doing this to my couch. My dogs have become incontinent and have had several accidents before we realized what happened. I’d also put some throws in waterproof fabric and control their access – but I think this will really help make the couch more stain and liquid resistant. Ideally, I should get a leather couch – but it’s not in the budget and this L-shaped couch is still totally fine otherwise. Thanks for the post!

  76. I painted my ugly but comfortable couch with Simply Spray fabric paint a few years ago. The fabric did not feel painted. It was great. I did it to the wingback too. I am all for refreshing when possible

  77. Years ago I painted a chair that I bought at a yard sale for $5.00, but I didn’t know to use Fabric Medium at the time. The chair turned out fine, but it was a little stiff. Recently, I added some color to a bland, earth-toned sofa by using latex fabric paints in 3 colors. The paint is holding up well even though we use the sofa every day, but I only painted small spots to add color where needed. Fabric paint, or latex paint with fabric medium works well on furniture, but I don’t know how long it will hold up. I think with enough fabric medium, it will last for years. Your sofa looks lovely, and will serve until you can buy what you truly want.

  78. Oh my! I cannot believe my eyes :O I always thought I was completely crazy about this kind of work and now I have realized that I am not so crazy and that I am not, definetely, alone. I think it is a great idea to DIY your sofa (or at least the appearance) and not having to spend so much money. The result is more than good and no one could have guessed it was handmade.

    Today on http://www.heidy.es we have a great home that used to be a church. I think you might like the result.

    Kisses from Spain

  79. Wowza!

    After searching the web and found many DIY painted couches I will trying this on a floral (I usually like floral but this one is just plain ugly) flip open couch I have at the cottage.

    I wonder if adding more fabric medium would make it softer…or maybe fabric softener mixed with water..?

  80. Thank so much! I wish I knew about this in college with all our awful mismatched furniture. I can’t wait to try this on a thrift store couch at our cabin (Of course, Hubster will have to finish gutting and fixing at least one room in the cabin first).

  81. My husband found an old, “ratty,” leather-like sofa in an old trailer that was about to be torn down. He brought it home. I took one look at it and said “NO way!” There were even rat nests in the bottom. There was no way THAT sofa was going in MY house! He insisted that it could be painted. I thought he was crazy. We went to an auto parts store and he got several paint cans of car upholstery paint and painted it! Y’all, I was ready to send him to the nuthouse! Anyway, that was at least a year ago, closer to two years. It still looks good. It did not peel or flake. It is not our favorite sofa by any means, but it gives guests another place to sit. I think it *LOOKS* really good. I don’t like sitting on it, but I think that was just the sofa itself, the way it was designed… If the above method doesn’t work for you (or if you really mess up), just go to a local auto parts store and get several cans of upholstery spray paint.

  82. Hi there! Been following you via Bloglovin for a while and was just browsing your site again. I was wondering if you have experimented painting velvet? I’ve inherited a pinky-purple chair from my mom and its extremely comfortable. But … it’s … pinky-purple.
    I’m wondering how to handle the nap. While wet, brushing it one way? or painting it then scrubbing at it with a cat brush? (I do that ([in one direction] with microfiber furniture. It removes the cat fur without damaging the microfiber. ) Something to rough up the nap to paint again?
    I could use some thoughts on this one. 🙂
    Thanks. I always enjoy your projects. Particularly how nicely this couch turned out!

    1. This was my first upholstery painting attempt, so I don’t personally have any experience with painting velvet upholstery. However, on one of the links that I saw before I did mine (I think it’s the one from Hyphen Interiors linked in the post above), the person had a whole gallery of upholstered pieces that were painted (submitted by people who used her tutorial), and I’m almost certain that at least one of them was velvet. They might have some pointers for you. Good luck! 🙂

      1. Thanks for reminding me about Hypen. I think I read them a while back.
        I’ll head over that way.
        I appreciate you getting back to me!
        Keep up the inspiring work. 🙂

  83. If you want to get latex out of your clothing, alcohol is the solvent. Soak it for as long as it takes. I got a huge blob off a pair of slacks, and it even was the kind made for fabric.

    1. I totally agree with Helen! Yes, I know exactly what it’s like to get paint on my clothes. My first success removing acrylic paint from clothes a few months ago was completely made possible by rubbing alcohol. It took a long time and a lot of diligent but careful effort, but I got a shirt back from the work bin!
      Also, very nice job on the couch! What a cool budget solution! I know allllll about trying to fix up a disastrous couch with just a few dollars to spend.

  84. Just one question, what was the total amount of Fabric medium you used?? The best I can find is 8 oz for 5.99 at Hobby Lobby?? I know you said you used 2 cups, (which would be 2 bottles) but you didn’t say how much you ultimately ended up mixing, (or I missed it).
    Thanks for this wonderful idea, not only do I have a small microfiber loveseat I would like to try it on, but We also have an RV camper with horrid fabric covered valances and bench surrounds that could use a freshening up.

      1. Thanks Kristi, that helps, Don’t have a Michael’s close, but Hobby Lobby has the same stuff, and a 40% off coupon. 🙂 So it shouldn’t be too bad. Thanks again!!

  85. when you say “sand” in between coats–what grit? did you use a sheet of paper, a block of sandpaper could you elaborate? Thanks, i love it I have a damask sofa I bought for $75 with beautiful lines and walnut trim…can’t wait!!!

  86. I have a brown suede couch and I got it from some family and the arms are really dirty and almost black. Do you think paint would work on suede as well. I currently have a couch cover over it but it constantly needs readjusting due to my bf, dog and kids crawling all over the couch. I would love to try this idea. I didnt mind the before, but love the after!

  87. Do you think this could be done with slipcovers? I have a couple of chairs I got 2nd hand and they are the old storehouse brand so I can’t buy new slipcovers for them. The covers are in good shape, just not a color I like. I’d love to paint them an aqua/light teal color. Heck, guess I should just try it and see what happens.

  88. Just wanted to let others know I painted my outdoor cushions with Valspar Signature flat paint mixed with fabric medium in a two to one ratio. It takes three coats no matter what you do. It still has a bit of sheen to it that I wish I could have compensated for somehow since outdoor fabric is not usually shiny. The third coat is definitely the sheeny one though but it was necessary to cover a wild pattern. Still looks a thousand percent better though and seems very durable. We are letting it cure for a month before we ask others to sit on it!

  89. Over the years my mother and I used clothes dye (Rit brand) to dye large area rugs and also furniture. Just mixed as directed and used a vegetable brush to work the dye into the material and then let it dry. Always did this outside so didn’t have to worry about getting the dye on anything. For furniture we would put an old sheet over it for a while to keep the excess from rubbing onto clothing. Would change the sheet until it no longer picked up any of the color from the furniture. The change of color lasted forever.

  90. If you like this style sofa you could also splurge on an Ikea Ektorp 3-cushion sofa for $339 on sale $399 regular. It comes with the washable, soft and creamy cotton twill slipcover in Blekinge white, included. Extra slipcovers in this fabric are $60, or your could really splurge on any number of other fabrics and colors. They hold their value well for resale, also. I do not think anyone would pay for a painted sofa. If you do not live near Ikea, Ikea’s truck delivery is prohibitive, to me. If lucky, you will find a business that specializes in Ikea delivery runs, if you cannot carry it back yourself.

  91. You have done an amazing job. It wont peel off even if you take a sander and try to do it. but here is another idea for your next project. just when you are done and you want to through the sofa away. Take a brush and dip into a different colour and just splash on it randomly. dip in another colour and splash and continue doing it with different colours. you can either limit this to few colours and use them as and accent colour to other furniture you have at home or just go as many colours as possible. I can imagine the result would be a nice piece of art. then you wouldn’t want to through away your sofa for few more years.

  92. What a great project! In October you said the fabric was still holding up well. We use our three seat chenille couch everyday. Do you have any thoughts on how well painted chenille will hold up to daily use? And, have you had any luck painting/dying leather chairs?

  93. Hi Kristi – Love the paint job you did on this couch. Would really like to know how it’s holding up under normal family conditions. Any chance of an update?

  94. Test of time? Still in decent shape? This is pretty amazing. I have done some crazy things but never thought about paint on a sofa. It didn’t crack up?

  95. Im thinking about doing this but does this change the comfort and feel of the sofa or does it feel like plastic (paint) ? Also where did you find your paint and how much were the cost of the material? thank you so much !!

  96. I tried painting a couch and it was a total failure!! All it did was soak into the fabric and did not change the original color after 2 heavy coats. Now, I just want to get it all off!! Any suggestions??

  97. Sounds like a great way to get “new” furniture without emptying bank account. I have a few questions. Should I deep clean my furniture first? Do I paint it with the covers on cushions or remove? I have a dark red , beige and gold fabric so will I have to paint with a dark color or can I go with a light color? Why did you suggest not to use it for family room with a lot of use? I don’t have small children that would be using it like a trampoline. .lol. .but it does get used every day by whole family since we don’t have any other furniture.

  98. Wow. Looks like a cream leather one. I’ve been looking how to get my dyed to change the colour fro cream to dark grey. It’s so expensive. In the UK we have a company will do it for you – but it is almost the same price as getting new covers.

    I’ll chart the change on my blog 😉


  99. QUESTION: My cushion covers are removable, were yours? it looks like you painted the cushions with the foam inside, it seems like that would make the cover stick to the filling, making it hard to remove them after.

    1. You’re correct. If you want them to be removable after painting, you’ll need to put plastic or wax paper between the fabric and cushion while painting, and then remove it after the paint is dry.

  100. Hi! I know this is SUPER late, but how well did this stay? Painting a room, but the couch is still good, so if it holds up well, I might as well keep it!

  101. I’m so stoked about trying this on an old micro fiber couch that I got at a resale shop. We are full time RVers and use it outside and I’m sick of bringing in the cushions every time it rains. Do you think it will withstand a downpour? What about about adding some poly in the mix? Thanks for the great ideas!

  102. I would love to get an update on the couch since it has been over a year since you painted it. I also would like to know why you wouldn’t to this to a couch you would use every day?

  103. I was wondering on paint, medium, water amounts. You say 2:2:1 ratios. Exactly how much of each am I suppose to use?!


  104. Hey! I did it and my couch now looks amazing! But it’s very stiff. I tried to sand a small section and it was turning the paint kind of white….(the couch was light grey and I painted it dark grey). I’m using very fine sandpaper 220 grit. Do you have any suggestions? I want it to be a bit softer but don’t want to ruin my hard work with white-ish streaks and marks from the sandpaper!


  105. Hi
    I was just wondering how your sofa has fared two years later? I’m thinking of doing this to ours which is in desperate need of a makeover.

  106. Thank you so much! This is incredible. I actually just googled “can I paint a couch” never really thinking it could be done, and I found your blog! Your couch looks amazing! I’m going to give it a try on a couch I have had for 25 years and hate. You inspire me! One question, do you ever sit on it? It sounds like, from other comments, that a painted couch seems pretty durable. Thanks again!

  107. Now that we’re 2.5 years after you completed this project, I am very curious to learn how this couch is holding up.

    My wife and I frequent thrift stores looking for cool mid-century modern furniture to fix up. We found a cool chair that has ugly upholstery, but it’s upholstered in such a way that we’d need to be much more skilled and well-equipped in order to re-upholster it. This would be an absolutely perfect solution since it’s not a chair we use frequently and it’s going to be much cheaper than taking it to be re-upholstered professionally.

    I have a couch in my office that also doesn’t get much use, but it has a hole in the seat. I think I could manage to patch the hole well enough that painting over it would hide the patch. Maybe I’d want to just recover the whole seat beforehand to ensure it looks consistent…who knows.

    Anyway, hope to hear back soon; we’re clearing out some space int he garage for winter projects and this one is about to jump to the top of the list.


    1. I actually got rid of it just about three weeks ago. I no longer had room for it, but it still looked great! It’s interesting having a couch that you can literally clean with Windex, but it’s very touch and holds up really well.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me! I’ll see if I can remember to check back in once I’ve completed the project. 🙂

        One more question: would you do this again?

        1. Yes, I would. I would never paint my main sofa in my family room, or any other sofa or chair that is used on a regular basis in a place where I or someone else likes to get comfy for long period of time (i.e., main sofa, reading chair, etc.). But I wouldn’t hesitate to paint a chair or sofa that wasn’t used often, or one that was in a playroom where kiddos are really hard on it, etc.

  108. Hey there,

    this was one of the first tutorials I saw about painting a couch and it’s the one that actually convinced me to give this method a try. The only thing is that I wasn’t sure about the latex paint and because I was going to use the said couch regularly, I needed a better solution, one where I don’t risk cracking or anything like that. So I bought fabric paint. I don’t know why no one ever thought about this. I read many tutorials and in most of the cases people used latex paint or chalk paint. Well, let me tell you that fabric paint works incredibly well!

    I bought a 1 liter of my desired shade and mixed it with 500 ml of fabric medium, just to be sure. It was more than enough for 2 layers and my couch is a really big one. I’m so happy with how it turned out and after 2 months, it still looks perfect. It doesn’t crack, come off, flake or anything.

    People should give that a try too! Because everyone I saw using latex said it’s not great for using frequently. And if a couch is not for sitting on it, then why paint it in the first place ?

    1. Lots of people have used fabric medium for upholstery for years, and have posted their examples on the Internet. I had bookmarks that went back to over 10 years. Many people have also used straight fabric paint and fabric spray paint. The problem is it is either too expensive, or not available in large enough quantities. Some who have used it, prefer to do their own mix.

  109. Hi my names Antonio. I have a suggestion for you for next time you do this. Just use latex paint and give it a lot 4-5 coats like you did then use Minwax Polycrylic to put a sheen on it. They even have matte too I’m an artist myself.

  110. Why wouldn’t you do this to a couch that you use everyday? I love our big comfy sofa, but I hate the ugly Dark brown fabric. I really want to figure out a way to change its look up so I don’t have to replace it. If this wouldn’t make sense, do you have any other suggestions?

    1. It’s just not comfortable enough to do it to a sofa that’s used by the family every day. The only other option would be slipcovers, but with kids, they’re a nightmare to keep tucked in a looking good unless you pay for custom made slipcovers, in which case they cost more than having a sofa reuphosltered.

  111. The water in a spray bottle makes it work more like a dye than paint. The process takes more coats but ironically less paint. If you rub the paint in really well and dont allow it to sit on the surface (easier to do when you use water), then it will retain its soft comfy feel even on velvet.

  112. Maybe it could fade but not easily. I used a combination of Murphy’s oil, and coconut oil with a deck brush to get dried latex paint out of one of my daughters super fancy dresses. (That was on my day out… so that’s what happens with other adult supervision.) It was all over it. It took hours to get out, and the dress is perfect now. Probably not worth the effort normally though. 🙂

    Laugh about it now. 🙂

  113. I loved it BEFORE you painted it! It was almost perfect! Just what I’m looking for! Can’t stand anything beige. I am so tired of neutral colors. I want color! I chalk painted an ugly grayish green wing chair into a beautiful very berry and I love it now!

  114. I clicked on your link above and it just took me to a site where it said my phone was compromised and something about a hacker, you might want to check it out.

  115. I just your entire post it was that well written. Thanks for a very thorough explanation. I’m curious how long the couch lasted and what it looked like since I’m assuming you no longer have it now. Thanks. Gina, DC

  116. So excited to find your blog. Goodness! You’ve done an amazing job with your house. I love the detail you put into everything. In my younger days I did nice DIY work, but don’t have the dexterity or energy these days. Your blog might be my inspiration to get going again!

  117. Ok so as u prolly know by now I’ve been an avid follower since way back when (u know ur addicted when u see an ebay listing photo & KNOW what blog it was stolen from ;)…..somehow I completely missed this when you did it!

    Wondering how long you ended up keeping the couch & how it all turned out w/ use? I still see ppl doing this quite often & I’ve always cringed thinking there’s gotta be something that goes wrong over time, but then again – hand painted fabric & wallpapers have lasted for hundreds of years n my paint clothes have lasted a few decades as well haha!

  118. Your post from years ago inspired me to paint my old, worn out loveseat and chair- and now I am planning to paint my sofa white too- as soon as the weather warms up so I can open my windows, lol.
    I used Waverly White Chalk from Walmart, mixed with Kilz white chalk paint, and Walmart’s ColorPlace white interior satin, with some water mixed in as well. It took four coats but was worth it! I just put down a huge drop cloth under my furniture and the various cushions and went to work- leaving windows open and fans running. Let it dry 4 hours or more between coats. No sanding, but I did sand off/remove any loose threads or the hideous spots where my cats had ripped the fabric. Hey, they no longer have any interest in ripping at the furniture, lol. My loveseat and chair were a sort of damask floral weave, the sofa is a tighter navy blue poly sort of thing, so we will see how this works. Not thinking velours/velvets would work well with painting?
    What I really love is stains and various marks just wipe off with a damp cloth, maybe a little dish detergent, and in serious cases, I saved my paint blend to do touch ups.

  119. Ahhh. Very interesting! I, too, fixed my leather couch. It was torn by my four cats, however, with some ingenuity, it came out great. The original paint had worn off to the bare leather. There were also torn areas. All came out well. What I want to share…I only painted the cushions and sides. I went to Lowes with a sample color to match it up and they were able to put it into a machine run by computers and the color came out PERFECT matching that area I did not paint. Took a little sanding and gluing, but it looks (not brand new) but certainly good enough for our den. Being it is a sleeper it is still very usful.

  120. Wow! Your sofa is gorgeous!And your instructions were so clear and easy for a DIY gal like me! Thanks so much!!!