Living Room

Painted Sofa Update (13 Months Later)

Last Updated on December 24, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

Well, we didn’t actually get any ceilings drywalled yesterday.  We spent most of the morning working on small projects here and there, and then we had to clear out an area in the sunroom (which I’ve been using as my workroom over the last two months during all of the rain we’ve had) so that we could unload the drywall.  So I didn’t even head to Home Depot to pick up the drywall until around 2:00pm.  That trip took quite a while because I needed 50 sheets (!!) of 5/8″ drywall, so I had to wait for the forklift to be available, then it took a while to load in the truck…

50 sheets of drywall loaded in the truck

…and it took even longer to get it unloaded from the truck and stacked in the sunroom.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to lift a finger for that part.  My neighbor stopped by to offer us his drywall screw gun, and stuck around to help my father-in-law unload the truck while I sat and watched…or, you know…supervised.  😀  I’m so used to doing everything on my own that it felt very strange sitting there and watching while others did the work, but I could probably get used to that quite easily!  🙂

So hopefully today is the day that we’ll actually make some drywall progress.  I really hope so, because I added one more room to our ambitious goal.  I decided I want to drywall the ceiling in the sunroom and get rid of that awful drop down acoustic tile ceiling that’s in there now.  That stuff belongs in an office building (if that), but not in a residential home.  And while I’ll only gain about two or three inches of height, I think getting rid of the metal grid, which draws attention right to the ceiling, and replacing it with smooth, seamless drywall will make it kind of disappear.  Even though we’ll eventually be tearing down the sunroom and rebuilding, I decided the couple of hundred dollars of drywall, and the time invested, will be worth it in the interim since we’ll probably have to live with the current sunroom for about four years (and possibly longer) while we’re saving up for our huge remodel.

Anyway, enough about drywall.  🙂

While I was trying to get the house clean and ready for my father-in-law’s visit last week, and I was wiping down my painted sofa, I thought it might be a good idea for me to give y’all an update on how it’s holding up, especially since that project is among the top five projects that I receive the most questions about.

So just as a reminder, I bought the sofa for $100 from a consignment store with the intention of reupholstering it for my front living room.  When I bought it, it had this hideous floral fabric on it.

I never could decide how I wanted to reupholster it, and now in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t waste the time and money since I’ll be turning that front living room into a dining room!  So since I couldn’t make a decision, but didn’t want to look at that hideous fabric anymore, I decided on a whim to paint it.

It took me one weekend to get it finished.

People warned me that it would stink to high heaven, that it would crack, that it would peel, etc.  So how has it held up over the last year?

Perfectly.  It looks exactly the same today as it did the day I took the photo above right after I painted it.  Here’s a picture I took of it two days ago.  I took the picture at night, and my front room has horrible lighting, but you can see that the sofa is still in great shape.

painted sofa one year later

So here are the answers to the questions I get the most:

Do you actually use the sofa?

Yep.  I sit on it regularly, and I’ve also taken naps on it.  My animals also sit on it, including my big 70-pound dog with the big claws, and they haven’t caused any damage to it at all.

Does the paint chip or peel at all?

Nope, not a bit.  There’s not one single spot on the sofa where there’s any chipped or peeling paint.  I used latex paint, so it’s very pliable.  Plus, the textile conditioner helped it to really sink down into the fabric, so it’s there for good.

Does it stink?

I had to laugh at how many people thought it would stink with paint fumes or be toxic.  That depends completely on the paint that you use.  I used regular Behr paint on mine, which has no odor and contains zero VOC’s.  It does not have, and never has had, a smell to it, stinky or otherwise.  It’s perfectly safe to sit on, and I would venture to say it’s actually much safer to sit on than upholstered furniture that’s been sprayed with Scotchgard or other stain-preventing chemicals.

Is it easy to clean?

It’s amazingly easy to clean.  For spot cleaning, like when my dog got on it with muddy paws, or when my cat threw up on it, I literally spray it with Windex, wipe it with a paper towel, and it cleans right off.  For all over cleaning (which is necessary every so often with as much sawdust and mess as I create with my projects), I mix up some water, baking soda, and white vinegar, and wipe it down with a rag.  If there are any mystery marks on it, I scrub them off with the rag, and the paint holds up perfectly.

Is it comfortable to sit on?

Well, it’s a painted sofa, painted with latex paint, so it’s basically a sofa covered in a plasticized rubbery product.  🙂  It’s not uncomfortable to sit on, but it’s not really something that you’d sink into on a regular basis to curl up and read a book, or take your weekly Sunday afternoon nap on.  I have taken naps on it, and I’ve been perfectly comfortable, but you just have to manage your expectations.  What does it feel like?  Well, if you were to take thick, heavy outdoor canvas and soft vinyl and combine them into one fabric, that’s kind of how I’d describe the feel of this sofa.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely!  I think it’s a fantastic interim solution for people who are stuck with a hideous sofa and don’t yet have the money to replace it.  It’s very inexpensive, it’s relatively quick and easy to do, and it’s incredibly durable.  I think it could easily last for two or three years (or indefinitely, really) while someone saves up for a new sofa.

Would I want it as a permanent piece in my home?  Nope.  Absolutely not.  I would only use it as a temporary piece while saving up for what I want.  But with that goal in mind, I wouldn’t hesitate to cover up hideous upholstery with paint.

Any other tips or thoughts?

I think that the easiest fabric to paint is cotton upholstery fabric.  I did try to paint a chair that was covered in an old upholstery fabric with a velvety texture.  It did not work.  The chair was orange, and I tried to paint it light green.  Not only did the color not cover the original orange (after four coats of paint!), but the fabric became hard and kind of crunchy (to be fair, the upholstery was so old that it was kind of crunchy to begin with) and the velvety texture became very rough to the touch once the paint dried.  So in my experience, I’d stick with the upholstery cotton or similar fabrics that are smooth and have no texture or nap to them.

I think that covers the most asked questions, but if I’ve left out some info, don’t hesitate to ask!

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I have a super matchy matchy set of 2 couches and a square ottoman and I have considered painting the ottoman to bring a little color into the room. But it’s a cheap leather look set and I don’t think the paint would soak in. Do you think it would work or would it be better to go with a fabric cover to make the room more interesting?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I like both before and afters , but for some reason, the floral fabric was the one I loved the most. I am into “vintage” fabric styles and that sofa would have been perfect in my living room as I am planning my next project, which is the living room and the basement family room 🙂 You can’t find that style any longer and I so love it! The blue would have been fabulous with my plans 🙂 I have to start checking out consignment shops again I guess!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 21, 2015 at 10:10 am

      I like the original fabric too. It was pretty.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Krisi's mom
      April 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      I don’t know if Kristi ever mentioned it, but the floral fabric was faded and old looking on the cushions and the back. You probably would not have wanted it either as it looked when she bought it. It was probably very pretty when it was new. It is definitely a very sturdy sofa.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 27, 2015 at 6:53 am

        Oh, could not see that. I have been combing consignment and goodwill shops for a few weeks, found one, but it was in poor condition and they were asking $150.00 for it, the cushions were pretty sagging and hardly worth the asking price, they probably could have been redone, but $150 for a saggy couch, naaaa, I’ll pass. So sad. There is another shop I haven’t been to as of yet, but think the sofa will have to wait as we now have to replace a 2 year old pedestal sink in my kids bathroom as they have cracked the sink portion (so angry, but more with myself for putting that type in their bathroom) I need to buy a new one as they now don’t have a sink to use in their bathroom 🙁 I can wait a few months to start my living room, have plenty to do!

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          Annie W
          June 29, 2015 at 3:56 pm

          Please do checkout under Free. I found a mid century teak sofa for free and it is beautiful. Another free Dux sofa which needs to be refurnished.
          Or check out Habitate Restore – Not free but very reasonably priced items! Scored mine for dirt cheap…

          Good Luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

    I wish I had thought of this when I was in college with a horrible pink floral couch. It really is a great temp solution!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheila F.
    April 21, 2015 at 10:27 am

    How sweet that your neighbor helped out! You deserve a little help now and again. I agree with making the sun room workable for you. This is a space that you should make decent until you can remodel.Be safe and may you drywall go smoothly!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mary Fernandez
    April 21, 2015 at 10:37 am

    What happened to the bathroom remodel ???

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Did you steam clean the couch beforehand? Would it matter if the fabric had any existing stains?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 10:43 am so gld that you’ve had some has to be hard for one person to do all that heavy lifting and hard labor…im amazed at what you are able to pull off…so glad youve had help this week…you are such a little trooper!!!! things are looking just wonderful and that couch is so pretty….keep showing us your latest ideas…I miss you when u arent on here!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I keep getting the giggles over the drop-down acoustic tiles, and keep meaning to say something. My grandfather owned a house in Illinois that was built in 1912. He remodeled everything except the kitchen, which really could have used it. One of the “improvements” that he made was to put in those drop-down acoustic tiles in the living room. They completely took away the wonderful high ceilings and all the character that the room had….
    After he died, and my grandmother was in a nursing home (she couldn’t take care of herself), one of my cousins moved in, and the first thing he and his wife did was remove those ceiling tiles. The other “improvements” couldn’t be reversed, but at least the living room had character and personality again.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I’d been wondering also how the couch was holding up and it looks great and sounds like its doing well. That is great!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lisa E
    April 21, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Wow, so glad you have help with such a big project and definitely happy your neighbor was there to lend a helping hand. You so deserve it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I read another blog about painting a velveteen ottoman, using the same technique. But she sanded down the painted fabric between coats and she said it felt a bit like suede.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Joanna Ainscough
    April 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Really! You amazed me about the idea painting to get the new sofa, Kristi. I went back to the post that you painted the sofa and understood more about the instruction. Yes, it looks waaaaaay better than that floral sofa you got at the first place. You were really brave to finish this big project.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I’m glad you mentioned about the velvety chair, since the chair I was considering painting is indeed velvety! And golden. Guess I’ll stick it on Craigslist 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    When painting fabric I wouldn’t hesitate to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint- even on velvet. There are tutorials on line.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    For all over cleaning (which is necessary every so often with as much sawdust and mess as I create with my projects), I mix up some water, baking soda, and white vinegar, and wipe it down with a rag.

    Mixing vinegar and baking soda creates a neutralization reaction which only yields salt and water.
    You are better off using one or the other, not both.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 21, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I agree that the sofa looks great, but I do notice the slight sheen it has. Could I use a different paint that didn’t leave it looking quite so shiny and still be able to clean it? What do you think?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2015 at 12:31 am


    I just LOVE your blog.

    As usual, the topic of your post was very timely. We just bought a used 36-ft motor home that we plan to renovate and travel/live in until we find a place we want to buy down South. The big issue with “Blue Lulu” as I call her, is this thin, carpet-like fabric on the ceiling which is badly stained from roof leaks that were repaired long before we bought it. I would have to remove every cabinet in the RV to remove that ceiling fabric and the thought of replacing it makes me shudder – there are vents and fans and light fixtures every couple of feet that would have to be removed and cut around. The other night I was sitting in the RV staring at the ceiling wondering what the heck I can do to make it look better when your blog about the painted sofa popped into my mind and I immediately got excited about the possibility of painting the ceiling – AND also a section of dated fabric around the slide out edge that I can’t figure out how to remove. I recently used Zinsser shellac primer/sealer to cover a badly stained popcorn ceiling at my late father’s house. It went on great and we followed up with a coat of ceiling white over the primer. Do you think that same approach would work on the RV ceiling? I would use regular latex paint with fabric medium added for the upholstered area around the slide out but do you think I should also add fabric medium to the primer for the ceiling? Or just try the Zinsser BIN by itself? I appreciate any tips/advice.

    Your blog has been hugely inspiring as we spent the last 7 months renovating my dad’s place so we could settle his estate. Thanks to you I tackled projects I never would have tried and when we were done the place looked beautiful and we received 5 offers within 3 days of putting the house on the market – two of them well above the asking price.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Wow, very interesting! Thanks for sharing more information about what paint you used for the sofa. Great idea, especially for someone who wants to save up for a new sofa!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lesley Ann
    April 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Hi kristi, glad the sofa held up because I want to paint a chair. Can you tell me where to get the textile conditioner? maybe it’s something I need to order online as I’ve had no luck in finding it where I live.
    Glad your father in law is there to give you a hand for a few days. Can’t wait to see what you guys accomplish. Oh and I love the hutch and dinning table. I love your idea of having the dinning room in your now living room. Just can’t believe you got to go through your newly tiled wall. But it totally makes sense. Cheers

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gillian Rowley
    April 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for the tip! I have never considered painting a sofa. Can you paint any material?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 27, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Wow I never knew that you could paint a sofa. I should have read this article about 6 months ago. I might have saved a ton of money if I did.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 12, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Love your site…. So MANY ideas….. Wondering about painting cushions for covered porch furniture- all different designs- would love a coordinated color scheme- they would be exposed to weather changes but not rain(covered)….. Live in Mississippi with major humidity.