Painting a Fabric Ottoman

Hey y’all! Is it just me or is it rough getting back into the swing of things after a long weekend? I’m having an especially hard time catching up after being sick last week. Thankfully we’re halfway through the work week and we get a quiet weekend at home in a few short days. Anyway, that’s why I’ve been a little slower in posting this week but I’m determined to stick with it. 🙂 I’ve kind of been in a “knock it off the to-do list” frame of mind lately. I shared last week about my attempt to make a doorstop that turned into a paperweight, and I’ve got a handful of other projects ready to start or already underway. It’s been on my to-do list for a while to try painting an ottoman in the living room. Yep – painting an ottoman. I’m planning on doing a better post on the whole living room later, but let me just say that I’m trying move from bright (“forget how ugly the condo used to be”) colors to a calmer, more relaxed feel. Specifically, I need to get some of the red out of the living room. When I first moved 5 years ago, I bought a red ottoman from Target for some extra storage in the living room. Over the years it has held up well, despite getting smudged with paint and a little faded. Here is the ottoman in the living room (L) and a close-up of the stray paint smudge (this picture is closer to the actual color – less vibrant) (R)-

Ottoman Before    Ottoman Before

I knew that I wasn’t really happy with the ottoman anymore but I wasn’t ready to get rid of it because I still wanted the storage. When I ran across this post from Hyphen Interiors, I was thought that painting the ottoman may be a fun alternative! An inexpensive, relatively quick project? I’m in! pinterest Based on the post from Hyphen Interiors, I gathered up the necessary supplies –

  • Latex satin paint  (I used leftover paint from our office – Lucerne by Benjamin Moore)
  • Latex satin paint
  • Spray bottle full of water
  • Paint brush (I used a small one but it shouldn’t make a big difference.)
  • Fabric medium to keep the fabric soft (I tried to get this at Michael’s, but they only had itty-bitty bottles so I got mine off  Amazon.)


  • Acrylic craft paint (This should match the latex paint; I couldn’t find one that matched exactly so I just got blue and turquoise and mixed them.)
  • Sand paper with a very fine grit
  • Just as a side note – in the Hyphen Interiors they mentioned that you can attempt the entire process with just latex OR just acrylic craft paint.

So I emptied the blankets out of the ottoman and took it outside to the deck along with all of the supplies. I wiped the ottoman off with a damp rag to make sure that there was no dirt or grime. Ottoman Before The next steps involve mixing paint and fabric medium. It threw me for a loop that I was going to have to get equal parts paint and fabric medium – I didn’t want to put that stuff in my good measuring cups! Well, finally it dawned on me. I grabbed an old crystal light container out of the recycling bin and washed it out thoroughly. I poured one cup of water into it, and marked where it fell with a Sharpie. Since I was also going to need to mix in half as much water, I poured in 1/2 cup of water and marked that spot as well. Makes sense, right? This gave me an easy way to get the right proportions of paint, fabric medium, and water! Measuring Liquids

  • The next step in the process is to mix equal parts latex paint and fabric medium. I used 1 cup of each.

Paint Paint

  • Next, I watered down the paint/textile medium mixture with half as much water as paint. I had used 1 cup each of paint and fabric medium, so I used 1/2 cup of water.  
  • I stirred this all together in a bucket and it was pretty watery. I definitely agree with the Hyphen Interiors post – it looks more like a stain than a paint.
  • Next, I used the spray bottle to wet the entire ottoman. I got it pretty damp and rubbed it in a little bit so that the water was not sitting on top. It wasn’t dripping wet, but it was thoroughly damp.

Ottoman Wet

  • Once the fabric was wet, I brushed the paint mixture onto the ottoman. I started with the lid/top and then moved on to the bottom. I blended the paint in as best I could but I definitely kept this coat thin and did not worry about getting the red covered on the first try. I did make sure to not leave obvious brush strokes and to not leave any marks going against the grain of the fabric.
  • I tried to not panic when it looked rough

Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process

  • I let that first coat dry overnight.
  • The next day, I sprayed the ottoman with water again and did a second coat. After the second coat, it started looking a little better –

Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process

  •  I saw how much better the ottoman looked after the 2nd coat so I decided to break the rules and do a 3rd coat with this paint mixture. I rationalized that red is a hard color to cover so I just needed some more “primer” coat. I made sure to spray the ottoman with water again before the 3rd coat.

Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process

  • The third coat made a big difference, but as you can tell in the picture above, it didn’t cover the red up completely.
  • Before moving onto the next coat, I lightly sanded the ottoman. I went with the grain of the fabric and focused on areas that seemed a little rough. I used another damp rag to clean off any dust or debris.
  • Next, I mixed acrylic paint in a 1 to 1 ratio with the fabric medium, just like with the latex paint. Because I couldn’t find an acrylic color close to the Lucerne color, I mixed royal blue, turquoise, and a little bit of black to try to get it right. Once I got that to look right, I dumped it in the bucket and added the same amount of fabric medium.
  • I used about 1 cup of each, but if you are mixing colors, I would recommend mixing the paint and getting the color right, and then measuring the same amount of fabric medium. It would be too difficult to try to get the color matched while worrying about getting to an exact amount to match the fabric medium.

Ottoman in Process

  • I added just a little bit of water (a couple of tablespoons?) to this paint mixture and stirred it thoroughly.
  • I sprayed the ottoman with water again, but by this point the fabric was starting to get a little bit “crunchy.”
  • The last layer of paint was thicker, but that was in line with what the Hyphen Interiors instructions indicated so I wasn’t too concerned. This layer was more generous and covered up all of the remaining red.

Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process Ottoman in Process I let the ottoman dry outside overnight before I brought it inside and put it back in the living room. Ottoman - After

Ottoman - After

Ottoman - After Painting a Fabric Ottoman - So there you have it! The final product is shiny from the latex paint, which gives it almost a plastic-looking finish, but not it’s not that noticeable. Overall, I’m really happy with it! If you’re going to try this at home, keep in mind that mixing the paint with the fabric medium makes the color a lot lighter. I wish that I had darkened it along the way so that the end result was closer to Lucerne. What do y’all think?


I’m linking up with The Girl Creative, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Carrie This Home (Frugal Crafty Home), It’s Overflowing, DIY Show Off, Home Stories A to Z, Domestically Speaking, 36th Avenue, Thirty Handmade Days, and Homemade Ginger.

  • Kristy Swain

    Looks great! Thanks for linking back. It’s interesting that you got the sheen. I wonder if it has anything to do with the sheen of the latex combined with the fabric. I didn’t have that result. Still looks great though!

    • Helen

      Thanks, Kristy! Your tutorial was incredible and easy to follow along. I think that you’re right about the sheen – I think it’s the combination of the latex and the fabric. The fabric wasn’t plush to start with so I don’t think it could absorb a lot of paint. Does that make sense? I’m still happy with how it came out. 🙂

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  • Carrie This Home

    Thank you so much for linking this up to Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop! We open a new party every Sunday night at 8 Central time & I’d love to see you back!

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  • Carrie This Home

    Congratulations! Your post was featured at the Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop! Check it out and grab a button!

    • Helen

      Wow! Thanks, Carrie! I’m so honored! 🙂

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  • wanda ll

    My main question is? Is it hard and plastic feeling or does it fell like material? I’ve got to winged back chair I’m thinking of doing and don’t won’t them rough and hard. Would like a smooth but not scratchey feeling. Thanks

    • Helen

      My fabric came out pretty hard and plastic-y feeling, but I think it depends on what your starting fabric is. I think that if the fabric starts off softer (like a velvet or other plush fabric) then it will come out softer in the end. Mine was just cotton so it couldn’t absorb too much paint and ended up crunchier than you would probably want. I hope that helps!

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  • Chelsea

    This is awesome! I had no idea you could even do that. Now I can buy ugly furniture at garage sales!

    • Helen

      Yeah!! As long as the fabric is good quality (no rips or tears), it’s worth considering because you can paint over ugly! 🙂