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Lessons Learned Creating a Faux Leather Finish

Lessons Learned Creating a Faux Leather Finish

My beloved grandfather taught me many things, including how to mindful, crafty and repurpose whenever possible. One of my favorite memories is that of my grandfather lovingly helping me to sew curtains. Upon his passing, I certainly couldn’t let go of his vintage Singer sewing machine and the stool paired with it.  The sewing machine is a classic, the stool not so much. Formerly a deep brown Naugahyde cushion and mahogany legs, the sewing stool was dark and uninviting. I wanted to add warmth and the more relaxed feel of aged leather, reminiscent of the man it belonged to.

Stool Before

Creating the look of tan leather on the seat cushion took several layers of paint, a bit of experimentation and patience.  The base color I selected was Arles Chalk Paint and the first coat, painted with a flat brush, went on quite streaky.  To replicate the natural contours of an aged leather chair and conceal the original fabric texture, a round brush was required. I also learned that its best to apply the paint with stippling and uneven strokes, transversely in alternating directions.

The next step was to add color variation. After the Arles light-colored base, I added medium grade colors for definition: Honfleur and Primer Red.  I used a blotting action with the brush and painted with the two colors simultaneously, creating a color blend.

Once dry, I sanded the painted fabric with ultra-fine 800 grit sandpaper.  Sanding helped to remove demarcation between colors and created a smoother texture. A moniker was added. Finally, I topped it off with a layer of Clear Wax and just a touch of Dark Wax for added depth.

The legs were painted with Amsterdam Green and a custom mint color, then sealed with Clear Wax.

Lessons Learned

  • Use water or a biodegradable soap to clean. Make sure you rinse off the soap completely before you start painting.
  • Painting too thickly may cause it to crackle. Keep a container with water nearby and thin the paint by dipping the brush in water, then the paint.
  • Start with a round or oval shaped brush (no flat brushes).
  • Use sandpaper after you have applied the paint to smooth and soften. Be sure to wipe with a towel before applying your clear wax.
  • Repurposing furniture not only saves natural resources and money but saves memories as well.