Adventures in Painting Upholstery

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric mediumOver the weekend I tried my hand at painting upholstery for the first time. It was a great experience, and today I'm here to share all the details with you! 

Years ago I saw an artsy painted couch in the dressing room of a retail store. From a distance, I could tell it was painted and was immediately curious about both the process and the finished result. When I touched the couch, it was hard as a rock. When I sat on it, it was stiff and made a crinkly sound—as if I were sitting on plastic. As cute as it was, I realized that it wasn't something I'd want in my own home, and from a comfort standpoint, the couch was ruined. 

That little experience has lived in the back of my mind ever since, and every time I come across an upholstery painting tutorial online, I cringe a little and feel like the article is trying to "catfish" me. 

So you might be wondering what changed my mind.

I was 100% sure that these tutorials suggesting to paint uphostery with wall paint were bogus. I mean, it would probably end up looking good, but would it be functional? That's kinda important, right? After I read a few more extensive tutorials (this being the best one) about combining fabric medium with latex paint, I decided it was worth a try! 

Before + AfterBefore we begin, it's important to note that the couch I chose to paint was damaged. Jeremy acquired it when we had our vintage store and he worked in the space above. It had some major staining that we tried all our tricks to remove unsuccessfully. When he was preparing to move to his new studio, he was planning to donate this, and I told him I wanted to try painting upholstery, so we kept it just for this project. 

This is not a tutorial that I would recommend for a brand new couch. Reupholstering would obviously be the first choice for a lot of furniture, but since this is a small bench (i.e., not large enough to be a functional living room couch) with damaged caning (another super expensive thing to fix professionally), and it lives in the sunroom of his studio (not super high traffic), we had nothing to lose. So, we went for it! 

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium 1. You'll need a stained or ugly colored piece of furniture with lightly textured upholstery (you wouldn't want to try this method on a fuzzy, vinyl, or leather piece).

2. Supplies needed: flat latex paint (I bought one quart and had some leftover), fabric/textile medium and paint brushes (you can see here that I started out with a foam brush, but I quickly switched—see below).

3. Mix fabric medium and latex paint. You'll need 1 part fabric medium and 2 parts paint. Don't freak out if it looks crazy at first (see above); it takes a bit to mix in!

4. When the paint and medium are completely combined, you are ready to paint. 

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium  Before you begin painting, use a spray bottle or damp rag to get the fabric just a little bit damp (but not very wet). 

5. If you have a fear of painting the fabric, go ahead and mess it up real good like I did. Commit yourself! ;)

6. You can see here that with thin coats of paint the fabric's texture is completely maintained. 

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium   7-8. You're probably curious about how long this process took me: Only about 3 1/2 hours, with a break for drying in between (for a couple hours with a fan facing the couch). I completed this, start to finish, in just one afternoon. First, go over the entire couch quickly. If you have a lot of tufts, like I did, save them for last. Then go over the piece once more, checking for missed spots. Then let your first coat dry for several hours. Mine dried enough for coat two in about 2-3 hours. Thin coats dry faster. It's also important for the coats to be fairly thin because that will ultimately make your coach more comfortable and less stiff.

9. Halfway through the first coat, I switched to this 1 1/2" paint brush instead of the foam brushes. The foam brushes were okay, but this was much better for getting into the creases and tufting.

10. After the second coat it's time to do the edging. I used a double-folded piece of paper (cardstock or very thin cardboard would be perfect!) because I will basically do anything to avoid taping things off if I can. This worked great! I only had one or two mess-ups on the wood, and I immediately wiped them off with a wet paper towel. This was the most tedious part of the project, but it only took about 30-45 minutes. 

After checking the piece over for missed spots, I let it dry overnight. (Insert nerves here!)

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium    How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium    How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium    The finished result is AWESOME! I am really glad we went for it. The color is gorgeous, and it looks so much more clean and fresh than it did before. 

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium         How does it feel? Good question. I will be COMPLETELY honest with you! 

It feels like a couch painted with matte fabric paint (not the sticky stuff). It is not stiff, crinkly, or cracking, but it no longer has the same texture as fabric. It's like it has a rubbery film over the top. For that reason I wouldn't do this for a main couch that you sit on every day to watch television. However, for a cute side chair or a decorative bench like this, it's totally fine! It's not that it's uncomfortable to sit on; I just wouldn't lie on it to take a nap, if you know what I mean. 

My conclusion: It's not a miracle, and I wouldn't do it on EVERY piece of furniture, but it's also awesome, and I will most definitely be doing it again for my own home! 

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium           A little tip—If you have tufted fabric, it's pretty hard to get every single crease. I thought I did awesome, but I'm not a perfectionist, and as you can see here, I did miss some spots. 

Save some of the extra paint mixture in a Tupperware for touch-ups! 

How to paint upholstery with latex paint and fabric medium                   Thanks for letting me share this fun project! If you decide to try it yourself, I'd love to see photos! xx. Elsie 

Credits // Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection

Textured Summer Braid

Textured Summer Braid TutorialHey, guys! It's Katie here again. It's really warming up here in the Midwest, and you know what that means—friends and swimming and BBQs and... frizzy hair. Honestly, if it weren't for braids and buns, my hair wouldn't stand a chance in the summer. I would definitely have to chop it before we made it to the cooler fall months. It's not an issue, though, because there are LOTS of braids to choose from! Here's a fun one I like to use to switch things up a little.

Step 1- Textured Summer BrainStep One: Divide your hair into three sections, as if you were going to do a normal braid. Braid the center strand and secure with an elastic.

Step 2- Textured Summer Braid DIYStep Two: To begin your braid, cross the two side pieces over the middle section. 

Step 3- Textured Summer BraidStep Three: Finish out the braid just like a standard braid.

Step 4- Textured Summer BraidStep Four: Once you reach the bottom, secure with an elastic and remove the first elastic.

Step 5- Textured Summer BraidStep Five: Finish your braid off with a pretty piece of fabric or ribbon, and you're all done! 

Textured Summer Braid DIYTextured Summer Braid via A Beautiful MessAs you can see from some of the photos above, my hair gets pretty dry in the summer, so it's nice to be able to run some coconut oil through my hair and throw it in a braid for some much needed conditioning. Happy braiding! xo. Katie

FGC: Almond Butter & Figs

Fancy grilled cheese from A Beautiful MessMaking a fantastic fancy grilled cheese sandwich is an easy skill that should be in everyone's repertoire. A good FGC takes minimal effort but can make any lunch or dinner at home feel like the best hometown dinner you've ever been to. Here's one of my favorite variations. The ingredients might surprise you, but I highly recommend you give it a try. 

My favorite grilled cheese sandwichFGC with Almond Butter and Figs, serves two.

4 thick slices of sourdough bread
2-3 tablespoons almond butter
2-3 ounces soft or semisoft cheese (I used Havarti creamy)*
3-4 fresh figs, chopped
2 tablespoons mayo

*You can use any kind of cheese you like, but for this sandwich something with a sweet or buttery finish is best (think Brie).

How to make the best grilled cheese sandwichMy number one trick for a perfect FGC sandwich: use mayo instead of butter or oil. It might seem a little weird if you've never tried this, but I promise it's delicious and produces a fantastic, crispy exterior.

Add mayo to each exterior side of two of the bread slices. Place the first slice mayo side down in a pan over medium/low heat (not too hot or the bread can burn before the cheese melts). Pile on the cheese and figs. On the other slice, spread the almond butter. Place over the top of the first piece and press down. Now spread the top of that piece with mayo. After a minute or two, flip to the other side. 

Fancy Grilled Cheese SandwichesContinue cooking until both sides are crispy and the cheese begins to ooze out the sides of the sandwich. Make these with some people you love this weekend; they'll be impressed. xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions. 

At Home With Sarah Brown

At Home With Sarah BrownWe are happy to welcome Sarah Brown to A Beautiful Mess today to share her lovely home with us!

Love this bright dining space"My boyfriend Chad and I (and our two cats) live in a 1950s attached cottage in Montreal. So far we've spent all our free time renovating it. We were drawn to this house after looking at so many houses that had already been flipped without much care and were not to our taste. As soon as I saw this place I was drawn to its unique features—the brick wall in the living room (which turned out to actually be wallpaper, but is now painted black), the open living room/dining room, and the open second floor hallway that overlooks the main room. It had been lovingly taken care of by the same owner for many years and reminded me a lot of my grandparents' house and their attention to detail—also my grandma's love of pink. The whole house was painted various shades of dusty rose.

Beautiful kitchenEvery detail in this kitchen!"I think our space now feels open, modern, bright, and colorful and is a place we love to relax and entertain in. We've tackled smaller reno projects in the past, but seeing our vision for the space come to life and knowing that we put in the work to make it happen is really satisfying. While we had to work with a pretty tight budget, I think I actually work best that way. There is nothing I love more than the thrill of the hunt and digging through things in flea markets—now I can showcase all my vintage finds and family hand-me-downs in one space.

Amazing accent wallLove the starburst accent!"My favorite piece in the space is the metal starburst above the buffet. It was my grandmother's and had always been in the hallway of our family cottage. I love that I can now display it in my house.

Love everything about this bedroomLove the wall color in this spaceDarling bathroom"We've lived here for almost a year now. The space has really been completely transformed—you can see our befores and afters hereThe original space had the pink walls I mentioned, wall to wall carpeting, two layers of wallpaper in the living room, and a closed-in kitchen that was so small and awkwardly laid out that only one person could maneuver in it at a time. We refinished the wood floors and replaced all the old linoleum in the hallway and the bathroom. We basically wanted a modern space that still respected its past, so we tried to keep some of the more functional retro things—like all the original black and blue tile in the bathroom.

Love the black wall and hanging lightsSuch a fresh space!"The most unusual decor item in our space is probably the bingo sign. I made Chad drive to the Brimfield Antique Show and then haul back this gigantic working bingo sign. This was when we still had a small apartment, and it sat in the middle of our hallway until we moved into the house. The plan was to find a way to mount it on the wall, but its temporary home is on the floor beside the couch—which I'm kind of liking now. It's a great light source and always a conversation piece when people come over. Hopefully we can have a real bingo night soon.

Love the pops of colorBeautiful floors"We spend most of our time on the main floor, except for watching movies in bed—our guilty pleasure. I love that I have a brand new kitchen for the first time ever. It's so easy to use and easy to clean. Having it open the rest of the main floor is great, so we spend a lot of time in there. While we still have some projects left (the basement is a shrine to fake wood paneling), we're taking a break now and simply enjoying not sitting in a construction zone but instead relaxing in the living room, listening to records, and enjoying a drink after all our hard work." 

Thank you for sharing your beautiful home with us, Sarah! You can find more of Sarah over on her blog, Brownie, or her design site. xo. 

Credits // Author and Photography: Sarah Brown.

Tropical Pineapple Smoothie

Tropical smoothie (click through for recipe) This is the time of year when I get obsessed with smoothies. The warm weather makes a quick, healthy, and chilly smoothie sound like the perfect workday breakfast. Yum. There are probably about one million amazing smoothie recipes out there. Here's one I've been loving lately.

Tropical pineapple smoothie (click through for recipe)  Oh, also, if you make your own smoothies, I totally believe you should get to name them whatever you like. Just pretend your kitchen is your own little coffee shop or deli. Make up a name for your favorite flavors.

Toasted coconutTropical Pineapple Smoothie, makes one.

1 mango
1 cup pineapple (if you use a fresh pineapple, you can get about 3 cups out of it)
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes*
1-2 tablespoons almond butter
3/4-1 cup coconut water

*I used sweetened coconut flakes. If you use unsweetened, you may want to add a tablespoon of honey. But the mango and pineapple are plenty sweet as well, so you may not. Feel free to make it how you like it.

Best tropical smoothie recipeRemove the skins of the mango and pineapple, and cut into small chunks. Toast the coconut in a dry pan over medium heat until it begins to brown. 

In a small ziplock bag, add the mango, pineapple, and coconut flakes. You don't have to label the bag, but if you end up getting into smoothies, you can make lots of different kinds over the weekend, freeze them all in small bags with labels, and have smoothies for weeks on end with no extra work in the morning. Just FYI.

Once the contents of the bag are frozen, dump them in the blender, add the almond butter and coconut water, and blend away. 

Jungle baby smoothie (click through for recipe)You can top with a little more toasted coconut or some granola. Enjoy! xo. Emma

P.S. This post is missing a few photos and the original name has been changed. I had unintentionally named this smoothie something that turns out to sometimes be used in an inappropriate manner. I had no idea, and I want to sincerely apologize! Thank you to all our kind commenters for letting me know.

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions. 

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