A New Lease On Leather…With Paint

Medium Painted Leather Chair

East Vs.West

Moving from the East Coast to the West shined a different light on all of my furniture and accessories. The heavier fabrics and dark, saturated colors that worked so well in NYC seemed out of place in my beach cottage.  But the design budget did not allow for a complete overhaul.

1_grey living room_ZZwide

Original Green Leather Chairs

The Holy Grail of Chalk Paint

There was a sizable shift in my decorating life when I discovered Annie Sloan Chalk Paints. I had no idea this world-acclaimed artist-designer had amassed a cult following.  After applying her paints to a headboard and a vintage chaise, I was an instant convert. The paints are easy to manipulate, have no odor and clean up with water. When dry, they have a flat, matte finish giving it the name Chalk Paint.

Chalk Paint on Leather

It was time to take things to the next level. Annie Sloan paints work on fabric and believe it or not, leather! My fear was that the paint would chip, rub off and stain clothes and crack. None of this was true. In fact, my painted leather chairs are soft to the touch and don’t have a stiff texture.

Wide 2 Shot Leather Chairs

Check out this tutorial online that gave me the courage to paint my chairs. Here is a short list of how-to’s for this particular striped and stenciled leather chair project:

Half-Painted Leather Chair

1. Use 3-4 coats of Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey chalk paint as the base.  Pour the paint into a separate container and add water to thin out the paint. The paint consistency should be a little runny. Otherwise, the paint will dry too thick and will crack and chip. I have made this mistake. Not fun.

Let dry between coats. Do not panic. At first the paint will look streaky and patchy but after three coats, the base coat will even out.

2. Border off stripes with paint tape and use Annie Sloan Old White for contrast stripes. Remove tape as soon as the paint is dry to the touch to prevent it from pulling up the base coat.

3. Use fine sandpaper and lightly sand the entire surface of the leather chairs. This will help maintain that supple leather texture. Wipe dust with a soft cloth.

4.  I used a stencil from Royal Design Studio to add a French flourish to the front of the chairs.  Use a dry brush technique to apply paint onto the stencil. Let dry. Lightly sand. Wipe clean.

Stencilled Chair

Close Up Painted Leather Chairs

5. To protect the painted finish, use Annie Sloan Clear Wax with a flat head brush. Wax small areas at a time and wipe off until the leather area is no longer tacky. Apply only a little bit of wax at a time. Think a dime’s worth per square foot. Continue until the entire chair has been waxed and buffed. Wax on, wipe off. That is your new mantra. Don’t skip this step. It keeps the leather soft and supple and prevents major cracking.

There are many Annie Sloan paint experts online who are generous in sharing their tips and triumphs. Give it a whirl and enjoy!