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13 Painted Chair Ideas To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Got a wood or metal chair taking up space in your garage or attic? Give it a fresh face and new life with some simple painted chair ideas. In fact, the chair that you paint could become an inventive focal point for an area of your home you enjoy spending time in.

A pair of painted chairs, one painted pale pink against a pale blue background, the other painted pale blue against a pale pink background.
Painted chairs.

Painting a chair is simple but there are a few things to know first to ensure that you are satisfied with the results:

  • It is the versatility of traditional paint that makes it such a perfect medium for a chair. The options are endless, and materials are inexpensive.
  • Painting is typically easier than staining wood. Staining requires some preparatory steps that paint does not. Paint can also be a bit more forgiving when it comes to hiding imperfections or damage.
  • The supplies that you need to paint a chair are easily found at any discount or hardware store: paint (obviously), brushes, rollers, trays, rags, tape, and some type of plastic or tarp to protect your work surface.
  • The creative outlet of painting has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which is a natural stress reliever. Painting can make you feel calm and relaxed.
  • For wood surfaces, use a semigloss or satin finish paint, preferably in acrylic latex or an oil-based product. Acrylic goes on easy with good coverage and a quick drying time.
  • Latex paint is something you might already have on-hand, but it is not necessarily the best paint for the job when it comes to painting furniture. It does not hold up well to heavy use or the elements, and it does not offer great coverage.
  • Chalk paint is a great alternative that is water-based and easy to clean up. It provides a streaky, washed appearance that dries quickly.
  • Acrylic paint and latex paint are similar, but acrylic is easy to mix and requires a primer. If you are going to use acrylic for furniture, use a topcoat to seal and protect it, too.  
  • Oil-based paint has a long drying time and can be difficult to clean up in some cases. If you do choose to use oil-based paint for your chair, make sure to work in a well-ventilated room.

Ready to get started? Here are 13 painted chair ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Paint Splatters

A white painted Adirondack chair with splattered paint in primary colors.
Painted chair with splatter paint technique.

Perhaps the easiest way to paint a chair is with a simple splattering of paint.

First, treat the chair by cleaning and wiping it down. You may want to paint it a glossy black, vibrant white, or other shade to complement the splatters, but it must be fully dry before you splatter further.

Make sure to protect your work surface and then dip a regular paintbrush in your contrasting paint and splatter. Practice your splatters on a plastic tarp or other disposable surface to see what you like.

The beauty of this treatment is that over time, the splatters will subtly weather and the wear will seem organic.

2. Spray and Dip

Spray paint is a super easy way to give a chair a makeover. Got a piece of lace fabric or paper doilies, by chance?   Spray paint through the lace onto the seat or back of the chair. The result is intricate and delicate.  

Simply drape the fabric and spritz a matte spray paint over it. Decide if you need a second coat of paint before moving or repositioning the lace.

Intricate paper doilies work well, too. You can tape them in position for more accurate pattern placement. Afterwards, you can throw them out for easy clean up.

Next, dip the legs or feet of your chair in metallic paint for another luxurious layer to these cool chairs. Try gold for a royal accent that pairs well with the lacy pattern in the paint. Consider buying sample sized paints at your favorite hardware store for these types of projects.

3. Welcome Benches

A welcome bench painted light blue against a white exterior wall -- an alternative painted chair idea.
A painted welcome bench — an alternative painted chair idea.

Do you know what a welcome bench is? A welcome bench is typically made from two- or more- chairs to create a cozy seat for more than one person. These are particularly at-home on a front porch, by a door, or in a garden- but make sure that your paint treatment will stand up to the elements and weather.

Consider painting scenes or patterns on each chair, similarly but distinctively, to tell a story when joined to form the bench. Simple motifs like a heart, four-leaf clover, or star also create something special.

When you paint furniture to be used outside, preparation is key to preventing it from fading and peeling fast. Fully remove the previous paint and prime well. Always finish with a topcoat or sealant and use a second coat when the piece is going to be placed outdoors.

4. Shabby Chic

A wooden chair with carved ornate detailing and distressed blue paint -- an example of a shabby chic painted chair.
Shabby chic painted chair.

Shabby chic paint is another popular DIY treatments for your chairs. You can use chalk paint or milk paint, which comes in powder form and you mix it yourself. The chalk paint is matte and can have a streaky, washed-out look when thinned.

Wax a chalk painted or milk painted chair with furniture wax after to protect it and give it a nice luster.  Chalk paint brings a weathered look that is great for camouflaging scratches or dings- these just give it more vintage characteristics and unique flavor.

5. Multi-color Grouping

A multi-color grouping of painted chairs -- six Adirondack chairs against a clapboard siding wall with each one painted a different color (red, orange, yellow, pale green, aqua, and blue).
A multi-color grouping of painted chairs.

So, what should you do if your discarded chair is actually a set of two, three, four- or more chairs? Why not give each one its own unique color?

Try painting each one a different color of the rainbow, either in a vibrant gloss paint or choose the subtle, soft matte finish of chalk paint. The results is a grouping that would look amazing with a neutral dining table, on your patio, or in a game room for a pop of color!

6. Gradient of Color

Three upside down painted chairs, each one painted a different shade of blue that demonstrates gradient color painting.
Three Gradient Color painted chairs — each one a different shade of blue.

Other painted chair ideas that suit a grouping is to paint each chair a gradient shade of a common color and use together in a kitchen or a home office.

Only have a single chair to paint? Gradient the paint from top to bottom for a similar and distinctive treatment.

These chairs are perfect for a powder room or near a closet. The ombre colors are great for reinforcing a color scheme in a bedroom or other space, too.

The easiest way to gradient your paint treatment is to simply keep lightening the paint color with thinner or white paint as you complete one chair in your grouping, or one segment of a single chair. How subtle or different you want the shades to be is entirely up to you.

7. Precise Lines

Try something modern by using masking tape or painters’ tape to create precise geometric designs, lines, and patterns on the different areas of your chair. Try different finishes, like matte and gloss, separated by straight, angled, or zigzag lines made with the tape.

Use brushes or small rollers for this effect; it is much tougher to be precise with spray paint. This is a great treatment for a straight-back, Arts & Crafts era chair.

8. Stain and Paint Pairing

A row of painted chairs at a long bar/counter that have blue paint on the backs of the chairs and also at the bottoms of the legs -- all other parts of the chair are stained wood.
Painted chairs that also have wood stained elements.

Another cool vintage design for your chair is to join the ease of paint with the look of stain for a pairing that has beautiful results. Stain the best-looking parts of your chair to enhance the natural beauty; paint the areas that need a bit of concealment or that have imperfections.

For instance, stain the back and seat of a wood chair, paint the legs and spindles for a simple but sophisticated treatment. When you pair stain and paint, you get the best of both worlds!

9. Something Stenciled

For a personal touch, stencil something on the seat, back, or legs of your chair. It doesn’t matter what color you use as your backdrop, just use contrasting colors when filling in your stencil. For the most accuracy, be sure to secure the stencil with tape before filling it in and give the stenciled paint a spritz of hairspray after to help seal and protect it.

Foam crafting brushes work well for filling in your stencils and using basic acrylic paint is fine as long as it is sealed with hairspray or furniture wax later.

For a sample project, try stenciling your monogram on the back or seat of a basic wood chair that you salvage or re-purpose- you will be hooked!

10. Communal Project

For a fun keepsake that is also an engaging activity at a party or get-together, let your chair become a communal project that everyone contributes to.

If you are planning a bridal shower, for example, display the chair with paint pens, permanent markers, or paint with brushes for guests to sign, draw, or decorate the chair with. You could also provide embellishments and adhesive, like buttons or crystals, to give the chair even more flair.

After the celebration, the chair is gifted to the guest of honor for their special occasion. These can become cherished family keepsakes.

11. Santa’s Seat

A rocking chair painted bright red -- a perfect painted chair idea for a Santa Chair.
A painted chair that makes an ideal Santa Chair.

Why wouldn’t you want to set a place and paint a chair for Santa? If you, or someone you love, has kids that believe in Santa Claus, consider creating your own custom Santa’s Seat with your discarded or recycled chair.

A wood chair seems to be best as it is the more traditional option, but you could have a contemporary Santa that does not mind a modern metal chair, too. Either way, give the chair a spritz of metallic spray paint, white glossy polka dots, red and green dipped legs- anything that seems festive and holiday-like!

The purpose of this treatment is to provide a seat that is fit for the Jolly Old Elf himself, so let your imagination run free.

12. Paint Pour

If you do have a metal chair that you want to do something special with, a paint pour might be perfect among other painted chair ideas for a modern or minimalist style piece. Paint pours have a glossy, almost mirrored effect that is quite stunning, but it requires quite a bit of paint.

This is not the treatment to go with if you prefer intentional and precise design styles. It can make quite a mess, though it is easy enough to clean up.

A paint poured chair has a unique metallic shine from the copious amounts of glossy paint that are poured over it. Allow ample time for the paint to dry fully before touching, retouching, handling, or moving it.

While the results of a paint pour project are always unpredictable, they never disappoint! In fact, your paint pour chair will likely be the focal point of whatever room it is in.

13. American Pride

An antique rocking chair with white distressed paint and an American flag on the back of the chair -- a patriotic painted chair theme.
A patriotic “American Pride” painted chair.

Now is the perfect time to display your patriotism with some painted chair ideas that inspire pride in the USA. Consider how this translates to your chair and how to best convey your message. For instance, you may choose one of these simple suggestions that are sure to show your American pride:

  • Go with the obvious solution, which is a red, white, and blue paint combination. You might even try the previously mentioned splatter paint method with a glossy white painted chair, splattered with red and blue… you get the idea.
  • White-wash or chalk paint your chair in a simple, symbolic color- like red for instance, and put the patriotism into some coordinating accent pillows. While it is inexpensive to find USA themed pillowcases and pillow forms online, it is also very easy to make your own with either hot glue or a sewing machine.
  • Got an old Adirondack chair? The slatted backs of these outdoor chairs are perfect for the stripes of the American flag. Replicate the red and white stripes on the planks of the back and give the seat a few blue or metallic stars.
  • Stencil a state or American flag on the seat of your wood or metal chair. Use acrylic art paints to fill it in, but make sure to seal it if you plan on putting it outside.
  • Make the chair something more meaningful by transforming it into a Missing Man chair. This is a spot dedicated to a fallen soldier or service member and there are various ways to recreate, pay tribute, and set up these memorials. These are typically seats and/or tables with symbolic embellishments and verses, that are not intended for people to use, but that are rather displayed to honor American heroes.

Use these painted chair ideas to create a one-of-a-kind chair that complements your home. These are all distinctive and doable, so what are you waiting for?

Visit our website for some other clever home décor ideas and tips while you’re at it!