This piece has been sitting and waiting for me to find some time to transform it. I had known from the beginning that I wanted the  “old leather industrial look”. I could envision an armchair that had been used for many many years in a gentleman’s club where they smoke their cigars whilst meeting and chatting. Our interior is on the industrial side so what better finish. I was inspired by a similar finish that my friend Jonathon Marc Mendes did. He’s an amazing artist.

The chair wasn’t fabric as you can see. Just plain ugly artificial leather look but to be honest in quite good condition. Easy painting for this one. You have to know that it’s really easy to paint a fabric chair with chalk paint. Just use cotton or any flat finish. And best avoid heavy or velvet fabric. 

So, let’s do this.

I used following Dixie Belle products

  • White lightning for cleaning
  • Colonel mustard
  • Terracotta
  • Florida Orange
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee Bean
  • Rustic Red
  • Clear wax
  • A mix of brown and black wax – I wanted a very dark brown for the look

First thing to do is to thoroughly clean the piece. White lightning is my go to product. Protect the areas you don’t want painted. I also covered the studs because I didn’t feel like cleaning them from paint afterwards. Always looking for the easy way.

Normally you would mist your fabric thoroughly and let it soak into it, but I didn’t need to here because of the existing finish. Just a bit and to help the paint glide better. Mix your colors together to achieve kind of a soft muted orange/cognac base with brown undertones. I used Terracotta, Colonel Mustard, Chocolate and Florida Orange. 

Water down the mix so it gets a little runny (I’m always eyeballing but I would say 60% paint and 40% water for this piece). This also helps creating thin layers. I then did a first base and let it dry. 

I started building up my layers and used a sanding pad between each coat to remove and smooth any bumps and brush strokes on the piece. (I used 400 grid paper) I repeated this process 3 times. You might need more layers depending on the design of the fabric you have. Here is what it looks like at this stage.

Very important: do thin layers and keep building them up one by one! 

I mixed some rustic red with a bit of dark brown (here it’s Coffee bean) to tone it down. Then I started applying this color in corners with a blending technique towards the middle using my base color and the rustic red mix. Mist a little if you feel the paint is dragging or not blending well. Here’s what it looks like.

I knew I wanted some stenciling to go with the style I envisioned. Here are the ones I used on the chair. I decided to use some dark grey paint to apply them. I think that black would have been too stark on the piece.

It’s waxing time after your piece is thoroughly dry. I just love using wax. See the before and after once waxes have been applied. This is when that old leather look comes to life. Isn’t it just a fantastic difference?

I applied clear wax all over first. You don’t have to and can go directly with the dark wax but if I go too heavy with the dark wax and want to remove it’s so much easier. Clear wax acts like an eraser.

I took off excess and then used a first all over coat with dark wax then took off excess again. After that to enhance and create darker edges and parts on the piece I applied the dark wax heavily in certain areas. I didn’t wipe this layer off.  It really is about creating character and the authentic look.  I let the waxed piece “harden” for several days and then buffed everything.  Check it out here

Here is the finished and staged piece. I love it and it will go perfectly with our interior.

I hope you’re inspired to create something similar. Have fun!

And if you have any questions then do get in touch.


12 Comments on “How to create an “Industrial faux old leather armchair”

    • C’est trop sympa merci mille fois pour ton feedback. J’ai vraiment aimé le travailler/créer. D’ailleurs je ne sais pas pourquoi j’ai attendu si longtemps 🙂


    • Thank you so much for your feedback Karalyn. Truly appreciate you took the time to do so on my website. And you are very welcome. 🙂


  1. I have a couple of chairs like that. In the garage, they’ve been waiting for you to inspire me. Love all your creations ❣️


  2. I adore All your work! Where can I purchase your stencil for “Industrial faux old leather armchair? Many thanks!


    • good morning Brenda. Thank you so much for liking my work. I appreciate. This is a stencil from a company called Stencilstash.


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