How to create an “Industrial faux old leather armchair”

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.



I have always loved color. On my hair (yep, it has changed several times throughout the many years), my clothes, in our house and today in my furniture painting. 

I remember when we built our house I wanted colorful walls but the painters looked at me with big eyes and said: “we only paint white – color doesn’t look good on walls”… Come again? I don’t know what kind of painter this was but I wasn’t going to let my idea of colorful walls go. I painted them myself – that was 25 years ago. At that time my color choices (each room a different color) might not have been the best. I think that “less would have been more “.

Colors have changed in the house throughout the years. Today I mostly went back to more neutral walls but having a few splashes of color either with my furniture, for my decor or on part of the walls.

My love for color is definitely reflected in my painted furniture that I do. And although it’s more of an intuitive painting for me, I sometimes have a look at the color wheel and see what might work better or best with a color I chose. Which is the complementary color of green or blue or red? It helps. It’s definitely worth to get one if you want to use color in your life. That being said, I do what feels right and feels good and create my own shades of said complementary color. 

One thing I’m sure of is that color really can effect us emotionally. Put a few splashes of a color you like and fits the scheme into your interior. This can be a statement piece of furniture or a few colorful decor items. It brightens up a room and makes you feel good without maybe consciously knowing it.

To what colors are you drawn to in your interior or in your creative painting? Which ones make you feel good?

Some of my colorful pieces I created

Whilst writing these lines and looking through the pieces I’ve done over the last year, I notice I’m regularly drawn to all kinds of shades of blues, turquoises and greens. I guess it means that those colors make me feel good.

The color wheel

Colors that look good together are called a color harmony. Artists and designers use these to create a particular look or feel. You can use a color wheel to find color harmonies by using the rules of color combinations. Find the colors that create a pleasing effect.

You can find these color wheels for example on Amazon.

Feature Wall

Doing a feature wall, or a staging wall for photography for example, doesn’t have to be expensive and it’s not too difficult. It really just needs time. I had done a staging wall for my photos this year and here is one I did with Charlotte from Furniture Revivals in Zurich for her workshop wall. She wanted an old world look and yet a certain elegance to it.

We both think that we achieved our goal.

This is what we used:

  • Wooden panels
  • Texture medium for a rougher structure for the base. You could use joint compound or plaster
  • Paint – different shades of neutrals. We used Dixie Belle Paint and Annie Sloan
  • Texture medium to create raised stencil. We used VP Antico from Artisan Enhancements but you could absolutely just use joint compound or any other brand you like or have on hand. 
  • Saltwash and Sea Salt Fizz (Autentico) 
  • Stencils (these two are from Artisan Enhancements: Damask and script)
  • Tissue paper (you can also use any decoupage paper or rice paper or even napkins)
  • Mouldings (we used Woodubendmouldings #1309)
  • Waxes to enhance details
  • Paint brushes, sponges
  • Water mister
  • Sanding paper 
Creating raised stencil designs

Here are a few pictures of the wall we did:

How to Stage a French Style Piece

I love the old world look and with it comes the French style. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on the staging of such an item. As this look is timeworn with patina it’s best to use items that are themselves timeworn or use items from the flea market that go with the style. 

  • Old books (leather bound or taking off cover). Bundling them for example and keeping them together with lace ribbon or/ and twine. Not everyone has really old books in the house, so you could paint them and decorate with decorative molds, stamps, decoupage etc. to give them the look 
  • Music sheets 
  • Vintage cards or faded pictures 
  • Stone busts or pots 
  • A piece of lace draped or even lace ribbons (don’t cover all) 
  • Dried flowers (be careful of choice – subtleness is the word of the day)  
  • Candle sticks 
  • Gather your little knick knacks, decorations, collectibles and put it all up on a tray 
  • A vase with fresh flowers, an aged looking amphora or dry brushed terracotta pot with some greenery also works well 

Example of self-made book covers to give them the desired look 

From Where Do I get Inspiration

People ask me this question a lot. That’s why I thought I would share a few thoughts with you.  

Although we all hope inspiration just pops up, it usually isn’t that easy. So when I’m stuck and it does happen more than I would like, where do I get my inspiration from?  

I love faded patina so anything with old world look, texture, rustic and patina and color usually catches my eye. Nature in general, old doors, house facades, abandoned backyards, gardens or places, architectural gorgeousness and so on.  

I am lucky enough to live in two very opposite countries. Mountains, lakes, pasture land and a lot of greenery in one. Sea, heat, drought, cacti… in another. Meaning I get quite a few opportunities of inspiration in both places already.  

And if that doesn’t work, well… Pinterest is my place of choice to go to. 

Here are a few shots that I took on my walks and that inspired me for a piece… 

and some of my Pinterest pins I use for color inspiration