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Debbie Hayes

Chair Affair for Charity: Stylish Stenciled Chair Project for Barnabas Network

How to stencil and gild a leather chair with Chalk Paint and damask stencil from Royal Design Studio

I am very excited to be a participating artist in the Barnabas Network’s “Chair Affair” event here in Greensboro, North Carolina. Thrilled, too, that Paint + Pattern has joined with me in supporting this worthy cause with the  materials needed for my stenciled chair project.

Barnabas Network was founded about 10 years ago by a group of concerned citizens who watched families struggling to come out of homelessness and who, although they could afford a place to live, could not provide beds for their children or chairs to sit on. Since then, Barnabas Network has provided furniture for over 5,500 families.


I visited the Barnabas warehouse a couple of times, scouting the perfect chair to upcycle. I discovered this amazing new occasional chair by Theodore Alexander, valued at $2450, that had been donated by the manufacturer. I fell in love with the Art Deco lines and fine quality. Part of me hesitated to paint it, but in the spirit of the “Chair Affair” the challenge was on to paint and stencil something lovely and unique that bidders would want to buy. Read on to see how I accomplished my makeover and keep your fingers crossed that there will be a bidding war that will help a family in need!

Stencil supplies for stenciled chair project

 Stencil Supplies for this Project

stenciled chair project

Chair Preparation

  • Clean your piece with soap and water and let dry.
  • Turn the chair over and tape off the nice, clean finishing fabric with painters tape, so it will remain neatly unpainted. Also tape off the detailed leather areas on the front and the back of the chair with low-tack tape.
  • This chair has a very slick topcoat, so I sanded it well with 220-grit sandpaper and wiped off the dust.
  • Paint two coats of Graphite Chalk Paint® and let dry overnight.

Stenciling a stenciled chair project. Using Chalk Paint and stencil from Royal Design Studio

I am admitting up front that this is a stenciled chair project for those of us who don’t mind a bit of imperfection. I chose a stencil that is forgiving, versus one that is very graphic that requires perfect registration. This chair back is very curvy and, yes, somewhat challenging to stencil! Even easier would be a small, random stencil.

Stenciling the Feathered Damask Design

  • Find the center of the back of the chair. This chair was almost impossible to measure perfectly, so I guessed. The pattern is forgiving, so good enough.
  • Set up a stool with a tray, paper towels and stencil brush within easy reach. Prop the chair against something in order to get it in a good position to stencil.
  • Tape the stencil in position, understanding that the tape will probably not hold well. Use one hand to hold the stencil tightly and the other to stencil. Dip the tips of the stencil brush into the stencil crème, offload on the paper towels and stencil. Begin in the center top of the design and work outward. Stop often to let the stencil crème dry before moving on. It does not dry as fast as stenciling with Chalk Paint®.
  • The back was much easier to stencil than the front. After struggling with the large production wall stencil I had to break down and cut it to a more manageable size.

Stenciled Chair Project for A Chair Affair. Gilding and waxing a leather chair
Gilding and Waxing

  • Tape off the arms and back supports with painters tape. Brush on a very thin coat of Stencil Size over the seat. Let come to tack about 15 minutes.
  • Hold pieces of silver leaf in clumps and touch the surface of the seat all over, leaving areas open. Use a crumpled sheet of wax paper to smooth the leaf out over the surface. Add more leaf as needed to fill in. Leaf will continue to stick as long as there are open areas of un-leafed Size. Burnish the leaf with a soft cloth until no more little bits of leaf come off. If you missed a spot of Stencil Size, just add it, wait for it to come to tack, then add silver leaf again.
  • Wax all exposed painted areas with Clear Soft Wax. Buff to a soft sheen. Let dry. Let cure for 21 days.

Stenciled Chair Project for A Chair Affair. Stencil from Royal Design Studio

Now I just need to sign my stenciled chair project and it’s ready for auction! The “Chair Affair” event will be held on April 16, 2015 at the Barnabas warehouse where chairs, small tables and paintings by select artists will be offered in a silent auction. My project will be featured with the other artists on their website, and in a local storefront prior to the event.

You can have your OWN chair affair with stencils and thrift store finds. Need more ideas?

Royal Design Studio Wall Stencils and Paint Supplies for DIY Projects


  1. Your chair is stunning. However I don’t understand how the paint does not rub off in time, as it seems that the chair is covered with leather or some kind of vinyl. What protects the finish? Even wax would eventually wear off, right? And would the wax come of on clothing as the chair is being used? As the wax wears away, what protects the paint, unless the person who purchased the chair must also purchase some wax and re-apply it. Thanks.

  2. Debbie Hayes

    Hi Lily, glad you like my chair. The waxed finish is cured and quite as durable as on any surface like wood. However the purpose of the Chair Affair is to create a piece of signed art for sale at the charity event.

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