DIY Stenciled Armchair

I’ve been working like a mad woman trying to finish the painted/stenciled slipcover of the Ikea armchair for today. Well, I’m proud to say I managed to do it! Yay! To refresh your memory, here’s the before:

Ikea hova before

This project began several weeks ago when my aunt gave us an old accent chair she had at her home in Madrid. I spotted it and asked her where it was from, and she said I could have it if I liked it because she no longer had room for it. Score. We brought it home with us (actually my parents did because it didn’t fit in our car) and let it sit in our room while we thought about what to do with it. I knew it was meant to replace the Poang chair in the living room – it’s comfy enough, but I don’t really like the design – and that I wanted to restain the legs, but I wasn’t sure how to redo the slipcover. So I refinished the legs with a dark oak stain while I continued to think about the slipcover. I simply sanded them down and applied the stain with a brush and a rag, in several thin coats.

Silla hova ikea

My initial idea regarding the slipcover was to make a new one out of a fun patterned fabric. The problem? I don’t really know how to sew, so I’d either have to learn, or ask someone for help. My next idea was to dye it. That posed another issue: there aren’t many dyes here and it wouldn’t be patterned, something I think is severely lacking in the living room. 


So I decided to try my hand at stenciling the slipcover with paint. I had already done something similar with a rug and I loved the results, plus I figured if it didn’t turn out okay this time I could sew a new cover eventually. After checking out other armchairs out there I settled on a hexagonal design in a greeny-yellow cover. When I stenciled the Ikea rug I traced around the moroccan design, but this time I did it a bit differently. My idea was to tape off all the areas I wanted to leave as-is (the lines between the hexagons) and leave the hexagons bare so that I could paint them.

The first step was to create the hexagon on the computer. Easy peasy. I printed it out on a thick piece of paper (not cardboard, just thicker than normal paper, what I had at home) and cut it carefully. Then I added tape to the back so that I could tape it to the arm chair slipcover. I started in the middle of the armchair, and with painter’s tape, I taped around the hexagon. I moved it around and continued to tape, tape, tape. This was the longest step.

Ikea hova stenciled chair makeover 4

When it came to the seams, I imagined how it would look if it were a real patterned fabric. I cut off the hexagons at the seams, but then I imagined a good seamstress would try to continue the pattern when possible. So that’s what I did: at the top seam, the pattern continues seamlessly (ha!) but at the sides it doesn’t. At least hat’s how I figured a real fabric would look.

Ikea hova stenciled chair makeover 6

Ikea hova stenciled chair makeover 7

Once all the lines between hexagons were taped off, I started painting. The best thing about using the painter’s tape method is that you can use a roller for the painting step if you taped off everything properly. I used normal latex paint mixed with fabric medium. Unfortunately one coat of paint wasn’t enough in most places so I had to do two. Once it was dry I sprayed it with Scotchgard to protect it a bit.

Ikea hova stenciled chair makeover 5

After all these explanations you deserve some after pics, so here they are! (Note: I can’t show you a full room view right now because we’re in the middle of rewiring for the pass-through and everything’s a mess).

Ikea hova stenciled chair makeover 2

Ikea hova stenciled chair makeover 1

Ikea hova stenciled chair makeover 3

The verdict? Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. I really like the design, but I fear it’s too much for the living room (maybe it doesn’t really go with the rest of the room?). Also, the paint has more texture than I expected, and that kind of bothers me a bit. But it’s much better than the Poang, and I think if I add the proper pillow to it I can integrate it better into the living room. Plus, I only spent 10€ on this – and I have half a can of paint leftover. So, maybe eventually I will decide to reupholster it properly, but in the meantime, I can totally live with this, and I didn’t go broke over it. What do you guys think?

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments.

59 thoughts on “DIY Stenciled Armchair

  1. annabelvita

    I think it’s gorgeous! Maybe a white pillow on it would break up the pattern a bit if it’s too much as is? I really like it, anyway.

    I don’t really like our poang, but Mr V loves it so I live with it….

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Yeah they’re not exactly stylish. They’re comfy though. Anyhow, I have a couple of white pillows so I’ll try them out!

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks John, I’m glad you like it! I’m pleased with how it turned out visually, but the texture… there’s nothing I can do about it though :)

  2. Amanda

    I think it looks great… and it’s probably just a matter of getting used to it, maybe add some details in mustard to the room, like a flower pot, a cushion, even some art / print with that color?

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Yeah I’m looking for pillow covers right now :)
      I do have a couple of pillows in a similar cover in the room already (I actually took one with me to the store to pick the color) but I’ll have to add something else.

  3. Christine @ Casa-de-Christine

    I totally love this chair! You did such a great job! It actually looks like patterned fabric- you can’t tell it’s painted at all! I agree- just add some grellow accents to your room and I’m sure it will fit right in. Along with a solid pillow. Love it so much- seriously!

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  5. Jane @ The Borrowed Abode

    You did a phenomenal job. I showed it to Ryan and he is usually not very complimentary of random blogger projects I make him look at, but he said “Wow, that looks really good.” Nice job :) I am imagining your whole living room with it and I love the contrast of pattern. I am curious about the texture – that’s the one thing that’s held me back from painting any upholstery so far.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks Jane (& Ryan)! The texture is the one thing that’s a bit off-putting. I had painted a rug before (and a lamp) and had better results with the texture than this time. I think the paint was too thick/the original fabric a bit waterproof so you can totally tell if you touch it. That said, you can’t tell when you sit on it – just when you run your fingers through it. Also, we don’t anticipate seating on it too much, it’s mainly there for extra seating when we have someone over. As time & money allows I’ll probably reupholster it properly (someday waaay down the line, definitely not this year), but it was a fun project and only 10€ so I can’t complain.

      1. Jordana

        Is there a paint that you could have used that would not have produced that particular texture?
        I love it. I just stumbled upon your site today. <3 'ing it!!

        1. Ainhoa Post author

          Thanks Jordana, glad you like it (and sorry it took me so long to answer, I’ve been very disconnected lately). Supposedly paint thinner helps with the texture, but not 100% – most of the texture is gone by now in the actual seat though just by sitting on it (it doesn’t stain or anything, I promise), but there’s still some texture on the sides, where nobody actually sits. I’m guessing if I were to sand it a little with a very fine grit it would go away pretty easily.

  6. Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy

    I really like how it turned out! I never would have though of using tape to make a pattern. I think it adds a fun pop of colour to the living room. To make the chair fit into the room a bit better, why not add a colourful vase or accessory in a similar shade?

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks Janelle! We already have a couple of pillows in a similar tone, they’re just too far away from the chair to relate, I guess!

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks Nicole! Though the color is a bit greener in person (more in line with the pillows we have on the couch). Still love it though.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks! I already did that. I’ll have to update the post with pics. You guys were right though, it was just a matter of getting used to it.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      They’ll definitely be stiff (stiffer than normal fabric at least) but I’m pretty sure they won’t crack… you might want to do a trial one though. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  7. Laura

    I love it! It looks great against gray, not sure if you are keeping that hue but you should consider it. The pattern turned out really sharp-looking. Pad yourself for a job well done and for going outside of the norm….don’t show it to your aunt as she may want it back!

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Oh yeah we’re definitely keeping the gray! I’m looking for accessories to add in a similar tone. I’ve gotten used to the chair by now though, I no longer thing it sticks out too much.

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  9. Prissy

    This is amazing. On two different levels….one, because you did this yourself, which I can’t even imagine having the patience for (much less the creativity) & two, because it looks so beautiful & unique. I’m really impressed & depressed all at the same time because I wish I had your time & talent.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks Prissy, you’re too kind! No real talent is needed for this though… in fact I only did it this way because I don’t know how to sew.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      No, the fabric is very thick (and almost waterproof like, if that makes sense) that I didn’t feel the need to. When I started painting I opened the zipper to check the cushions and everything was fine.

  10. Sarah

    Wow, I love it. Like others have said, I think a white pillow would look great. Over time, does the texture still bother you as much? I love the color, and the great graphic statement that it makes. I’m thinking of painting some fabric and was wondering, which fabric medium did you use? I wish we lived next door and you could give me ideas for my house… :)

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks Sarah! The fabric medium was something my mom bought while in the US – I think at Michael’s or similar, but I’m not too sure. I’ll ask her if you want. The texture bothers me a bit but it’s not really noticeable now, in winter, since we’re not wearing shorts or anything and it’s not like you go around touching the seat a lot. Maybe in Spring/Summer it’ll bother me more, I’ll keep you posted.

      1. Sarah

        Thanks for the info. I’ve just heard some talk of people preferring certain fabric mediums to others and wanted to see your thoughts. I bought some canvas dropcloths that I’m excited to try painting, I just need to jump in, I guess. I live in the US, so maybe I’ll just pick some up at Michael’s and get going on it already.

  11. Megan

    I think it looks great! I also love that Chicago skyline that you have above the cabinets. Mind if I ask where you got that from?

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  13. Juanna

    Yo creo que queda perfecto con lo que he visto del salón. El gris de las paredes y el contraste del sillón. Muy bien :)

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Muchas gracias! Me alegro de que te guste. La verdad es que al principio me parecía demasiado pero ya me he acostumbrado y ahora me encanta.

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