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How to Change the Color of a Fabric Chair

Have you ever wished your upholstered furniture was a different color? Or, do you have a piece of upholstery that has been faded by the sun that you wish you could fix? Well, today I have a quick project that may help! Today, I’m going to show you how you can transform that piece of furniture by dyeing upholstery fabric.

Can you change the color of a fabric chair?

Earlier this year, I was ready to make a change in my living room and said goodbye to the gray upholstered chairs that I’ve had for many years. In their place, I found some vintage wing chairs on Facebook Marketplace that were only $100 for both chairs.

They are nice and solid and the upholstery was actually in excellent shape. But, the warm toned print fabric just didn’t go with the cool toned grays I have in my living room.

I really like the tall and narrow size of these chairs and the wood trim. And, I’ve actually already purchased fabric to reupholster these chairs. I purchased a bold black and ivory buffalo check for part of the chair and a black and ivory damask for another part. Yes, two different fabrics for one chair! I’m pretty excited to do this project. The photo below shows the two fabrics with my sofa fabric.

The only problem, I just don’t think I have the time to complete this upholstery project before the holidays. What I really needed was a quick fix to change the color of the upholstery.

Inspiration for dying fabric chairs

Earlier this year, I saw a fellow blogger, Monica Benavidez from Monica Wants It, use Rit Dye to change the color of a velvet sofa she found at a thrift store. She shared the process over on Instagram and it was fascinating to me.

Then, a few weeks ago another blogger, Mallory Nikolaus, also shared how she was deepening the color of a vintage velvet chaise lounge that she acquired second hand. She also used Rit Dye for the chaise. So, I decided that was the answer for my new/old wing chairs.

What you need to dye fabric chairs

Rit ColorStay Dye (I used the Graphite shade)

Rit Colorstay Dye Fixative

Drop Cloths

Vinyl Gloves

Spray Bottle, Paint Sprayer or Pressurised Garden Sprayer

What is Rit Colorstay dye?

Rit Colorstay dye is a special type of fabric dye that provides superior colorfastness, washability and is super easy to use. It’s the perfect choice for fabrics such as velvet, corduroy and other synthetic materials. It also works on cotton, linen and rayon fabrics. 

What is Rit Colorstay Dye Fixative and why do you need to use it? 

Rit Colorstay Dye Fixative helps to ensure that the dye stays in place, even after repeated washings. It also works on fabrics that are not colorfast and prevents fading of colors.

This product is necessary for ensuring a long lasting result with your project. 

Is Rit Colorstay dye the same as fabric paint? 

No, fabric paint is a completely different product. Rit Colorstay dye is specifically designed to be used on fabrics, while fabric paints are meant for use on hard surfaces such as wood or canvas.

Fabric paint does not offer the same colorfastness and washability as Rit Colorstay Dye. 

Is Rit Colorstay dye the same as fabric spray dye? 

No, fabric spray dye is a type of aerosol paint that is specifically designed for use on fabrics. This product does not offer the same color coverage and washability as Rit Colorstay Dye.

Fabric spray dye can also be difficult to control, making it hard to achieve the desired outcome.


  • STEP 1. Make sure the upholstery is clean. Whether you purchase the upholstered piece of furniture second hand or it’s a piece you have in your home, this step is necessary. I vacuumed each chair thoroughly and made sure I used a crevice tool to get into all the cracks and crevices. I would also recommend using a carpet cleaner to attempt to remove any stains or excess dirt. Be sure the entire piece of furniture is dry before you start the next step. 
  • Step 2. Purchase the correct formulation of Rit Dye for your fabric upholstery. Rit Dye comes in two formulations. Rit All Purpose Dye is for cotton, wood or linen fabrics. Rit DyeMore for synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic and acetate . The fabric on my chairs is definitely a blend of synthetics. Check to see if your furniture has a label with fabric information. If not, I’d say there’s a fairly good chance that the upholstery is a synthetic blend. Just because most modern upholsteries are.
  • Step 3. Prepare your work area. If you can, take your pieces outdoors. That’s what I did. If you can’t do that, you need to prepare an area where everything around and under the piece is protected. Because, you don’t want to accidentally get dye on anything other than the piece you’re working on.
  • Step 4. Decide how you will apply the dye. This is where seeing my fellow bloggers do this project first really helped me to know the best way to apply the dye. Monica began by using a paint brush to apply the dye, but then used a spray bottle, and finally a pressurised garden type sprayer. Because my chairs aren’t that large, I began with the paint brush, but found that I could get more even coverage with a simple spray bottle and it was so much faster.
  • Step 5. Prepare the dye. The main thing about dying with Rit Dye is getting the water temperature hot, hot, hot!!! Bring a pot of water to a boil before measuring out the amount of water needed and then add the dye. Make sure you shake the bottle of dye well first.
  • I used four cups of boiling water with 80 ml. of dye. And, a small medicine measuring cup is perfect for measuring out the dye. Once the water was boiling, I measured out four cups and poured it into my spray bottle. Then, I added the dye.
  • Step 6. Just as you do when you are treating a stain on carpet or a rug, test the dye on a small piece of fabric to see how it looks and how it reacts. Try in an inconspicuous area first before you move on to the rest of the chair. Depending on the types of fabrics, you may need more or less coats than you initially anticipated. For best results, see how the first coat dries and looks before moving on to the whole chair. Spray the hot dye mixture evenly over the entire upholstered piece, including any removable cushions. Now, let the dye dry completely. Because I was working outside on a somewhat warm and breezy day, my chairs dried pretty quickly. But, if you’re working in a garage or indoors, you might want to use a fan or fans to help with the drying process.
  • Step 7. Repeat the above process until you achieve the shade you want for your upholstered piece of furniture. Because I was going from a light beige shade to a dark charcoal, I needed to apply the dye three times to each chair. Depending on your synthetic materials and the color you’re going from and the color you’re trying to achieve, you may need multiple coats and this may take some extra time. 
  • Step 8. Apply Rit Colorstay Dye Fixative. The fixative does not need to be combined with water. So, I just poured the bottles into my sprayer. I used two bottles of fixative for each chair.

The photo below shows one of the finished chairs. I would say that this type of patterned fabric is probably not ideal for dying. But, I am overall pleased with the look because for me, this is just a quick and temporary fix to get me through the holidays!

I would not hesitate to use this method to dye a solid fabric upholstered piece of furniture.

The challenge with this print is that the threads of the print are different colors. But, like I said, I do love this shade so much better than the way they were.

You can maybe see that in the close up below. I’ll also mention that it was really hard to get good photos today because it’s dreery outside, so there are a lot of shadows cast in these photos. And, that can make the chair color look uneven.

But, I promise that they don’t. They are a nice and solid charcoal gray with just the variations in the print.


Wear gloves! I forgot and ended up with dye all over my hands! And, be sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting a dye overspray. Better safe than sorry! 

Do not try to do this project inside without prepping the area. No matter how careful you are, you WILL get dye on the surrounding surfaces (can you tell I know this from experience)!!! 

Be patient and let each dye application dry completely before applying more.

And, if your upholstered furniture has wood arms, legs or other trim, you need to protect it from the dye; especially if the wood is a lighter shade of wood. You can use painter’s tape to cover the wood.

I didn’t cover the wood on my chairs, but did use an old towel to wipe off any dye immediately after spraying the chair. The wood is dark on these chairs and it was a quicker solution for me. You don’t want any color transfer that you didn’t plan for. 

Also, I do need to mention that it won’t be possible to dye something a lighter color. You can deepen a shade or change a color to a darker color, but not transition to a lighter upholstery color.

Whatever paint method you decide to try, it’s a good idea to whip the paint brush (or other painting device) before painting with it so you don’t make any drips of liquid dye on the upholstered fabric. Wipe the excess dye off the brush or other device before applying it to the chair fabric. 

Keep in mind that the paint will start to dry as soon as you apply it. This means that different parts of the chair will dry at different rates and may look different.

So, for best results, try to apply the fabric dye as evenly as possible so your color stays consistent across the whole project.

I hope that this is post on how to change the color of a fabric chair is helpful if you have a piece of furniture that needs updating.


Sunday 8th of January 2023

Love your results! What color dye did you use and does it transfer when you sit on it? I’m looking to do something similar on a loveseat that has a similar upholstery.

Doreen Cagno

Monday 30th of January 2023

Hi. The color is shown in the blog post and I also address the issue of transfer in the post.


Thursday 27th of October 2022

I did not think it was possible to do this. Awesome!


Tuesday 25th of October 2022

thank you, Doreen! I have a recliner that needs a change or needs to leave the house lol ! Now I have a solution to change the looks of it thanks to you! 🥰


Tuesday 25th of October 2022

Wow! What a difference. It looks great!


Tuesday 25th of October 2022

Thanks for sharing the chair dye adventure! I didn't know it was even possible. Enjoy the holidays in your new chair!