Google+ House Revivals: How to Dye a Leather Sofa or Chair

Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Dye a Leather Sofa or Chair

For the past couple of weeks, I have been researching methods for dyeing leather furniture. My husband wants a recliner. {Cue record scratching sound effects.} The thing about recliners is that they are fantastically amazing to sit and recline in -- which is why they are so popular. (This post is participating in Blogging a to Z. D is for Dye!)

The other thing about recliners? Most of them are, well, ugly. Annnnnnnd they are often so over-scaled they take up the entire room.
This is a typical recliner -- gigantic and  man-cavish:

I'm not saying it's wrong to have a recliner like that one -- they are, after all fantastically comfy, but everyone's taste and space requirements are different, and what works for one person might not work for another. I would probably LOVE a hot pink Natuzzi recliner, but my husband would hate it (and I think it's too big for the space -- darn)!
Our living room is very small, so we can't get something super over-stuffed and over-scaled, and our architecture is pretty traditional, so that dictates what will work in our space.

We've been everywhere looking at recliners -- he hit La-Z-Boy and Recliner World on his own, then I dragged him around to some higher end stores. He sat, I measured, he reclined, I studied specs, he commented, I took notes. It went on and on. He wants comfort. I want that for him, but our city apartment is small, so scale is important -- so is quality, and so is appearance.  We finally found this leather recliner from Ethan Allen, that has all the qualities we were looking for. This was the only recliner in their whole store that had a high enough back to support the head of an average height man when reclined.  The scale is actually pretty compact, which is good for urban living, but the chair is expensive, starting around $2000.  {Cue record scratching sound effects again!}

We started searching on Craigslist for a more affordable option, and found this beauty. She's vintage Ethan Allen, blue, worn, and the mechanism is loose.  For thirty bucks, we decided to take a chance and buy it. Of course, the color is wrong. It's a great color, but it just doesn't work with our existing finishes and textiles.

I know we can tighten up the mechanism, but am not sure if we can successfully re-dye the chair a different color.  I once stripped a pair of little pink cowgirl boots, and re-dyed them to little brown cowboy boots, so I'm hopeful.

The local leather restoring company says they may be able to do it -- for $800.  Ummmmm, no, I am not spending $800 to dye a $30 chair. Now, I am scouring the blogosphere and the YouTube world looking for inspiration (and tutorials).

Here are some bloggers who have successfully dyed their furniture:

This sofa, from The Crandall Family blog, was FREE, and the transformation is jaw dropping! Check out her tutorial here.

Erin, who blogs at Decorallure, ended up with this result, after applying some TLC to a free leather chair.

Alex, at Laughs Ideas Inspiration dyed an entire set of leather furniture. It was white when it started out, and had been scribbled on with markers! You really need to see this transformation to believe it!

At Weeds, The Flower Pot Blog, they give detailed instructions on how they redyed this sofa.

This armchair makeover from Lindsay and Drew is beautiful!

Kaysi, from Keeping it Simple made over this chair!

This Eames style chair was dyed over at Bungalow Ranch.

The next question is what color to try to dye our "new" recliner. The leather dyeing professional suggested that not all colors can successfully by used, as the old blue color can never be fully stripped away.  I suppose I can order some sample dyes and experiment under the cushion.... One concern was that it may be difficult to get a good brown over a dark blue, but maybe this pretty green would work?  Not sure my husband would like it, but I would LOVE it!

There are lots of YouTube videos and tutorials showing how to use specific (usually expensive products), and showing the process professional restorers use.  I don't have a special paint gun, so I really need a product I can apply with an old sock.

I think if I keep things in the blue color spectrum, I will be successful -- maybe a pretty teal?

Have you ever dyed a piece of leather furniture? Would you do it again?

If you are visiting from A to Z, please leave your link in your comment, so I can be sure to find you!