DIY Facelift for an Antique Settee


When I found this settee, I knew it belonged at the foot of the bed in my guest room. I call it a settee although I’m not entirely sure that’s the perfect definition for this. From my research, I’ve learned that settees are bigger than a chair and smaller than a sofa, they are usually upholstered, and almost always have an ornately carved back. This is close enough for me.

As you may remember, my first experience with painting upholstery was not altogether satisfying. I may try fabric painting again, but this settee wanted to be soft and welcoming – something I did not achieve in my last fabric painting adventure. For this particular project, I opted to have it reupholstered to match the room as you will see below.

While the cushions were out being re-done, I worked on the chair’s wooden components. Sanding this elaborate woodwork demanded that I use my Dremel Tools.

Closer look at Pillow

If you’re going to do refinishing work on furniture or frames, particularly on antiques, you really should invest in a Dremel. I started with the basic kit that includes the rotary tool and about two dozen attachments. (They run somewhere near $100.00 at Amazon.) Over the years, I’ve added more little gizmos to help with different projects, but it’s a must-have if you want your work to look sensational and not drive yourself nuts trying to sand the itty-bitty places antiques tend to have. Check them out here.


After the sanding, and a careful tack-cloth treatment, I painted the wooden parts of this second-cousin to a loveseat in a custom-mixed chalk paint to match other pieces I’ve done for this room. This took several coats because the wood was quite dark.

Fabric Painting Settee

Please be sure to allow the paint to dry thoroughly and use fine steel wool to remove brush marks on the surface of the paint before moving on to the next coat. It makes the finished product so much more professional looking, in my opinion.

Pottery Barn Settee Pillow

When I re-attached the newly reupholstered cushions, I was very pleased with the results. I tossed on a pillow I found some time back at Pottery Barn. I think it looks cozy and inviting. Hope you agree.


Settee Before and After

1 Comment

  1. Linda C Johnston on

    Looks great! I would have grabbed this sweetie too! I found that using 800 grit sandpaper works for me in between paint coats too.