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How to Dye an Ottoman

Karren Doll Tolliver

Buying new ottoman is a good way to improve the look of your living space. However, if you cannot afford a new one or if you love your existing ottoman and it just needs a facelift, you can dye it yourself. Whether your ottoman is made of leather or upholstered with fabric, with the right chemistry and enough time, you can dye the ottoman to your preference. Work in a well-ventilated area that can be shut off from children or pets for a few days.

Dyeing a Leather Ottoman

You can dye the leather of an ottoman to give it new life.

Step 1

Wear gloves and old clothes. Spread newspapers or a plastic drop cloth on the floor. Place the ottoman in the middle.

Step 2

Wash the ottoman with a sponge dipped in a bucket of warm, soapy water. Rinse with a clean sponge dipped in clean water. Let dry.

Step 3

Pour acetone on a clean cotton cloth and rub the leather in circular motions to clean it. Reapply the acetone often and clean and dry the ottoman thoroughly.

Step 4

Spray a small area of the ottoman with clean water to dampen it. Pour a small amount of leather dye on a clean cotton cloth and rub it into the damp area using circular motions, working the dye into the leather until the color is even. Continue this process, working your way around the entire surface of the ottoman. Buff the leather with a clean cloth. If the color is not as dark or as even as you would like, apply another coat or two, buffing after each coat. Let dry according to the manufacturer's label.

Step 5

Spray a small area of the ottoman with leather finishing sealer. Work it into the leather with a clean cotton cloth, again using circular motions. Work your way around the ottoman until the whole thing is sealed. Let it dry completely before using the ottoman.

Dyeing an Upholstered Ottoman

Step 1

Choose a fabric paint according to the ottoman’s current upholstery. If there are worn spots, stains, or a dark hue or a pattern, you need a more opaque paint than if the upholstery is a light, solid color.

Step 2

Clean the ottoman well with a carpet shampooer upholstery attachment. Rent one if you have to. Do not use aerosol upholstery shampoo because it leaves a film behind that will interfere with the dyeing process. Rinse with clean water in the shampooer machine and extract as much water as possible. You can continue with the dyeing even though the fabric is a little damp.

Step 3

Mix the fabric paint with water according to the manufacturer’s directions. If the ottoman is still damp from cleaning, you will need less water.

Step 4

Using a foam craft brush, apply a little fabric paint in an inconspicuous area of the ottoman to make sure you like the results. If you do, working as quickly as you can, apply a coat of the fabric paint over the entire ottoman. Begin on the top and work from the most noticeable areas to the least noticeable areas. If you have to mix more paint, the borders between the drier and wetter areas will not be in an obvious area. The first coat may not cover the ottoman as you want, but apply the first coat evenly. Let the paint dry.

Step 5

Apply a second coat and let dry. Apply a third coat if necessary with a sponge using a dabbing movement. Let this dry. Do not apply a fourth coat because the paint will be too thick.

Step 6

Dilute an accent color of fabric paint 15 to 30 percent with water if your ottoman still has a mottled look. Dab the accent color on with a clean sponge in a freehand pattern or using stencils or stamps. Let the ottoman cure for 48 hours.

Step 7

Heat the upholstery in 1- to 2-square-foot sections with a heat gun for 3 or 4 minutes at a time. Hold the heat gun far enough from the ottoman to avoid scorching it. Be careful not to burn your skin or any wood or plastic finishes of the ottoman. Repeat the heating procedure for the whole ottoman and let cure another 48 hours.

Step 8

Clean the ottoman again with the carpet cleaner upholstery attachment using a little mild soap. Rinse well with the machine and clean water. Extract as much water as possible. Dry the ottoman using the heat gun.

Step 9

Spray on a protective fabric spray according to the manufacturer’s directions. Let it dry completely. Your ottoman is ready for use.