Then, during my hours of research on DIY things I've done this summer, I came across a wonderful product for painting leather/man-made leather. It's called Angelus paint, and the professionals use it for painting shoes. I bought some and have painted several pairs of shoes with them. It is fabulous stuff, and doesn't even come off the shoe when I scratch it with my fingernail.
I figured that if it worked this well on shoes, it just may work on my chairs! My husband thought I was crazy for risking it, but I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying things out, so I went for it. I ordered several large bottles of the white Angelus paint, and I also ordered pearlescent white Lumiere paint, which gives it a nice shimmery sheen (which I've used on shoes as well with great results).
I prepped them with acetone since the chairs are man-made leather (which is pretty nasty stuff! I went through so many pairs of plastic gloves and it kept eating through them - yuck). Then I used a little foam roller and dipped the paint onto a paper plate that I had poured the paint onto. I did 2 coats of the white on each chair. I could still see a little bit of brown through the paint and I wish I had done a third coat because when I went to paint the white pearl Lumiere paint on the chairs you could still see streaks of brown through the white paint. I didn't realize how thin and opaque the Lumiere would be, but I ended up doing 2 coats of that with the foam roller over the white to cover it and get it looking good. It was still a little streaky, so I used a sponge and sponged another 2 coats all over the chair. After that I thought they looked pretty good, so I left it at that. I wish I had taken pictures of the process, but once I start something I get totally into it and I completely forgot since I didn't have anyone to remind me. :( It took about an hour for each chair (since I painted 8) from start to finish.
Anyway, I am super happy with how they turned out and they've been really durable. We've sat in them a lot since then and had guests over and they always ask if we got new chairs. I love it when my projects actually turn out well!!
(After seeing the picture above and noticing how white the parts of the chairs were where the padding curves around and meets the flat part in back, I went back with a little foam brush and added more Lumiere paint in between those and it doesn't stand out anymore).
To buy the Angelus paints click here: Angelus Direct
For the Lumiere paints click here: Jacquard Products