Upholstery is one of those DIY projects that can be really easy or really tough! I’ve done a couple chairs (one here), one with help from an upholstery class. I have a recliner I’d love to reupholster, but I am definitely not experienced enough to attempt it. However, there are some very simple upholstery projects that require no more than a staple gun, glue gun and some scissors – these include most dining room chairs, benches and footstools. These are the upholstery projects I – and you – can do!
Awhile back, I picked up this ugly footstool at a thrift shop for $5. I was drawn to it because the lid opens to reveal storage – reminded me of a mini piano bench. And the stool itself was in great shape – the wood was not scratched, the hinges worked perfectly, and it really seemed like it had never been used. (Probably because it was ugly!)
I had some leftover faux fur from a cape and muffs I had made for a friend’s wedding. I knew the fur would be perfect for this little bench that was just screaming for a girly makeover.
- Faux fur or other fabric – enough to cover with a couple inches overhang on each side to staple down
- Padding (I used the existing padding – it was still in good shape)
- Staple Gun
- Glue gun
- Sample-size paints from the home improvement store
- Paint brushes – small brush, larger brush and sponge brush for ombre legs
Step One: Prep
Remove the hinges and all fabric from the lid. Determine if the padding from the lid is in good enough condition to reuse. Clean the wood with TSP or similar cleaner. Sand wood with fine grit sandpaper to scuff up any stain or paint.
Step Two: Primer
Primer is key, especially if there was an existing finish on the bench. I had plenty of leftover primer from other projects. You can also use a paint/primer combo – but if you do, I recommend a little heavier sanding first to get through the existing finish. Coat the body, legs, and inside the storage area with primer. Odds are, the legs of the bench unscrew like mine did. I unscrewed them to apply the primer and paint to the body and then loosely screwed the legs back in to paint and primer those also. This keeps primer and pain from gunking up around the tops of the legs.
Step Three: Paint
Again, I had some leftover white paint from other projects. For the pink, I went to Lowes and got a $3 sample paint in a darker pink. My bench had a groove running along the bottom edge. This was perfect for me to paint pink. If you don’t have any such details, you can always use painters tape to create a stripe. Or just keep it solid.
For the legs, I wanted to do an ombre pink, starting darker at the bottom of the legs, moving lighter as I went up. I used a couple paper plates to mix the dark pink with the white to blend three shades of pink. Starting with the lightest shade, I painted the entire leg. When that dried, I started a third of the way down or so with the medium pink paint and a sponge brush, blending in the medium pink. Then, after that dried, I sponged on the dark pink. It turned out as good as I had hoped.
Step Four: Cover with fabric
Cut out the fabric you’re using to cover the top of the bench. Make sure you leave enough overhang on each side to fold over and staple down. If you are using faux fur as I did, there is a definite trick to cutting the fur without making a huge mess. DO NOT USE SCISSORS! Use a razor blade or knife to the back of the fur to cut just the backing. (see here for more instruction). Once you’ve cut to size, put the padding between the lid and the cover. Wrap the cover fabric around and staple down to the lid. I found, with the fur, that I did have to trim the fur a little shorter to have the staples stick better. Also, with thicker fabric, you may need to trim out the corners for them to lay a little flatter.
Step Five: Finish
To make the inside of the lid a little more appealing, I covered the center with white fleece. I trimmed the fur so that the fleece laid flatter, and then used a glue gun to attach it to the underside of the lid. Then, screwed the hinges back on and DONE!