Skip to main content

Five Tips for a Custom Stool Makeover


When looking for a budget-minded seating option for my home recently I decided that sometimes you just have to do it yourself.  I was frustrated by unsuccessful attempts to coordinate window treatments with extra seating for the kitchen area in our Florida house.  First, I fell in love with window panels from West Elm.   The style, design, and color were a perfect complement to the decor in my space.

How to Upholster Stools for Your Decor

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  When you use one of these links I receive a small compensation that helps support the costs to publish this blog.

Custom Stool Makeover
Custom Stool Makeover
Once the curtain decision was made I went on the hunt for a bench solution that would fit under the window.  I wanted something that could easily be moved.  The house is small and the main living space needs flexibility to easily accommodate family and friends.  Ideally, I wanted two small stools that could be moved around whenever needed for extra seating.  I also wanted my stools to be inexpensive, or better yet, cheap!

So the search began.  I looked online.  I looked in retail stores.  I looked in consignment shops and second-hand stores.  I looked and looked until one day when in Target I spotted two stools.  They were simple, upholstered stools covered in a gray floral fabric.  They were right height and size to fit in my space and perfect, except for the fabric.  The clearance price of $17.00 for each made me stop and think.  I hemmed and hawed.  Could I slipcover them?  Did I have the nerve to attempt to recover them?  After all, I have never attempted upholstery projects before.   In the end, the price and my can-do spirit won me over and convinced me it was worth a try to recover them. I apologize that there are no before pictures.
Coordinate stools with your draperies.

This post is not a tutorial on recovering stools.  It really is a simple project.  You can find a number of YouTube videos that will help you get the job done.  This post is about what I learned in the process of recovering my stools.  I hope what I learned will help you when you attempt a project like this.

Five Tips for a Successful Custom Stool Makeover


Tip 1

You need the right tools.  I was gung ho to get this project underway.  I had my fabric.  I had my stools.  This was going to be easy.   Hmm, two years later I actually finished this project, but I initially thought it would take me a couple of hours.  I started by removing the original fabric from one of the stools.  The only tool I had was a screwdriver to pry off the staples securing the covering. It took me hours and hours.

It is a miracle I didn't end up in the emergency room as the screwdriver slipped and I nearly stabbed myself, not once or twice, but many times.  I was so disgusted by the time I got the fabric off of one stool that I put both of them in a corner and walked away. Don't start until you have the right tools.

Tip 2

Ignoring an unfinished project doesn't get the project done.  Every time I looked at those stools tucked away in a corner they reminded me I had given up.  I began to rationalize, telling myself it was okay not to use those stools.  Perhaps I should just spend $250 on a plain navy blue bench I saw online.  Maybe I could take the stools to the local upholstery shop and have them finish the job.

Yes, those were both practical solutions, but deep down I wasn't ready to let this simple project get the best of me.  As time went on, those stools started to haunt me.  Something had to be done.  The two years this project took to complete was due to 729 days avoiding the project.

Tip 3

Rely on the experience of others.  One way to learn a new skill today is online through blogs and YouTube videos.  The tutorials I found online were very helpful and gave me the courage to start the project, but they didn't share the pitfalls.

Those little pitfalls are what can make or break a project. The turning point for me was a conversation I had with a neighbor who had just recovered some chairs in her dining room.  Not only did she have some helpful tips, but she had the right tools and she was willing to lend them to me.

Tip 4

Keep it simple.  To keep my project simple I took the stools apart carefully so I would be able to follow the original covering approach.  That meant I had a custom pattern already prepared for me by using the fabric on the stool for that purpose.  I also decided not to tuft the top of the stools.  I didn't have the right tools for that and I thought a smooth seat would have a more modern style.

I also reused as much of the original materials as I could.  I used the original cording to make custom piping for the recovered stools.  I reused the black fabric finishing piece for the underside of the stool that would cover all the staples.  I would have reused the decorative studs along the edge of the stool, but too many were too bent by the original application process for reuse.

Tip 5

Little things make a difference.  It's the little things that will sabotage your project.  For example, There is a big difference between a screwdriver and a tack lifter.


Once I had a tack lifter the task of removing both the staples and decorative studs was quick and easy.  Using a simple pattern can make your life easier.  For example, I needed something to help me space out the decorative tacks.  For that, I measured out the desired spacing on a strip of paper and reused it as a guide on each side of the stools.

A simple way to evenly apply upholstery tacks.
My Tack Guide
One tip I picked up from reading customer reviews when purchasing the decorative tacks for this project.  It was simply to use needle nosed pliers to hold the tacks when hammering them into the stool.

Use needle nosed pliers to hold tacks.
A Simple Tip for Nailing Tacks
And finally, be sure you have a good stapler.  I used a staple gun attached to an air compressor that made the stapling part of this project a breeze.

I learned a lot from this project about recovering furniture and about myself.  The actual time it took to complete these stools was about eight hours.  That includes the frustrating time I spent with the screwdriver removing staples on the first stool.  Learn from my lessons and you can probably do it in half the time.

Coordinated draperies and stools-DIY.
Coordinated Draperies and Stools

Before you go....Never miss a Just One Donna post by signing up to receive posts in your email or your favorite RSS feed.  Links are in the sidebar.

Good luck!


Comments

More Popular Posts

How to Make a Perfect Bacon and Eggs Breakfast

In my opinion, the best breakfast consists of two perfectly fried eggs, crispy bacon, and toast made with hearty bread. This bacon and eggs recipe delivers. It is the breakfast you want when you have time to relax around the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee or two. The Best Bacon and Eggs Breakfast (This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  When you make a purchase using these links you help support this blog.) How to Cook Bacon and Eggs My technique was learned from my mom, by watching her make our family's breakfast over and over again, year after year.  This is a basted eggs recipe which means the eggs are cooked in bacon grease. Cooking eggs in bacon fat is easy and takes just a little practice to perfect. All you really need for a great bacon and eggs breakfast is a good nonstick skillet and a good toaster . If you want to make your own bread for toast, a bread machine like mine  will make that easy as can be. Three

How to Turn Store-Bought Potato Salad from Blah to Amazing

Here's a potato salad time-saver for you just in time for summer cookouts.  When you need a quick potato salad, and no time to make one from scratch, that ordinary store-bought potato salad you have in your refrigerator can go from blah to amazing in just a few minutes with just a few ingredients. There's no judgment here. We don't always have the time to make a potato salad from scratch. Sometimes it is just easier to stop by your local grocery store to pick up a container of the store-made potato salad. It's good. It's predictable.  It will do.  All it needs is a little doctoring. How to Make Store-Bought Potato Salad Better Take Your Potato Salad from Blah to AH-Mazing! What should you do if you want that store-bought potato salad to have a little more flavor? You're going to a potluck picnic or you are having people over for an impromptu barbecue and you'd like your potato salad to be a little special. There is no need to fret.  A

Rum Punch for a Party

As the weather warms and you start to think about gathering friends and family for parties and celebrations you'll want to think about signature cocktails. This rum punch cocktail is an ideal cocktail for a large gathering because the flavors are irresistible. Don't you think a warm-weather cocktail should make imagine yourself sitting by the shore on a tropical beach with your toes in the sand? Fruity rum drinks are perfect and rum punch is one of those perfect cocktails.  Cool and fruity, rum punch will make a party! One sip and you'll be transported to the beach. Rum Punch Cocktail (This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  When you make a purchase using these links you help support this blog.) Rum Punch for a Party! Can you make a rum punch ahead of time?  This rum punch recipe is a make-ahead recipe I use whenever we are having a large group for a summer picnic or barbecue.  Use the recipe below as your baseline and double or tripl

Forgotten Pork Chops

Today dawned dark and dreary in my corner of New England.  I woke to a dusting of snow, gray skies, and an ongoing drizzle forecast for the remainder of the day.  It's days like these when you turn to a one-pan, comfort food dinner like this recipe for Forgotten Pork Chops. This recipe is perfect for a dreary winter weeknight or any day you want an easy, hearty meal. One-Pan Pork Chops and Rice (This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  When you purchase through these links I receive a small compensation.)  Forgotten Pork Chops Truth be told, this recipe came about on a day when I wasn't really in the mood to spend time in the kitchen.  Much like today, it was dreary.  It was pouring rain and we had just sent the last of our guests home from my son's wedding. All I wanted to do was sit with my feet up. I needed an easy pork chop recipe!  This recipe is the result and has been a favorite ever since.  The recipe serves two to four, depending on the n

How to Trap and Get Rid of Fruit Flies

What can you do to kill fruit flies?  We've all been there.  Fruit flies in the kitchen.  Fruit flies in the bathroom.  Fruit flies buzzing around everywhere in your home.   It's a frustrating problem that happens to everyone at one time or another.  If you are a fresh fruit and produce lover you certainly know what I mean. How to Kill Fruit Flies with Two Ingredients Those pesky little buggers can often be brought into your home on the vegetables and fruit you buy. There are many solutions offered for fruit fly traps to help you solve your problem.   A quick Amazon search found these products. You can spend your money on one of these solutions or I can save you a whole lot of your hard-earned cash today. My solution is the best.  Here's why: You have the ingredients in your kitchen now.  You need apple cider vinegar and a mild dish liquid . It's a healthy, family-friendly solution. It works quickly because fruit flies are attracted to apple cider vin

Crunchy, Spicy Gingersnap Cookies

Crunchy, spicy, and yummy are all words used to describe a good gingersnap cookie.   While my hands-down, favorite cookie is a gooey chocolate chip cookie I occasionally crave a spice cookie, like gingersnaps or  this molasses cookie .  This old-fashioned gingersnap cookie is a winner.  It's easy to make and will be a favorite in your recipe rotation. Traditional Gingersnap Cookie Recipe ( This post contains affiliate links.  I will be compensated when you make a purchase with these links.) Gingersnaps Cookies In the U.S., gingersnaps are usually drop cookies with lots of cracks on the surface.  That's exactly how I like them.  Those found in other countries may be thinner and sliced.  The Lebkuchen, a traditional German cookie, and the pepparkakor, from Sweden, are often cut into festive shapes.  My gingersnaps are round. Reasons You'll Love These Gingersnap Cookies These gingersnaps are tasty cookies at any time of the year.   Their spiciness is perfect as

Grandma's Soft and Chewy Date-Filled Cookies

One of the things I can count on as the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons arrive each year is a feeling of nostalgia. The traditional foods we serve at our family's holiday tables can sure bring out all the feels. Now that it is officially cookie season, we should kick it off with an old-fashioned homemade date-filled cookie recipe. This is a soft, tender cookie with dates that is a special, nostalgic, family recipe.   An Old-Fashioned Date Filled Cookie This old-fashioned, date-filled cookie was my dad's favorite cookie from his childhood. My dad was born in 1932 so this recipe has been around for quite a while. 

Roasted Vegetables for the Oven or Grill

Roasted vegetables make a tasty side dish that is perfect for many occasions.  Whether you choose to roast vegetables in your oven or in a grill pan on your grill you'll love the ease and versatility. You'll especially love them when you are planning a menu for a large gathering.   Do you need a make-ahead side dish? Roasted vegetables can even be prepared in advance because they are delicious either hot or at room temperature.  Oven Roasted or Grilled Vegetables This roasted vegetables recipe is my go-to combination of vegetables but seasonal additions are tasty, too.  I think you will enjoy how nicely the flavors meld together during the cooking process.  

Easy Chicken Parmesan-A Make Ahead Freezer Dinner

Chicken Parmesan is a favorite dinner in the Just One Donna house.  It's also a favorite restaurant menu choice. I like to keep Chicken Parmesan prepared in my freezer for those busy weeknights when we might be tempted to head to a restaurant instead of eating at home.  That way, we'll have a delicious dinner all ready to go into the oven and save money to boot.  What's not to like about that? Freezer Chicken Parmesan for Busy Families This post contains affiliate links.  I receive a small compensation when you shop using these links Easy Freezer Chicken Parmesan for Dinner This Chicken Parmesan recipe is made with everyday ingredients in the spirit of semi-homemade. You may already have the ingredients you need in your pantry.   Chicken Parmesan Ingredients That makes this an easy recipe for any mom or dad to prepare in advance for those busy weeknight dinners. Make a double batch and you'll have a baked Chicken Parmesan dinner for tonight and anoth

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

These mini lemon meringue pies are perfect any time of year, but when spring has sprung it seems that lemon-flavored desserts are a must.  That's precisely what motivated me to buy a large bag of beautiful, plump lemons.  Individual Lemon Meringue Tarts Lemon Meringue Tart The crust is crispy and flaky.  The filling is tart, yet sweet, and the meringue...oh, the meringue is light, fluffy, and heavenly.  If you are a lemon lover you'll love these mini lemon pies. They are just the right size for you to satisfy your lemon craving with portion control.