Easy Upholstery Project

Looking around our house recently, I realized that we don’t make very many “new” purchases.  The majority of our furniture and home decor is vintage, and much of it has been “renovated” in some way, either with new paint or upholstery.  Trying your hand at upholstery for the first time can be a bit daunting.  The easiest way to “get your feet wet” for the first time, is to pick up something simple, like a small stool or bench.


On our picking trip to Florida last month, we found this great little antique piano stool.  It had such an unusual design and the top swiveled!  I knew it would be perfect for a very simple upholstery project.

The original upholstery was a very old and worn, reddish colored velvet, which had definitely see better days.


The first step was to remove the old upholstery.  I know some people like to upholster right over the top of the old fabric.  However, I really prefer not to do that.  Sometimes the old upholstery can be pretty nasty and I always feel better getting rid of it.


Start by removing any trim.  My preferred tools for this are usually a flat tip screw driver and needle nose pliers.  I’m sure there are appropriate, specific tools, designed for removing staples and upholstery tacks, however I don’t have them.  Using the flat tip screwdriver, I carefully work it underneath the staples and heads of the tacks to work them loose.  I then pull them out with the needle nose pliers.


Removing the old tacks and staples can be tedious work, especially on a large piece, but it’s well worth it to take the time to remove them. 


Sometimes there are layers and layers of old fabric.  Luckily, this stool only had the one cover, before we got down to the original linen and burlap upholstery.  

Ya’ll know my love of vintage grain sacks, and this stool was perfect to use one of my remnant pieces on.  Grain sacks can be expensive so when I cut one up to use in upholstery, I save all the scraps, hoping to be able to use them for another project.  Thankfully, I had a scrap piece of grain sack that worked for this little cover and I didn’t have to cut up a new sack.

I used the old seat cover as a pattern to cut out the new cover.  I always cut the new piece a little bit larger than the pattern, and then just trim the excess once it is stapled in place.  It’s easy to cut off extra fabric, but hard to add more if it’s not there!



Once the new cover was cut, I centered the design on the stool and stapled it with a staple gun on four sides to hold it in place. And then rotating around the seat, stapled the rest of the cover down.




Taking my fabric shears, I trimmed away the excess fabric.


To cover up the raw edges of the upholstery and the staples, I used gimp trim in a complimentary color, and just glued it down with a glue gun.


I don’t always use nail head trim, but I thought it would add a nice detail to the stool, so I just hammered these tacks right over the top of the gimp.


And here is the final result.  I think she turned out beautifully.



The bottom is very heavy solid wood, that had been painted white some time ago, and had achieved a beautiful timeworn look, so we left the painted finish alone.




So if you’re thinking about trying some upholstery projects for the first time, start with something small.  Small benches and stools can usually be found at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales for not a lot of money.  They  make for an easy beginner upholstery project.


Then you can move on to larger pieces!  

Now that this small project is complete, the stool is headed into the shop!



Flea Market Footstools


If you are aspiring to bring  a little bit ofFrench decor into your home, it’s pretty easy to do in small ways.  

I rarely go to a flea market that I don’t find an old footstool, 

usually very inexpensive,

and desperately needing an update!


It’s amazing what paint and upholstery can do in updating a piece.


If you are worried about the upholstery part, then a footstool is the perfect piece to get started with!

We recently found several different footstools while out junking at some of our favorite flea markets.


All were different sizes, but they all had the “french” look with their curvy legs!  Curvy legs is a requirement of mine…….not really interested if they don’t have some curve!


They were all in different stages of neglect with the most obvious being the really old fabric that they were covered in.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of the before, but trust me, they weren’t pretty!


The first thing I did was strip the old upholstery off and saved it so that I could use it for a pattern.  

Then I painted the wood in Annie Sloan chalk paint…….Old White…….my favorite paint, because it is so forgiving and will cover anything with no prep!  

After distressing and waxing, it was time for the upholstery.


I love, love,love, using antique European grain sacks in upholstery projects.  It’s the perfect weight and texture.  The grain sacks with graphics are especially a weakness for me! Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive.  But it is very easy to get the look without the expense!  I have stacks of the plain European grain sacks, which are pretty easy to find on Etsy and Ebay.  You know the ones with the beautiful, colored stripes down the center?  

You could also make your own “faux” grain sack using Lowe’s drop cloths and stencil the stripe on.  

 If you aren’t using Lowe’s drop cloths for a million different projects…….then I don’t know where you have been!  But that’s a whole other conversation!

My grain sacks that I used didn’t have graphics, so I added them.


I ordered the stencil from a wonderful Etsy shop, Euro Stencil Designs.  You can find her at www.etsy.com/shop/EuroStencilDesign.  She has lots of stencils to choose from!


I love the old German grain sack graphics with the farmers name and the dates.  So those are the ones I ordered.



Using the old fabric cover for a pattern, I cut out my new cover from the grain sack, and stenciled the graphic on with black craft paint.  Be sure your graphic is centered on the fabric.

Fit it to the top of the stool,  turn under and staple with a staple gun to the underneath side or to the sides as in the larger footstool.  With the larger stools, we added a complimentary trim to the edge to hide the stapled edges.  You can add the trim by using the good ol’ trusty glue gun!


And for an extra pop, we also added nail head trim to some of them.  

I love how they turned out and they give you an instant piece of old world “frenchy” charm without a lot of expense!

They are also small enough that they can be used in so many rooms and different ways! 


These are the same paint and grain sack techniques that I am using in re-doing my French dining room chairs.

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Two down, two to go!

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The footstools went into the shop to sell, so if interested, check them out!

Happy Friday!