Re-upholstering benches made easy

Stools and benches are EVERYWHERE in second hand stores.  They are one of the most versatile and easy to update pieces, but often they are quite ugly upon first sight.  If you can look past the ugliness, however, you're one step ahead....and on your way to having an awesome little accent piece for your home. 

Don't let upholstering scare you!  It's easier than it looks.  This is a simple tutorial on what you can do with your bench/stool! 

Here is what you'll need:

  • Staple gun
  • Fabric
  • Fabric scissors
  • screw driver
  • Foam cushion (or pillow "stuffing" sometimes works) You can find these at Hobby Lobby, Joann Fabrics, or Michael's. 
  • Stool or bench (old piano benches are great for this)


Consider using fabric with bold patterns and colors that accentuate or compliment your home interior.  






TIP: fabric scissors work best. If your scissors is even slightly dull, cutting fabric will become a strongly disliked task! Trust me! 




TIP:  foam cushions work best and provide a firmer surface for your bench, but "stuffing" or batting can also work.  Batting that comes in sheets is easier to work with than batting bunched up in a ball.  

The photo to the left shows a sheet of batting. You can double up your layers to create a thicker seat cushion. 

Here's how:

1.  Flip the bench on its back.  You'll see screws in each corner.  Unscrew those using a screw driver.  Once all screws are out, the top of the bench should pop right off.

2.  Remove the old foam and fabric from the wood base.  You will see staples securing the old fabric to the wood base.  To remove the staples use a flat screw driver and try to wiggle your way under the staple. Then pry it up. Sometimes you'll pry off only one end of a taple. If that happens you can use a pliers to pull the other end out. 

3.  Now you have your bare bench/stool frame.  Painting the base is optional but remember to paint before adding the new fabric/upholstery! 

Below is the bench base right after the cushion/seat was removed.    On the right the bench base has been painted green! Just more fun, don't you think?

4.  Cut your foam piece to size.  Your foam or batting layer should be slightly larger (a centimeter or less) than the seat of the bench, on all four sides.  This is necessary so that the hard/wood edges of the bench base are fully covered.   In the picture below, two layers of batting are used instead of a foam cushion.  Either works. 

5.  Once your foam/batting is cut. Cut your fabric.  I usually leave about 2 inhes of extra fabric all the way around the bench base. Having a little more fabric around the edges makes "wrapping" it to the bench a little easier.  In the above picture you can see the fabric extends a couple more inches beyond the batting/base of bench.  

So, this will be the order of your pieces:  1. fabric lying flat, 2. cushion or batting layers laying on top the fabric, 3. bench base (usually made of wood)

6.  Start "wrapping" your base/foam layers like a present.  Start with the corners and work your way around the wood base, pulling tightly and stapling as you go.  Tip: when pulling the fabric, be careful not to pull too hard. You don't want to use up all the fabric on one side, and not have enough left on the other side to pull over your wood base.  

Below the fabric is wrapped around the entire bench base and cushion. Staples secure it to the bottom of the wood base: 

Tip:  When you are wrapping the fabric, do not cover up  the original screw holes with your fabric!  You will need these holes to be easily accessible when it's time to put the screws back in to the base.  You can see in the photo above I cut little half circles of fabric where the screw holes are. 

7.  Attach your newly upholstered seat cushion to the base of the stool/bench.  Just lay the seat cushion on its back, and place the base over it making sure to line up holes on the base, with the screw holes in the bottom of the seat. See photo below. 

TIP:  Sometimes old screws are rusty or just need replacing.  If you are using new screws,  consider these tips:  1.  make sure they are the same length as the old ones 2. Make sure they are long enough to go through the wood base and bench seat, and 3. Make sure the screws aren't so long that they go through your cushion!  That would be a huge bummer. That is why I included tip #1 above: use screws the same size as the old ones were! That way you can be sure they won't go through the cushion. 

Once all screwed in, your little bench is DONE! 

Then you can make more and more of these cute benches.....

These little benches work great for kids' or adult desk seats. They can also stand alone with the only purpose of adding a fun punch of color anywhere in the home! Longer benches are also great for the foot of the bed, an entry-way, or porch. 

Upholstering can seem intimidating. Hopefully today's tips will inspire you and take the  "scary" away!  Always start small.  And like anything new, practice!  Most of all, have fun and don't be afraid to make mistakes! That is how anyone ever got "good" at what they do!!! 

Happy upholstering!  

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