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DIY Upholstered Stools

House Home Photo Editor DIY Upholstered Stools September 2010

Turn two shabby side tables into stylish upholstered stools.

I spotted these side tables at a vintage store. They were $35 for the pair and had crazy faux-marble tops made from laminate and plywood. In spite of that, they caught my eye — the legs reminded me of some trendy stools I'd seen in a high-end shop. Then, inspiration struck: Why couldn't I recreate that same look with these tables? Here's how I did it:

Materials and Tools

  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray paint
  • Upholstery foam
  • 2 yards of fabric per stool

Step 1: Paint

I tested both tables to make sure they'd be sturdy enough for seating. With some padding, they'd be just the right height — about 17". I unscrewed the tops, went over each base with fine sandpaper, then wiped them with a damp cloth. On curvy surfaces, spray-painting is quicker than using a brush. Work in a ventilated area and spray in sweeping motions from about 8" away to avoid drips. I applied two coats of black spray-paint in a satin finish.

Step 2: Upholster

I wanted the tailored look of a box edge and piping, so I decided to work with an upholsterer. The crisp look of a pro job will cost you anywhere from $150 to $300 for two pieces. If you want to do it yourself (and less expensively), wrap the tops in foam, then stretch the fabric over the top and staple it tidily to the underside.

Step 3: Reassemble

When the tops came back from the upholsterer, I simply screwed them back onto the bases. They looked gorgeous! I wanted a print that had some wow-factor but wouldn't date, and this sari-inspired pattern in robin's egg blue is chic yet timeless. Now I use the stools as ottomans in the family room, where they tuck conveniently under a console table, and can be pulled out for extra seating.

Table, West Elm; hurricane lantern, ChairTableLamp; tray, L'Atelier; pot, Angus & Company; candle, AT Design Group; plate, HorseFeathersHome; framed map, Absolutely Inc.; lamp, Artifacts; stool fabric, Sari (310N80), Y&Co; throw, Hollace Cluny; rug, Elte; upholstering, Daniel Nguyen-Moreira; TrafficMaster flooring, The Home Depot.


Morgan Michener


Kim Jeffery

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