Recover your Bar Stools and Revamp your Space

Refresh, restore, renew.

Today’s project is brought to you by the prefix re-.  As in refresh, restore and renew an item instead of buying new.  In part because I love to get hands on with my home renovation projects.  And also because I am flat broke having found myself retrenched.  Yes, you heard correctly. I am (unfortunately) currently between jobs.  But as they say, every cloud has two birds in the bush and you can’t put a pig in a wet sack. Or something like that.  I seem to remember more silver linings and maybe something about another door opening in the original proverb.

But I digress, as is my way.  I have always wanted to work for myself, and while I know it will take quite some time to be in a position to support myself with the Blogging and Virtual Assistant business I have decided to move forward with, I am positive and looking forward to this new adventure.  Plus, this new change of direction will give me time to get stuck in to all the half finished jobs around the house (that don’t require me to spend a cent because I already planned for them ages ago).

And there are sooo many half finished jobs that I am spoilt for choice.

When my lovely in-laws heard that I was looking at setting up my own business while also looking for paid employment, they donated the two wrought iron stools they had laying around in the shed to the cause.

I knew they had the potential to be an absolutely perfect addition to my breakfast bar (the chairs that is, not my in-laws) and the ideal place to put my tuchus as I sent out job applications and worked on my business.  A little worn, a little rusty and a little weary.  But brimming with potential.  So I promptly left all the unfinished renovations unfinished, and set to work on this newly presented project.

Since I was going to have to do this project without spending a single cent, I had the choice of two suitable fabrics I had bought several months back to make cushion covers for my bedroom.  Thank goodness for my innate need to buy a little extra of everything ‘just in case’.  I loved them both for this project and was leaning towards the patterned fabric until my daughter pointed out it might be a little bit too much once I got all the pictures hung on the stairwell wall nearby.  As usual, she was right and I went for the plain grey fabric, with a little surprise burst of colour on the underside of the stools.  And I considered the idea of making little bolster cushions out of the patterned fabric to stop them looking too plain.

But first things first – for those of you playing along at home, for this project you will need:

  • Fabric of your choice, the exact amount needed will be determined by the size of your seats. I used an unlined triple weave curtain fabric, but whatever you chose make sure it is durable and not too lightweight.  For my seats I used about 70 x 63 cm.
  • Scissors
  • Drill with screwdriver bit/screwdriver
  • Staples and staple gun.
  • Staple remover (or flatblade screwdriver if you, like the vast majority of humans, do not possess a staple remover)
  • Pliers
  • Dressmaker’s pins
  • Wine to celebrate your success. Or to get drunk enough not to see your mistakes.  Up to you really.

1. Remove the seat

The first step is to determine how to remove the seat of your stool.  Flip it over and take a look.  Thankfully for me it was four simple screws holding it in and with the use of my trusty, and much loved Ryobi One Drill it was a simple matter to remove them.  They were a little rusty, so I went downstairs and got some new ones for when it came time to put everything back together.

2. Pull out the staples

With your seat off, place it upside down on your work surface (aka kitchen bench) and get to work removing the staples.  The tiny ones holding in the bottom fabric on my seat were near on impossible to remove any which way I tried, so I simply ripped the fabric off.  This exposed the much larger staples holding the upholstery on.  And while I *have* a staple remover, I certainly didn’t *use* a staple remover.  I used a flat blade screwdriver to get those suckers out (a fact which we will not be sharing with my husband, the technical owner of said screwdriver).  Slide whatever makeshift tool you are using under the staples and lever them out.  Any that are shifting but are being a little more stubborn can be manhandled out with pliers once you have enough to grip. This still left the tiny staples from before, so I once again simply ripped the fabric away from them.

As a side note, before you remove the staples that hold the seat covering in place, look at how the fabric is folded/cut as this is what you will be aiming for in order to have nice smooth edges on your recovered seat.

3. No seriously, there are more staples than you think…

With all the fabric gone, it left enough space for me to be able to manoeuvre a smaller screwdriver under the staples and pull them out with pliers.  But let’s face it, this side is going to be completely covered so technically it wouldn’t have changed the aesthetics of the project if you left them there.  But I knew it would bug me to know I’d only half done the job, so I got stuck in and ripped them all out.  And that’s the longest and most tedious part of this project over and done with.  Pretty quick and easy, right?

If you find that the cushioning of your seat has disintegrated, now would be the time to duck out and grab some foam and cut it to size.  Thankfully mine was absolutely fine and comfy, so I forged ahead without worrying about this.

4. Cut your fabric

Now you have a naked seat, it’s time for the fun part.  Recovering your poor, nekkid seat.  And getting the cut right is easier than you might have first thought.  All you need to do is grab the fabric you had removed from the stool, place it face down on the back of the fabric you will be using, pin in place and cut around it, using the old fabric as a template.

5. Staple fabric in place

Lay the fabric right side up (shocking, I know!) over the seat of your seat, smoothing out any unwanted wrinkles.  And I would assume that all wrinkles are unwanted wrinkles in this situation.

Check it is positioned correctly by folding the fabric around to where it will be stapled.  All good?  Excellent.  Grab your staple gun and start by putting a couple of staples side by side in one side.  Move to the opposite side and, pulling tight to give the completed project a taught, smooth look, put a couple of staples in here as well.  Now work your way around, making sure you remain wrinkle free have neat, even folds to account for the curves.

6. Cover the base

Looking good?  Mine too.  At this stage I was thrilled with how it was beginning to look.  To cover the raw edges of the fabric and exposed woodwork, you will want to lay the fabric you will be using on the bottom face down on the bench.  You could simply use matching fabric, it would give it a professional finish, especially if you are, like me, using a plain fabric on top.  However, I like colour, fun and little bit of a surprise so I chose the patterned fabric that may have come off as too busy when choosing fabric right back at the beginning of this project.  As I had already used these two fabrics together on another project I knew they contrasted perfectly.

Use the seat as a template and draw around it on the back of the fabric.  Cut around this, leaving a couple of centimetres to fold under, hiding the exposed edge.  Then flip the seat back over and staple in place.

7. Clean the framework

The stools I was revamping had been left out in the weather so there was plenty of elbow grease needed to remove the rust and dirt.  If yours look as tired as mine, now is the time to break out the sugar soap and scourer.  As tempting as it is to put it all back together so you can revel in your genius, you don’t want to mess up your fresh, clean fabric with dirty water and grime.

8. Reattach the seat to your stool.

Finally, it is time to firmly reattach the seat to the frame. I used my Ryobi One drill again, but if you are way more energetic than me, get out your screwdriver and go for it.  Flip right side up and stand back to admire your handiwork.

9. Sit on stool feeling accomplished and drinking wine.

You don’t need guidance for this step – I believe in you.

And there you have it.  A total revamp of your breakfast bar stool that needs zero outlay and is easily accomplished in an afternoon.  Isn’t it amazing how small things like this change the entire look of the space?

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