Why Every Home Needs This Small Piece of Furniture

Decorating ideas showing how to add pretty step stools and small wood stools to the furnishings in any room in your home. Decorating with step stools can be both stylish and functional.  Find out how to decorate them using paint, wallpaper and more, plus where to find them no matter what your home decorating budget is.

When it comes to furnishing our homes to make them comfortable and functional for our needs, we often focus on the big pieces of furniture like sofas, beds, a chest of drawers and dining tables.

But there is one small piece of furniture that you may not have, a piece that every home can benefit in having.

It is the often underrated wood step stool. This small, but versatile household item can come in very handy and it doesn’t have to be utilitarian. It can add both decorative style and functionality to your home.

Read on to find out the reasons why I know every home can benefit from having a decorative wood step stool or two around the house.

IKEA Bekvam Step Stool painted white with black and white houndstooth duck tape covering the steps.

If you have ever found yourself struggling to reach high shelves or cabinets in your home you may already have a step stool.

I have been using this IKEA Bekvam step stool for the last 10 years. It serves as both a practical assistant and a visually pleasing prominent accent placed between my living room and kitchen. It’s like having a functional piece of art right at my fingertips!

If you are a long time reader you may remember my post about how I used decorative duct tape to cover the stool’s steps. At the time, a few readers commented that the tape would never last. Well it has been 10 years! I use it a few times every day and it still looks good, but I am ready to give it a new look.

Decorative Wood Step Stools

Over the years, when needed, I take this step stool upstairs when I can’t reach the top shelf in a guest room closet where I keep all my linens.

When my 4-1/2 old granddaughter, Zoe was visiting over the holidays, I found myself taking the stool upstairs every day so she could reach the top of the sink vanity in the bathroom to wash her hands and brush her teeth.

To make the sink tasks easier for her since she was staying with us for 5 weeks, I figured it was finally time to go in search for another step stool to keep on the second floor.

Serena & Lily teak wood step stool with white accents.
Serena & Lily

I have had my eye on this Serena & Lily Teak Step Stool for a long time. It is a lower style step stool – (13″ high). It comes in 3 finishes, but it is pricey.

Thrift store find wood step stool painted in neon colors, stripes and dots waiting for a makeover.

To save money, Zoe and I took a trip to my favorite thrift store to find a more affordable option. We were in luck. We found this one for $4.00.

Zoe thought it was perfect just as we found it. I didn’t, but waited until she went home after the holidays to paint it to fit the color scheme I use in the rooms on the second floor.

After photo of a Thrift store wood step stool painted with Navy blue chalk paint. Placed in front of a white bathroom vanity.

To paint the step stool, I used Fusion Mineral Paint in the color Liberty Blue. I had a jar leftover from when I used an allover stencil to make the walls in the bathroom look like blue and white floral wallpaper.

I distressed the edges of the stool and used both dark and clear wax to seal it. If you would like to know the painting and sealing steps I used, see this post: Step By Step – How to Paint Furniture With Chalk Paint

After photo of a Thrift store wood step stool painted with Navy blue chalk paint. Placed in front of a white bathroom vanity.

As I mentioned above, step stools do not have to be utilitarian or hidden away when not in use. They can be a charming little helper prominently displayed, not only to provide a boost for reaching high places, but also to double as decor or an accent element in any room.

Navy blue wood step stool to stand on to get to high shelf in storage closet.

The blue paint color on the thrift store find step stool also coordinates with the blue plaid guest room where I will be using it from now on to give me a boost to reach the top shelf in the closet.

Another Wood Stool – The Kind You Sit On

If you have no need for a wood step stool in your home, you may want to consider having one or two low wood stools that are dining chair height which is around 18-19 inches high. These types of stools come in very handy around the house.

wood stool in kitchen painted red.

I have three vintage round wood stools that I have had for 40 years. That alone tells you how nice they are to have and I have never gotten rid of them, only updated them as my decor changed.

I have given them many a makeover over the years from sponge painted, striped, and even did a Trompe l’oeil painting of a just baked pie on a dishcloth on the seat. My daughter, Mandy has this one in her house.

vintage wood stool painted with monogram decal on seat.

On one of the stools, I DIY Monogrammed the top to use at my sewing machine in my previous house.

19" high round wood stool painted light blue and white in a clothes closet to sit on so you can put on shoes.

When we moved to the lake house in SC, I removed the monogram and it became a place for Ed to sit in his closet so he could easily put his shoes on.

Other Uses for Decorative Wood Stools

Decorative wood step stools and sit-on-stools are very versatile. Their use can go beyond helping you reach higher.

Serena & Lily blue and green bedroom showing a step stool by the bed.
Serena & Lily

A step stool can also be used next to a high bed in the room to help you climb up and get in.

IKEA Bekvam Step Stool painted white with black and white houndstooth duck tape covering the steps.

Both step stools and chair height sit-on-stools can become:

  • a place to hold books or magazines
  • a plant stand
  • a side table to hold a stack of books
  • a nightstand

A wood sit-on-stool is easy to carry from room to room. Since it is small it can fit in tight spaces and provide extra seating when needed at a crowded dining table or around a coffee table in a living room.

Decorative Finishes To Add to Wood Stools

IKEA BEKvam wood step stool in its natural state.
IKEA Bekvam – 19.6″ high

This IKEA Bekvam Wood Stool is the one I have. It comes in natural or white. I like it best because it is sturdy, dependable and affordable.


Any wood stool can be stained, painted, stenciled, wall-papered or embellished in any way you come up with to fit your style and coordinate with a room’s decor.

Opt to make a statement and let your personality shine.

Where To Look For Wood Stools

If you see either a wood step stool or a sit-on-stool at a yard sale or thrift store, don’t overlook it as I am sure you can find many uses for one in your home.

If you can’t find one you like when out and about, you can also find many stylish step stools online.

Stylish Wood Step Stools

Whether you’re stepping up your decor game with a wooden stool, embracing the casual charm of a low stool, or simply wanting to elevate the style of a room, remember that decorating is all about expressing your personality. Do what feels right.

Now that you know you don’t have to hide a step stool in a closet until you need it, look around your home and consider adding a decorative and functional wood step stool or sit-on-stool to a room or rooms in your home.

Navy blue painted wood step stool placed in front of a white sink vanity in a bathroom. Text overlay says - Decorating Ideas Usind Step Stools

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  1. Carol Heartfelt Whimsies says:

    Diane, I was so happy to get your blogpost in my email! I hope all is going well with your sweet Zoe and your whole family!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carol – Have you not been getting my emails before the one that went out today? I post about 2 times a week. Zoe, my daughter, SIL and new grandson came to stay with us for 5 weeks over the holidays since Zoe finished her 2.5 years of treatment and could travel once again. She is doing well and is a happy little kid – a real little trooper. I wish they didn’t live so far away.

  2. I adore the deep blue color you chose. It looks amazing. I have 4 different stools of varying heights, some I place table top Xmas trees on during the holiday season. I also use for extra seating at our kitchen table & for our grand daughter to stand on if she wants to help in the kitchen.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Holly – Thanks about the blue. I just bought a pillow cover from Etsy to add a pattern to the sofa. I will post about it soon, but I love how it looks. I have never placed a table top tree on one of my stools – great idea.

  3. The thrift store stool looks perfect as it seems lower to the ground with deeper steps.
    The IKEA stool does make a great night stand. My daughter used one in her guest room until her children were born. Now it travels around her house as needed. I have two of those stools, one in the kitchen (in natural) and the white one in our walk-in closet. I never decorated either one but the one in the kitchen sits out all the time and needs at least a bit of color/design on the seat. I love the red one in the photo above. Got to wait till it warms up to do any painting!
    Thanks for the idea…and all you ideas!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patti – The IKEA stool is one of IKEA’s best-selling products since there early days. It is so well designed and sturdy. I was going to order one for the upstairs, but needed it right away, hence my thrift store fine. The IKEA one is a classic for sure. They look nice left as is, but it is fun to add your style to them. You can read about how I painted the red one in this post: https://bit.ly/47FSOyT

  4. Barbara Pilcher says:

    Great post, Diane. Another fan of step stools here! But always thought of them as more functional than decorative. You’ve opened my eyes.

    I have a few in my house — kitchen, bedroom, closet, and a low one under my desk to elevate my feet — all so handy and safe.

    Word of warning: if using on hard surfaces like hardwood or vinyl, it’s best to be sure the base is not likely to slip out under you, something rubber tips or something else that makes the base slip-proof. I try to follow the 3-points of contact rule when using any step stool, keeping in contact with one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot. Little stools are an easy DIY project that make good use of scrap lumber, too.

    My own favorite is the vintage, metal, retractable, two-step chair/stool I keep in the kitchen for both sitting and reaching tall shelves.

    1. I use stools everywhere in my house. I use 4 tall stools throughout my house as plant stands, a stool to get into my bed, one in the kitchen to reach tall shelves and one in my library. These are so practical and handy. Your red and blue stools would look great for a July cookout with plants on them. Love the colors you chose!

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Nancy – Sounds like you are in the know about how wonderful having pretty wood stools and step stools in your home are. :-) My 3 wood stools were a hand-me-down from my husband’s grandparents. They are old, but well-made and SOLID and will probably last forever.

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Barbara – Great tip about making sure the base is not likely to slip and the 3-contact rule. Smart!!!. I will add this to the post. My parents had on the of the metal retractable stools you mentioned. My dad kept it in the garage. Wish I had that today as it was unique.