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The Stool That Nobody Wanted Made Into an Ottoman

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How to Make an Ottoman Using an Old Stool 

I have a tale to tell you today about a little piece of furniture that nobody wanted, not even me.

Old sewing machine square stool before makeover

I found this wood stool with a paint splattered seat cushion two years ago at a yard sale.  It was $4.

I bought it to use as a piece to demonstrate how to make and paint furniture with DIY chalk paint at a craft event I was invited to speak at when we first moved to the lake. The stool was perfect for the demonstration for a few reasons, mainly it was small and easy to transport, but was perfect that I could show the progression of the chalk painting steps on each of the legs. I left the first leg untouched to show the original finish and then used the other 3 legs to show the 3 steps… painting, distressing and waxing.

Once the speaking engagement was over, I brought the stool home, but didn’t have anywhere to use it.

I asked my daughters and friends if they would like the stool if I finished it and added new fabric to the cushion, but they all declined. I tried it in a few rooms in my house, but I just could not find a spot for it, but I couldn’t part with it since it was a classic and sturdy little stool. I put it in my garage and that is where it sat for two years until I found a use for it last weekend.

outdoor chair cushions, pillows and open book on rattan rocker.

Ed and I were out on the deck reading and relaxing on these rattan rocking chairs. To make ourselves comfy we brought over one of the deck dining table chairs to use as an ottoman to put our feet up.  That is when I said to myself, “I need to buy an outdoor ottoman to use with these chairs.”  At the same time in the back of my mind, I was also thinking that we can just make do with using one of the dining chairs as living at the lake has taught me I don’t need need, need, need everything to make me happy.

Then pop…the lightbulb went off in my head and I remembered the stool in the garage that nobody wanted and went to the garage to get it.

An plastic gelato container being used to hold turquoise chalk paint. It is placed on the unfinished stool with a paint brush.

The seat cushion is leather and although it looks pretty bad, it is intact. I still had the chalk paint I made for the furniture painting demonstration and finished painting the wood part on the stool.

TIP: If you make chalk paint and like Talenti Gelato, the containers make excellent paint cans to store your DIY chalk paint. 

To make the stool outdoor proof, I used the leftover fabric I had from the outdoor cushion covers I made and posted about 2 weeks ago. The fabric is indoor/outdoor, but since it was going to be used for our feet, I wanted a way to keep it as clean as possible since I would not be able to easily remove the fabric and throw it in the washer as I can the chair cushion covers. I added fusible iron-on vinyl over the fabric and then attached it to the seat cushion.

Completed painted small square stool with turquoise and green fabric and iron on clear lamination to protect from water.

As far as the chalk painted wood. It will slowly wear with time and give the paint a natural weathered look. I don’t want to poly it since that won’t help being left outside.  Using wax is not an option either as it would just soften and melt with the heat and sun.

Close up of newly covered stool next to rattan rocker. The fabric on the stool matches the cushion on the rocker.

When the stool, which I now refer to as the outdoor ottoman is not being used, I will place it under the section on the deck that is covered from the second floor deck to protect it from the elements, but even as it does weather, I am OK with that as it will take on a rustic vibe that will go with the lake side of the house. :-)

Close up of the top of the newly painted turquoise and fabric covered stool.

I am so happy that I kept it. It just needed a little time to come back to life. :-)

Two rattan rockers with painted stool between them.

I added a sailboat pillow to one of the chairs that goes well with the fabric and the lakeside setting. I will share more about the pillow very soon…. it is very exciting so stay tuned.

Blogger Diane sitting in chair reading a book with feet up on finished stool.

So the $5 garage sale stool that nobody wanted is now one fine looking outdoor ottoman that I have already enjoyed using quite a few times.

2 Ways to Make Any Fabric Outdoor Safe

Option 1: Iron-On Vinyl

Note: If you would like thicker coverage of clear vinyl, you can buy yards of clear vinyl in many different thicknesses at the fabric store. The heavier/thicker vinyl is more durable. If you do this, there is no need to iron-it on. To attach you would just place over fabric and staple on the underside of top cushion as shown below.

Heat N Bond Iron on Vinyl package

Iron-On Vinyl adds a clear iron-on protection onto fabric. It is water-repellant and can be easily wiped clean.  It comes pre-packaged (Heat’nBond brand) and you can also buy yardage made by Pellon at most fabric stores. It comes in matte and gloss finishes.

Step 1: Pre-heat a dry-iron to medium heat setting.

Using an iron to press heat n bond vinyl onto fabric.

Step 2: Place fabric right side up on ironing board. Peel vinyl from white release paper and place sticky side of vinyl down onto fabric. Smooth with hands.

Peeling Heat n Bond vinyl from fabric.

Step 3: Place the shiny side of the release paper that was just removed on the top of the vinyl. Press and hold iron onto the release paper on top of fabric for 8 seconds. Do not allow the iron to make direct contact with the vinyl. Repeat by lifting iron onto a different area and holding for 8 seconds, slightly overlapping until you have pressed over all of the fabric.

Step 4: Flip fabric over and iron the back of the fabric for 4 seconds. Repeat by lifting the iron onto a new area and pressing for 4 seconds, slightly overlapping until you have ironed all over the fabric.

How to Attach Vinyl Covered Fabric to Stool Seat Cushion

Stool before makeover showing top lifted off of it to show that you can store things inside.

To remove cushion to cover it with the vinyl covered fabric, use a screw driver to unscrew seat from the underside of stool.

Using a staple gun to attach fabric to stool's removable top.

Lay fabric right side down on work surface, center seat cushion right side down on top of fabric.  If your fabric has a pattern on it, make sure you center it as you cover the seat cushion. Wrap the ends of the fabric tightly around to the underside of seat cushion and use a staple gun to attach.

Two rattan chairs with stool between them. Stool has book on it and sunglasses.

Place the seat cushion back into stool with screws.

Option 2: Waterproofing Spray

3 Fabric spray brands to waterproof outdoor fabric

If you want an instant way to waterproof fabric so you can use it outdoors, using one of these waterproofing sprays will protect the fabric.  Follow the direction on each brand’s label. Here are a few outdoor waterproofing sprays to try:

Thompsons Fabric Seal 

Rustoleum NeverWet Outdoor Fabric Spray

Scotchgard Water Shield

Image graphic with chair and stool. It says How to make any fabric outdoor safe.

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  1. Gorgeous…as usual. Who ever sold you that stool had a lot of nerve charging four bucks. I would have charged you either a dollar or I would have just probably given it to you for free. If somebody left that eyesore on the side of the road it would have just sat there for days.

  2. Diane, your ottoman redo is wonderful. I like the info on weatherproofing fabric too. Outdoor cushions take a beating!

    I think your ottoman may be a sewing stool that came with a Singer sewing machine cabinet. My mother had one. There is storage under the seat which lifts off. Storage=Bonus!

    1. Yes, that is a sewing machine stool with storage underneath the cushion. My mother had one identical to that and kept her bobbins, threads, and sewing attachments as well as other items in that stool. Love your repurposed stool!

  3. Pretty stool. But the best part is wearing lipstick to read a book on the porch. I love that you are fancy.