Don’t Pass Up Free Stuff

How to transform a trash to treasure furniture find in 15 minutes using wood stain and then using fabric to make a colorful cover to go over an ugly cushion.

As I was driving out my driveway a few weeks ago, I glanced over at my neighbor’s trash which was awaiting the garbage truck. I was excited to see two tall wooden stools next to the trash can.

You know me. I am not shy when I see something interesting in curbside trash. On closer inspection, the stools were solid, but the legs were pretty scratched up and the brown pleather topped cushions were paint splattered.

Two wood stools with pleather covered tops.

I had been searching for guest seating options around the pool table when we have game night. I also didn’t want to spend a lot on them.  These were free – deal!  I figured I had nothing to lose and walked them back down my driveway and into the garage.

Blue and white skirted fabric stool top covers.

Funny thing, 30 years ago, stools just like these became mine after finding them at a thrift store. I made them over as one of the projects in my book, Instant Decorating. I used dish towels to make cute little no sew skirted covers for them back then. I no longer have these actual stools, but they seem to have been reincarnated and popped up again in my neighbor’s trash. Now they are part of my home once again but this time in a more masculine game room style way.

Why I Like To Makeover Trashed Furniture

Furniture makeovers are all over the internet and may seem like nothing new, but what excites me about finding trash and turning it into treasure is that it is the most affordable way to decorate. It also lets me design something to fit my needs, color scheme, and style to create something unique. Mass merchandised goods are fine, but free and one of a kind rank higher for me.

I could have bought new stools like these at Walmart or Target, but I knew I would not have to buy any new supplies to transform the trashed stools to ones that were worthy to place around the pool table.

diy trash to treasure ideasTrashed Furniture Find Before and After

I used wood stain and fabric I had in my supply stash from previous projects.

How to Easily Revive Damaged Wood Furniture With Wood Stain

The first part about making over these stools was very easy – no skills or expensive tools needed. I did not sand the legs to the bare wood – only a quick swipe which made the transformation easy. I had the legs stained in about 20 minutes.  I let the stain dry overnight and then sealed it with spray poly.  The second part of the makeover was covering the pleather cushion tops.

supplies needed:

Close up of damage on a wood stool that gets a from trash to treasure furniture makeover.In this photo you can see how scratched up the legs were.

  1. To clean the legs, I rubbed 100 grit sandpaper over the legs for about 5 minutes and then hosed down the legs and dried them.

2. To change the color and hide the scratches, dings and dents in the wood, I rubbed Briarsmoke stain over the legs using a paper towel.  It was super easy.

3. I then went over the surface of each leg with the paper towel again to smooth the stain evenly over the surface and to wipe away any drips.

Two wood stools trash to treasure furniture before and afterOn Left: Legs Before             On Right: Legs After Staining

4. When the stain was dry, I sprayed quick-drying polyurethane on the legs in a satin finish.

Two stools after makeover with black and white houndstooth fabric covers on seats and Briarsmoke stain on legs.

How to Make a Round Cover for a Stool Cushion

Since the round stool seats are made of particle board, I could not stain or paint them. Instead, I opted to make new fabric covers to go over the existing brown pleather ones. You can also make quick no sew covers using this method:

  • To make the stool cover easily with no sewing involved, you can simply cover the top/cushion with fabric. Then pull it taut around the sides of the cushion to the underside of the stool.  Staple to secure the fabric on the underside of the seat. Then trim away the excess fabric. I didn’t do this for one reason and that is because the cushion is 2 inches high. If I pulled the fabric taut, it would bring the top of the cushion down with it, making it look smushed.

Instead, I sewed simple covers using a round of fabric for the top and a long strip of fabric for the side of the cushion. I seamed these two pieces together so the cover would look nicer around the sides of the cushion and not smushed when stapled on.

supplies needed:

  • Measuring tape
  • Herringbone fabric – cut into size needed for your stool. A circle shape and one long strip
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • If sewing cover: sewing machine and matching thread

How Much Fabric Will You Need to Make a Stool Cushion Cover

how to determine fabric yardage to make a stool cover.

  1. Measure around the stool to determine fabric yardage. You will need two pieces to make the cover. One round piece for the top and a long side strip that will wrap around the cushion. For this side strip, add 2 extra inches for height and 6 extra inches in length.

directions on how-to-make-a-cushion-cover-for-a-tall-stool

1. Lay fabric right side down on stool top. Use a pencil to mark the edge of the cushion.  I pinned the fabric over the cover using straight pins to help hold it in place. Since the cushion has padding, it is like a pin cushion.

2. Trim excess fabric away, leaving about 1-inch excess for seam allowance.

How to sew a fabric cushion cover.

3. Once the round piece is trimmed, center over the top of the cushion to make sure it is the right size.

4. Turn round piece of fabric over and match edge with edge of long strip. Pin edges together with right sides of the fabric facing each other and then sew seam on sewing machine.

Tutorial showing how to make a fabric cover for a round stool.

5. Notch excess fabric along seam. This will help the seam lay flat.

6. Press seam open with iron.

Option: Since I didn’t use cording between the round top and side strip of fabric, I chose to add a line of stitches to each side of the seam. I sewed these on the printed side of the fabric, 1/4″ inch away from the seam. Doing this helps the seam look a bit more finished.

Black and white Herringbone fabric made into a round stool topper.

7. Place cover over stool and pin the ends of the side strip of fabric together.  Remove from stool, sew closed and trim excess fabric from this side seam.

How to staple fabric on to the top of a tall round stool to make a cover.

8. Place cover back over top of stool cushion and then flip the stool upside down.  Use pins to help hold the fabric cover in place as you work.

9. Pull the edge of the excess fabric to the underside of the stool and use a staple gun to secure.

TIP:  As you pull the fabric taut, make sure you are pulling the fabric evenly around the stool to create a nice smooth looking cover.

Wood stool painted with new fabric cover in front of a pool table

The stools may not be perfect, but for free and a little effort – I’ll take them.

From trash to treasure furniture makeover using stain and fabric

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29 Comments

  1. Are you still going to paint your pool table? You should make some sort of pic/art for the game room gallery wall out of a photo of your house builders names!

  2. You are just the most clever woman I know. I love seeing how you envision something and then make it work!

  3. Diane, I have followed you for a long time. We welcomed a granddaughter one and a half years ago. For some time I was not reading my blogs but then I had some time and when I got back in you had a post on your lakehouse kitchen. Your cabinets looked so familiar. I knew you had to be somewhere near me. I almost fell off my chair when I saw you were living on Lake Murray!!! I live a mile away from the lake. I am still working on my husband to build out our coat closet to make a large two door one like you did with your pantry a house ago. We need to store his many guitars.

    I would love to hear back from you. You are a rock star to me!!!!

  4. Diane….you make everything you do seem so easy. What a gift you have for repurposing. Love the stools❤️

  5. Quite a nice, easy transformation. Better than filling a land site. Great job and thx for sharing.

  6. Seriously, Diane…..for a self proclaimed “non-seamstress”, you sure do a bang up job when you DO sew! Those look great

  7. Diane,
    Your stools look fabulous – love the dark stain and the houndstooth covers. What a fabulous find – and you already knew how to sew the covers! Well done and no one would ever guess they’re “second- hand finds.” A very “manly” statement for the game room!

  8. Wow, these look great! “Great minds think alike”, as someone said once. I have 2 stools to makeover and have procrastinating for over 3 years. Mine don’t have cushions, but I have been hesitant to paint the legs (as if they were “dipped”) and just the seat in a different colour to “modernize” them.
    Are “dipped” legs still trendy?
    Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  9. What a beautiful transformation! The stools look great- and will get many more years of use. This is so much better than having them languish in a llandfill. Warning though- if your neighbors read your blog- they are going to want their now handsome stools back! Keep up the great work!

  10. What a great find – and right next door too. I love the “go with everything” houndstooth fabric. It’s perfect for your game room.

  11. Those stools will make a perfect place to rest your tush while playing pool. You gave me a great idea for our pool table, too. Thanks! Now to find some….thrift store here I come. (Unless some nice neighbor has them just sitting by the curb.) Enjoy your day! ;)

  12. Lovely job!

    And, what kind of stapler are you using? It looks a lot easier to handle than the one from the Hardware isle!

    Please share!

  13. Perfection! Nothing like a trash to treasure. As I was coming up my street this morning from my walk, I noticed my neighbor getting rid of their wicker patio furniture and I thought, gosh, I’d love to take that, all it needs is a little love. Could of, should of, would of.

  14. Thanks for another great and easy project, I’m looking for a stool for my green house, going thrifting today. Happy Mother’s Day.

    1. Thanks – It is hard for me to do masculine style sometimes since I like more feminine colors and touches. Ed has been asking me to get stools for a long time, he is very happy with them, especially the price. Enjoy your weekend.