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.
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.
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.
Trashed 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.
- Briarsmoke wood stain
- 100 grit sandpaper
- Paper towel or rag
- Minwax Fast Drying Spray Poly in a Satin finish
In this photo you can see how scratched up the legs were.
- 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.
On 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.
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.
- Measuring tape
- Herringbone fabric – cut into size needed for your stool. A circle shape and one long strip
- Staple gun and staples
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The stools may not be perfect, but for free and a little effort – I’ll take them.
More Stool Makeover Ideas:
- The Stool That Nobody Wanted Made Into an Ottoman
- Houndstooth Step Stool
- Plain to Preppy Stool Makeover Using DIY Chalk Paint
- Don’t Pass Up Free Stuff