Painting And Reupholstering An Old Foot Stool

This is another post that John wanted me to name Stool Boom (here’s why John likes that name). Anyway, a while back I redid a stool that wasn’t ours. It just showed up in the mail and I spruced it up. More on the mysterious mail thing in a minute. First here’s how I got ‘er done. This is a terrible before shot, but picture an old beat up periwinkle blue stool with nails and holes and a rotting wood top:

The first thing I did was get all the old nails out with the back of a hammer:

Then I primed it and painted it a rich navy color (I just grabbed a $3 test pot of paint in Benjamin Moore’s Santa Monica Blue). Ignore the crazy-bright blue color going on in this picture – it’s a very strange camera trick. In real life = navy. Anyway, after my two coats of paint were dry, I dug up some extra loft batting (originally from JoAnn) that I already had and some fabric that I had around as well. Why? Because I’m cheap. And it’s not my stool. Haha. If you’re keeping track, so far, I had sunk $3 into someone else’s stool.

Then I got fancy and picked up two $1.79 boxes of decorative nail heads (from JoAnn). I know, I splurged. What can I say, I’m a giver.

I figured I could use these guys to secure my batting and my fabric along each side of the stool. So I just cut the batting and the fabric about two inches larger than the top of the stool on all sides, and pulled the excess down and folded it under for a nice clean line. Then I tapped each nail head into place to keep things secure. I spaced them about 2″ apart (and used a 2″ piece of cardboard as a spacer to keep the gaps consistent). About thirty taps later I had done one side…

I continued to tap my way around the other three sides and I was left with a sweet little stool to not call my own. Total cost: $6.58. Except I have no earthly idea why she looks royal blue again. See the pics above – that’s probably the most true that the blue looks. So it’s a nice rich color but not too bright in real life.

Here’s a full shot from the side (the same pic I should have taken as a before instead of a zoomed in crazy one):

Then I hugged her, kissed her (more than once), and lovingly sent her off. Sniffle. Weird stool business going on, right?

Well, it was actually for the fine folks at Do It Yourself magazine…

… where we have a Q and A column called “He Said, She Said“…

… but in our column we don’t redo furniture, so the stool was for another article they were running in their winter issue about makeovers by a few bloggers who all received surprise items in the mail to redo. There were some pretty amazing fellow bloggers in the mix, like: Style Me Pretty, Centsational Girl, Jen Geigley, Renegade Handmade, and Lori Andrews. It was really fun see what they did, like this two-tiered-table turned cake stand from Style Me Pretty:

And here’s my little stool makeover. I love how they styled it with yarn because of all the craft stuff that I have in our house, I have zero yarn. Haha.

Oh and really savvy folks might even recognize the fabric as one of the ones we used for Clara’s weekly pictures. We love how it looks like water and the bean looks like she’s swimming in this pic.

After making her quilt and birthday banner there was still more than enough for a surprise stool makeover. Gotta love it. What furniture have you guys been making over lately? Any painting or reupholstering going on? And kiddos swimming around on fabric? Hey, if it makes ’em happy…

Psst- We might be biased, but we think this video of Clara singing a medley of songs is the cutest thing ever. That girl loves to sing!


  1. says

    First of all, I absolutely cracked up at the name of today’s post. :-) Thanks for the good laugh!

    I recently took on a stool makeover myself, turning a discarded piece of trash into a cute red end table for our family room. Don’t you just love how a nice coat of paint can completely transform a room or piece of furniture?

    Best part? We’re working on a closet makeover project this week that will use the same paint. Score!

  2. says

    I am nearly done slipcovering an armchair. It has been an 18-month project (house guests, pregnancy, baby, life) but I’m still in love with the crazy crab print fabric. I originally recovered one of the pair then when we found we would be joined by a little spitter-upper we had to switch to [washable] slipcovers. All worked out and the chairs are cushy and fun. After the process, I decided it seemed fitting to name my sewing machine Pequod.

  3. Kim says

    Good timing on this post for me! I am planing to redo a similar footstool for our bedroom today. I’ve never used nailheads before, do you just hammer them in with a regular hammer? Rubber mallet so you don’t dent them? Thanks!! That stool came out great!

    • says

      I used a regular hammer although I’ve heard rubber mallets are recommended. The nail heads didn’t dent or anything, so I think it worked! You might be faster with a rubber mallet because you can probably bang them harder (I tapped them in lightly so I didn’t dent them).


  4. Roz says

    Hi there! Love this (and all of your) projects! Quick question- did you secure the batting and fabric with just the decorative nail heads? Is that enough to keep everything together? I typically see people secure everything onto the bottom of the piece so it’s out of sight, then add the decorative bits on top. What’s your secret for such loveliness? :)

    Cheers! Roz

    • says

      Yup, in this case the nail heads held everything down, and with around ten per side it was as secure as using ten staples per side on the underside! It’s really just a personal preference thing where you secure the fabric, so while I love redoing dining chairs by pulling the fabric under and stapling them so those staples are hidden, in this case I thought leaving the scalloped wood base of the top exposed and using nail heads might add interest!


  5. Katy B says

    I am a huge fan of the fabric (like so many others). But also, a huge fan of the original paint finish. There are a ton of bloggers out there blogging on fauxing an antique finish just like the one you had. I am not a faux finish lover, but I do love an original (been to hell and back) finish on an antique piece. Just my 2 cents.

  6. Debbie says

    the photo in the mag gives me an idea for our oyster basket that we got in lyon, france a couple years back (we bought so much furniture & antiques during that trip, we had to have a shipping container bring it all back to this side of the pond). right now its just sitting on the floor at our log cabin sans adornment, but i have all these balls of cashmere yarn (back when i had time to loom) stored away in a cedar chest at a different home. i think im going to combine the two together & see what happens.

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