DIY Upholstered Stool
 
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Upholstering this cute little stool was pretty easy. I had my upholsterer give me a tutorial on how to do it and within an hour I had a new stool! Let me show you how.

Let’s do this!

I started with a stool frame. He had this one lying around but you can find cute little stools at a flea market or Goodwill. First, strip off all of the existing upholstery, webbing, staples or nails leaving you with a clean frame. It you want to refinish your frame (strip and restain or paint it), now is the best time to do this. I decided, after-the-fact, that I wanted to paint mine black but, it would have been better to tackle this before I started the upholstery steps. I risked getting black paint on my newly upholstered stool!

WEBBING

Now you will add the webbing. I am guessing you don’t have any webbing lying around but you can easily find some on Amazon with a quick “furniture webbing” search. You can get the elastic latex type as I have on this stool (right pic) or you can use the jute type like this pic on the left.

 
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Now with your stapler, you will add the webbing to the seat of the stool. You should use a heavy duty stapler, not your desk stapler. Something that looks like this:

 
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Ideally, you will fold over the end of the webbing (so it won’t ravel) and staple it to the edge of the stool (not the top but the edge) so you will be stapling into the side of the seat frame. As shown in the above photo, do an overlapping weave of the webbing and staple the folded over ends to the edges so that your woven webbing is taut. Now, for best security of the seat upholstery, you can staple a layer of fabric or burlap on top of the webbing. This helps to give a firm solid base for your next layer.

FOAM

You will cut a piece of foam that is ever so slightly larger than your seat top and staple it onto the seat top in a few spots. You only need a few staples for the foam layer as you are just using them to hold the foam in place so it doesn’t move around when you add the next layer.

 
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BATTING

Next, you will add a layer of batting (available from your local fabric store or online). Make sure to cut a piece large enough to not just cover the very top of the stool but to fully cover the entire part you will upholster with your fabric. You will want the batting layer to be pulled taut over the foam so that it’s tautness helps to smoosh down (official term! ha ha) and smooth out the sharp edges of the foam. A good way to do this is to staple one side completely and then pull it taut from the other side. You can begin to secure the batting on the other side, as you pull it taut, by working from the center towards each of the corners. Then you can do the same on the other two opposing sides. Make sure to maintain equivalent tautness as best you can as you put in your staples. If you pull too tightly in one section and less tightly in another area, you will end up with lumpy edges. And, don’t sweat it. If you goof it up, you can carefully remove a few of your staples and give it another shot.

At the corners, you will have excess batting. Try to keep things as tidy as possible with the goal of not having too much excess batting as this will show up as a lumpy spot once you get your fabric on top. As best you can, try to make a little mini pleat at the corner, and then put a few extra staples in to secure the pleat.

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Then, once you are happy with your batting layer, take a sharp mat knife and trim the batting close to the staple line.

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FABRIC

Almost done!

Now you will add your fabric. When you select your fabric, make sure to select something that is a nice upholstery weight type fabric—something that will withstand someone sitting on it. Maybe something the weight of canvas. But, not as heavy as the thick, nubby boucle fabric of a Chanel suit (too thick to work with on your first project). By comparison, imagine using fabric that is similar to what a men’s dress shirt is made of—that is kind of thin and wimpy and wouldn’t stand up well to someone siting on it!

Also, if you are new to this process, it is best to pick a fabric design that is not going to be too unforgiving. For instance, a fabric with a stripe may be very difficult for you to work with on your first project. As you pull it taut from one side to another, you may find it difficult to keep your stripes straight. You may end up with a beautifully upholstered stool but with very crooked stripes! So, try to pick a fabric with a design that won’t be too fussy to work with.

Make sure you have plenty of fabric to cover all sides of your stool cushion. You will now basically repeat the same process as you did with the batting. But, this is now your final, finished upholstery layer so take time to once again make sure you are pulling your fabric with even tautness so the finished product is smooth and wrinkle-free. As you complete your stapling on all sides, leave yourself an un-stapled section of about an inch on each side of each corner. This will give you a bit of wiggle room to fuss with your corners. Once the sides are done, you can go back and specifically work on making a nice pleat or tuck at each corner and then staple it into place. And then, like with the batting, you will make a nice clean cut to get rid of all of your excess fabric. You will cut this off as close to the underneath side of your staples as you can. You don’t want any sloppy pieces of fabric hanging down.

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FINISHING TOUCHES

Now all you have to do is add the finishing touches. Even though these photos show a stained wood stool, I actually ended up painting the base black after I was done upholstering it. So, I also chose to finish it with a 1/2” black braid trim. But, you can use cord, fringe, nail heads or other things to put the finishing touches on your stool. Basically, we need this final step so we can cover up the ugly staples. All I did was fire up my trusty glue gun, and run a bead of hot glue along the staple line and then glued on the braid. I overlapped the ends of the braid, and folded over the top end a bit so as not to have a raw end of braid showing and being vulnerable to raveling.

 
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Be careful not to get any glue on the frame or fabric. But, if you do, and it is not too much, you should be able to get it off with your mat knife. But, don’t accidentally cut your beautiful, newly- upholstered stool!

Congratulations! You did it!

For future tutorials I will work harder to take more detailed photos at every steps of the way as best I can. In the meantime, have fun upholstering a stool!

Do You Have a Black Thumb?

I do! Yep, I might even have two black thumbs!

Despite some of my best efforts, I am not so nurturing in the plant department. But, lucky me—succulents, air plants, bromeliads and cacti are hot hot hot for interior décor and super easy to care for (or, maybe better put, they are hard to kill!). And, even better, they are great for outdoor living spaces, too.

We love using them for our installations. In general, plants help to warm up a space. And part of the fun is finding unique vessels for planting. Here are some installation pics where we have used these hearty plants. Enjoy!

 
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My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.
— Mitch Hedberg
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arguello desk plant.jpg
urban farmhouse dr plant.jpg
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All photos this post: Exceptional Frames

Wendy TrotterComment
A Three-Generation Family Home Gets a Refresh

Patty grew up in this house. Then she and her husband Leo raised their family here. After that, one of their kids lived here with their own family. It may have been a bit rough around the edges—dark rooms with limited lighting, paint colors from another era, a vintage kitchen and bath, but, this home was always filled with a lot of love.

And then, it became time to put the home up for sale.

Luckily, Leo is a master craftsman. With some input from Trotter Studios and some back-breaking work from Leo, this 1950’s diamond-in-the-rough became a precious gem! How precious? Well, there were 11 offers after the first open house and the final sale price was well over asking. Now, that makes for some pretty acceptable family drama!

Take a tour through these before and after pics to see where we started and how the property was refreshed.


LIVING ROOM

The living room was very dark—no overhead lighting in combination with a dark, dated wall color and limited natural light.

Refinishing the floors, a fresh coat of paint in a modern white and some decluttering brightened up the main living space in the home.

living room before

living room before

living room after

living room after

DINING ROOM

At this point, the dining room was freshly painted but had become a collecting area for clutter. And the floors were still in a state of disrepair

dining room before

dining room before

Adding a contemporary light fixture from Lamps Plus, refinishing the worn, wood floors and adding a modern dining table and chairs turned this into a beautiful family dining room great for entertaining. (The head and foot chairs have been removed in order to get a good shot of the table and the room as a whole.)

dining room after

dining room after

The dinner hour is a sacred, happy time when everyone should be together and relaxed.
— Julia Child

MASTER BEDROOM

The master bedroom went from dark, crowded dungeon to large, relaxing retreat with its new lighting, floors, paint, natural light and uncluttered layout.

master bedroom before

master bedroom before

master bedroom after

master bedroom after

KITCHEN AND BATHROOM

The kitchen and bathroom may just be the biggest transitions. The most cost-effective solution, since the home was going up for sale, was to simply do a refresh, not a renovation, in both the kitchen and the bathroom. Both received a fresh coat of paint, new lighting and most importantly, a nice Miracle Method refresh to cover all of the vintage tile which was not in great shape. Amazingly, the vintage stove and fixtures in the bathroom were in pristine shape so we left those as a nod to the past. The new homeowner can make those updates if they would like.

kitchen before

kitchen before

kitchen after

kitchen after

kitchenette before

kitchenette before

kitchenette after

kitchenette after

bathroom before

bathroom before

bathroom after

bathroom after

And now the home is ready for a new family and three more generations of family stories.

Small But Mighty!

At only 721 square feet, this smaller scale property still packs a punch! And, it certainly didn’t sit around long—it sold at the first open house! With its beautiful wide-planked wood floors and crisp white walls, it provided a great canvas for us to add some color, giving it some nice impact while being welcoming.

Open Homes Photography

Open Homes Photography

If the scale is right, even in a smaller scale home, you can add a proper dining space!

Open Homes Photography

Open Homes Photography

Good things come in small packages.
— Proverb
Open Homes Photography

Open Homes Photography

To help it feel as large as possible, we continued the color palette from the living space into the bedroom.

Open Homes Photography

Open Homes Photography

There is a reason they call this building “The Palms”.

Curbed SF Features a Trotter Studios Staging

Curbed SF highlighted a fab little apartment that we helped bring to market. It was really fun to work on this historic 1925 property--formerly a men's pied-a-terre building. So many great features in this apartment!

 
Curbed SF

Curbed SF

 

Love the mirror on the back side of the front door--helps make the foyer feel larger! And so clever to add some fun, vintage-inspired paper inside the call box niche. Isn't that original call box adorable?

 
Curbed SF

Curbed SF

 

You can just imagine men of yesteryear entertaining in this wonderful open living space. The original parquet floors have been stained a beautiful walnut color that is warm and inviting. Champagne anyone? 

I only drink champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.
— Coco Chanel
 
Curbed SF

Curbed SF

 

The arched doorways throughout are so welcoming and invite you to glide from room to room.

 
Curbed SF

Curbed SF

 

The original steel frame windows are urban industrial of the era but are so in and modern now--love them!

 
Curbed SF

Curbed SF

 

You know those old classic color bathrooms that are always in some funky pastel color? Well, this one was made glam fab with this iridescent black and silver wallpaper. 

Wendy TrotterComment