DIY 003: Tackling a Cushioned Counter Stool

We live in a rather large condominium complex. While the amenities are great and there are plenty of places for our dogs to run around, there is also a consistent stream of moving trucks in and out of the community. It seems, though, that not all furniture is worth moving. On a regular basis I discover chairs, tables, mirrors, lamps, and artwork dumped in a pile beside the dumpster. At first, I kept everything I could lay my hands on. Who would get rid of this stuff?

[To be fair, we moved into our unit right as COVID hit and in the interest of our finances we decided against buying any new furniture– even though we had a second bedroom now, a much larger living space, and very little lighting. It was a struggle for my inner decorator, but I was toeing the line.]

Just call me The Scavenger. I picked up a desk lamp, a nightstand, a wrought-iron bookshelf. I stockpiled everything in the guest room, turning it from a very empty space (ideal for working out) to a storage closet (guess how my workouts have been going lately). My intent was to turn these pieces into usable furniture with some wood filler, fresh paint, and updated knobs.

[For those of you gagging over the thought of picking up ‘trash’ especially during the pandemic, I rigorously sanitized everything with soap, water, and bleach! Then I left it by the front door to air out. Then I kept it locked up in our guest room away from our daily routines. Not taking any chances here.]

After skipping a week’s worth of cheap laminate tv consoles and broken picture frames, I finally came across a worthwhile piece: a cute, slightly stained, modern farmhouse-style counter stool. A few years ago, I reupholstered all of my dining table chairs so I thought there was a chance I could restore this little beauty. I dragged it upstairs and got to work.

First step: Pry off the upholstery tacks… using a hammer, pliers, and other assorted tools. No idea what the proper way to accomplish this task is, but I was able to save all of the tacks!

Then: Figure out how to *carefully* wrench out all the staples.

Next stop: JOANN Fabrics for something more fun and modern. I found this beautiful patterned upholstery fabric on sale for $18/yard. I purchased 1/2-yard to allow for some cutting mishaps!

Then: Figure out how to sew the corners. Thankfully, I had the template of the original seat cover available to analyze. I carefully cut two-inch slits at each corner and pinned the seams together. The first corner took me a couple tries to get right, as my initial attempts didn’t have enough of a curve to them and ended up sticking out at odd angles. When I finally got all four sewn, I fitted the new cover over the seat.

Next: Staple the edge to the chair. My staple gun worked exceptionally well for this task.

Then came the truly grueling part of this project: Cutting and sewing a 1/2″ fabric band to cover the stapled edge. I don’t have a sewing machine. It literally took me hours to stitch this by hand. So. Annoying. However, it turned out just fine and I began to nail the tacks in to keep it in place. Some of the tacks were bent, due to my aggressive pulling tactics. I had to get a little creative with how I angled them so they were still spaced out evenly.

The final result was better than I could have hoped for! The colors worked really well together and you could barely see the small scuff marks on the chair legs.

As much as I loved this little chair, I didn’t have a place for it in my apartment. I listed it on Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone would pay me for my efforts. Unfortunately, a lot of people were in the process of moving and trying to offload excess furniture (remember– I did find this in a pile by our dumpster). I lowered my price and lowered my price, knowing I only needed one person to like it enough to buy it. After two weeks of silence, a woman asked if she could pick it up in thirty minutes. I said, “Absolutely!” and practically ran out the door with the stool.

Twenty dollars richer (and with a newfound confidence in my furniture flipping abilities) I returned to my guest room and looked at the array of orphaned pieces.

“I will find homes for all of you.”


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