A sneaky way to remake a $3 footstool

Footstools are apparently the unsung heroes of the thrifted furniture world. They’re cheap, quick to make over and I can’t get enough of them.

My obsession started when I tucked a low footstool under my desk a few months ago. I couldn’t believe how much more comfortable I felt with my knees slightly raised. I felt like one of those happy 90-degree-sitting stick figures in an occupational therapy brochure on workplace health.

I marveled over that secondhand footstool and asked my thrift-savvy mama to keep her eyes peeled for more of them.

I redid one for our daughter’s bedroompainting the legs gold and covering the top with fluffy white faux fur — but then she delivered one that had me stumped.

The price was right — three dollars — but it the foam was severely dented on one side, like the previous owner’s feet had stuck to a single position for years or even decades. If I was going to redo it, it was going to need a life-saving foam transfusion — stat!

After a couple of coats of white paint on the wooden legs (Casement by Fusion Mineral Paint), it was time to fatten up the footstool’s cushion.

I had two squares of foam leftover from another project (remember those extra-long window seat cushions?) but neither was large enough to cover the top of the footstool.

I didn’t want to be wasteful, so this is where I got a little daring and decided to see if math would be my friend (for the first time ever).

I cut both foam squares diagonally so I had four triangles, and then fit the triangles together to make one big square.

Then I laid the footstool on top, traced a circle around it, and cut it out.

I didn’t even bother gluing the pieces of the circle together — just carefully transferred the whole thing onto the fabric (wrong side up) and laid the footstool back on top.

Reupholstering a chair seat or a footstool is easy because you’re just wrapping it in fabric and stapling the underside. I pull the fabric tight on each side and do four preliminary staples, and then continue around — pulling and stapling — until the whole piece is wrapped snugly. 

When I flipped the footstool right side up, it was looking great. I’d picked 0.75m of black and white fabric with a tiny gingham print from Atlantic Fabrics, since I planned to use the footstool in the basement near the daybed — which has grey, black and white cushions and quilts.

There was just one problem: you could kind of tell I’d cheated with the foam. From a distance, it looked fine. But up close, you could see the lines where the four triangles met to form the circle. Arghhh!

I had an idea to fix it, but was I brave enough? There was a good possibility I’d ruin the whole thing in the process. I took a couple of “after” pictures — just in case the next step really did wreck everything — and hunted for a very long screw and a white button. I was going to attempt an unconventional “tufting” method, and I had no idea if it was going to work.

I used my drill to turn the button’s two holes into one larger hole (big enough to fit the screw), and then screwed straight down into the middle of footstool — fabric, foam and all. It took a couple of tries to get all the way down to the wood at the bottom, but eventually I had a deep tuft. The button prevented the top of the screw from busting up through the fabric, and also faked the look of a true needle-and-thread tufting job. Pretty sneaky, right?

Relieved I hadn’t destroyed the footstool, I snapped another set of “after” photos and then settled it in front of our black armchair. It’s a tall footstool so it’s perfect for propping up your feet while you lean back.

Mom, if you’re reading, keep looking for secondhand footstools, please — I can’t get enough of them!

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A sneaky method for redoing a cheap thrift store footstool {Heather's Handmade Life}

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