Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recovering Bar Stools

And now for something completely different...

I've had the dark brown leather bar stools since about a week after we bought this house - so about 4 1/2 years now.  Unfortunately, they have been peeling horrendously for the past 6 months or so.  The wood still looks great, though,and they are super comfortable, so I didn't just want to buy new ones.  Waste not, want not, right?  

I decided to recover them, though I've never done any real upholstery work before.  I didn't really document the process, but I'm so proud of the result that I had to share.  :-)
 The hardest, most time-consuming part was taking off the old covers.  We (husband helped a lot with the deconstruction) did one whole chair at a time to avoid having three half-finished stools for a month or two.  I know myself.

We quickly abandoned getting every single staple out of the leather and wood and just ripped off the leather as best we could and pulled out the staples that were sticking out at all after that.  I cut apart the leather pieces and used them as a template for my fabric, abandoning the fancy shmancy seaming on the backs for a more streamlined look.  Yeah, that's it.  Not laziness at all.
 The fabric is heavy duty upholstery fabric from JoAnns.  It's supposed to be stain resistant but is still nice and soft.  The leather was great for wiping clean when my boys were little, but they aren't nearly so messy now.  For the past month, these new covers have stayed nice and clean with minimal threats needed.

The welt detail around the edge of the backs hides the staples and is constructed exactly how the leather was.  I toyed with the idea of doing something different like a nail head trim, but I couldn't find any I liked, and I'm happy with how this looks now that it is finished.
 (Please ignore the open pantry in the background)

 Hubs was the master of the button covering.  He was a beast with the rubber mallet, which was needed with this thick fabric.  The buttons are needed to hold the fabric on this section in place since the backs of the stools are concave.  You add this pieces of fabric and secure the buttons before stapling on the back panel.  I wish I had photographed these steps now, but really, it's not hard to find a step-by-step on the internet or in a book at the library.
 Tracing the leather pieces made for a perfect fit over the seat cushions.  All of the padding was still in good shape.  If I had needed to replace the padding, this would have been a much more daunting project.
So I actually have all three stools finished now, even though there is no photo evidence.  :-)  We did the first one on a Saturday and both the others on the Sunday following, in about half the time it took to do the entire first stool.  Practice definitely makes speedier in this case.

Lessons learned:

The sewing was probably the quickest, easiest part.  Ha!
Deconstruction is a b.....
Doing one at a time, start to finish was a good idea.
When Hubs offers to help, say YES! and THANK YOU!

Have you done any upholstery?  I have a ripped up giant easy chair that I really want to recover, but that would be a much bigger job than this.


  1. I find upholstery hard work so I can really appreciate the great work you have done on these. I started 6 chairs about 2 years ago but have only got the staples out on one of them so far :(

  2. Love the new look! There's nothing you can't do!! I have never done any upholstery work. Al brought a big, comfy chair into the house when we married. It is awesome, except for the hideous great-grandma-Florida-print fabric covering it. I always think that I'll re-do it one day, but I think I'll need a simpler piece to start on. I once got an estimate to recover it, and it was close to $1000, so I still have an ugly, comfie chair!

  3. I am about to do my first reupholster project on chairs exactly like these. Yours look great.


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