Cheshire Vanity Stool

 Let me start out by saying that I really really wish I was good at upholstery.  I’m working on it, but it’s definitely a work in progress.  I’ve been trying for months to find a class to take on the weekends, but apparently no one in the entire greater Los Angeles area offers them.  I’m still searching… anyone have any suggestions?  In the meantime, I’m reading a bunch of books trying to get a handle on the real way to upholster.  I’d really like to do a wingback chair from scratch… building the frame and upholstering it.  It’s on the list.  In the meantime, I’ll practice with smaller, more manageable projects like this vanity stool.

When we remodeled our master bathroom, I made sure to leave a space in the center of our vanity for a seat so that I could sit while doing my hair and make-up.  Well, a year and a half later, I’m finally getting to build the stool.  Modeled after Pottery Barn’s Manchester Bar Stool, I modified the design to be a smaller height ideal for a vanity.  (In order to create the original barstool height, simply make your legs a bit longer.  For the tall barstools, cut your 2x2s to 27 1/4″, allowing for 2″ of foam.  For the medium sized barstools, your 2x2s should be 23 1/4″ long.  I would also compensate for this additional hight by slightly raising up your 1×2 leg supports.)

This is an ideal beginner building project.  It only took me about an hour to build the stool and about an afternoon to upholster.  It also uses very simple materials as you only need 3 boards and a plywood scrap to build it.  (If using pine, it equals out to about $5 in lumber.)

Estimated Cost: $20-40


See full sized dimensions above.

Shopping List:


1 – 1×2 @ 6 ft long
1 – 1×3 @ 6 ft long
1 – 2×2 @ 8 ft long
1 – scrap of 3/4″ plywood at least 18 1/2″ x 12″*

*Like Ana White, I am committed to only using Pure Bond plywood in my home so as not to slowly kill off my family with formaldehyde.

Hardware and Supplies:

1 yard of upholstery fabric (I used microsuede as it is easy to clean)
1 piece of 2″ foam at least 18 1/2″ x 12″ (I had a leftover piece of 3″ foam, so I used that up, but the 2″ foam would make it more proportional.)
Nailhead Trim
1 1/4″ Pocket Hole Screws
1 1/4″ Screws
2″ Finishing Nails
Wood Glue
Wood Filler
Medium Grit Sandpaper
Primer or Wood Conditioner
Paint or Stain


Kreg Jig
Miter Saw (Jig Saw or Circular Saw would work also)
Countersink Bit
Finishing Nailer (This is not necessary, but it will save you quite a few headaches if you have one.)
Sewing Pins (These are extremely helpful if you have them)
Staple Gun
Hot Glue Gun
Measuring Tape
Carpenter’s Square
Safety Glasses

Cut List:

2 – 1×2 @ 15 1/2″ – Leg Support (long)
2 – 1×2 @ 9″ – Leg Support (short)
2 – 1×3 @ 15 1/2″ – Apron (long)
2 – 1×3 @ 9″ – Apron (short)
4 – 2×2 @ 19 3/4″ – Leg
1 – 3/4″ PLY scrap @ 18 1/2″ x 12″ – Seat

General Instructions:

Make sure to re-measure and check for square after every step.  Sometimes when building your measurements can be off very slightly, and it’s important that your numbers are exact.  (Especially when working with doors and drawers!)  Measure your available space and before building this plan to make sure that it will fit.

Step 1:

Attach one of your short aprons to the outside of the top of two legs with your Kreg Jig.  If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, you can use 2″ screws and countersink them from the 2×2 side.  Repeat this step for the opposite side.

Step 2:

Join the two sides you just made by attaching them to your long aprons as shown using a Kreg Jig.  If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, you can use 2″ screws and countersink them from the 2×2 side.

Step 3:

Attach the short leg supports to the shorter inside of the vanity legs with your Kreg Jig as shown above.  If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, you can use 2″ screws and countersink them from the 2×2 side.

Step 4:

Attach the long leg supports to the longer inside of the vanity legs with your Kreg Jig as shown above.  If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, you can use 2″ screws and countersink them from the 2×2 side.

Step 5:

Attach the plywood seat to the top of your base by countersinking 1 1/4″ screws around the perimeter of the seat.

Step 6:

Make sure to either paint or stain your legs before you get started on the upholstery.  It will make your life quite a bit easier in the future.  Once your finish is dry, use your glue gun to attach your foam piece to the top of your seat.

Step 7:

Cover the foam and the seat in batting, pulling tight as you go around.  Secure it in place with your staple gun.  I would recommend starting in the center and working your way out.

Step 8:

If you purchase a full yard of fabric, you can skip this step and fold the edges of your fabric around your corners like you’re wrapping a present.  Unfortunately, when I bought my fabric, I only bought half a yard since I forgot about the foam adding a few extra inches.  To fix this, I cut sides out of my excess fabric and folded the top edge over creating a clean seam.  I pinned the top into place to secure it, and then used my glue gun to glue the top and sides to the batting/foam in between the pins.  For the bottom, I used my staple gun and wrapped the fabric around the bottom of the stool and secured it into place.  Around the legs, I folded the fabric under and glued it to the legs.

Step 9:

Repeat step 8 with the center piece, folding over the edges and lining them up to slightly overlap your sides.  Secure them in place using your sewing pins and gluing in between.  Use your staple gun to secure the long side of the fabric underneath the stool.

Step 10:

Add your nailhead trim by pushing the trim in with your thumb and then lightly pounding it the rest of the way into your stool with a hammer.  Be careful not to hammer to hard or else your nail might bend.  I spaced my nails about 5/8″ apart.

This was the kind of trim I used.  I got it from Joanns for $1.49 per pack and I used 4 packs:

Here are a few extra pictures of my stool just for fun.  I hope you enjoy making yours!

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Filed under Building Plans

14 Responses to Cheshire Vanity Stool

  1. Belinda

    I was reading your post about wanting to do a wing back chair. Let me suggest to you that you find one in a resale shop that is in need of repair and start with that. I have done 2 of them, one I found just the way I am suggesting to you and another was on the way to the trash (for good reason), and I did both of them. That style of chair is the simplest one to do and you don’t need any sewing skills or really to cut a pattern. Everything is mostly rectangles using the original pieces as guides. I am in Chicago and found a class through the park district but I agree with you, it was next to impossible to find one.

    If you have any questions you can contact me at the email address above and I will help you in whatever way I can. Good luck.

    • Thanks, Belinda! It’s so nice to hear that someone has done it before and found it “easy”. And, I’m glad it doesn’t need any sewing skills because mine are pretty limited, haha. (Why can’t sewing be as easy as building?) Anyway, I will definitely let you know once I’m into it… I’m sure I’ll have some questions!

  2. Leslie in NZ

    Very nice stool. Re wanting to learn upholstery – There is a very good thread on a sewing website that takes you through reupholstering chairs. You might find it useful.

  3. Looks awesome :) also, I think I am crushing on your building skills!

  4. Theresa

    I need a piano bench. This would be perfect.

    • I hadn’t thought of that! You’re right – that would make a great piano bench! Let me know if you end up building it, Theresa! I’d love to see it used that way!

  5. Karen

    Helping my son-in-law build myself an in-law apartment. I am in the middle of refinishing a big plank of wood for my bathroom vanity. Since i ended up putting cabinets under either end i decided to start looking for a stool to go under. Saw yours & i think it will be perfect. I also have 3 ” foam left over from a project. I do a lot of sewing so my change the seat a little. Looking forward to getting started

  6. Hi Shane, I found this through Great bench. I’m thinking of using your plans to make a stool for my island and for my counter height computer table. Do you think they’ll be sturdy enough using this plan? They’d have to be quit a bit taller (not sure how tall, i don’t feel like running to the garage and getting my measuring tape!) Thanks!

    • Hi Jill! Yes, they should definitely be sturdy enough for regular barstools. For counter height, I would recommend cutting your 2x2s to the 23 1/4″ length and moving up your 1×2 supports an inch or two. Is your island counter height as well? If you end up building them, please post pictures! I’d love to see your beautiful handy work!

  7. betsey

    i love your stool! how would adding casters/rollers on the bottom work…am thinking this would be perfect as a sewing chair.


    • Thanks so much, Betsey! You’re right, that would make a great sewing chair! You could totally add caster wheels on the bottom. Just make sure that you subtract the height of the wheel from the leg length so that your seat doesn’t end up too tall :-) .

  8. Steve

    I am making this stool with douglas fir. Every time I use my Kreg to attach the aprons, the screws crack my 2×2. I am using 1in kreg screws (for wood measuring 1/2in, mine measures 5/8in). Any suggestions?

    • Hi Steve! Check to make sure that you’re setting your Kreg Jig to 5/8″ stock rather than 3/4″. It might be that the pocket hole that you’re creating is too low on the apron and is allowing the screw to go too far into your 2×2. Good luck!

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