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
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.)
1 1/4″ Pocket Hole Screws
1 1/4″ Screws
2″ Finishing Nails
Medium Grit Sandpaper
Primer or Wood Conditioner
Paint or Stain
Miter Saw (Jig Saw or Circular Saw would work also)
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)
Hot Glue Gun
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attach the plywood seat to the top of your base by countersinking 1 1/4″ screws around the perimeter of the seat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!