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Classic Stool Makeover

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Strip, bleach, and reupholster your furniture to give it a new lease on life like this classic stool makeover.

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Thrift Store Makeover Day

Join us each month for NEW thrifty ideas from the team. You'll find links to all of the projects below.

Use the slider below to see the before and after!

before of stoolafter of stool on porch
Before and After

A little Backstory

The Stool

In January, I went on a blogging retreat. We took a little afternoon trip to the Tobacco Barn Antique Store in Asheville, NC. It has a little bit of everything.

I came across this classic stool that I knew would be perfect in front of the mirror in the family room. The current stool needed to go back to the bathroom vanity.

While this is most likely a reproduction piece, it was still a bit more than I'd liked to have paid at $65. It's definitely something that I would occasionally come across in a thrift store. It was very sturdy and in good shape. I knew it would be a good candidate for paint or stripping. The finish as is was quite flawed.

The Fabric

Friday, I went to Greenville to pick up a Honey Baked Ham for Easter dinner. I was also going by the fabric store to buy something to reupholster it. I was prepared to spend $20-35 for a yard of fabric. These 2 places are close to each other.

bolts of fabric

Before going to the fabric store, I decided to pop into the Miracle Hill thrift store. I hit the jackpot. They had bin after bin of partial bolts of fabric. It looked like the smallest amount that you could buy was 2.5 yards. At $3 per yard, I decided to dig through it. I came across several but decided on the tone-on-tone Greek key look. It was classic and would work with the look I was after. It was not exactly what I had planned to look for at the fabric store, but for the price….it was worth it.

bolts of fabric
#1 a little dark, #2 Perfect, #3 a little gray, #4 Loved, but color not as friendly for cat perch

I have a suspicion that the fabric in the thrift store might actually be donated from the store I was headed to. Either way….it was a score!

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before of stool

Supplies Used


Clean it

The very first thing that I do with my furniture projects is to clean it well. Sometimes I'll use some household cleaning spray or just Dawn dish soap in a little water with a rag. Let it dry thoroughly.


Strip the Classic Stool

applying Jasco

Next, you will want to apply the Jasco stripper to your piece. Just do this in a smaller manageable section. I do one side at a time. PLEASE follow the instructions on the can. You will want to do this in a well-ventilated area. (strong odor) I worked in my garage with the doors up. You should wear a mask and safety eyewear. Use a scraper to remove the old varnish. In the grooved, beaded areas of the legs, stripping pads came in very handy.

stripping pad

Sand the Stool

After I had the top protective coat removed and down to the stain, I started to use my orbital sander. If you remove the top coat first, your sandpaper won't get as gunky. It will last longer. Make sure you sand in the direction of the wood grain.

orbital sander

For areas that are not accessible by the orbital sander, you'll want to do it by hand with pieces of sandpaper. This is where I could have really benefitted by owning a mouse sander. I have it on my wish list.


In some of the areas, I had to fold the sandpaper to fit through the little cutouts and sanded as if I was buffing a pair of shoes.

Post Clean

When you feel like all of the sanding is complete, blow it off with a battery-powered blower. This thing is amazing! We use it on both porches and patios. It's so easy for me to use. After that, wipe it down with some paper towels with mineral spirits. Use gloves. Let it dry.

Also on OSH!  Painting Old Faux Pumpkins

Bleach the Stool

vinegar and bleach

Protect your hands with rubber gloves. I then took the stool to a sunny area in the flower bed away from plants. I applied a generous coat of bleach to the piece. I only had splash-proof bleach which is a bit more of a gel consistency. I prefer regular liquid bleach. If I was doing a dresser or something with more surface area, I'd have preferred straight liquid bleach. Let it dry in the sun for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

applying bleach

After the first round of bleach, rotate the piece in the sun. You may have to move the piece to find that sun. Apply bleach again and wait. You want your application consistent. I used a brush and rag on this piece with the gel. If a liquid, I'd just use a rag.

Do this for each side or until the desired coloring.

Inspect the piece carefully

sanding paper

Bleaching brought out the areas that I needed to sand a bit more. I strictly used my sheets of 220 grit paper. This is very fine.

When I was happy with the look. I wiped it down with a rag of white vinegar. Let it dry.

To Finish or Not

I made the decision, for now, to leave the finish in a raw, unfinished state. It's a personal preference. Since this is not a high-use piece, it will be fine. I wanted to live with it for a while. I like the look as is for now.

I may end up going over it with just a matte finish top coat. First I would treat it with a pre-stain wood conditioner.

I could have avoided all of the above and just painted the stool a fun color, but not the look that I was after.

stool before cushion

Reupholster the Stool

cushion with bolt of fabric and cat

Measure and cut out a piece of fabric 2-3 inches wider that the seat all the way around. It doesn't have to be an exact measurement. You just want to be able to have enough give to stretch it to the back to staple.

stapling fabric to cushion

I start by placing 1 staple in the center of each side. Make sure your fabric is centered on the top.

stapling fabric to cushion

Then you will continue working all around the pieces alternating opposite sides. After doing the center pieces, I like to do the corners.

stool upside down

Line up the screws with the old screw holes. I use a flashlight to see. Reattach the cushion to the stool.

cat on stool
Jack was missing the stool here. He couldn't wait to jump back on his perch. Do you see Bentley in the reflection?

I also added some felt to the bottom of the legs to protect the floors.

view into kitchen of stool
Wall Mirror perfect for a Narrow Space
side view of stool
Wall Mirror | Topiaries on Front Porch
leg of stooltop view of stool
Use the little center arrow to go back and forth between the 2 photos.

Now you know how to give your classic stool a makeover and get it looking like new, without having to spend a ton of money on buying a brand new one. Stripping, sanding, and bleaching furniture is quite simple, but a little time-consuming. The effort is worth it. It's an easy, affordable, and fun project no matter your skill level! Plus, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself – no professional help is necessary. When you're done, give yourself a pat on the back for the great work and show off your refurbished piece! So, are you ready to put your DIY skills to the test? Have you tried this refinishing technique yet? Gather up those tools and jump right in – good luck!

Also on OSH!  Horse Statue Makeover
collage of before thrift store decor

Check out this month's Thrifty Makeovers!

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My Repurposed Life- Vintage Rattan Trunk Makeover | Extra Storage Option

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Our Southern Home- Classic Stool Makeover

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia- How to Bleach Wood Furniture

Sadie Seasongoods- Cactus Garden with Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

Organized Clutter- Junky Botanical Planter From Thrift Store Finds

Reinvented Delaware- Easy DIY Luggage Rack Makeover for a Guest Bedroom

Shop At Blu- Outdoor Footstool Makeover

collage and text overlay for furniture
white blouse and jeans

Christy has been creating content for Our Southern Home since 2012. She has been featured in numerous print and online publications. Her classic, eclectic design approach spans her home and fashion style. Christy has a way of mixing store-bought with thrift store, antique and vintage finds. As a recent empty nester, she is having fun navigating this new stage of life. Read more about Christy HERE. Be sure to subscribe below. You can also contact me HERE.

Thrifty Makeover Team

Check out this month's projects!


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