DIY · Home Design · My Apartment

DIY Upholstered Bench

A couple of years ago, when Dave and I were first moving into this apartment, we took a trip (one of many) to IKEA and picked up a bench to sit at the foot of the bed. I think a bench at the foot of the bed is not only convenient for things like extra blankets, a place to hide slippers under, and dog overflow, but it also makes a bedroom feel a little more finished and thoughtful. So we picked up a very simple (read: boring) white bench. Although it is a little underwhelming, and I did initially screw it together with a pocket knife, it’s not been an issue for me until recently. I think more than anything it just felt like a seriously missed opportunity for a good DIY project. So I WikiHow’d that bad boy, and decided to give it a little more visual interest and identity by upholstering it.

Now, I’d love to say that this was a seamless DIY experience…but in the spirit of full disclosure, I won’t do that. Don’t get me wrong, the actual upholstering process was painless, but I ran into some snags in sourcing the materials. Initially I had wanted to use a very bright, Aztec/Navajo/Mexican-type fabric. And I found such a good one! Unfortunately, when it arrived it was like the ugly step sister of the fabric I had seen pictures of online. Here’s what I thought I was ordering:And here’s what I got:(Pardon the shoddy photo, but, trust me, a prettier photo wouldn’t help the fabric look any better.) I suppose they thought I wouldn’t notice being sent a completely different fabric, but I did. So, I was back to square one. Shortly after receiving this fabric, I posted here about all the beautiful Kilim rugs I had been seeing around the web, which inspired me to go in a different direction when beginning the search for fabric for the second time. I chose to go more neutral, hoping that would help with any discrepancies in photo vs. reality, and I found a really beautiful mud cloth inspired Turkish blanket. I had to wait a bit to receive the second fabric, as it came directly from Turkey, but it was worth the wait and I got to work on the bench straight away. Here’s how I did it.

Materials:

  • Fabric of your choice (enough to cover the top of the bench, plus 5-6″ extra on all sides) (I chose this fabric)
  • Cotton batting (enough to cover your bench seat twice, plus 5-6″ extra on all sides)
  • Foam
  • Spray adhesive (I used this one)
  • Cardboard, or other material to serve as a cutting mat
  • Drop cloth
  • Bench 

Tools:

  • Screwdriver
  • Fabric scissors
  • X-acto knife (or electric carving knife, if you have one)
  • Staple gun & staples

Steps:

1. Using your screwdriver, or whatever tool is required for your particular bench, remove the seat from the bench frame and set the frame aside.2. Unroll your foam and place it on your cutting surface. Lay the bench seat on top of the foam, aligning it with the corner of the foam, and cut a piece of foam exactly the size of your bench. This is a little slow-going, but take your time, it’ll be worth it in the end.3. Use your X-acto knife to trim off any stray pieces of foam and clean up the edges if needed.4. Lay down your drop cloth, or do like I did and cut a couple of trash bags open as a super low tech alternative, and place the bench seat, top side up, on top of it. Spray an even coat of adhesive over the entire surface, holding the can 6-8 inches from the surface. 5. Place the foam on top of the adhesive-sprayed bench seat and press firmly to adhere it in place. You need to work quickly once the adhesive has been sprayed, so make sure everything you need is at hand befor you spray.6. Fold the cotton batting in half and lay it on the floor. Place the bench seat, foam side down, on top of the batting, centering it.7. Beginning at the center of one side of the seat, begin stapling the batting to the underside of the seat every 1 1/2-2 inches along the edges of the seat. Place your staples about 1 inch from the edge, being careful to avoid the screw holes which will be used to reattach the seat to the frame. Once you have one side stapled down its entire length, start at the center of the opposite side, pulling the batting taut as you go. Repeat with the other two sides.8. At the corners, fold in the batting at an angle, like wrapping a present, and staple down to create crisp corners.9. Using sharp scissors, cut off any excess batting, leaving 1/2-1 inch beyond the staples.At this point you should have something that looks like this:10. Flip over the seat and lay your fabric on top. Align your fabric so that the pattern lays the way you want it to, then flip it back over, keeping the fabric in place.11. Repeat the stapling process all the way around the bench, making sure you are pulling the fabric taut on all sides.12. Cut off the excess fabric, again leaving about 1/2 inch past the staples.13. Make sure that all of the holes for the screws are accessible.The underside of the bench should now look something like this:14. Lay the seat upside-down on the floor and align the frame with the holes for the screws.15. Replace the screws and reattach the seat to the frame, making sure that any excess fabric is tucked within the frame so it doesn’t show when you flip everything over.Once everything is screwed down tight, you’re done! Flip it over, take a seat, and enjoy all your hard work!Not counting the initial fabric disaster, this whole project rung in at less than $75! Not bad for a custom upholstered bench, huh? I love the extra pop of pattern at the foot of the bed, and I’m now oh-so-comfortable when I put my shoes on in the morning! The great thing here is that you don’t have to spend a lifetime pouring through the web in search of that perfect piece of furniture. Just buy the fabric you like and do it yourself! I did the whole project in a little over an hour, and I got something so unique and special in return.Would you give this DIY a try? I promise, it’s very simple. Well worth an hour of your weekend, I think! 

xoxo – Cassie

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