How to effortlessly step up your 1980’s footstool game

I promise after this you will never again cringe while passing that sad little 1980’s foot stool at the end of someone’s driveway, thrift stores, or garage sales. You will see the potential!

I found this sad little stool at my favorite gem of a thrift store, Agape Hometown Thrift Store, for $10. That is a bit more than I typically like to pay, but Agape is a nonprofit Thrift store where all proceeds go towards community support programs making the price totally worth it.

When I say sad I truly mean sad. The stain was getting chippy, the legs were dinged up, and it felt like there was no cushion what so ever.


First step is deconstruction and inspection. While you are taking the piece apart is the best time to do a detailed assessment of everything that needs to be repaired. In the above photo you can see the dings and chipping on the legs, and check out those fantastic corner brackets holding the piece together. I actually have never seen brackets like that before, finding them on Google was no simple task. Thankfully these were in pristine condition and only needed some screws tightened. Can you spot the loose screw in the picture below?


The next stage is presanding. You don’t have to presand, but I prefer it for a couple of reasons. First, old clear coat/Polyurethane has a tendency to gum up when you are trying to strip the stain off making the scraping and stripping part more difficult than it needs to be. Second, old pieces have old dirt, stains, and lord knows what else on them. Presanding gets a lot of that off with out having to scrub.  I use a 120 grit sandpaper and just do a once over on all sides.



Once you are done presanding wipe all the dust off with a clean dry rag and you are ready to strip! I LOVE Citristrip. It is fume free, safe to use indoors, and works in 20-30 minutes. The instructions say to use a metal container, but glass works just as well. I use an old jar so that there is no waste if I over pour. After I paint it on I let it sit for 20 minutes and test it, typically it is ready to go if not it can sit another 10-15 minutes. Do not let it sit so long that it dries completely or else you will need to reapply. I keep an old dollar store butter knife in my workshop to scrap with. It is the best I have found for scraping wider and smaller areas.


After stripping wipe down with soap and water then let it dry for a couple hours. You want to make sure the wood is completely dry before sanding. For the last stage of sanding I switched to 100 grit sandpaper. This is the last chance you get to fix any dings or issues with the wood so go slowly and carefully double checking your work. After sanding wipe the wood clean of all dust and stain. I went with Varathane’s Weathered Gray with no gloss.

Once the stain was on it was time to start on the cushion. I pulled all the staples out of the old fabric to remove it and discovered that there was foam under there. It was so old it had turned to foam powder. I apologize for not having a photo of this, I was to busy trying to control the mess to snap one.


In case you haven’t noticed seat foam can get quite expensive. The best price you will find is just under $10 for 4 1″ thick foam cushions at Walmart. That can get pretty pricey depending on your project. A cost cutting trick I have discovered is that you can get a queen size sheet of egg crate bed foam for just under $8 at Walmart. If you cut two pieces and adhere them together on the spiked sides they are the exact same thickness and weight as the more expensive seat foams. You can also get a lot more projects out of the egg crate foam than you can out of 4 foam cushions.

Any spray adhesive will work. I like Elmer’s Craft Bond it is fairly low priced and that tiny can will last a good long time. Once I adhere the foam together and to the board I place something heavy on it and let it sit for about 10  minutes or so to let it dry.


While the glue is drying is the perfect time to iron your fabric. Pulling tightly while stapling is not always enough to smooth all of the creases and wrinkles.

Once the fabric is ironed and the glue is dry it is time to cut the Quilt Batting and fabric to size. This is simple enough, just place the board on top and use a pair of good sharp scissors. Then you can move right into stapling. Start with just the Batting and do one or two staples on each side pulling tight before stapling. Then you can start on the fabric. Start in the center of each side, keeping in mind where the screw holes are to reattach the cushion to the base, pull the fabric tight and staple. Then flip it and do the opposite side. Do this 3-4 times per side then you should have the fabric secure enough to start moving around the sides to the corners.


Corners can sometimes be tricky, above you can see my process. I start with the center piece pulling it tight and smoothing any folds/wrinkles before securing with a staple. Then I pull one side over, smooth, and secure and repeat with the other side. This should give you a smooth clean tuck on the corner. Sometimes you just have to pull and tuck until you get a fold that you like. It all depends on the shape of the corner.

After you are finished stapling trim the excess fabric and batting off then reattach the cushion to the base and you are done bringing your old and dated footstool into the new millenium!!


I went with this awesome black to white ombre Chevron for my fabric. I love how it looks with the Weathered Gray stained base. If you feel you are not quite ready to do this for yourself or you just love that chevron with the gray base as much as I do you can purchase this very footstool on my Etsy page!!

You just got a sneak peak into my upcoming Playroom Reveal!! I challenged myself to redo, revamp, and revive my kids basement playroom for less than $100! Yes I am crazy, thank you for asking. I have been working hard and am so close to the finish line!! The Playroom reveal will be coming soon so make sure you follow me on Facebook. You definitely do not want to miss this.


Now go find yourself an old 80’s footstool!!





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