How to Reupholster an Antique Bench

how to reupholster an antique bench

Reupholstering is one of those DIY projects that can be very intimidating. There's fabric, tools, foam, and batting just seems complicated. But the other day, I woke up and took a look at the little bench in our entryway and I realized that I needed to change the fabric, like now.

This cute little bench was a gift from my parents in high school. They got it to go with the antique vanity in my bedroom, but it doesn't fit very well, so I now use a different chair for that, and the bench has found a home next to our front door. It's perfect for putting your shoes on before you leave.

I didn't have a huge problem with the pink color, but the fabric was dingy and stained and in desperate need of a refresh. Looking at the bench, I initially thought that getting the cushion part out of the wood base was going to be tricky, but I flipped it upside down and found that all I had to do was unscrew a screw in each corner and the cushion popped right out. Woo hoo! I stripped off the old fabric, almost gagged when I saw the condition of the old stuffing* (who knows how long it had been since this thing was upholstered), tore out the staples, and I was left with a plain piece of wood.

*I didn't get a picture of this, due to my disgust, and need to remove it from my home as soon as physically possible.

Next came the fun part: picking the fabric. I measured the bench and decided that I would probably only need about a yard of fabric (I actually ended up only needing a half a yard). My first thought was a favorite fabric line in the blogger world, Caitlyn Wilson Textiles. But a quick visit to their site and glance at the $60/yd. price tag (gulp), and I realized I had to let my fabric dream die. I would have to find a cheaper option. And with that, I was off to good old Joann Fabrics.

I went in picturing floral fabric (something like this pillow maybe?), but I was soon overwhelmed with options and sale stickers. They had so many options for 5-10 bucks! Gotta love Joann's. I was stuck between 3 options: solid mustard yellow, a watercolor floral print, or a modern pink pattern. I took this snap (below) on my phone and sent it to my mom, my sister, and my best friend to get their votes. After some back and forth, we all decided the floral was the most interesting of the three. And hey, with those prices, you could theoretically change it every year if you wanted to! I left with a yard of the floral fabric, a piece of foam, and a bag of loose batting.

The next steps were surprisingly easy. Using a box cutter, I cut the foam to (roughly) the same shape as the wood piece, spread the batting out onto of the foam so that it was pretty much even, and then flipped the two of them upside down onto the back of the fabric. I then used my cheap-o staple gun to attach the fabric to the back of the wood piece. I popped it back into the bench base, screwed the four screws back into the bottom, and she was done!

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and more importantly, with how easy this project was! If you've been putting off a simple upholstery project like this one, go for it! It makes such a difference. Our little entry is happy now. :)