DIY: Upholstered Toy Bench


So, it’s been a while since I’ve had a good upholstery project and anyone who knows me knows I can’t stay out of Hancock fabrics. I can’t stop it! I. Have. A. Problem. (At least I can admit it. That’s the first step, right!?….………right!?) Well at least my addiction fuels my creativity and it will yours too, I promise! In fact you should pay them a visit and see all the beautiful fabrics in the upholstery section. They always have a great sale going on and if you didn’t know they also sometimes have an extra coupon on their website you can use along with the sale price. Who else does that?! No one. Seriously, no one, because they aren’t cool. Anyway, last time I was there I found this geometric print in neutral tones that was absolutely perfect for the toy bench I was making for my son. I had checked out some well known children furniture sites and their prices were ridiculous for what they are. Sheesh! It would be cheaper to do it myself and I could decide the overall dimensions of it as well.

Getting started: What wood to use? I decided on roofing plywood for its durability and price tag. Also because I was upholstering over it and no one can see it or feel it, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. I unfortunately did not take pics or video of the cutting and assembly of my toy bench. I know bad blogger, bad! However, instead of me trying to explain this process it might be better for you to see it. So, I found a video on youtube that is really close to how I did it. You can check it out here:

Upholstery: Once the box was assembled (leaving the lid off) I began upholstering it. I started by using Nu-foam which is densified batting. (This will make your bench look great and keep little ones from bonking their noggins’) At Hancock’s they have large rolls that can be cut to long lengths and go around the outside of your entire toy bench. This will leave only one seam you can hide in the back. I purchased enough to go around my toy bench and my lid. (Around 4 yards) Then using my nail gun (1/4″ crown staples) and air compressor I began stapling the foam to the bench. Begin with the end of the foam in the back center. (We’re going to wrap it around horizontally) Staple it to the back board so the staples are vertical leaving a few inches of excess foam hanging over the top and bottom of the bench. Wrap your foam horizontally around your bench and meet the other end you started with. Staple them together to create a seam. Now, you no longer have to hold it up. (Thank goodness my arms would fall off if I had to deal with that mess!) Taking the excess you left on top, fold it over the top lip of your box and staple it on the inside of your box a couple inches down. (Always work from the middle out and leave your corners for last and remember to pull your fabric/batting taunt while stapling.) Do the same for the excess on the bottom and wrap your lid using the same method.

Moving on to the fabric now, you will wrap your lid the same way you stapled the batting. Now, the box is a little different because I didn’t want to railroad my fabric. Railroading is when you turn your print so it follows a different direction. Since I wanted mine to run up the roll (vertically) like intended I would have to cut my fabric. I cut my fabric so there’d be one piece for each side. I left several inches of excess on each end of every piece. (You can always cut away fabric but you can’t add it back 😉 )  Pinning your fabric pieces end to end and sew them together. Wrap it the same way you did the batting.

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Final touches: Using a black thick finishing fabric, I applied it to the inside of the lid and box to hide the plywood. I attached them with a hot glue gun (Watch those fingers! Wow it’s HOT!!!) and crown staples. (I would recommend using an old paint stirring stick to push the fabric down when gluing. It’s long enough to reach into the box and will save your fingers from a trip to the ER.) Glue down your fabric in the bottom along the perimeter of the box, then glue up the sides, and fold your fabric under then staple to box slightly over lapping your print fabric on the upper inside. Lastly, attach lid using hinges and support arms. That’s really all there is to it. Now stuff it cram full of toys and enjoy your clean nursery!

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Kitchen Fable

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Hey y’all! I’m super excited to be talking kitchen tables with you this week. Not so long ago I rescued a 1980’s solid oak corner bench kitchen table. As this craigslist find sat there looking decrepit and lonely I could hear heart wrenching Sarah Mclachlan music playing in my mind. I could feel guilt, yes guilt welling up inside of me and I knew I couldn’t leave it behind. Darn you Sarah Mclachlan! So, thanks to guilt and the flashback of caged animal commercials brought on by one, Mrs. Mclachlan’s heavenly melodic tunes, I will be proving that even a common craigslist find can transcend into something inspiring.

 Following the vision in my head I ditched the the corner seat and one of the smaller benches. (Don’t worry I didn’t really throw them out. I just used them for something else.) It was also clear that the old 80’s finish had to go! So, with belt sander in hand I worked the wood until it was smooth as silk. I stained it a beautiful hue called River Rock and protected it with a few coats of water based polyurethane. This alone already looked a thousand times better. However, I was far from finished with this piece.


For added comfort I upholstered both bench seats with an easy to clean faux leather. I also knew I wanted back cushions, which I achieved with the help of my dad. I didn’t want to attach back cushions permanently to the bench in case I wanted to change the look later on. So together we came up with an idea that worked out better than Ellen Degeneres’ Covergirl partnership . Using two rectangle-shapeed plywood boards I glued one piece of 3″ thick foam of the same size to each piece of plywood. Then I upholstered them using batting and the same faux leather as the seats. To attach them my dad came up with the idea of using industrial velcro. Which allows you to remove the entire back cushion to clean any spilled drink or food that might get behind it. (Refer to the diagram below to see how I upholstered the bench seating.)


Bench drawing


After my table and bench seating was complete I wanted to add a seat to either end giving an overall total seating for six. I know I could have just kept the other  bench and corner seat for maximum seating. However, I wanted to elevate the look by injecting personality and style. Adding chairs would create the perfect opportunity to do so. I acquired some beautiful antique chairs that I fully restored and upholstered in a fabric that marries together the table finish and faux leather. (You can see my whole antique chair restoration process by checking out my blog post: Vintage Dreams.)


To complete the look and continue the conversation between the pieces, I crafted a lumbar pillow for my the larger bench using the same fabric as my chairs. As for the details, I gave it welting, and I embroidered a capital letter “B” to give a final personal touch. In the end I achieved a high-end look that has a defined personality, and comfortable sophistication.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset


I hope this project inspires you to attempt your own makeover and if you have any questions don’t forget you can submit them by clicking on the comment icon. Be sure to check out the before and after pics below along with mama’s little helper. Thanks for stoppin’ by!

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Vintage Dreams

Hey y’all! I was out thrifting recently with my husband and came across some true beauties. Masked underneath years of neglect were these glorious antique wood chairs complete with acorn finials and lovely quatrefoil lattice details. So, it was a no brainer! I immediately bought them and had my husband help me load them into the back of our truck. As we drove home I sat there imagining all of the possibilities, much like a small child dreaming of Christmas morning.The wood frames were pretty rough in some places and the original upholstery was long gone. It was going to take some work but I knew they were worth fighting for. So, I rolled up my sleeves (Rosie the riveter style) and got down to business.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset I began by removing the tattered old seat cushions. Now my wood frames were free from any obstructions and I could begin to repair them.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetI filled a couple of nicks with wood putty and let them dry. When all was good I started sanding them down. First with a 100 grit and then went back over them with a 220 grit to make sure they were smooth to the touch. I didn’t worry about removing all of the original stain. Since I decided to paint them I only needed to scruff them up enough to give the paint something to grab onto. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetOnce sanded, I was ready to paint. I applied the first coat and left them to dry while I switched gears and turned my attention to the upholstery.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

I removed the old seat coverings and cushions by prying up the staples with a flat head screw driver. I had to use the ol’ pliers to pull out some of the more difficult ones. Once the seats were a fresh palette I flipped them upside down on top of the new cushions I had purchased. Pulling the outer edges of the cushions out and over the lip of the seat I secured them into place using an electric staple gun. Then I cut my upholstery fabric and stapled it just like I did with the cushions.

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Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetFinally the second coat on my wood frames were dry and all that was left for me to do was reattach the cushions. The before and after pic of the cushions are pretty dramatic alone but if you really want your mind blown check out these lovely little darlings below!!! Enjoy!Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

SPRING is blooming benches!

Hello friends! Spring is here and I’ve got a great mini-project to give your home that much needed revamp. (I promise it won’t take you long and you will be back to eating your kid’s leftover Cadbury eggs in no time!) I have been meaning to reupholster a bench of mine for quite some time and now seemed like the perfect time. The old multi-colored stripe bench was cute in it’s day and still could work in a child’s playroom. However, I found the most beautiful floral fabric which will give it the chic sophistication it so desperately needs. So… if you have an old bench or stool that has some dated upholstery go pull it out. In the spirit of spring we’re going to breath new life into it and have some fun!


Firstly , start by using an upholstery grade fabric that meets or surpasses the standard 15,000 double-rubs test. What the heck does that mean you ask? It’s just a fancy way of saying it will hold up over time, unlike you’re shoulder pads from the 80’s. Hancock fabrics always has a great selection and their staff can help you with material estimations if you need it. Once you’ve selected the loveliest fabric in all the land you will need to get your hands on either a staple gun and air compressor or an electric staple gun. I personally used a staple gun with air compressor although the electric guns are less pricey. You will also need to get your hands on some 18 gauge 1/4″ crown staples and some basic tools (screwdrivers, wrench). Okay, a little prep work and we’re ready to rumble……(cue Jock Jams soundtrack).


Remember the screwdriver and wrench I said ya needed? Okay you need em now! Go ahead and remove any and all hardware on your bench.






Now lay out your fabric on the floor or work table with the design faced down. Lay your bench or stool upside down on the fabric and center it. (We are reupholstering the bench, so there is no need to remove the old fabric.) Working on one side at a time, start by pulling the middle of the excess fabric snug over the bench and hold firmly. Then staple it in to place (Always staple your fabric to the bottom side of your furniture where they won’t show). You will work your way from the middle towards the outer corners. You will want to space the staples about an inch apart. (Don’t forget to keep pulling your fabric snug because you don’t want to end up with some saggy spots!) You will want to stop about 4″ from the corners leaving them for last. Continue pulling and stapling on the remaining three sides. Afterwards, you will take the corner excess fabric and pull it tight over the bench and staple. There is no science to this part and it’s up to you to take a creative license. Play around with different looks for the corners. They can have a pleated look, or a crisp clean finish. Relax, either way it’s going to be beautiful! (*If you do mess up keep calm and remove the staple by prying it up with a small flathead screwdriver.)


I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to photograph the entire project. So I borrowed this image to help illustrate the process.

Lastly, reattach all of the hardware you removed earlier. (Optional: You can garner your piece with upholstery studs giving it a more stately look if you choose.) Okay drum roll please…….Ta-da! You are finished with your lovely piece of furniture. When your friends ask where you picked up your new find you can take pride in telling them your heroic story of  how you rescued it from the attic! Check out my before and after pics below, as well as pics of mama’s little helper. Then go enjoy that chocolate 🙂



















~Mama’s little helper~