Design Threads: How to Upholster a Modern Footstool

How To

In these challenging times, it is important to keep creativity alive so I am going to share the process of upholstering a modern footstool. It is a practical skill, and there is a wonderful feeling of ‘I created that’ once completed…

The modern end-of-bed stool has become an essential part of our hotel bedrooms. It is somewhere to place your bag after a long day, and from a design perspective, it can be upholstered in something bright and fun, adding that little pop of colour we love so much.

Step 1. Have a carpenter make a softwood base attached to four sturdy legs, we like to paint ours in a colour that complements the rest of the scheme, something neutral works well.

Step 2. Gather all the essential tools listed below. I have included links so these can be delivered to your door:

Rubber Mallet – These are used instead of a hammer for knocking wood frames apart. A regular hammer will damage your furniture frame, so opt for a small rubber mallet instead.

Straight-Blade Sewing Scissors – Best for cutting fabric, thin foam, batting, and thread. These are easily purchased at any craft store and at most mass retailers. Note: NOT pinking shears — those are the ones that make the zing-zag cuts.

Stapler or Tack Hammer – These are necessary for attaching materials to furniture frame. Pneumatic or electric staplers are preferred, but a high-quality staple gun can also be used. A tack hammer has a very small magnetic head to help keeps tacks in place while you hammer them in.

Claw Tool – Used for pulling out tacks and staples carefully (and hopefully without damage to the wood) when removing old or worn fabric.

Webbing Stretcher– Used to stretch and tighten seat webbing. It has spikes on the end of an hourglass-shaped handle that grip and pull the webbing tight, allowing you to tack or staple the webbing and fabric in place properly.

Webbing – Webbing forms the base or seat of your stool.

Foam – Foam gives the stool height and comfort.

Step 4. Cut the hessian into a rectangular shape, just slightly bigger than your stool. Place over the top and fold edges in to make it neat. Staple in place

Step 3. The webbing forms the start of the seat.  Using your staple gun, attach the webbing to the frame, with two lines of staples. Pull the webbing tight with the webbing stretcher, cut and secure the other end again using two lines of staples. Interlink the webbing to form a strong and secure seat base.

Step 5. The foam is glued onto the hessian using a spray adhesive. The thickness of the foam is dependent on the chosen height, the size however should match exactly to the size of your wooden base. A cotton covering is placed over the foam and securely stapled into place, pulling the corners down to create a soft curve around the edges. The cotton preserves the foam and ensures your stool lasts forever!

Step 7. Finally, here is the best part! Place your chosen fabric on the stool, making sure you have enough to fold under the frame. The corners can be quite tricky, folding to create two pleats looks smart and makes the fabric more pliable.

Step 8. Adding studding detail can turn a piece of furniture from something ordinary to extraordinary. At the Kit Kemp Design Studio, we love to add these details and, depending on the scheme, use nickel or antique studding.

I hope you give this a try and make something that you will cherish.

Step 6. For that extra bit of cushioning add a layer of wool cotton and staple in place.

Here are some of our favourite footstool designs, which we hope will inspire you to create your own.

In the Meadow Suite at Crosby Street Hotel in New York, we created a modern footstool to lift the romantic scheme. We combined two vibrant leathers from Jerry Pair, called ‘Azure’ and ‘Poinsettia’ – a playful and bright combination.

In Room 416 at Covent Garden Hotel, we upholstered the footstool in my new design: ‘Chubby Check’ for Christopher Farr Cloth in the Hot Pink colourway. This fabric makes the room. Footstools are a great way to introduce a bold fabric.

In room 17 at Number Sixteen in South Kensington, we added a playful detail on the end of bed footstool, using a red Double Dot trim by Kravet which echoes the red curtains.

Weekly Book Recommendation from Much Ado Books

Here is an unexpected pleasure from Russian author Narine Abgaryan.

Three Apples Fell from the Sky is set in an isolated Armenian village, and learning about the culture and fascinating history are just two of the pleasures this novel offers. The emotional depths of the characters is gradually revealed, even as a plan hatches to bring unlikely people together.

From Armenian manners and meals to universal emotions, supple translation by Lisa C. Hayden ensures Three Apples Fell from the Sky is true to its cultural heart while offering charm and humour for English readers.