Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reupholstering a Storage Bench (The Lazy Way)

I've had this storage bench for several years. It's part of our entry area and also where I store extra blankets. It's very useful, but the black "leather" was starting to look a little worn (mostly from cat claws) and the dark color didn't exactly stand out against the deep blue wall. So I decided to take a stab at recovering it with a more lively fabric.

Let me say here that this is not the "correct" was to reupholster something since I just covered over the existing fabric instead of removing it. However, this seemed much more simple and straightforward to me, so it's what I did.

I ended up with a 60" upholstry fabric that I got on sale for $9/yard. I got two yards which was just enough. I'm very glad I went with a more organic pattern rather than something more geometric because making sure the pattern was perfectly straight all the time would have added quite a bit of headache to this project.

So the first thing I did was to remove the lid by unscrewing all the hinges. Then I laid the lid upside down and the floor and place my fabric over it like this:

I lined up the edge of the fabric (wrong side up) with the front edge of the lid and then stapled all along the edge. 

Then I flipped the fabric over and brought it underneath the lid. I did it this way so I would have a nice clean edge on the front lip of the lid.

Ta da! No visible staples.

Then I cut out my fabric to the size I would need, making sure to allow plenty of extra fabric for wrapping around. Then I just tucked the raw edge under and stapled right through the top. I made sure to mark where my hinges needed to go because I was covering over the existing holes. This would make it much easier when it came time to reassemble.

After I had done the two long sides I flipped it over to make sure nothing crazy was happening.

Nice and taut!

For the corners, I just kind of played around with folding the fabric in different ways until I found something that looked nice and clean.

I folded it sort of like you would when wrapping a present. I hope these pictures make sense because I'm not really sure how to explain in words what I did.

But it ended up looking like this.

Once the top was done, it was time to move on to the base. I carefully measured the length, depth, and height of the base (minus the legs). I added two inches to the width and depth for seam allowances and three inches to the height so that I would have plenty of extra fabric to wrap around the top and bottom. I cut out the rectangles and then sewed them together into a box.

When I slipped it over the base, it was a bit too loose, so I went back to my sewing machine and made it a tiny bit smaller. When I tried it again, it was still a little loose, so I continued making adjustments a little at a time until I ended up here:

It's snug enough that it doesn't slide down to the floor and there are no wrinkles in the fabric. I removed it from the base, then slipped in inside the bench.

You're using the same method here as on the front edge of the lid so there are no visible staples. I shot a couple of staples into each side and then flipped it around to make sure I was on the right track.

Once I was sure everything was going to work, I put in staples every few inches all the way around. I stopped about an inch from the corners. Then I brought the fabric up and over the outside of the base.

Then I flipped it over, removed the legs (mine just unscrewed) and finished the bottom by folding the raw edge under and stapling.

Then it was just a matter of reassembling everything. Putting the lid back on was probably the most difficult part of this whole project.

Chico is ready to show you the awesome after photos!

I love the results and it stands out so much more than it did.

The cats are also enjoying it!


  1. I am SO going to use your "lazy" way. I really love how you stapled on the wrong side and then flipped over to have smooth seams.

  2. I finally reupholstered my storage bench using your method. And I must say, I'm very pleased with it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That's great! I'm glad the post was helpful.

  4. Awesome post very helpful. So glad I found your post. I've got a bench just like yours except mine is brown. Did you only use 2 yards of fabric? So hope you answer. Thanks So much for this post.

    1. Yes, I did only use two yards. Make sure you get 60” wide fabric or else you’ll need more than the two yards. Good luck! :)