Have you ever paid way too much for something absolutely hideous, just because you knew it had the bones of a PERFECT piece of furniture for your home?
With a price tag over $70, this cheap looking stool wouldn’t turn too many heads. But because of the subtle hints of antique quality, unique sizing, and a 50% off tag, I snapped it up.
Despite the former owner’s total failure at updating this stool, the underside indicated this was a quality piece that could be restored. I bought this piece solely based on the solid wood underside and the toolmarks around the center post indicating it was an solid piece that could be rehabbed.
Buying this stool felt like playing the lottery, so as soon as I got home I grabbed scissors and began to cut away the upholstery to see what condition the seat was in. This first view was promising!
At this point it looked like an easy fix!
However when the second layer of upholstery and padding were removed, I made the decision to do major work on this stool. The veneer just wasn’t in good shape. This was disappointing but not unexpected- something must have inspired that hideous overhaul!
We’ll come back to the top later, in the meantime, I had the base to deal with. It was literally decoupaged with painted aluminum foil! (note to self: never decoupage with painted aluminum foil. ever.) Thankfully, the glue used was waterbased and many soaks with a warm, wet cloth removed the foil and residue:
I was thrilled to find the base in generally good shape, under the aluminum foil. The veneer at the ends of each leg was damaged, but I had a plan!
After a bit of reading about veneers, removing, and replacing them, I decided to remove and replace the veneers on my stool. This was where my project went a little off track. See, removing veneer is hard.
Like, removing a mastodon from a tar pit hard.
Not so much removing the top of the veneer:
But the mass of glue, resin, and wood fiber underneath the veneer.
So I soaked, I scraped, I steamed, I stripped… and I gave up.
Various blogs said sanding would be of no help, but apparently they did not have a palm sander and multiple 80 grit sandpaper sheets, because sandpaper sold my problem right away:
At this point, I was impressed with the solid wood grain my sanding had revealed (why on earth did they apply veneers to high quality solid wood furniture in the last century?!) so I decided to try staining. A bad stain could always be covered by a new veneer, afterall.
So I went through my wood-stains to try and find a match- testing on a hidden area:
I picked the closest match, applied two coats of stain and three coats of polycrylic and called it good! It’s at this point, I wish later, that I’d had the forethought to apply wood hardener and wood filler to the damaged portions of this seat- in order to make attaching the cushion easier.
I was able to use the mushroom-cushion that cam with the chair, but cutting it down to a more subtle shape:
Now, the finishing touches!
I layered cushion, batting, and a grey velvet to create the seat cushion:
Marked the corners for stitching a fitted corner:
Then, along with glue on the seat, applied spots to secure the cushion in place and cover the worn portions of wood.
the last step was my first experience with tufting, and was much harder than anticipated!
But the final project made all the hassle stripping, sanding, staining, and upholstering worth it. Finally I had a study, vintage stool that fit the tiny spot in my make up vanity designed for a stool.