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Mid Century Mess Gets a Makeover

I think if you are of a certain age, you probably had this footstool in your home at some point. At the very least, your grandparents had one. You know the feeling of the fabric—rough, scratchy, super uncomfortable.

I found this footstool at an estate sale. I was able to buy it for a mere $5. The fabric was faded and discolored from where it sat in the home. A puff of dust would escape if you patted the fabric. I knew it would take a bit of work, but for $5, I knew I could give it a makeover and still make a bit of a profit.

For this project, I gathered a few supplies:

  • Staple remover/Tack Lifter: I have three different ones that I use. I often root through tools at garage sales and auctions and will add to my stash if I find a good one!

  • Staple gun: You can use a manual staple gun or an electric. If you want to get really fancy, you can invest in a pneumatic staple gun. I use an electric staple gun and it works great!

  • Fabric scissors: Most upholstery fabric is heavy so you will need heavy duty scissors—remember to only use them for fabric! Be sure to have another pair for other purposes.

  • Tape measure: You will need this to measure your furniture piece and then to measure your fabric.

  • Needle nose pliers: I use these to pry out any stubborn staples or tacks that refuse to come out of your furniture piece. I like to remove all traces of the old staples and tacks. There is nothing worse than hitting an old staple or tack with your staple gun when trying to place a fresh staple.

  • Upholstery foam: There are various types of foam as well as various densities of foam. You can buy it by the piece or in a roll. For footstools, I usually use a 1 inch foam.

  • Cotton batting: This isn't a necessity, but I like to put it between the foam and the fabric. I think it is useful to ensure a smooth finish.

  • Upholstery fabric: I use a actual upholstery fabric or a duck fabric. Thin cotton can work in some instances, but a heavier fabric is easier to manage.

I used my staple remover to begin removing the fabric on this piece. The dust ruffle around the bottom meant there was additional layers of fabric. Fortunately, there was only one layer of fabric on this piece. It was the original fabric—sometimes I find three or four layers of fabric on a piece.

Once the fabric was removed, the springs were exposed. These were affixed to the wood base. I removed all the metal pieces attaching the springs. I opted to not reuse the springs. If I were to reuse these, I would have selected a thicker foam piece so they wouldn't have poked through. These were rusty and the fabric around them was pretty dusty.

Lifting the springs revealed just how much dust was lurking in the piece. In addition to the dust held by the fabric and foam, this layer of grime was hiding under the springs.

Ugh! That is a lot of dirt! I used a whisk broom to remove all the dirt and dust.

Then I cleaned the wood with Krud Cutter.

I removed the legs while I was upholstering the base. I layered the upholstery fabric, the foam and the cotton batting. I put one staple in the center of each side ensure the fabric was aligned on the piece perfectly. Then I worked my way out to the corners, continuously turning the piece until the entire fabric was secure. I finished the corners and removed the excess fabric.

I toyed with the idea of painting the legs black, but they were in great shape so I cleaned them well and reattached them to the base.

This is the finished piece. It is radically different than the original. I decided I didn't need the height of the footstool nor did I want to add a new dust ruffle. It just didn't need it!

Thank you for reading my blog! If you would like to see more, follow me on Facebook, Instagram,and Pinterest! Just click on any of the social media links above! Thanks for following me on the junking adventures!

Below are some links to products I used in this project. Disclaimer: Junk is My Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Below is an image to pin to Pinterest if you would like to save this idea!


Feb 03, 2023

Thank you for sharing your inspiration with Whimsy Home Wednesday! The footstool was in pretty good shape, and then I saw that dust, yikes! Thank you for sharing your makeover with us!


Suzanne Edinger
Suzanne Edinger
Feb 02, 2023

Robin, what a great tutorial. I've never seen springs attached to wood. Pinned!

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