How to Upholster a Bar Stool


Turn an ordinary kitchen or bar stool into a comfortable and beautiful piece when you learn how to upholster a bar stool. 

Hello, Kenarry readers! I’m Pam from The Birch Cottage and I’m back again this month sharing how to upholster a bar stool. This DIY project is a great way to turn an ordinary bar stool into a comfortable and beautiful accent piece for your kitchen or home.

Learn how to upholster a bar stool

My husband has worked so very hard renovating our ENTIRE house, which, of course, included our kitchen. The transformation has been absolutely amazing. You can read more about it over on my blog, The Birch Cottage. 

For now, let’s talk about these ordinary bar stools. We have several of these plain wooden bar stools in varying heights. In fact, I often sit on one of these hard wooden bar stools when I’m working at my craft table. 

Before and After - what a bar stool looks like after you upholster it.

As part of the kitchen renovation, my husband built an island that has an overhang at one end. I absolutely love this island, by the way. Anyway, I decided to use one of the taller bar stools on my island. It’s the perfect height, but it didn’t match the dark walnut butcher block countertops and it wasn’t very comfortable. 

So, I decided it was time to DIY this dreadfully ordinary bar stool. I painted the stool white and then added an upholstered cushion to the seat. Perfect! So, let’s take a look at how upholster a bar stool, shall we?

How to upholster a bar stool

You do need to know how to sew to complete this project according to the below tutorial. But, if you don’t have a sewing machine or don’t know how to sew, don’t despair! I’ll share tips below on how to upholster a bar stool following the no-sew method. 

The Before and After of a bar stool after it is upholstered

What you need: 

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craft tools needed: 

Supplies Needed: 

Learn how to upholster a bar stool


1. Prepare your bar stool

If you are going to paint your bar stool, you’ll want to make sure it is clean, dry and free of debris. I simply used dish soap and warm water to clean the stool. Once it was completely dry, I lightly sanded the stool legs. Remember, you’re going to upholster the seat, so there’s no need to sand or paint the seat.

2. Paint the stool

Once your stool is clean, debris-free and dry, you’re ready to paint the stool. Since you’re upholstering the seat, I recommend placing the stool seat down on your protected surface. This will make it a lot easier to paint the legs. Using spray paint in the color of your choice, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply 2-3 thin coats of paint, allowing to dry between coats. 

3. Cut the foam seat cushion

If you’re lucky, you can find round seat cushion foam at your favorite fabric store. For this project, I could only find a square piece of foam. To determine the size of the cushion, simply measure across the bar stool seat. 

A clear yard stick

You can also place the foam on the cutting surface and then place the stool, seat down, on top of the foam and then trace around the seat with a marker. Use your scissors, serrated knife or electric knife to cut the foam to the desired size. 

Measuring foam for the bar stool

4. sew the cushion cover

I made a custom cushion cover for my upholstered bar stool, complete with piping. I’m just going to give you an overview of how I sewed my cushion cover.

  1. Fabric Cuts:
    1. Cushion Cover Top: Measure across the foam and add 1” (to allow for seam allowance). So, if your seat cushion is 14” across, you’ll cut a 15” round piece of fabric.
    2. Cushion Cover Banding: Note: The sides of the cushion cover are called “banding” or “boxing”. To determine how much fabric to cut for the cushion banding, place the foam cushion on the bar stool seat. Measure from the top of the foam to the bottom of the wooden stool seat. Then add ½” for the seam allowance and an additional 3”. So if your cushion is 2” thick and the wood seat is 1” thick, that makes 3”. Add ½” for seam allowance and 3” for wrapping the fabric under the seat, for a total of 5-½” x the circumference of the cushion. 
    3. Cushion Cover Piping: For the piping, cut strips on the bias that are 1-1/2″ wide by the circumference of your cushion, plus about 6″. To attach your bias strips together, cut 45-degree angles at each end, lay one strip face up and another strip down on top that is face down. Stitch 1/4″ seam.
  2. Sewing Instructions
    1. Assemble the piping first.
    2. Attach piping to the seat edge (right sides together).
    3. Attach boxing by sandwiching the seat cover (right side up), the piping and the boxing (right side down. Start sewing about 3″ from the short end of the boxing. Then when you get around to the beginning, fold the end over about 1/2″ and continue sewing.
Blue floral fabric
Seat cushion cover and boxing.
Blue floral fabric cut for a bar stool
Bias cuts for piping
Sewing the seat of the bar stool
Sewing piping sections together.

5. Assemble the upholstered bar stool seat cushion

  1. Place the foam cushion on top of the bar stool seat.
  2. Place the sewn seat cushion cover over the top of the foam cushion (right side up) and the bar stool.
  3. Tilt the bar stool upside down so that it is resting with the fabric and foam cushion on the bottom.
  4. Using your staple gun, pull the fabric taut and staple in place. Then pull the fabric taut directly across from where you just stapled and staple it in place. Continue around the seat, stapling in place on opposite sides until you have the cover firmly attached.
  5. Trim off any excess fabric.
  6. Use a hammer to pound in any staples that may be sticking out.
An upside-down bar stool with the new floral fabric pinned to the seat.
A close-up of floral fabric on a bar stool

The no-sew method to upholster a bar stool

If you’re looking for a super easy no-sew way to upholster a bar stool, I’ve got you covered (pun intended)! Simply follow steps 1-3 above and then proceed as follows:

  1. Once you have your bar stool clean, painted and cut out your seat cushion, you’re ready to cut out your fabric. So, measure across your seat cushion, down both sides of the cushion and seat and add 3″.
  2. Cut a round piece of fabric out using the measurement you just took. An easy way to make a circle is to mark the center, then move your tape measure or ruler around from the center point, making your marks as you go.
    For example, if you need to cut your fabric 26″, you’ll measure out 13″ from the edge and mark your fabric. Then in a circular pattern, you’ll continue from the center point making marks around every 13″.
  3. Place your fabric face down on a flat surface.
  4. Center the foam seat cushion on the wrong side of the fabric.
  5. Place the stool seat right on top of the foam cushion. (You’ll have a layer of fabric that is face down on the bottom, followed by the seat cushion, followed by the upside-down stool.)
  6. Starting at one point, pull the fabric taut and staple to the bottom of the stool seat. Go to the opposite side of the stool, pull the fabric taut and staple in place. Continue working your way around the fabric, stapling opposite sides, until the fabric is securely in place.
  7. Trim any excess fabric.
  8. Use a hammer to pound down any staples that may be protruding.
The finished upholstered bar stool

I told you this no-sew method to upholster a bar stool was going to be easy, right?!

Need MOre HELP?

I have not put together a video tutorial for this project, but there’s a great video tutorial by Sailrite.

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What’s Next? 

If you enjoyed this tutorial on how to upholster a bar stool, you might like these other DIY projects from The Birch Cottage:

Sew a Microwave Safe Bowl Cozy

Easy Sew Fabric Bin Tutorial

Free Pumpkin Sewing Pattern in 3 Sizes

While you’re here, be sure and check out these DIY and decor projects on Ideas for the Home by Kenarry®:

How to upholster a bar stool

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to upholster a bar stool. I truly enjoyed creating this project and sharing it with you. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!

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  1. THANKS We just moved into a new place and I have a counter and no stools so I thought to match. Well I will now

    1. Hi Jackie!

      This is music to our ears – we’re so happy that your bar stools turned out great! Best of luck to the rest of your renos/projects! We can’t wait to hear more about them!

      Best wishes,
      Lisa, Ideas for the Home by Kenarry Customer Care

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