How To Quickly Recover Barstools and Add A Padded Back

How to recover barstools and add a padded backHave you ever purchased something from your local Craigslist? Interesting adventure, isn’t it?! Once you weed through the weird and wacky, there are some awesome gems out there. Case in point, our kitchen barstools.

We were on the hunt for six of them. We found four stools from a former ice cream parlor, who once seated folks enjoying banana splits and extra spinkles, and found another two from an auto body shop, previously covered in grease and motor fuel.

See how new fabric can bring life to an old item AND how I added padded fabric to an unpadded back.

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recover barstools and add a padded back


After spending too much time fabric pattern surfing online, I located a fun colorful, retro pattern that was most importantly laminated and wipe-able to withstand the meal chaos that are my three kids.

Separate the seat from the stool and let’s get the rehab started!

Seat Supplies
Staple Gun and appropriate sized staples
– Hammer
– Fabric (I often find great patterns and prices at fabric.com)

Padded Back Supplies
Staple Gun and appropriate sized staples
– Hammer
– Foam
– Cardboard (or heavy duty board, like a cereal box)
– Fabric (I like fabric.com that has lots of great patterns and prices)
3M 77 Multipurpose Spray Adhesive

Barstool SEAT Redo:
Lay your fabric down, wrong side facing up. Place the seat on the fabric, wrong side also facing up. Since our seats were round, I cut a larger circle shape. Enough to wrap around the seat, be pulled tight and comfortably be stapled to the bottom.

Pick where you want to start, pull tight and staple. To avoid pleats in the fabric, pull tight and overlap the fabric on the bottom. Continue in this manner until you’ve covered and stapled the entire seat.
How to easily and quickly recover barstools and add a padded back
Adding a Padded BACK:
Our seats already had a padded back on the front of the stool that I recovered in a similar manner as explained above.

However, it didn’t have anything on the backside of the stool except boring black metal. Since these stools can be seen from our adjoining family room, I wanted to see a pop of fun color.
How to recover barstools and add a padded back
Now I understand that every stool is designed different. In my case, I had to figure out a way to work around two back posts. After staying up too late and playing with different ideas on how to add fabric to the back, I came up with the idea of using cardboard and foam to create padded inserts.

How to Add a padded back to a stool

I cut the cardboard and foam to fit the shape between the posts. (The foam sits atop the cardboard, and the cardboard side sits against the metal back of the stool.)

I then proceeded to wrap each of these inserts with the fabric, spraying it with (very sticky and messy – work outside if you can) spray adhesive.
How to recover barstools and add a padded back

I was able to squeeze each padded insert into the sections between the posts. If your stool is post-less, use a light spray of the adhesive to secure the insert to the backside of the stool.

What do you think? From auto body shop to retro cool kitchen barstools!
What will you recover today?
How to recover barstools and add a padded backHow to recover barstools and add a padded back
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48 thoughts on “How To Quickly Recover Barstools and Add A Padded Back

  1. Julie says:

    They look great and I love the fabric you chose. I wouldn’t have thought to add the padding on the back but that really finishes them off nicely.

    • DazzleWhileFrazzled says:

      Thank you very much! Took me a long time to find something but when I saw this pattern, I just knew.

  2. Carlee says:

    How cute! I love that the ice cream parlor stools and those from the auto shop all ended up living in harmony! Adding fabric to the back was a great idea, that is the side people tend to see the most!

  3. Sharon@BlueWillowHouse says:

    You did a beautiful job recovering these fantastic bar stools. I love the retro fabric that you used and your tutorial is great. I have an old stool that needs recovering and your tutorial is going to come in handy. Thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm.

  4. Lisa Silfwerbrand says:

    These turned out beautifully! I absolutely love the fabric you chose… it’s perfect. Thanks so much for linking these up to our Bewitchin’ Projects Block party last week. You are one of my Features tomorrow over at Recreated Designs. Hugs, Lisa

  5. Cassie @ Little Red Window says:

    What a great idea to add the padded back, it makes them look so much more finished! Thanks for linking up with us at The DIY Collective! Please come back and party with us next Thursday! xoxo! -Cassie @ Little Red Window

  6. Pingback: Vintage Charm #36
  7. Keri says:

    These stools are super cute!! Love the print you chose!! I’ll be on the lookout for some of these cool barstools to revamp. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Selena, The Rambler says:

    Your chairs look fantastic!!! My husband loves doing the staple gunning part when we do projects like this. LOVEEEE the fabric choices. I’m just like you. I fall into a rabbit hole when I’m looking at fabric. =) #HappyNowLinkUp

  9. Leslie says:

    How fun! We should really use Craigslist more around here. I think it’s the potential creep factor that keeps me away. Thanks for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

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