When it comes to making stuff, I’m pretty adventurous. My mother’s mantra when I was little was, “You can do hard things,” and I totally took that to heart. I learned to cook, knit, sew, and redo furniture before I learned to drive. The one thing I have managed to avoid for fear of utter failure? Upholstery.
I justify my terror with two excuses:
- cost of materials
- fear of power tools
So when Liz from HGTV’s Design Happens mentioned that Spruce Upholstery‘s Amanda Brown would be swinging by the offices a couple months ago while on tour for her new book, I decided it was finally time to face my fear. Mainly because I didn’t expect us to do any “real” upholstery projects, and I sort of wanted to fan-girl out over one of my favorite Design*Sponge contributors. However, when I got there and saw the safety goggles, I knew I would be confronting my fears head on. So here’s how it went down.
Amanda and her team brought a selection of rad fabrics for us to pick from as well as the the wooden base and foam for each of us to make a bench. After gluing down a thick piece of foam with spray adhesive, we used upholstery batting to smooth out the square edges. To attach the batting, and then the fabric, we used a pneumatic stapler. Not only am I not scared of projects involving safety goggles anymore, I also have a favorite power tool.
After we covered the foam with fabric, we learned how to do the 3 things that I think made each of our benches look super professional.
- We added cord around the base.
- We tufted the cushion with fabric covered buttons.
- Then, we added a dust cover.
Each step in itself was not terribly intimidating; it was just a matter of being patient with the process.
The great thing about having Amanda right there in the room was that we could watch her do a step and then do it ourselves. Which brings me to the cool thing about her new book: there’s also an accompanying DVD. I am totally a watch-then-do sort of learner — at least when it comes to learning the basics. If that’s you and you’re interested in upholstery, watch a few clips here on Spruce’s site.
So, the takeaway? We all had a really great time learning a skill that had previously terrified the majority of us. It’s empowering to try things you’re scared of, and it’s fun when you do it with friends. Amanda’s book, Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design is out now.
By the way, here’s what the bench looks like in our reading room at home. I think my next project will be recovering the dining room chairs.
What about you? Have you ever upholstered any of your own pieces? Is it something you want to try? If so, get tips from the step-by-step photo gallery below.