Etsy Journal

Explore ideas and inspiration for creative living

How to Revive a Thrift-Store Stool

by Naomi Huober

Oct 26, 2018

Upgrade your entryway and salvage a worn wooden stool all in one go, with this simple upcycling DIY.

Finished up-cycled leather stool, made by Naomi Huober
Photo by: Naomi Huober

As snow-crusted boot season approaches, having a handy shoe-removal perch positioned near the door is a wise (and welcoming) idea. With this DIY, you can transform a worn, frayed, or simply lackluster stool into a chic and functional piece fit for a modern home. It's quick and simple to put together—and to put your own spin on. Play around with weaving different colors of leather together, or use a single neutral tone as shown here. Read on to learn how it's done. At a glance: Time: 2 hours or less Difficulty: Beginner
Original vintage stools with woven seats, ready to be upcycled
You will need:
Scissors cutting through woven seat of original stool

Step 1: Remove the seat and measure the frame

Use heavy-duty scissors or a utility knife to remove the stool's old seat, then measure the length and width of your stool's frame along its inside edges. (You want to calculate the distances between the corner posts, without including the corner posts themselves.)
Measuring the leather straps alongside a ruler and marking off the correct length with a pencil

Cutting a leather strap

Step 2: Measure and cut the leather straps

The stool's width and length will determine how many leather straps you need. Since you'll be working with 1-inch leather, the math is simple: You'll cut one strap per inch of width for both the shorter side and the longer side of the stool (for a tight weave), or slightly fewer straps (for a looser arrangement). Those measurements are also what you'll work from to determine the length of each strap, adding a few extra inches to each piece so that you can wrap the ends around the frame and secure them in place. To find the right lengths, wrap one end of a leather strap around a section of the stool's frame so that one inch of strap overlaps on the bottom side. Measure just that section of the leather—the looped part and the overlap—multiply it by two, and add that number to the frame width and length measurements you took in the first step. Now it’s time to cut: Working on the underside of the leather, use a pencil to mark off the correct number of straps in the lengths you just calculated. Cut with scissors or a craft knife.
Looping one end of a leather strap around the stool's frame with 1 inch of overlap

Using a pencil to mark a dot in the center of the overlapping section of the leather strap that's wrapped around the stool's frame for screw placement

Step 3: Mark the placements for the screws

Loop one end of a strap around a section of the stool's frame so that 1 inch of leather overlaps on the bottom side. Use your pencil to mark a dot in the center of the overlapping section, and trace a line on the underside of the strap where the overlap ends.
A leather hole punch perforates the strap

A strap of leather with a neatly perforated hole

Step 4: Punch holes for the screws

Remove the strap from the stool and use a leather hole punch to perforate the leather where you marked the dot. Fold the end of the leather back under so that it lines up with the pencil line, mark another dot that aligns with the hole you just punched, and use the leather hole punch to create a second hole in the strap at that point. The two holes should line up when the leather strap is folded over to meet the pencil line you drew. Repeat these steps to make holes at one end of all the leather straps.
Vintage stool with new leather straps attached to one edge of the frame

Step 5: Attach straps to one edge of the frame

Starting with the shorter side of the stool's frame and the longer set of leather straps, attach each strap by looping it around the frame and securing the overlapped layers of leather with a Chicago screw through both holes. Use a flathead screwdriver to tighten the bottom of each screw. Repeat this step for all the straps you cut for this side of the stool.
Vintage stool with leather straps attached to two parallel edges of the frame

Step 6: Secure those straps to the opposite edge

Loop a strap around the opposite side of the stool frame and pull the leather taut. Mark positions for screws as you did in steps 3 and 4 and punch holes in the leather at those spots. Secure in place with Chicago screws and tighten as before. Adjust the straps if needed so that they are evenly spaced.
Close-up shot of leather strap attached to adjacent edge of stool

Step 7: Attach straps to an adjacent frame edge

Working with the shorter set of straps and one longer edge of the frame, attach one end of each strap to the stool using the process outlined above, and repeat until all straps have been secured.
Leather strap attached to adjacent edge is woven through the attached perpendicular straps

Finished stool with woven leather straps attached at all four edges

Step 8: Weave and secure the loose strap ends

Thread each loose strap over and under the rows of secured straps to reach the opposite edge of the frame. Alternate the order as you go, so that each new strap you weave begins either over or under, rather than repeating the same motion twice. Secure the ends of the woven straps using the same process you used for the others. Now sit down, take your shoes off, and relax.
Styled shot of finished upcycled stool with succulent in background

Explore more fall decor ideas

Naomi Huober

Naomi Huober is a photographer, marketer, and yoga instructor living in Seattle, WA. She approaches life with passion, eager to better the world through her teaching and creative endeavors. Follow her adventure on Instagram at @numieabbot.