Friday, July 18, 2014

DIY Reupholstered Hope Chest

Have you ever been given a gift that you were extremely thankful for because of who gave it to you, but at the same time, wishing you could change something about it without offending them? Really? Me too!

The fabric was stained and yellowed from years of use, and definitely not my style. Time for an update!

This hope chest has been my mom's since long before I was born and I've known for quite a while that it would one day be mine. Thankfully, my mom was willing to let me update it a little to fit my style. :-) We opted to just update the fabric top and leave the wood as is for now. Maybe I'll have the guts to paint it one day, or maybe real wood furniture will come back in style...

This reupholstery project was fairly easy to complete, especially considering I had never set foot in a fabric store until this project... Sad, I know. I was, at one point, wandering in aisles of tulle, satin, felt, and calico with upholstery fabrics no where in sight. Joann's really does need better signage. Or a giant store map.

Anyway... I ended up getting two yards of upholstery fabric. You definitely want a sturdy fabric for something like this that is going to be sat on/used a good deal. Measure the dimensions of your hope chest seat and use those to determine how many yards you will need. Just be sure that the width of the fabric you picked is at least a few inches wider than your required dimensions. The length can be cut to however long you need it, but the width of a spool of fabric is predetermined and cannot be changed unless you're willing to splice together two pieces of fabric for one project. This is not ideal, however, and you shouldn't need to for this project since the shape you are upholstering is small and rectangular.

Note: You will need at least one other person helping you with this project. You could probably wing it by yourself, but the upholstery work may not be as straight and/or taut as it could have been.

  • Upholstery fabric, cut to your measured dimensions and ironed to press out any wrinkles
  • Batting - Depending on how thick you want the seat of the hope chest to be, you can buy a thicker or thinner batting; if the seat is already pretty thick, you may be able to just skip this step.
  • Staple gun
  • Short staples - We started with ones that were too long and they would not pierce the backing; they just bounced back without tacking into anything. Learn from my experience; go with shorter staples.
  • Screwdriver - To unscrew the hope chest seat from the body of the hope chest.
  • Cushion *optional* - Both the old cushion and fabric on my hope chest were in relatively good condition, so there was no need to start from scratch. If your cushion is crumbling, you should probably get a new one, though those can be a pretty penny.

1. Lift the lid of your hope chest and look at the corners of the lid. There should be at least four (mine had six) screws holding the hope chest seat to the lid of the hope chest. With one person holding onto the seat so it doesn't slide off, unscrew each screw until the seat is free from the rest of the hope chest.

2. Lay your batting out on a flat surface (or the floor if you don't have another surface big enough) and lay the seat top-side down onto the batting. Cut the batting so that you have enough to cover the entire seat plus a few inches extra. I kind of just followed the old upholstery outline on the back of the seat for an idea of where to cut. Now, you can begin to staple the batting to the seat. Have at least one other person hold the seat down and stretch the batting so it will be taut as you staple. Start by stapling the four "middles", i.e. make one staple in the middle of each side of the rectangle. Then, you can turn the seat over to make sure everything is even before continuing with a bunch of other staples. This is not so important with batting, but will be very important to make sure your fabric is on straight. If everything looks good and is nice and taut, staple away! For the corners, my suggestion is to fold them like you would a present, then staple the fold down. When everything is secure, trim away the excess batting, making sure to carve out sections of batting so the screw holes are visible.

As you can see, we stapled right over the old fabric and cushion.

3. Repeat all of step 2, except this time with your fabric. Make sure your fabric is laid out wrong-side up, or you won't be very happy when you turn it over! Also, be very careful making those first few staples that everything is lined up straight and taut before continuing with the rest of your staples. The last thing you want is to get all done, turn it over, and the fabric is crooked on the front. Again, make sure when you're cutting away the excess fabric that the screw holes are visible, or you won't be able to screw the seat back onto the lid of the hope chest.

Isn't the fabric beautiful?!? I love the colors and it goes great with the rest of my decor.

4. With at least one other person holding the seat on the lid, reattach the seat with the screws. We ended up needing two people to hold the seat down, because as each screw was added, it kept trying to push the seat away from the lid rather than screw into both the seat and lid.

5. Stand back and admire your handiwork. You just reupholstered a piece of furniture!

Doesn't it look so much better?!?!?!? It really is so easy to do, and you can't beat the results. I have a whole new hope chest and all I had to do was change the fabric. Easy peasy.

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