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Drop Cloth Barstool Makeover

Two years ago we bought our barstools off of Craigslist for about $40. I wasn’t particularly in love with them, but they were cheap, tall, and there were three of them. And they were brown, and we all know how I love brown.

Craigslist barstools

But it was time for a change… after all, I am still working on debrowning the living room. I wanted to lighten them up and reupholster the seats and backs. Normally I would have gone for a fun print fabric… but Adam requested that I not do any patterns, since the living room is starting to look “frou frou”.

So, new plan – drop cloths. That’s right, the kind you buy at the home improvement store to protect your floors when painting. I’ve seen quite a few things upholstered with drop cloths around the blogosphere and I wanted to give it a go.

There are a lot of different sizes available and I bought the absolute biggest one (12X15 feet) and the thinnest (8oz vs 12oz). I’m planning on upholstering a few other things with it as well and figured I’d just save some money and buy in bulk, Costco style.

canvas drop cloth

When I got home and fluffed it out across the living room I discovered a seam down the middle….turns out that a giant drop cloth is just smaller drop cloths sewn together. Drat…that really cuts down on the amount of usable material. Just a FYI for anyone considering using a drop cloth for sewing projects.

Costco drop cloth

(Y’all like Elijah’s new look? He’s 2.5 and 18 month shorts won’t stay up over his scrawny behind. I feel weird putting both him and Levi (nine months) in 12 month shorts, but it is what it is I guess.)

I wanted to wash the drop cloth before I used it, but I couldn’t fit it all into my washer. So I cut out my pieces first, leaving plenty of room for shrinkage and frayage. Good thing too…

drop cloth fraying

Surprisingly the drop cloth become pretty soft after washing. I mean, I wouldn’t want to make a dress out of it, but it will be great for upholstery. First I covered the seat cushions. If you’ve never upholstered seat cushions then let me tell you…it’s the easiest thing ever. You literally just wrap your fabric, pull it tight, and staple it to the back.

DIY bar stool upholstery

Also, you do not need to use  nearly as much fabric as I used…I may have overcompensated a bit for shrinkage and frayage. You really only need enough fabric for it to cover the front, sides and just a few inches of the back.

While I was doing that Adam set out to make the chairs more sturdy…they were kinda a wobbly mess. He just put a screw in each joint, then we put wood putty in the holes and sanded it smooth.

making bar stools more sturdy

And then he painted them, because he loves me and he’s cool like that.

bar stool renovation

While Adam was painting I made the slip covers for the tops of the chairs. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do the corners, but I ended up folding them in and pinning them. I was pretty proud of my “ingenuity” until I remembered that I was sewing them inside out and the corners weren’t actually going to look like that.

bar stool seat covers

Fortunately they looked good the other way too…not that any of the corners look the same.

bar stool renovation

And here are my finished barstools! I love how light and bright they are now…they’re very LiveLoveDIY.

light and bright bar stools

drop cloth seat covers

cheap bar stool DIY

bar stools before and after

So much better, right? You no longer take your life in your hands when you sit in them either, so bonus points for that :)

And since a lot of y’all are new around here, here are the  links to my other debrowning projects: Crappy $5 table, leafy hexagon table, fabric initial, curtains, lampsmall funky table, and the original debrowning post.


Looking for more furniture ideas? Check out THIS POST.
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  1. Love love these…yes I have used drop cloth for 1. MMS no sew christmas tree skirt…and I will be making another one for a special order…O my burndt….fingers,,yeap misspelled….I have some chairs that are road side saves…and I bought some drop cloth for these…I have found one thing that is fun about drop cloths…you can paint on them…I have painted stripes for a grain sack look, I have also used tea to stain them for more of a vinatage look…I love the pics with yur boys so very cute…they grow up so fast…Mine were less then 2 years apart….

    1. I actually think it will be really durable. It’s pretty thick and is meant to keep liquid from seeping through so it almost has a repellent quality to it. Only time will tell though..luckily it’s cheap and easy to replace!

  2. Great idea with the dropcloths!
    I spilled 1/2 gallon of ‘I Love You Pink’ at the edge of a dropcloth when painting my daughter’s room last month. We had to pull up the carpet because 1/2 gallon of paint spreads FAST! However, it didn’t leak through the actual dropcloth at all so it should be good for the stools.

    1. Good to know! Sorry about your carpet though…that’s a lot of paint! Would it make you feel any better if I told you that once I was painting wearing socks, stepped in my full paint tray, freaked out, stumbled around leaving paint tracks everywhere, then tripped over the tray, spilled it, and then fell into the mess? True story…I couldn’t make this stuff up. Luckily this all happened over a giant piece of plastic or I would have owed the apartment complex a big check at move out!

  3. These looks awesome! I love drop cloth projects, I made pillow slip covers and a table runner. I’d love to have have a bar and use this for barstools! ;) Would it look cute with numbers painted on the chairs, I wonder? I love the white paint, too, very good idea. I’d love for you to share at my link party tomorrow night, or just come by and visit!

  4. Ha, it doesn’t make me feel better but at least I’m not alone.
    We want to replace the carpets anyway eventually at least . I painted the subfloor white and gave her some fluffy pink area rugs so it works for now.
    I have a sofa and loveseat that need to be recovered but otherwise are in great shape. I think I’ll try it with drop cloths since it would be a lot more economical than natural denim. Thanks for the great idea!

  5. Nice! I’m planning on a larg reupholstering job with drop cloths soon!! I love your stools but if they were mine I’d paint/stencil a large number on the back of each (or letter or something bold)! Great job and thanks for more inspiration!

  6. What a great solution to transform the bar stools! And they aren’t fru fru, so I am sure your husband is super happy. I loved how you showed your mistakes, all good to know! The white color on the wood is so much more brighter, good choice! And if you ever get your husband convinced of more fru fru the drop cloth can easily be changed out {or stenciled with a color for a quick change}.

  7. They turned out really great! The before and afters really highlight how much they brighten up the space. I’m slowly changing a lot of my darker pieces too. It makes me feel happy! :)

  8. Those look awesome! I never thought about using canvas drop cloths! Good idea! This post is perfect for me too b/c I have 3 bar stools as well that I have been wanting to make over! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  9. I had to share with you that I took your drop cloth idea to use for my ottoman. You see I don’t know how to sew (yet) and I don’t even have a sewing machine as of right now. BUT…with my crafty mind I came up with a solution, and I WISH I had pictures to share with you today but I forgot to take some. bad blogger! Anyways, I have this really bright red ottoman that no longer matches anything we have in the house and it now features a blue ink pen design courtesy of my toddler, AND I really didn’t want to get rid of it. SO Went to Walmart, bought a drop cloth for $10 (a little more than I thought it would be) then bought some thin jute rope in the hardware section went home, drapped it over my ottoman, tied the string VERY tight around the end of the top section, cut the access and TA DA!!! I eventually want to trace something on the top to make it look even more rustic, but in time. I will try and post pictures tomorrow if you would like to see them. So thank you for the awesome idea. Most covers are $30 plus and this one was $12.00 (includes rope). YAY!!!

  10. Yay for drop cloth!! How awesome did these turn out!? Seriously though from an outsiders perspective, the change is huge, it completely transforms the space! Thank you for sharing how you got creative with a little bit of cheap drop cloth!


  11. I just posted tonight about needing to redefine my style, I too need to debrown and also dered my living space.

    This is a FANTASTIC idea!

    I was thinking of burlap for a privacy project for my front door, but after seeing this I’m thinking drop cloth!

    Thank you!

  12. Drop cloth is really some awesome stuff!!! The chairs look outstanding and very nifty thrifty. I have an awesome GIVEAWAY going on…like to shop? If you do…hop over and enter my $100 SHOPPING SPREE GIVEAWAY.


  13. The chairs look so much better white, and with the new drop cloth cushion. I also like that the chairs looks more casual now, but very stylish! Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration with Sunday’s Best – you helped make the party a success!

  14. Ah! I love you! How did I miss this post?!?! I was reading it and thinking ‘yay! She did the dropcloth!’ and then I saw your shout out! :) I love the transformation….seriously looks so great! Also, I love that you took the time to wash the dropcloth! That is so very NOT LiveLoveDIY!! Teach me your patient ways!! haha! :)

    1. Haha, I was working on them thinking “These look like something Virginia would do!”. And I didn’t want to take the time to wash them, but I didn’t have a choice…the boys are going to spill stuff on them so they had to be preshrunk!

  15. These turned out so well, I love how they look in the lighter colour. I’m finally going to tackle my first drop cloth project this weekend, (only 15 years behind the rest of the blogoshere!!).

  16. I really like them too. What a big change! I have a chair I’d like to make a slip cover for out of a drop cloth, only I don’t think I have time to learn how, do it, and do everything else we have to do before we list our house in mid-September! Ah well, maybe after we move…

  17. I was so excited to see this post! I have similar chairs at my dining room table, and my lovely cat destroyed them. I wanted to cover them, but wasn’t sure how to approach the backs. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Hi Ashley!
    I’m coming over from Debra Pashkowsky’s blog Shoppeno5 and saw your barstools there ~ super cute! You did a great job recovering them. I’m happily pinning your project to my DIY Projects and Crafts to Make and Perfect Paint boards on Pinterest for you. Happy to be featured with you all in the upcoming next post Debra has on dropcloth projects. Love using dropcloths!!! That seam is a kicker, though, but manageable once worked around. :)

    Have a great weekend,
    Barb :)

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