February 6, 2013

Retro Kitchen Step Stool Makeover

First of all, Happy Waitangi Day to my fellow Kiwis!  Nothing quite like being away from your home country on its National Day, or being in another country for theirs.  Feels a bit odd!

I absolutely love these stools - when I was little, it seemed that every home had one of them.  
They are so handy - great for using to reach the top cupboards but also great for little kids to kneel at the kitchen bench to help with baking, or sit at the dining table comfortably - especially with the lid flipped open, giving them a backrest.
These two stools are mine, and I am keeping them forever :) I am always on the lookout for more though, because I know how popular they have become over the past few years - indeed they have become very hard to come by, particularly ones in good condition.  

These two I brought over from New Zealand, and since being in Australia I've never seen any of this style.  Maybe they didn't make them here? I have seen plenty of the ones with flip out steps though, but most of them are rusted beyond help, sadly.  You can imagine how thrilled I was a couple of weeks back, to find this then...
It was in good solid condition with a  bit of surface rust that I managed to remove most of using elbow grease and steel wool.  The black step covers are unfortunately a little bit chipped but it doesn't affect the use of them at all.
I shared this on my facebook page the other day, but I am still gobsmacked by it...this was the cardboard label covering the underside of the seat:
See down there, right at the bottom?
It says 'European Labor (sic) Only'.  So I take from this that when it was made, the factory felt it had to let buyers of this product know who/what race of person had made it? Wow. Still gobsmacked! Is this how you read that? What other way could it be read?  
Perhaps I should add a new label 'upcycled by a girl' ;)

Anyway moving right along, the orange vinyl seat cover didn't do much for me, and you know I cannot help myself when it comes to oilcloth, particularly dots and florals ;)  Back in New Zealand I would have taken this along to my magic upholsterer man to whip me up a new seat cover, but since I haven't yet managed to convince him to up and move to Port Macquarie, I decided to give it a go myself.  (Hi, Val!)

I was on such a mission I didn't take photos but these are the steps I took:

1.  I unscrewed the top from the stool frame (just 4 screws) then removed all of the old staples in the upholstery (never a nice job).  

2.  I removed the vinyl cover and turned it inside out, using it as a pattern for my new cover.  I just traced around the top part of the old cover and for the sides I measured a strip of my new fabric. 
Cut my fabric out.

3.  I made some piping out of a blue gingham checked oilcloth for a bit of contrast, then sewed the piping to the top part, clipping the the piping as I went, to ease it around the curved corners.  

4.  I sewed the side piece to the top and piping, (starting at the centre back so that is where my join would end up) then stitched the centre back seam.  

5.  I clipped through all the corner seams then turned it back in the right way.

6. The stool base and foam was still in excellent condition so I reused it.  I eased my new oilcloth stool cover over the foam and wood base, then stapled it around the edges.  I then stapled another piece of oilcloth to the underside to keep it looking neat.

7. I purchased new foot stoppers for the 6 feet this stool has, and also replaced the plastic caps on the step part, as they were quite brittle.

8. I reattached the top to the frame, and here it is now...

I don't think I did too bad a job for a first time attempt :) (I have covered plenty of stools before, but steered clear of the oilcloth ones requiring sewing and piping).

With the steps folded up.
This stool is for sale, please email me for details if you are interested :)


  1. you always do a great job with these, too- so sweet!

    1. thanks Cassie, it has been a while so I loved getting a chance to do one of these again!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Fiona, I didn't do a bad job did I :)

  3. You did a fabulous job recovering the cushion!!

  4. you have done a great job.they look fantastic-love dee x

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  6. the stool looks fabulous! I remember sitting on one in my grandmother's kitchen when I was little, it was my favourite place to sit!