Sunday, May 18, 2014

How To Reupholster a Storage Chest-a tutorial!

I live in an apartment now which means I have to be more organized.  Every bit of space counts!  I decided a while back to start looking for a storage chest to use as a coffee table so my kids wouldn't leave 500 blankets laying around all the time.  Unfortunately, they were all pretty expensive or didn't fit my decor.  I was so happy one day when someone from my MOPS group posted a photo of one she wanted to sell for $10. SOLD! After buying the fabric and staples I spent about $30 total on this- waaaaay cheaper than brand new, and I love the fabric to boot!

Storage Chest Makeover- an upholstery tutorial

-A storage chest (duh)
-2.5 yards of home decor fabric, canvas, or cotton duck fabric (I used the cotton duck from Hobby Lobby.  Much cheaper than home decor fabric)  ***Tip***Choose a non-directional print!  Especially if this is your first attempt at upholstery.  No lines to match up!!!
-An electric staple gun (I borrowed one from a friend- trust me, this is MUCH easier than a manual one)
Blowin' the smoke off my gun. Because I can't help but do something nerdy when I wear my nerd glasses.
-Staples (shortest post length)
-Sewing machine and matching thread
-Measuring tape

Got all your stuff?  Good- it's go time!

Step One- Clean up the storage chest as needed and disassemble.  I needed a Phillips head screwdriver to take mine apart.
***Two important tips!***
ONE- Take a picture of the way it is assembled up close.  It might look self explanatory but those little pieces have to aim the right way and I promise you will forget.
TWO- place the tiny screw and pieces in a baggie and label which side they were on.
This is what it looked like before!  

Now taken apart!
-Step Two- Lay the lid down on the fabric, and cut the piece large enough to wrap up the sides and overhang by at least one inch.  (You may need to adjust based on the thickness of the lip on yours.  Mine was only 1/2 inch or so.)
I had plenty of fabric so I gave myself plenty of fabric to work with.  You can always trim later!!!
Step Three-  Wrap the fabric up in the center of a long side and staple down about three inches of fabric.  This is the fun part- yay staple gun!  Then, pulling TIGHT staple three inches down the opposite side.  For this part you are stapling on the edge of the lip. Continue in this manner until both long sides are stapled down.  I space my staples about one inch apart.
Nice and pretty. 
Both long sides complete.
Step Four- Wrap it up!  No...for real.  Wrap that baby up like a Christmas present, stapling along the way to hold it nice and tight.  Be sure to have your folds even on both sides and laying nice and flat.  Then you can staple on the inside of the lip so the fabric isn't all floppy.
Stapling along the way.

Making it pretty!
There- see how pretty that looks?
Step Five- Celebrate.  You have completed your lid!!! (Unless you need to trim.  You will need to trim your excess fabric before celebrating, sorry!)
My lid.  Am I done yet?
Step Six-  You need to cut the fabric for your sides. This involves math, my arch-nemesis. Trust me, if I can do the math you can!  Measure each side then do the following:
Add 2" to the HEIGHT of each side.
Add 1" to the WIDTH of each side.
Don't mess this part up!  Measure twice, cut once!

The four pieces.
Step Seven- Sew them all together into a long strip.  Be sure to alternate- long side, short side, long side, short side.  Use a 5/8" seam allowance.  Why 5/8" when you only added enough fabric for a 1/2" seam?  Because you want it to fit really tight, and fabric stretches a little!
Step Eight- Take the two ends and sew them together to make a tube.
Step Nine- Squeeze it onto the base of the storage chest, being sure to align the seams on the corners and have a similar amount hanging over the top and the bottom.
Step Ten-  Staple the top all the way around, being sure to fold the corners neatly.  Then flip it over and staple the bottom all the way around, pulling it super tight again!
A corner of the base to show an example.
Step Eleven-  Trim up and excess fabric (You shouldn't have much for the base)  Closely inspect the chest to be sure the lid and base are both how you want them- add extra staples anywhere you feel the fabric isn't secure enough.

Step Twelve- Remember where all those pieces go?  No?  Whew- good thing you took those photos and kept the parts divided in baggies!  Put it back together, using your fingers to feel for the holes where the screws originally went.
You need to use a little elbow grease to get the screws through the thick fabric.
Step Thirteen- Enjoy your awesome new custom storage chest!!!
Stuff it full of blankets and pillows- you KNOW you have too many!!!
As usual, if you use this tutorial please send me a picture of your work!  I love seeing it!  Please help me out by sharing this tutorial with your friends on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter...wherever you network!


Linked up at Coastal Charm!  Head over to see more awesome ideas!  Also linked at Tutorial Tuesdays at Hope Studios!


  1. Love this!! I've done chairs before, but have never been brave enough to do something this involved. Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Go for it! Post a pic on my facebook page so I can see your project!


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