Broken Foot Stool Becomes Bathroom Storage Shelf

13 Materials
4 Hours

I picked up this little broken foot stool online for free. I just loved the wood details and though for sure with my mad DIY skills I could fix this right up, add new upholstery, and call it a day. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

Broken foot stool

The broken leg was in far worse shape than I had hoped. It kind of resembled a half-eaten turkey drumstick! And no matter how hard I tried, there was no way this was ever going to be strong enough to hold up.  

Badly broken leg

After giving up on my plan to fix it, I wondered if I could re-purpose this piece somehow. After much contemplation, I thought maybe a shelf?

So the first step was to remove the 3 remaining legs. They actually cracked apart at the base when I removed the screws. This piece was in pretty bad shape!  

The next step was to remove the upholstery. I used a little screwdriver pry bar to remove the upholstery tacks. Then there were tiny pins below that layer that I removed with plyers. And more after that. So many pins! It took me roughly 2 hours to remove all the fabric, padding, pins and tacks!  

Removing the upholstery

Turns out it had been upholstered 3 times. And the very first layer of padding was hay!!!! I never knew hay was used as furniture cushioning at some point in history. How bizarre!

(Update: my fellow hometalkers have identified this as either straw or excelsior - not hay! :)


So these were the layers:

  • hay
  • brown fabric
  • a liner
  • green velour fabric
  • sponge padding
  • pink vinyl 


So many layers!

Once the upholstery was removed I filled the gazillion nail/tack holes with wood filler and sanded.

So many holes!

I wanted to try and incorporate a couple of those beautiful legs somehow, so I used a rotary tool to sand down the jagged edges to get them as flat and smooth on one side as possible. 

Then I filled all the screw holes with wood filler and sanded.  

I also rounded the edges of the ‘feet’ with the rotary sander.

Creating a flat side

The inside of the shelf (which was the underside of the stool originally) I white washed. I mixed a tsp of water with a tsp of white paint and brushed it on with a little chip brush and let it seep into the wood.

White washed inside

Then I painted the frame and the legs with a medium grey. 

I mixed 2 parts light grey with 1 part dark grey to create this colour (I call it dolphin grey).  

Medium grey

I wanted the wood to look weathered, so I dry brushed it 3 times in this order:

  • chocolate brown
  • dark grey
  • light grey 
Weathered paint job

Then I glued the legs to the front of the shelf, clamped it and left it to dry overnight.

Legs glued to the frame

Once the glue dried I did one final very light handed dry brush with white paint, focusing on the beautiful wood details.

And now it was ready to hang! 

I attached D rings to the back of the frame. Then hung it on the wall using screws and plugs.

Once it was up I perched two cute little dollar store birds on top of the ‘legs.’

Cute little birds!

I’m so glad I found a way to keep this piece out of the landfill. 

Even though I wasn't capable of restoring it to it's original form, I’m sure I’ll be appreciating those beautiful carved details for many years to come. :)

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4 of 207 comments
  • Hope
    on Oct 2, 2020

    So Cute!! You have a great imagination...I would not have thought of making a stool into a cute shelf. Love those little birds!!

    • Valerie Burge
      Valerie Burge
      on Oct 2, 2020

      Thank you, Hope! I find if I keep something around long enough, sometimes I can eventually see it through different eyes. LOL

  • Sherry
    on Oct 2, 2020

    Love those legs, gorgeous

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