How to Make a DIY Toy Box Seat Cushion

4 Materials
2 Hours

I am all about adding comfort to my life. One of the ways I like to do that is to add toy box seat cushions to my sons’ toy boxes (also know as blanket boxes!). So I can sit there having a coffee while he plays!

I am not a professional upholsterer so this is very much a DIY project! But if that's what you are looking for read on for how I created my seat cushion without getting in the way of the hinged lid toy box opening and shutting. I also have a handy hack for covering those staples so little hands don't get scraped!

Detach the Lid

The first thing I did was to unscrew the lid from its hinges. I did this because I put my seat cushion directly on the box lid.

You can use a backing board and make a seat cushion that just rests on top of your whole box – as in it isn’t attached – but then you will be lifting it off and putting it back on every time you open the box.

There was no down side for me to doing it directly on the box top as this is a modern piece that I’m not in love with, so glueing and stapling it isn’t a huge risk. If you are working with a more vintage or antique piece, or something with sentimental value, you might want to consider a separate seat top.

Cut Foam to Size

Next I cut my foam to fit the size of the top of my toy box.

I recommend fairly dense and thick foam if it is going to be for a seat as it has to take your weight. Mine was 3″ thick.

I actually repurposed some old foam that had been part of a long bench seat cushion that I don’t use anymore.

So it wasn’t exactly the right size and I cut three different pieces to make it fit.

I would recommend cutting one piece if you can but I also recommend using what you have so here is my side note on how to do what I did.

I’m calling this process franken-foam….as in how to mash together several odd shapes of foam to make one piece that fits.

The piece I started with was long but not wide enough for my seat top. So I held it up against the top and saw that my seat was two widths of my existing foam plus a bit extra.

I cut a section off of my long cushion that fit the width of my seat top and then another idenetical. That got me almost there but I needed another thin strip to fill the top. So I held it up to the empty space and cut a strip that was slightly wider than what I thought I needed.

P.S. I used a large serrated bread knife to cut my foam.

I then used my heavy duty spray adhesive along the side edge of each of my three pieces and pushed them together.

Attach Foam to the Toy Box Lid (optional)

You don’t strictly have to attach your foam to your box lid but I find it helps at the stapling process to know you don’t have to worry about the foam itself sliding around.

I sprayed a thin layer of Stikatak Superspray (the same thing I used to attach my bits of foam together) directly on the top of the box lid. I then placed the foam on top and pressed down. It sticks firm almost instantly.

Optional Batting

I added a layer of batting on top of my foam for two reasons:

  1. Because I had joined several pieces of foam together I didn’t want any join lines showing through my fabric.
  2. The fabric remnant I chose for my seat was very thin cotton – like a bed sheet. It was also mostly white and my foam was blue….not a good look!

I used warm & natural quilt batting – because I am also  learning to quilt so I had it in the house anyway waiting for my next project.

I did want to re-use something else so as not to waste the nice batting but I couldn’t find anything else that would make a nice barrier between the blue foam and the white material so I relented in the end.

I cut the batting just a bit wider than the top of my foam so that it covers some of the side of the foam but not so large that it would end up wrapping around the box lid.

I wanted to keep the bulk of the batting away from hinged area at the back where my box still needs to be able to open and close.

That hinged area is another reason why I choose such a thin fabric for the top instead of upholstery fabric. I want the top of my box to still close flat when I’m done!

Upholstering the Seat Cushion

The next step is the fun bit. Basically you want to lay your material on the floor right side down making sure to position it so that any specific pattern features or repeats are where you want them to appear on the cushion.

Check that it will fold around to the back of your lid and that you will be able to fold under the raw edge. If you have too much fabric – trim it at this point.

I got this super cute bus fabric remnant off a lady on Ebay who had it leftover from a project. It came with a larger panel of the bus as well which I turned into a wall hanging – so the toy box and wall hanging are coordinating now.

I use an electric staple gun – but not a super high end one. That might be why, no matter how I hold it, I still seem to end up with some twisted staples that don’t go in properly, which is why I put the tack lifter and the upholstery hammer on the list of materials for this project. They really do help when you have to give a staple or two a helping hand to go in properly or get rid of one that has gotten completely mangled!

I start with one staple in the centre of each long side – puling as taught as possible and folding under the raw edge before stapling it down.

I tried to keep my fabric as close to the edge of the toy box lid as possible – which is why I mentioned trimming it above.

This is because I like to cover my staples with sticky back felt to protect little fingers when I’m done and this is easier if you can just do one strip around the edge of the lid – see Step 7 for what I’m talking about!

I continue along each side going back and forth from side to side pulling the fabric taught as I go. I then fold up each end a bit like a Christmas present before stapling the sides up. See this post for how to get those neat corners – it’s harder with the foam involved but it’s the same basic idea.

Cutting out around hinges and screwholes

Before the next step you might want to consider if your blanket box or toy box has places that need to be uncovered to allow the hinges and screws to be re-attached.

Mine did so I cut out little semi-circles from the fabric where the ‘pockets’ that the hinges sit in are (I’m sure that isn’t the correct term but I don’t know what it is! ).

I also made sure I hadn’t covered any other screw holes in the upholstery process.

Covering the Staples

My last step is totally an optional one but for a toy box to be used by a child I would really recommend it.

For one thing it looks neater and for another it covers the staples up.

So if you aren’t an expert stapler, and you end up with one or two staples that are a tiny bit loose or have a bit of a wonky angle, you won’t be stabbing any little fingers with sharp edges.

I use sticky back felt which you can buy on a roll or in sheets. It comes in lots of colours. Mine was just a beige/neutral colour.

I cut it into strips that are wide enough to cover the staples as well as the edge of my fabric. This also helps if you haven’t managed to staple exactly in a straight line. Just cover the whole mess up with this stuff and no one will know!

You just peel the paper off the back and press it down where you want it. I recommend sticking down one end and removing the paper as you move along rather than removing all the paper at once and risking sticking it to itself!

In the same way as with the fabric – if you have any hinges or screw holes to consider you’ll need to cut out those areas again for the sticky back felt too.

The photo before this one is just showing what how close to the edge you go with the strips – that’s just a little off cut one but generally you want to cut them as long as one side and get them as close to the edge as you can without them showing when you close the box.

This is the toy box seat cushion from the inside so you can see what the felt strips look like when it’s in use. It’s not a super professional finish obviously but I think it is nicer and safer than leaving it with nothing covering the staples.

I would love to hear other suggestions for prettier ways to do this if you have them! Just drop them in the comments.

This is by no means a perfect upholstery job but I am really happy with how it turned out.

And my son loves it too! He kept pointing at the fabric and saying ‘Car, car!’ – part of his limited vocabulary at 19 months old!

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3 of 23 comments
  • Angie Barnett
    Angie Barnett
    on Jul 3, 2020

    Thanks for sharing. My daughter is going off to college this year (JMU-Go DUKES! :) & new students are advised to raise their dorm beds for more storage. Well, my daughter will not only have a way to get up in her bed, she'll also have extra seating AND storage, 3-in-1!! I purchased 3" foam, I already have a storage chest waiting to be transformed! Thanks again for the idea!! She's going to love it bc I purchased material with JMU logo to make masks.. I believe it will look better on the storage chest😉

  • Bonnie
    on Jul 18, 2020


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