Broken Foot Stool Becomes Bathroom Storage Shelf

Valerie Burge
by Valerie Burge
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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  • Schotz Schotz on Oct 01, 2020

    Such a beautiful little shelf! You did a fantastic job!!

  • Lynn Lynn on Oct 02, 2020

    Sooooooooo cute

  • Sue Sue on Oct 02, 2020

    So what did you do with the other two fancy legs?

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4 of 243 comments
  • Norma Norma on Jan 04, 2022

    I have an old footstool from my grandmother. Already took her needlepoint cushion off (wall hanging maybe??) and didn't know what to do with the stool. Legs are strong, but this might be an option somehow....thanks for the inspiration!

    • Valerie Burge Valerie Burge on Jan 04, 2022

      Thank you, Norma! Good luck with your grandmother's footstool. ❤️

  • Sheila Bishop Sheila Bishop on May 02, 2022

    So freaking adorable! I truly love this upcycle! Brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing.