Monday, July 25, 2011

How to recover a hope chest seat.

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Today I wanted to give you some simple upholstery tips.  I have an old hope chest.  The top has been stained and its in pretty sad shape.  I would like to paint it, but that's another project for another day!
Here is the before picture.  The tools needed are:  screwdriver or a drill with a screwdriver bit,  scissors, and a staple gun.  Materials needed are fabric, batting, and staples.

It's nice to have a drill with a screwdriver bit.  You can use this to take out the screws and to put them back in.  Most drills will have a switch to change the direction from left to right.  Remember "Righty tighty Lefty loosy"  I think I learned this as a child and it has always stuck with me!

Ok lets get started!  The first step is to open the chest and locate the screws that are holding on the top pad.  On mine there were eight screws to remove.  Remove the screws carefully and the top will come off.  Make sure to put the screws in a safe place like a plastic baggie or cup so you don't lose them.  It is a good idea to put a small letter F on the front underside of the top so you will know how to replace it.  I noticed on mine there was definately a right and wrong way to replace it!

Hard to see in this picture, but the top is now off.
The next step is to lay out a piece of batting and put the seat centered over it upside down.  I used a piece of an old mattress pad.  This step is not mandatory, but the padding on my bench was somewhat compressed and I thought it would make the seat more comfortable.  Make sure you have at least a 2 inch overlap on all sides of the seat.  I like to do this on the floor.  Pull the batting up over the edge of the top, and staple.  First staple in the center of all four edges, then continue to staple about every 5-6 inches around.  You want to make sure the batting is taunt but not too tight or loose.  If the batting is too thick at the corners, trim some of the batting away and then staple down at a right angle,  see picture below.

Here is the top with the batting, or in my case, mattress pad in place.
The next step is to cover the top with the fabric of your choice.  Although any fabric will do, even sheets!  It is most durable to use an upholstery type fabric.  Many times you can get this fabric on sale, or use a 50 percent off coupon at Joanns fabric store to buy it.  Sometimes you can also buy flawed fabric at huge savings and the flaws will not interfere with your project, but you would have to measure carefully!    I am using a piece of fabric bought for this chest.  
I covered the top with the upholstery fabric in the same way I did with the batting.  Carefully pulling the fabric taunt, but not too tight and I stapled it about every 1 inch.
Carefully trim away any fabric that is covering the holes for the screws.  Now place the lid back on top of the hope chest.  You will need someone to help you hold it in place as you put the screws back in from the underside.  Or else some creative use of a chair or wall may be helpful!  Carefully reinsert the screws and using your drill/ screwdriver replace each screw.  Do not screw them in too tight until all the screws are in place.  After all the screws are in place you can tighten them.  Be careful not to over tighten
The finished chest...I think it looks great!  I am moving this one into my family room to keep blankets in, and for extra seating.
You can cover most dining room chairs in the same way!  Its not hard, just try it out for yourself, don't pay someone!
Total Project cost: $ 8.00
Total Time:  1 hour 30 minutes
Keep creating!!


  1. Mighty clever idea...and so is that skirt pillow!

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Stop back by any time. There is always a lot of "stuff" on it.

  2. Oh my gosh!!! Thank you so much for the information about the 8 screws! I just looked at my Lane Hope Chest and it has those. I can't wait to recover it. I've put it off for years because I thought I couldn't remove the top. Thanks so much!