Upholstery can elevate a piece and add a little bit of comfy-ness.
You can uplevel an existing piece or give a thrift store find a full makeover — DIY upholstery isn't actually very hard. I'm showing you how to upholster a bench to add a cushion with trim.
You might remember this bench from my Make this Gorgeous DIY Entryway Bench for under $12 post.
It was great as-is, but adding a little upholstery up-levels any piece and gives it a little more personality, texture, and comfy-ness.
Let's get started with the how-to, but don't forget to pin this post for later.
[checklist-box title="DIY Upholstered Bench" ]
- Bench —DIY Entryway Bench for under $12 (the exact one I used)
- Spray Adhesive — foam safe
- Staple gun — I now use this electric one and it's a game changer
- Fabric Scissors
- Pen / Sharpie
- Pom Pom Trim / Tassel Trim
- Upholstery Tacks
- Fabric Glue / Liquid Stitch
- Hammer — this one is under $5
Some notes about the materials list — first, you want to make sure your spray adhesive is foam safe. If it's not, it's going to be like trying to hot glue styrofoam since some spray adhesives contain acid that will melt right through your foam — not ideal.
Also, I wish I could link to this fabric because it's just the cutest! I snagged it from Hobby Lobby in the upholstery fabric section, but can't find it online.
HOW TO UPHOLSTER A BENCH
I definitely recommend watching the handy video I made you above for details about how to upholster a no-sew bench because its way easier to understand if you watch my show you vs tell you, but here are the written instructions too:
Find / build a bench
I made this gorgeous DIY Entryway Bench for under $12! It's built with framing lumber which means its super sturdy and cost-effective.
If you join the BRUNCH CLUB, you get access to the entire DIY & Design Library with free DIY guides, design & decor e-books, templates & woodworking plans...it's totally FREE and all the cool kids are doing it.
The other great part about building your own bench is that you get to pick the stain, which means you can coordinate it perfectly with your fabric fora polished palette.
Cut & attach the foam
Next, you'll measure the foam and cut it to size. I used 1 inch foam and stacked two pieces on top of each other to make a 2 in. cushion.
If your foam is thin (1 in. or less) you can use your fabric scissors to cut it. If it's thicker, you'll want to use a bread knife to cut it so that you can get the edge square. Electric turkey knives actually work amazing for this too.
You'll want to secure your foam to the bench with your spray adhesive, and if you're using multiple pieces you'll also attach them to each other with more spray adhesive.
Batting helps your upholstered cushion keep its shape as you wrap and secure fabric to it. It also helps the seat of your bench feel soft to the touch on the bottom edge so it isn't just wood with fabric over it.
You want enough batting so that it can wrap in a double layer over your bench and around to the bottom with enough room (3-4") to staple.
Spray the top of the foam with your spray adhesive then lay the batting layers over it.
I like to face the bottom of the bench up — with the cushion on the floor — to staple it.
Wrap it loosely — wrapping too tight will create wrinkles and pull the shape out of your foam. Attach it with staples about every 3-4 inches, just enough to keep it secure.
Cut out extra batting when wrapping around corners.
Lay your fabric across your bench. You can measure and cut the excess, but leave yourself plenty of room to work with for wrapping and stapling, since you can cut the excess off at the end.
If your fabric is patterned, you can use the pattern, or lines in the pattern, to make sure your fabric is lined up straight on your bench.
Once your fabric is positioned, you can add some spray adhesive to secure and begin attaching with staples.
I put staples in about every inch, or even more frequently depending on the fabric. Start in the middle and pull your fabric taut but not tight.
I add staples in — alternating between one side and the other and then alternating between the top and bottom to make sure it's even. Leave your corners loose and undone until the end.
I also like to staple past the batting (closer in towards the middle of the bench) so the batting is fully covered.
Secure the corners
There are two basic corners for upholstery — round and square.
For round corners, you'll pull the fabric down across the middle of the corner first, then create two pleats on each side of the corner.
For square corners, you'll create one pleat and a fold right on the edge of the corner.
Trimming off excess fabric on the corner helps you get a neater fold and also helps your staples better secure your fabric. Make sure to trim off just a little bit of fabric at a time so you're not left with too little and no room to staple.
After your corners are secure, you can trim on the excess fabric all the way around, leaving about 1/2-1" of fabric so that your fabric doesn't fray and come undone.
Trim is totally optional — I went with a pom pom trim and secured it in place with fabric adhesive and some occasional upholstery tacks.
You can put tacks one after the other in a line to secure — and go without the fabric adhesive — but I liked the texture of an occasional tack vs an entire row.
You can also skip the tacks and secure the trim only with fabric adhesive, or even hot glue depending on your fabric and the weight if your trim.
GRAB THE FREE BENCH PLANS & BUILD GUIDE!!
Don't forget to pin this post for later!