Tag: easy

Furry Stool Makeover

$25 Craigslist Score | Shopping with Gwen | Motley Decor

I take great pride in finding a good deal and Craig’s list has always been good to me in that respect.  Case in point–my latest acquisition–a $25, three-legged, triangular stool with gold, cabriole legs that hit the ground and then spiral like pumpkin stems.

Although, I can’t say this find was exactly what I was looking for, a few things drew me towards it.  First, it was only $25.  Secondly, the dimensions worked in my favor.  I was in search of something small enough to fit behind my front door that I could sit on to put on my shoes before leaving the house.  And finally, I had never seen anything like it before.  This a particular weakness of mine.  I spend hours each week scouring the internet for various pieces of furniture and vintage items.  So, it’s not often that I come across the unfamiliar.  However, when I do, my hunter-gatherer instincts surface and I feel compelled to add it to my collection.  So, one sunny Sunday morning, Gwen (pictured above) and I set out to collect our new stool with cash in hand.

Furry Stool Makeover on MotleyDecor.com

For aesthetics and hygiene reasons, I always like to reupholster anything I buy second-hand.  Luckily, I still had some long, black, faux fur leftover from my Kelly Wearstler-inspired chair makeover that I thought would suit my new stool well.  Recovering a pop off seat is pretty simple and I’ve discussed it a couple of times already on this blog–both in the previously linked post and on my Fortuny-inspired footstool post.  So, I won’t bore you with it here once again.

In any case, I was pleased with the results.  The stool now feels a bit edgier and, although the faux fur may be a little trendy, I didn’t spend any additional funds on the fabric.  So, I can recover it in the future with no remorse if (or when) this whole faux fur/sheepskin trend gets played out.  Please check out my next post to see how the stool looks in my entryway.


A Fortuny-Inspired Footstool

Fortuny fabrics are distinct, romantic, and have been celebrated by A-list interior designers since Elsie McNeill Lee, a New York based decorator, stumbled across them in 1927.  Today, they still impart a sense of luxury and good taste to any space they occupy.  Having long admired these unique textiles, I was moved to take a stab at creating my own Fortuny-inspired fabric and recover an old footstool scored on eBay.  Here’s how I did it…

Gathering Supplies

Fortuny-Inspired DIY Tutorial


A mottled, watery background is a hallmark of Fortuny’s.  In their factory, this effect is achieved by multiple printings with specialized dyes.  For a similar, but not-quite-as-exquisite substitute, I purchased a length of cotton, watercolor batik fabric (found in the quilting section of most fabric stores) in a rich, rust-meets-burnt-orange colorway that recalls the dusty jewel tones for which Fortuny is known.


Step 2 was to find a damask-like stencil.  For this, scale was important.  The footstool I was refinishing had a cushioned area of 12″x16″, so the stencil needed to be a bit smaller and allow for some repetition.  I found this nice 9″x9″ stencil on Etsy.


Finally, there was paint.   After some disappointing experiments with inexpensive fabric paints (which proved to be too thick and transparent), I went to an art supply store, explained my project, and gobbled up their advice.

DIY Fortuny Inspired Fabric Tutorial

The nice people at Blick advised me to choose any acrylic paint and combine it with a fabric painting medium.  However, they warned me that I might have to play around with the proportions so that the mixture did not become too runny and bleed beneath the stencil.  They also cleverly suggested that I apply the paint using a lint free rag rather than a stiff bristled brush.  This turned out to be solid advice.  Supplies in hand, I got to work.


The ideal mixture turned out looking something like this:

Fortuny-Inspired Fabric Tutorial | DIY | Motley Decor

I can best describe the consistency as that of maple syrup.  Test the paint mixture on a corner of your fabric.  It should apply flat and evenly without bleeding into the fabric fibers.

DIY Faux Fortuny Tutorial

Beyond getting these proportions right, the 2 other important things were to tape and measure.  I taped the fabric to the table to avoid movement and then taped the stencil to the fabric.

Fortuny-Inspired DIY Fabric Tutorial

Then, I just started carefully dabbing away.  Once I had finished, I’d let the paint dry, remove the tape and the stencil and used a small paint brush to fill in the blanks spots where the stencil was held together by thin bars.

DIY: Fortuny Inspired Fabric Tutorial | Motley Decor

Re-positioning the stencil for the next round, I always measured the distance from the previously painted area and the edge of the fabric.  I decided to keep the stencil facing the same way for vertical repetitions, but then staggered and turned it the opposite way horizontally.  I also stenciled an area just a few inches larger than the surface of the cushion.  This gave me so wiggle room when it came to upholstering.

DIY Fortuny-Inspired Footstool | Motley Decor


After all of the stenciled areas were dry, I was ready to upholster.  Planning ahead, I had already broken down my stool, repainted the base, cut new foam, and stapled it to the base using batting.

A Fortuny-Inspired Footstool Refurbishing

Next, I positioned the design in the center of the cushion and stapled it into place.  At this point, something occurred to me that hadn’t previously.  I decided that my new footstool could benefit from some kind of decorative cord trim.  So, I ventured out again and bought a couple of yards of gold braided trim with a lip.  I used a hot glue gun to glue the lip to the underside of the cushion.

DIY: Fortuny-Inspired Footstool Refurbishing

After the glue cured, the only thing left to do was to screw the cushion onto the base.  My end result looked something like this…

A Footstool Gets a Fortuny-Inspired Makeover

Fortuny-Inspired Footstool | DIY Tutorial | Motley Decor

If you need some additional Fortuny inspiration, check out these 7 eclectic rooms that showcase Fortuny textiles.



3 Ways to Pack a Punch with Paint

A little paint can go a long way in addressing decorating woes, adding an impactful dose of color–even in small quantities.  Here are 3 tips for painting projects that minimize time and expense, but pack a punch in the end.

1.  Remember: It’s What’s Inside that Counts

Painting the interior of a cabinet, bookshelf or built-in storage unit is a decorating device that never fails to impress.  Not only can it provide a pop of color, but it’s also an opportunity to offset the books, vases, and decorative objects therein.  Here are some stellar examples…

Gray built-ins with pink interiors

This wonderfully eclectic room in the Hôtel La Belle Juliette features chic gray built-ins with lovely pink interiors, as seen on Casa Vogue.

painted green shelf interior

Designer Mary McDonald used a citrusy green paint to line the hutch of this breakfast nook.

paint the interior of your shelves

Photographer Richard Powers captured this white dining room with bookshelves painted black inside, creating a dramatic backdrop for the collection of colorful books.

2.  Show Off Your Shape

Covering a shapely or intricate piece of furniture in color is another great use of paint.  The new hue will accentuate the beauty of the piece–especially if the rest of the space is streamlined and/or more subdued in color.  Just look at what a little paint did for the furnishings in these rooms…

Louis Vuitton turquoise planters

Louis Vuitton’s historic home–now La Galerie–boasts a pair of exquisite seahorse planters coated in vibrant turquoise.

red lacquer paint

This Victorian hat rack radiates character in red lacquer, pictured in House Beautiful.

Abigail Ahern's teal table

Interior Designer Abigail Ahern is noted for her moody interiors, but this ornately carved teal table demonstrates her more playful side. From PopSugar

3.  Don’t Forget “All the Trimmings”

White and ivory are pretty much the standard when it comes to trim in home interiors.  It’s so common that we expect to see floors and doors outlined in “default” white.  On the flip side, when a decorator deviates from the norm and paints trim in virtually any other shade, the results catch us off guard and leave a lasting impression.  Admittedly, painting trim is a larger endeavor than the previous two recommendation in this post, but it’s so worth it.  (I painted my trim black a couple of years and am glad of it everyday.)  But see for yourself…

turquoise trim

This snazzy kitchen, featured by AD Russia, is largely neutral with jolts of turquoise in the banquet and cabinetry that is echoed in the trim.

black trim by Kelly Wearstler

Kelly Wearstler outlined this bar with black trim, lending it a more sophisticated and moody vibe. via MyDomaine

blush trim instead of white or ivory

Incredible wallpaper by Timorous Beasties is shown here with on-trend, blush-colored trim.

Happy painting if you’re so inclined!


3 Chic & Easy Ways to Style Your Dining Table

Styling your dining room table for every day lends your home an extra bit of polish.  Here are 3 of the easiest ways to get the job done.

3-Pronged Approach

Choose three decorative objects at graduated heights: one tall, one medium, and one short.  Cluster the three objects either in the center of your table or off to the side.  For instance, try a tall vase with a pair of candlesticks and a low-slung bowl.  Here are some examples…

Veere Grenney Dining Room

In a Veere Grenney-designed dining room featured in Architectural Digest, three empty vessels adorn the tabletop.

styled dining table

This whimsical dining room (via AD France) displays a trio of objects of varying heights on a round dining table.

How to style your dining table

A pair of very different vases and a stack of books complete the scene in this chic dining room from Architectural Digest.

Island of Misfits

Another chic and easy option is to round up a diverse collection of a particular object (like candlesticks or bud vases) and group them together on your dining table.  Let the shape of your table influence the form that the collection takes.  For round and square tables, keep the grouping  within a certain radius.  However, if your table is rectangular or oval, allow the objects to follow a more elongated path.  Again, here are some examples to inspire you…

How to style your dining table

Cinda Boomershine gathered a collection of milk glass bud vases, each holding a single bloom to decorate the tabletop in her colorful dining room.  Found on Apartment Therapy.

Candlestick collection

A collection of silver candlesticks, inherited from the homeowner’s grandmother make a stunning focal point on this dining table pictured in Elle Decor.

styled dining table

Roughly tumbled decorative fragments are a surprising but attractive choice for gracing the table of this otherwise feminine-feeling dining room.

One & Done

And, of course, the easiest way to style your dining table is to make a singular statement.  Try placing one, generously sized piece on your tabletop (slightly off-center) and let it do the talking.  Draw inspiration from these fantastic dining rooms…

3 Easy Ways to Style Your Dining Room Table

Kelly Wearstler only needed to place a marble urn on the table in the dining room she designed for Cameron Diaz, Elle Decor.

Dining room styling

A tall, slender, red vase holds its own in this gorgeous Italian dining room photographed by Elle Decor.

Dining room with sculpture

In this impeccably decorated dining room by Brendan Wong, a metallic abstract sculpture sits at the center of the table, creating an interesting centerpiece that doesn’t distract too much from the room’s other fabulous features.

The Easiest DIY Chair Makeover Ever

One foggy Sunday morning, I was doing the only thing I can drag myself out of bed early on a Sunday to do: prowl the Rose Bowl Flea Market. It was still early when I spotted a trio of interesting, outdoor, iron chairs and motioned to my shopping companion.  Unimpressed, she made a face.  Still, I stopped to take a second look and, obligingly, she stopped too.

The design was almost primitive, with skinny, stick-like legs that flared out in contrast to the tall, narrow backs.  The thing that really caught my eye were two brass knobs at the top.

After a moment my friend whispered, “I don’t think they are going anywhere.  We can always come back.”

I couldn’t argue with her logic.  The chairs were hardly the sort of in-demand item that get scooped up right away and there was still so much ground to cover before the flea market started to get crowded.  Somewhat reluctantly, I continued on.

Later that morning, those quirky chairs were still nagging me, summoning me back for another look.  By the time we made our way back to them, I already knew that I would buy one of them and exactly how I would refinish it.  Luckily, the vendor agreed to sell me just one of the chairs (breaking up the set)–and for a steal–only $25!  I handed over the cash, threw that sucker over my shoulder, and we headed towards the parking lot.  I could tell that my comrade still had doubts about my judgement, but my doubts were gone.  I had a plan.

Kelly Wearstler seating

Kelly Wearstler’s Sonnet Chair

Drawing inspiration from Kelly Wearstler’s Sonnet chair (above), I gathered the necessary materials for my easy DIY chair makeover: foam, batting, faux  Mongolian fur in black (with the longest pile I could find), sandpaper, a scouring pad, and black spray paint.  Prepping the chair was easy.  I unscrewed the seat from the base of the chair and and removed the decades-old vinyl covering and padding beneath.  Sandpaper smoothed away the chipping paint and prepped the iron for a new coat.  And knobs I had admired shined again after being scuffed with a scouring pad.

chair seat

The seat turned out to be a piece of circular plywood.  I opted for a much thicker foam than the chair had originally been given and cut the foam to be congruent with the seat.  Then, I stapled the batting around the two and trimmed the excess.  The faux fur fabric went over the batting, following the same method.  Lastly, I screwed the seat back on to the newly painted frame.

And this is how the easiest DIY chair makeover turned out:

Before & After: Easy DIY Chair Makeover

This chair now serves as my vanity stool 95% of the time and pulls double duty as a spare dining chair when I host a dinner.  (I’m a proponent of mismatched dining chairs and made a conscious effort to curate distinctly different styles, but more on that in a future post…)  In any case, I absolutely love my quirky little chair!  Is it exactly like Kelly Wearstler’s Sonnet Chair?  Well, no.  However, it does recall the same slender bars, furry seat, and even has similar brass knobs.

To close, here are a few lessons I learned from this experience…

Listen to my gut–and those nagging feelings.

Don’t let someone’s doubt cloud my judgement.

There’s noting easier than reupholstering a chair with a pop off seat.

Beloved items don’t need to cost a lot.

Embrace the quirky.

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