Brighten Up Your Barstools

Did I ever mention that I am a color junkie? I love color. Bright, fruity, chewy, popping colors that make my eyes water when I look at them. I’d happily wear Carmen Miranda’s fruit hat if I could find it. And her dress too. So when I bought these three (formerly) austere black metal barstools for the breakfast bar at my new house I knew I’d have to brighten them up a bit. I must say that black is not one of my favorite colors. I don’t own black shoes. Or a black purse. Or even a black dress. I wasn’t about to own black barstools either. I wanted something that reminded me of the caribbean and of bananas and limes. I found just the colors I was looking for at the local hardware store in the spray paint can section where they had every tropical color imaginable and even some you’d never imagine. I came home with cans of caribbean blue, creamy yellow and lime green. Ok, I confess. It was pistacchio. They were out of lime.

I began by assembling the barstools because they came unassembled in a flat cardboard box. This of course meant that I’d have to read the dreaded instructions, something I always find daunting especially when they are written half in chinese and half in english. I finally figured it out just by looking at the diagrams and thankfully it wasn’t too difficult. Even the little disposable tools needed for assembly were included in the box. These barstools are just those plain inexpensive metal ones with a seat that swivels and that you can purchase just about anywhere for about 20 or 25 dollars. Amazon sells them for even less than that.

This is the original black and boring barstool

Once I had the top half and the bottom half assembled separately I took them outside to paint them. I didn’t put the upholstered seats on just yet as I still had plans for those. Spray painting can be kind of tricky. If you hold the can too close, the paint can begin to dribble down the surface that you’re painting and then you get those drip marks that solidify and stay frozen in time forever like the petrified amber in Jurassic Park. The trick is to hold the spray can about 10 inches away and constantly move your hand as you spray. Never stop moving it. Apply one thin coat. Let it dry and then come back and apply a second thin coat. If you need to, you can even apply a third. It’s better to apply several thin coats than one thick globby one.

Spay painting both parts of the barstool

Patience is a virtue when it comes to spray paint. It doesn’t usually dry instantly so you have to wait a while between coats and then wait yet again after you’ve finished.

Drying in the sun

As the stools were drying in the sun (I let them dry for about 24 hours) I re-upholstered the round vinyl seats that they came with. Fortunately these come unattatched so it was easy to cover them with new fabric. I didn’t remove the original black vinyl upholstery, I just placed the new fabric right over it. Since the barstools were going to be three different colors, I wanted them to have some kind of a unifying factor so I made all three seat covers the same. For this part, I dug into my fabric stash and came up with several bright scraps that matched the barstool colors and I machine stitched them together until I had a piece large enough to cover each seat with.

Colorful fabric scraps sewn together to form a larger piece to cover the seat

Covering them was quite easy. I simply pulled the fabric over the top of each seat and stapled it tightly underneath then trimmed away the excess fabric. Next, I cut a large circle the same size as the seat from a thick velour fabric that doesn’t unravel and I hot glued it to the bottom of the seat, covering up and hiding the staples. Even though this part of the seat doesnt really show, it just gives the whole thing a nicer finish.

Stapling the new fabric on the underside of the seat

Hot glueing on a piece of round fabric to cover the staples

The next step was to screw in the swivel mechanism which came separately in a little box. It’s not necessary to paint the swivel because it doesn’t show. I then very carefully (so as not to scratch the freshly painted surface) mounted the top of the stool to the legs and screwed it securely into place. The last step was to screw the newly upholstered seats to the barstools. As an added precaution, I cut a long strip of clear invisible self-adhesive plastic and wrapped it around the bottom foot bar of each stool where people will set their feet to protect the paint against scuff marks or chipping. It’s virtually undetectable and will prolong the life of the paint. Now when I look at the  tropical beach colored barstools I do believe I can actually hear Harry Belafonte off in the distance, callling….daaaay O’.

The new barstool seat

Et voila! All done!


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