I’m Amanda Brown, and I’ve resurrected countless pieces headed for the dump into showstoppers at my Austin-based upholstery shop, Spruce. Before I became an upholsterer, I was mystified by the skills of upholstery. “Where do you hide all of the staples? How do you make cording?” Dive into my bag of tricks and create your own before and after beauties with these step-by-step tutorials I developed for HGTV and Design*Sponge!

DIY Supplies

Diy Upholstery Projects

  • Wallpaper Lampshade

    Using pretty wallpaper of your choice and just a few special lamp-making supplies, Amanda Brown of Spruce Austin teaches you how to make a high-style custom lampshade. She shares expert tips and tricks for snuggly wrapping the paper around the lampshade rings and finishing the edges of the shade with velvet trim for an extra luxe effect. Made up in a metallic print wallpaper, it pairs perfectly with a vintage lamp base. Read more on Creativebug.

  • Upholstered Headboard

    Amanda teaches a masterclass in upholstery, showing you every step of building an upholstered headboard from scratch. She begins by cutting the headboard shape out of plywood with a jigsaw, and then padding the board with foam. Once the foundation is created, she cuts out the fabric, expertly aligning the pattern repeat and pulling the fabric taught, then staples it securely in place. This class is chock full of tips on how to get professional upholstering results at home, and while many tools and techniques are required, Amanda provides all of the information needed to construct a gorgeous headboard with confidence. Read more on Creativebug.

  • Alphabet Stool

    If you are looking for a project to sink your teeth (and tush) into, this is the one. Amanda shows you how to make customized stool cushions from scratch using basic wood-working and upholstery techniques. These aren’t just any seats, however—they are cushions in the shape of letters, so you can create a batch to spell out initials, a name, or a favorite word. Amanda begins by cutting the letter shape out of plywood with a jigsaw and then she cuts out the upholstery fabrics, demonstrating how to sew them together to create a box-top cushion. Once the fabric is sewn and the foam is in place, she pulls the fabric taught and staples the fabric securely to the wooden base. The finished seat cushion can be attached to an existing stool base, or simply hung on the wall to create a sweet three-dimensional decoration with a hit of retro flair. Continue reading on Creativebug.

  • Chair Backs

    It’s hard to believe that just six short months ago, we met here for the first time and headed to the workshop to begin our upholstery journey together. We’ve tackled dining seats, coil springs and even bookshelves, so my gift to you this holiday season is the picture back. Because the outside back fabric only peeks through the frame of the chair, it looks like a framed picture. So if you have an old needlepoint, painting or a cross-stitched floral, this is the perfect place to show it off. We’re skipping straight to the back, so check out the other Upholstery Basics columns for upholstering your seat. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.


  • Coil Chair

    How kind of you to join me again for Upholstery Basics as we wrap up this sweet little chair! As you’ve seen from Parts One and Two, coil springs are quite a labor of love but are responsible for seats worthy of lingering. When I finished this chair, I decided it had to come home with me to replace the worn out wooden chair I’ve used for years as my vanity perch, and it’s been delightful. Pixie agrees! We’re on the last leg of our coil seat journey, so let’s get to the workshop and finish her up! Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Folding Table Makeover

    How many of you have an old folding table you use for overflow seating? Every time I get mine out, I immediately cover it with a makeshift linen to hide its ghastly appearance. This month on Upholstery Basics, we transform a weathered card table into a checkerboard, and whether you’re a checker champion or not, you’ll be inspired to spray on a new coat of paint and piece together your own design to create a table that’s ready to bare it all. Continue reading on Design*Sponge

  • Geometric Door

    Geometric Upholstered Door

    Make a Grand Entrance with an Upholstered Door. As the portal to a special space, doesn’t the door deserve extra attention? Think beyond paint by adding design and texture with upholstery and nailhead trim. Since staples and tacks are most secure in solid wood, it’s important to replace hollow core doors with solid wood doors when upholstering. Don’t be put off by cosmetic flaws when searching for the perfect candidate. I found this diamond in the rough at my local Habitat for Humanity store for $9.00, which was good as new with a light sanding and fresh coat of paint. If you have an oddly sized door, it may be necessary to custom order it from a building supplier. Continue reading on

  • Dining Chair Do-Over

    Welcome back to Upholstery Basics, where we’ll be rolling up our sleeves and completing our first project together: a wrap-around seat. Of all seating, dining room chairs get the brunt of the abuse — a little vino here, red sauce there. If you’ve been glaring at those chairs and wondering how to give them that much-needed facelift, read on, and you’ll be transforming those eyesores into jaw-droppers in no time. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Leather Bookshelf

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems this has been a record-breaking year for good design books. From The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well by Deborah Needleman (my newest arrival) to Design*Sponge at Home, my bedside table has become a literary Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s so hard to find bookshelves that hold their own in a well-designed room, so I decided to create my own with this bargain find ($15), one leather hide and a box of brass tacks. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Boxed Cushions

    Happy New Year! I hope your resolutions include rejuvenating your worn-out furniture because I have lots of fun projects planned for us this year! First up is a new bed for Pixie. She’s been lying on an old cushion I pulled out of a client’s chair. Yuck! So I thought it was about time for an upgrade. A few yards and hours later, and she is relaxing in style. The best part is you can use these steps to make any boxed cushion, even if it’s not for your furry friend. Think window seat, desk chair or even revamping a sofa by adding new cushions in a contrasting fabric! Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Boxed Ottoman

    The last time we met, we got out our sewing machines and tackled boxed cushions. I have a feeling your pets (and you) have recently found a comfy and fashionable place to perch. So what better way to finesse our sewing skills than to try, try again. I found this stout coffee table at a thrift store and thought it would look so much better with some padding and this great geo fabric by Lulu DK. With the skills we learned last month, a little elbow grease and a staple gun, this table went from stodgy to stylish in a few short hours. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Upholstered Walls

    When we gathered here last time, we turned an uninspired coffee table into a boxed ottoman, and January brought us boxed cushion sewing. This month, I thought we’d think inside the box for a change and tackle one of the biggest upholstery projects to cross my path: upholstered walls! About a month ago, I moved into a house that my hubby and I have been renovating for over a year. There’s still a lot left to finish, but my current project is transforming the master suite into a serene, shimmery boudoir. Alas! I came across Norbar’s Monty in Silver (available at Spruce), a metallic, glazed linen that is very reasonably priced (I needed 80 yards!) and just the right amount of sparkle. I packed up the workshop, headed to the house and emerged a week later with plush upholstered walls. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Folding Screen

    For the first time in several years, I’ve been spending more time at my desk. And although I love the change of pace, the change of space needed a few upgrades. My desk sits against a wall in an open living room, so I built a room divider to create a cozy little nook for my workspace. Not only does it add a ton of personality to my “office,” but the back side also serves as an inspiration/bulletin board where I can pin up my to do list or a photo of the beach to perk me up when I get weary. You won’t believe how easy it is! Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Poolside Roll-Up

    It’s been heating up around Austin — 90, 95, 99 . . . 100+! The hotter it gets, the more I want to dive in, so this month on Upholstery Basics, I thought we’d whip up a poolside roll up for the upcoming months of sunbathing, daydreaming and catching up on Us Weekly (I’m not ashamed to admit it!). The best part is, it’s made of beach towels! Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Custom Lampshades

    Although I’m admittedly a chair addict, they’re not my only obsession. I am a sucker for lamps, and after years of collecting lamps in every size, shape and color, I found myself with a lot of lamps and no shades. The success (or failure) of a table lamp has as much to do with the shade as it does the base, yet there are surprisingly few options when it comes to ready-made shades. This month on Upholstery Basics, we’ll make a custom drum shade to inspire your next bright idea. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Folding Chair Slipcovers

    As you can see, your shout-outs for a slipcover tutorial haven’t gone unnoticed. The desire for washability or the need to conceal functional yet unfashionable hand-me-downs has been weighing on your mind . . . and mine. Just recently, I pulled out my folding table (newly Spruced thanks to the July Upholstery Basics) and, to its demise, my folding chairs. I’m not a hater, and I’ve seen my share of adorable fold-up chairs, but who wants to give up comfort and looks? Six yards of fabric + 1 sewing machine + 1 short day = 4 sweet folding chairs and an excuse to entertain. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Grommetted Shower Curtain

    For the last few months, we’ve set aside our staple guns and dipped into our bag of tools and tricks to make everything from lampshades to slipcovers. This month on Upholstery Basics, we head back to the sewing machine to construct a simple shower curtain. For a clawfoot tub, finding a shower curtain that’s wide enough to encircle the perimeter can be a challenge, if not impossible. After months of searching, I finally found the perfect fabric at the right price (I needed 12 yards!) to conceal my soapy plastic liner. Check out how easy it was to brighten up this bathroom with just a sewing machine and a $10 grommet kit. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Crewel Art Chair

    If you meet me here every month, or have upholstered furniture before, you know that even the smallest project can turn into a labor of love, requiring hours of time and producing blisters and callouses. So what is it about upholstery that drives us to spend our wee hours of free time stripping, hammering and stapling away on a piece we pulled out of a dumpster? For me, history, textiles and restyling often pave the way for a spectacular transformation, turning a piece of trash into a useable, personal and handmade artifact. Starting today, we’ll sprinkle some upholstery inspiration into the Upholstery Basics series to see how textiles and styling choices can work hand-in-hand with craftsmanship to produce heirloom pieces. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Design*Sponge

    Circus Tent Kennel Cover

    My cutemeter is on overload after a month full of cuddly cats and darling dogs on Design*Sponge, so when I started brainstorming this month’s Upholstery Basics project, I consulted my cutest and furriest friend for some inspiration (though the clown collar was not her idea). For years, Pixie’s kennel has been a focal point and an eyesore in the corner of my bedroom, but after a few modifications, one striped sheet set transformed her ugly metal cage into Big Top Pee-wee, I mean Big Top Pixie. Don’t have pets? Choose your fabric and follow along to make a dust ruffle for your bed. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Garden Cart

    Since mid-February (I’m in Austin, y’all), I’ve been elbow deep in garden soil planting my veggies for spring. With arugula, lettuce, and Swiss chard growing like weeds, my hands have been full trudging back and forth from the garden to my kitchen. This month on Upholstery Basics, we build a garden cart from the ground up, complete with cubbies for tools, seeds, and cuttings, and a padded top for sitting or kneeling. Don’t have a green thumb? Use this as a kid-proof toy box indoors. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Geo Maze Chair

    Although warmer weather and full blooms remind us that the grey days of winter are officially behind us, nothing rings in the season of margaritas (on the rocks with salt, please!) and outdoor fiestas like Cinco de Mayo. This month on Upholstery Basics, we create a geometric maze of colors with a simple striped fabric and feed our appetites for Mexican heritage and upholstery inspiration. Salud! Continue reading on Design*Sponge.

  • Camping Chair

    As Father’s Day quickly approaches, I’m reminded of my annual pilgrimage to the department store in search of that perfect gift for dad. But thirty-something years later, I’ve exhausted the “Best Dad Ever” boxers and accompanying mug, and I’m pretty sure he has two of every grill accessory made. This month on Upholstery Basics, we turn an inexpensive luggage rack into a catchall outdoor chair perfect for your next camping trip or Father’s Day gift. Continue reading on Design*Sponge.