Clever Cabinet

With a little help from a home-improvement store, you can get an upscale look for a bargain price.

Just like a wardrobe, your furniture needs an occasional update. An easy way to make that change is by using upholstery. Get creative, and go beyond the expected sofas and chairs. Almost any piece is a candidate for an upholstery makeover. Softer woods work better for inserting the nailheads. Test your wood in an out-of-sight place first. This cabinet is birch plywood. We had it made for $150, but a competent do-it-yourselfer could handle the job.

Fabric selection: We chose inexpensive burlap because of its forgiving nature--if you need to remove a nailhead, it won't snag or leave a mark. Also, solid fabrics are easier to work with than patterns because you don't need to worry about centering a design. Buy a little extra just in case.

Fabric application: Measure the surface, and double it if the fabric will show on both sides. Add at least an extra inch all around. Use the same process as wrapping a package.

  • Step 1: Pull one side of the fabric around the door and over its edge, and then staple it to the wood.
  • Step 2: Take the other side around, and then fold the fabric under to create a clean edge. Place the folded edge over the stapled side to hide it.
  • Step 3: Secure the folded edge by inserting nailheads on top (Note: You can glue the folded edge down first before adding the nailheads.)
  • Step 4: Fold the corners of the fabric under (just like a package), and secure with nailheads.

Decorative design:
Sketch your design on paper. Outline the design on the fabric with a ruler and pencil. Using a rubber-tipped hammer, apply the nailheads individually or use a nail strip (only every fifth nail is inserted). Keep a nail remover handy in case you make a mistake. You can also use a specially designed guide to ensure the nailheads are evenly spaced.