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How to Upcycle A Bar Stool Into A Stool Bedside Table

See how to transform $5 bar stools from the thrift store into tall nightstands. Upcycling a bar stool into a stool bedside table is so easy to create with a little chalk paint and wood for shelving.

We didn’t have a nightstand next to our bed for WAYYY too long…like years long. Our master bedroom was small and I could never find a nightstand that was narrow enough to fit. Enter the stool bedside table!

When I saw these bar stools at the thrift store for $5, I thought they would be perfect for a little thrift store upcycled bedside table project! 

Turns out that these bar stools were the perfect height for tall nightstands and they don’t take up much room at all in our small bedroom. 

I love the extra storage space we were able to add to the bottom of the bar stool to create shelving on the narrow bedside table… the perfect place for some books and to hold your cell phone.

Upcycled Barstool: Before Pictures

Here’s the two barstools that I found that were just perfect for a makeover.

Un unpainted wooden barstool sitting outside. See how we upcycled this barstool into a stool bedside table

Luckily they were both the same size, even thought they didn’t look exactly alike. After a little makeover, you can’t tell the difference between the two barstools.

A pair of barstools - one stool is repainted with white wood legs and a dark stained seat. The second still is unpainted, awaiting it's makeover into a stool bedside table

How to upcycle a barstool into a narrow bedside table

This narrow bedside table post contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend anyway! Read my full disclosure here.

Supplies needed:

Step 1. Sand bar stools.

Sanding down the barstool leg with fine 220 grit sandpaper.

Using 220 grit sandpaper, lightly sand the bar stools. You want to remove the finish and give the paint a rough surface to adhere to. 

After you’re done sanding, be sure to wipe down the bar stools with tack cloth or a slightly damp rag to get all the sanding dust off.

Step 2. Prime bar stools (optional).

A pair of barstools stand upside down on a drop cloth, in the process of priming with white primer paint.

I used 2 coats of the General Finishes stain blocker white primer. This helps prepare the bar stools to be painted and provides great coverage so you end up using less chalk paint because you’ve already blocked the color of the wood.

However, I DID find it a bit harder to distress the bar stools since I used the primer. Since this wasn’t a furniture piece that’s going to get a ton of use (it’s just going to sit next to our bed), I probably could have done without the primer to make the distressing in the end a little easier.

Step 3. Chalk paint stool bedside tables.

Apply chalk paint to the bar stools. I did 2 coats with this paintbrush to get the look I was going for.

Step 4. Distress the paint on each stool bedside table.

Using some more 220 grit sandpaper, sand the bar stools down to your desired distressed look. 

I had a harder time distressing these since I used the primer. It just took more elbow grease than I’m normally used to.

To make things a little easier if you’re having trouble distressing quickly, you could use coarser grit sandpaper to start with. 

You could even try this trick with applying some Vaseline before painting to certain spots so the paint doesn’t adhere.

Be sure to use a tack clock after you’re done distressing to get all the sanding dust. You could also use a slightly damp rag for this.

Step 5. Seal stool bedside tables.

Using the top coat sealer, brush on one coat with a foam brush in smooth even coats. Don’t brush back and forth a lot. Just one coat brushed on and leave it so it doesn’t start to gum up. 

If you need more than 1 coat, you can come back afterward and add more. General Finishes recommends sanding with fine-grit sandpaper between coats too. I just did one coat of the sealer.

Step 6. Cut wood down to size.

Each bar stool will be different, so measure your bar stool between the rungs (foot rests) to see how big you need the ghost wood. 

Alternatively, you could use pallet wood or another kind of wood too! I just love the way this ghost wood shiplap looks.

Step 7. Paint edges of wood with chalk paint.

I wanted the edges of the ghost wood shelves to match the rest of the bar stool nightstand, so I opted to paint them white using the same chalk paint

Block off the top of the ghost wood with painter’s tape to protect it before painting and then apply 2 coats of chalk paint.

Step 8. Sand edges of wood.

Using 220 grit sandpaper, give the edges a little bit of sanding to make it batch the distressed look of the rest of the narrow bedside table.

Step 9. Set wood into stool bedside table as shelves.

Just set the ghost wood onto the rungs of the upcycled barstools and VOILA…they are all of a sudden now narrow bedside tables!

A close up look at the seat of the upcycled bar stools with chipped and distressed white chalk paint.

This is where this bar stool upcycle project really starts coming together!  I’m happy to report that the narrow bedside tables are the PERFECT height to function as tall nightstands next to our bed.

The completed upcycled bar stool - we painted the stool white and added two floating shelves to create a convenient bedside table.

I love the shelves to stacking books that I’m reading. It’s got a perfect little spot for my cell phone to rest all night long too!

I love the way the nightstand comes together in our master bedroom once it was styled with some books and a faux plant.

Using the upcycled bar stool as a bedside table to store books and a faux potted plant.

Even if you don’t need a narrow bedside table, you could also use these as a narrow side end table in your living room next to your couch.

A look at how we're using our upcycled white barstools - as narrow bedside tables, we added shelves to store books and a potted plant.

Transforming these thrift store bar stools into tall modern bedside tables was really simple. All it took was a little bit of painting and some wood shelves cut down to size! I love the storage of the shelves and the small table top for a glass of water. 

If you’re new to the furniture painting world, this is a great little project to get your feet wet. I only paid $5 per bar stool at the thrift store, so it’s not a big investment at all.

How to create a nighstand from an old, upcycled barstool in a few easy steps.
How to create the perfect narrow night stand with shelves from an upcycled barstool!

How to Upcycle a Barstool into a Narrow Bedside Nightstand

How to Upcycle a Barstool into a Narrow Bedside Nightstand

Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy

If you're looking for a narrow nightstand for a small bedroom, I've got just the DIY project for you! Here's how we upcycled two old barstools into convenient bedside tables perfect for our small bedroom.


  • Circular saw or miter saw


    1. Sand bar stools.
    2. Prime bar stools (optional).
    3. Chalk paint bar stools.
    4. Distress painted bar stools.
    5. Seal bar stools.
    6. Cut ghost wood down to size.
    7. Paint edges of ghost wood with chalk paint.
    8. Sand edges of ghost wood.
    9. Set ghost wood into upcycled bar stools.

25 thoughts on “How to Upcycle A Bar Stool Into A Stool Bedside Table

  1. Very clever and they turned out really pretty. Eclectic decor is always fun! I have a $5 bar stool sitting in my craft room right now waiting on a makeover!

  2. In the original picture one of your bar stools has a curved seat, I have one just like it. How do you get the curve out so it is flat?

  3. I’m so glad that someone else is using a bar stool for a narrow area nightstand. My husband thought I was crazy. I slipped two large plastic bowls between the legs to throw my glasses, earrings, paperback book and cell phone into before I go to sleep. Can’t wait til hubby comes home so I can show him this and say, HaHa.

    1. You could also paint the plastic bowls to match the stool. Just rough them a bit with sandpaper before painting to give them some extra tooth to hold the paint. Maybe consider using a bond primer first as well. Cute idea.

  4. What a great idea! I have a question. Did you design and build your bed and headboard? From the little I can see it’s beautiful, and it’s exactly what I want for my bedroom, so please tell me if you did do the headboard and bed.

  5. So…if I’m understanding this, you didn’t attach the shelves to the rungs, just set them there? Very cute idea, btw, just wondering about the specifics to make my own.

      1. You could use some heavy twine to hold the boards in place. Glue the first end of twine to the board, then wrap around the rung and glue second end to the board. You could use two pieces of twine on each side of the board. Then when your ready to repurpose the stools again down the road, the twine can just be cut off, board can then be removed.

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