When I was designing our Guest Bedroom, I came up with the idea of including a cow-print bench that would link the decor in the room to the agricultural farmland that the bedroom window looks out over. I love the look of the Moo Bench by Uhuru but, at €3,164.59, it is WAY out of my budget. So, as I usually do in such cases, I decided to make a similar one myself.
You can find detailed information about sources for the materials I used at the bottom of the page.
- Timber for the seat - make sure that it is thick enough that it won't sag when sat on.
- Wood stain (plus rags and disposable gloves)
- Four 16" steel hairpin legs (they are usually sold in Imperial sizes, but that's about 40.5cm)
- Clear acrylic spray
- 16mm (about 5/8") wood screws (I needed 32 for the legs I used)
- Fabric. I used less than a metre (65cm or about 26")
Note: Fabric usually comes in two standard widths: 150cm (60") for household fabric and 115cm (45") for dressmaking fabric. The fabric I bought was 150cm wide, so make allowances if your chosen fabric is only 115cm in width as you may need to buy extra depending on the size of the bench you make.
- 50mm (2") upholstery foam (I get mine from Jerry Merrigan in Ballybane Industrial Estate in Galway)
- Latex glue (I used Copydex)
- Sewing supplies e.g. sewing machine, thread, scissors.
- Heavy-duty staple gun & staples
- Decorative nail head upholstery trim & matching nails
- Nylon-tipped tack hammer (or see this workaround)
- Pliers (for cutting the nail head trim)
I love the look of the industrial-style hairpin legs with the rusted finish. To make them more practical for everyday use in the home, I sealed them with the clear spray-on acrylic in order to prevent the rust from rubbing off and potentially staining clothes etc.
I wanted to make a bench 900mm x 400mm in size, so I bought a piece of wood that was already the desired width so that I only needed to cut the length down to size using a table saw. (If you don't have the equipment to do this yourself, B&Q provide a service where they will cut wood to your desired size.)
Then I used a piece of medium-grade sandpaper to smooth the cut edge.
Next I decided where to place the legs, marked the position for the screws, and then drilled a pilot hole for each to prevent the wood from splitting. The pilot holes should be about half the width of the screws you intend to use.
I wanted a dark wood finish to tone in with the brown on the cow-print fabric, so I stained the underside of the bench seat.
Once the stain was cured, I then sealed it using the same products and process as I used for Staining Woodwork in the loo.
Then I screwed the legs onto the bottom of the seat using the pre-drilled pilot holes as guides.
The next step was to attach the foam padding to the top of the seat. For this, I used a latex glue, which you can find in any art & craft shop or hardware store. I have learned from experience that the glue dries too quickly to cover the entire surface area in one go, so I started at one end, painting on the glue and then rolling the foam onto the surface as I went.
My local upholster advised me to cut the foam about 5mm (¼") larger than the base so that it overhangs the wooden seat and cushions you against the sharp edge when you sit down.
Update: I was advised that it wasn't necessary to wrap the seat in upholstery batting, but in retrospect I think I would do this in future.
TOP TIP: A bread knife does a great job of cutting upholstery foam!
Next it's time to make the fabric cover for the bench. I went with a cow-print faux fur, but obviously you can use any fabric you like. I do however recommend using an upholstery-grade fabric, as lighter dressmaking fabrics tend to show every lump and bump in the foam. If you do want to use a lighter weight fabric, I suggest using a heavier fabric underneath first.
My wooden seat measured 900mm x 400mm and the thickness of the wood plus the foam was 75mm. So I cut a piece of fabric that was 1150mm x 650mm: this included enough to cover the top of the seat and fold down the sides, as well as a 30mm tuck underneath the seat and 20mmm to double under at the edges so that no raw edge of fabric would be visible. Scroll down for a diagram.
Using a fabric marker, I drew a 125mm square (allowing 75mm for the sides and the 5mm to fold underneath) at each corner of the fabric.
With right sides of the fabric together, I folded each corner into a right-angled triangle and pinned along the marked lines ...
... and then stitched along the same lines.
Next, cut the excess fabric from the corners to reduce bulkiness.
In other words, if this were your piece of fabric, then by folding along the blue lines and stitching along the red lines in each corner ...
... you can make a shape like this:
Turn the fabric right side around again and fit it over the seat. Then turn the seat upside-down to make it easier to work on.
Fold in the raw edge of the fabric and start stapling the cover to the underside of the bench along the folded fabric edge. Don't pull the fabric too tightly; just ensure that there's no slack.
I started by stapling near - but not at - each corner first, then fixing the centre of each side before going back to fill in the gaps. Finally, I took my time to carefully fold the corners over as neatly as possible to mimise bulk.
The staples hold the fabric in place, so you could stop now and call it done. However, I decided to add a decorative nail head trim to give it a more finished look. The nail head trim comes in strips of fake nail heads with one in five being a ring where you can hammer in a real tack.
(That pic also shows the tack hammer hack that involves sticking a felt pad designed for furniture feet onto the head of the hammer so as to avoid damaging the tacks.)
Obviously there needs to be a real tack at each end of the trim or else the fake nail heads will hang loose. Sometimes that meant cutting the nail head trim a little short and filling the gaps with real tacks. Wherever you see a metal link between the nail heads is where the fake tacks, are and the unattached tacks are the real ones.
I know that this will never be seen unless you lie on the floor or turn the bench over, but it's a nice detail that I was happy I added.
And that's it! I am so pleased with this funky little bench, and I love how it works in the overall room décor too.
Can you say gorgeous?!!! I mean this looks so high end this piece. This faux Cowhide bench is a great accent in any style home.
Deb at Seeking Lavender Lane
Norma from The House That Will has some mad DIY skills! Can you believe this bench?! She had me at “cowhide” but then she outlines exactly how to make it. It is superb!
Brenna of Domestic Charm
SOURCES. Timber for the seat: Woodies (Galway) Four 16" steel hairpin legs: UpcycleIndustrials (Chelsea and Online via Etsy) Cow-print velboa fabric: Big Z Fabric (California & Online via Ebay) 50mm (2") upholstery foam: Jerry Merrigan (Ballybane Industrial Estate, Galway) 16mm screws: B&Q (Athlone & Galway) - two packets of 25 screws Copydex: Cregal Art (Galway) Nail head trim & nails: ukmemory10 (Newtownabbey & Online via Ebay)
Everything else, I already had from previous projects.