French quatrefoil step stool makeover & tutorial

Good morning! How are things with you?

See the little wooden step stool below? It is kinda cute, right? Well my Mom bought this stool a couple of years ago from Home Sense (aka Home Goods) and it has been a chameleon of sorts.

It originally started out with a solid-painted turquoise top. It didn’t really fit into my Mom’s living room color scheme at the time so she painted it a taupey-cream. Over time she got bored of it, so she asked me to paint it a sage green. That also didn’t work out as planned and she just wasn’t feeling the “new look”!  Then recently she decided that it was time for a change again. It was out with the green and back in with the turquoise. Ha!

Honestly, I wasn’t very happy with the creamy-yellow distressed paint finish on the bottom of the stool anyway, so I decided this stool needed a full makeover this time around.




Here is my Mom’s stool after its makeover. It has a bit of a French personality now!




I really love its new look, but my Mom hasn’t seen it yet. I hope she will love it too!


What do you think?




The top of this stool was given an aged-turquoise quatrefoil stenciled finish and then on top of that I did a photo transfer using a gorgeous Paris Wreath graphic from The Graphics Fairy. To finish it off, the bottom of the stool was given a wash with some light cream craft paint.


Ugly creamy yellow be-gone!




Too bad this is my Mom’s stool, because now I wish that I could keep it for myself! Oh well, I am happy that I get a chance to do re-do things for my Mom. Besides, I can always paint something similar on one of my own pieces if I am missing her little stool too much!



So, would you like to paint one of your own stools like this?

You don’t have a stool to paint? That’s totally ok. You can create this look on so many other things. Here are some ideas for you…

How about on the seat of a chair, on the top of a side table or nightstand, on the inside of a serving tray, on an art canvas to display on your wall or maybe as a decorative finish for a storage box? There are so many possibilities! You also could paint this finish in any color to match your decor or even use another graphic on the top.


Here is the tutorial:


 For painting:

          • your stool, storage box, chair etc.
          • turquoise latex paint (I used Behr Gem Turquoise 50% strength)
          • taupey gray latex paint (I used Martha Stewart’s Sharkey Grey)
          • burnt umber craft paint & antiquing medium
          • light cream craft paint
          • Martha Stewart’s Arabesque stencil set
          • paint brushes, including a stencil brush or a foam pouncer
          • some rags
          • 220 or 400 grit sandpaper


For the photo transfer and for top coating your project:

          • your laser photocopied/printed image to transfer (printed in mirror image mode if there is text in the graphic) (I used this Paris Wreath graphic from The Graphics Fairy)
          • Golden Soft Gel Gloss Medium
          • Matte Modge Podge
          • scissors
          • rubber brayer or scraper
          • spray bottle or sponge
          • paint brushes
          • dish scrubber (see previous instructions HERE)
          • a moist rag



 Martha Stewart’s Arabesque Stencil





  1. Lightly sand your stool and then paint it with one coat of turquoise latex paint. Leave it to dry
  2. Prepare a mixture of half turquoise paint and half taupe paint to use for stenciling. Only stir the paint lightly so that the mixture is not consistent. It gives the finish a bit of variation
  3. Find the center of your stool and make a light pencil mark. Position one of stencil cut-outs right in the middle of your stencil mark, make sure the stencil is straight and then start stenciling using your 50% paint mixture above
  4. TIPS for stenciling: Try to keep your stencil firmly in place with one hand while stenciling with the other hand (you can also tape it down with painters tape if you like). Using the stencil brush and very little paint, tamp in an up and down motion to evenly distribute the paint. Carefully lift your stencil and then use a hair blow dryer to dry your previous section before moving on to the next. Wash your stencil in between applications if you wish





  1. Once your stenciling is completely dry, lightly sand the entire stenciled area with 400 grit sandpaper to age it and give it a smooth finish
  2. Create a mixture of antiquing medium and a small amount of burnt umber craft paint to use as a wash. I would use about 7 parts antiquing medium to one part paint
  3. Working in one section at a time, brush on the aging glaze with a paintbrush and then before it has time to dry, use a damp rag to wash off the excess. You will be left with a lovely aged finish




  1. Mix up some of your turquoise basecoat with a small amount of light cream craft paint
  2. Stencil over your original stenciled area again with this new color (you don’t need to line up to the original stenciled areas perfectly-close is good enough!)
  3. It is hard to see in this photo but you will end up with a gorgeous striae (lined) effect in the dark painted areas surrounding the quartrefoil shapes. You will also see a bit of your two stencil colors coming through (see the 2nd photo below for a close-up)
  4. After the top of your step stool has dried, use your burnt umber glaze mixture to give it another wash as in PART 2 above. After that has dried, lightly sand with 400 grit sandpaper






For Detailed Instructions on How to Transfer Photos, Please Read My Tutorial HERE

  1. Prepare your photocopied/printed Paris graphic to be transferred (Again, make sure your graphic is reversed if you have text on there). Cut around your graphic neatly leaving a bit of white space all around your image. It can be helpful to cut a straight box around your image first and then cut away any extra parts. Having a straight line on the bottom and top will allow you to line up your image perfectly straight on your stool
  2. Coat the printed side of your image evenly with Soft Gel Medium. Before it has time to dry, flip it over face down and line it up as best as you can on the face of your stool. Once the image is down, it cannot be moved
  3. Smooth out the image with your hand and then use a brayer to remove air bubbles. Use your damp rag to wipe up excess gel medium then leave your image to dry for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight
  4. When your transfer has fully dried, soak the back of your image lightly with your spray bottle or sponge. Using the pad of your pointer finger, lightly rub away the paper one section at a time. Keep the area you are working on moist. Remove all of the residual paper that you can from your image and set it aside
  5. Use your pot scrubber with some water to lightly scrub away any last bits of residual paper. Don’t scrub so hard that you scrub away your image
  6. Leave your stool to dry




  1. Once your transferred image is thoroughly dry lightly sand over it with 400 grit sandpaper to age the image. Wipe away any sanding dust (My transfer came out crisp and clear but I wanted it to look quite aged so I sanded my image a lot. I didn’t want it to look perfect!)
  2. Paint the bottom of your stool with light cream craft paint leaving a little bit of the basecoat showing through. You can also paint on some light gray paint here and there to create more of an aged look
  3. Once the bottom of your step stool is dry, you can sand the edges of the stool to distress it. Lightly wipe away  all of the sanding dust
  4. Coat your entire stool with two coats of matte Modge Podge for protection



That is all there is to it!


It may seem like there are quite a few steps involved in finishing this stool, but it is actually quite easy. Since it is a small item it takes very little time to paint. I think this step stool took me about an hour to finish total, but of course there were some waiting times in between for the paint and the photo transfer to dry.




I hope you decide to give this tutorial a try sometime. If you do, I would love to see what you have done! Please send me some photos of your finished project and I may feature your project on my blog; with your permission, of course!

And as always, if you have any questions about this tutorial or any of my other projects, please leave me a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. I love me some comments, if I haven’t told you already!


Happy Thursday!






Acrylic Medium Golden Soft Gel Gloss 8oz

Mod Podge CS11302 Original 16-Ounce Glue, Matte Finish

3M Wetordry 9085NA Sandpaper, 9-Inch x 11-Inch, 5-Sheet,Super Fine 400-Grit

3M 10132NA Tack Cloth

School Specialty 4 Semi-Soft Extra-Fine Foam Brayer, paint supplies

Martha Stewart 32266 Large Stencil, Arabesque

Staining/Antiquing Medium-2 Ounce

Stencil Starter Kit



Parties I’ve Linked Up To:

 ~ The Shabby Creek Cottage – Transformation Thursday ~ Somewhat Simple – Blog Link Party ~ Brambleberry Cottage – Time Travel Thursday ~ The Trendy Treehouse – Create and Share ~ Domestically Speaking – 112th Power of the Paint Party ~ Savvy Southern Style – Wow Us Wednesdays ~ Embracing Change – Creative Inspirations Linky Party ~ The Shady Porch – Rock N’ Share ~ Mrs. Hines Class – Show & Tell ~ At the Picket Fence – Inspiration Friday ~ French Country Cottage – Feathered Nest Friday ~ Liz Marie – Link Up With Me ~ Chic on a Shoestring – Flaunt It Friday ~ My Romantic Home – Show and Tell Friday ~ The Shabby Nest – Frugal Friday ~ Craftionary – Friday Fun Party ~ Simply Designing – Simply Link Party ~ Days of Chalk & Chocolate – Latest Greatest Friday ~ Redoux Interiors – Friday Features #56 ~ Tatertots and Jello – Weekend Wrap Up Party ~ Funky Junk Interiors – Sat Nite Special ~ Be Different Act Normal – Show and Tell Saturdays ~ Craft Envy – Saturday Spotlight ~ I Gotta Create – Wildly Original Round-up ~ Craft-o-Maniac – Craft-o-Maniac Party Time Monday ~ I Should Be Mopping the Floors – Mop It Up Mondays ~ The Graphics Fairy – Brag Monday ~ Lines Across – The Cure for the Common Monday ~ Vintage Mauve – Mauvin’ Monday ~ Coastal Charm – Nifty Thrifty Tuesday ~ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia – Tuesdays Treasures ~ Skip to My Lou – Made By You Monday ~ Sumo’s Sweet Stuff – Market Yourself Mondays ~ Between Naps on the Porch – Metamorphosis Monday ~ DIY Show Off – DIY Project Parade ~ A Stroll Thru Life – 117th Table Top Tuesday ~ Vintage Wanna Bee – Talent Tuesday ~ Under the Table and Dreaming – Sunday Showcase Party ~ Homemaker on a Dime – Creative Bloggers Party ~ How to Nest for Less – Just a Party With My Peeps ~ Very Merry Vintage Style – STL Wednesday Link Party ~ Home Stories A to Z – Tutorials & Tips Link Party ~ Restore Interiors – Restored It Wednesday ~ Today’s Creative Blog – DIY Craft Projects ~ Organize and Decorate Everything – Home Decor & Organizing Link Party ~

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2 pings

  1. Dido

    I love this little stool, thanks for the idea and the instructions. I will try it on something for sure.

    1. Carrie

      Thank you Dido. I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment.

  2. Marisa Waid

    It turned out beautiful!! I know your mom loves it. Thanks for the tutorial.

    1. Carrie

      Thanks so much! I hope my Mom loves it too.

  3. Leanne

    This is lovely, Carrie! Beautiful stenciling… and don’t you just adore Graphics Fairy?

    1. Carrie

      Thanks for stopping by Leanne and for your nice comments. The Graphics Fairy is my favorite too.
      Have a great day!

  4. Carolyn

    Lovely as usual Carrie. Stencil is morrocan inspired which is so in vogue right now. Wonderful tutorial–such detail!

    1. Carrie

      Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks so much for your kind comments! I didn’t know that the stencil was actually morrocan, so see, we learn something new every day! I hope to see you again soon.

  5. Sharon Hines

    I’m so impressed with your creative talents. You have a real vision for how to transform pieces. I love the stencil effect and turquoise is my favorite color. Thank you for sharing your stool makeover and tutorial at Show & Tell. Always glad to see you latest projects!

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

    1. Carrie

      Sharon, you are such a sweet person! You always have such wonderful things to say. Thanks again for taking time to stop by my blog. Your comments are always greatly appreciated!
      Take care,

  6. Audrey Zumwalt

    Hi Carrie … love the stool and the stencil is just perfect. You did a really nice job on it. I need to try that.
    Thanks for the tutorial.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

    1. Carrie

      I hope you decide to try this project some time Audrey. It was a lot of fun to do. Thanks and I hope to see you again sometime.

  7. Julie

    I wish someone would make a stool like that for me!

    1. Carrie

      Thanks Julie!

  8. Kathy

    I just love everything about this cute little stool transformation & know your Mom is sure to enjoy it for a long time! Thanks so much for the great tutorial. I’ve always wanted to try graphics transfer & now thinking I have the courage! Blessings (from your latest follower)….

    1. Carrie

      I am so happy that you liked my tutorial Kathy. I hope you get to try out the photo transfers sometime. They are so addicting once you start and they are so easy to do. Thanks again. Carrie

  9. Kristi

    This is so pretty! I love all of the details…especially the subtle design you stenciled as the background. So neat. Would be delighted for you to link up with us at Mop It Up Mondays: http://www.ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com/2012/05/mop-it-up-mondays-17.html

    Have a great week!

    1. Carrie


      Thanks for your wonderful comments! I stopped by and linked up some of my projects on your link party. Thank you as well for joining my Facebook page. I joined yours as well. I hope to see you again soon.
      Take care,

  10. Linda@Coastal Charm

    She is a real beauty!!! Hop over today and grab my starfish featured button for your blog…yes you have been featured at NIFTY THRIFTY TUESDAY!!!


    1. Carrie

      Yeah! I am honored that you chose my DIY pin cushion tutorial as one of the features in your link party! Thanks so much Linda!
      All the best,

  11. Chubby and Chique


    What FABULOUS revamp you have.

    So pretty and everything wonderful. And a quickie too.

    Happy TTT and TY for sharing.


    1. Carrie

      Thanks for visiting and for your kind comments. I am glad that you like my stool makeover.

  12. Toni

    Carrie – your stool turned out wonderful. Love the graphic and the stencil. Visting from TTT & am a new follower. Looking forward to seeing what you are up too!!

    1. Carrie

      Thanks for visiting! I have a few projects on the go this week that I plan on sharing. Please stop back and check them out later this week.

  13. Mary Anne

    Please will the transfer work with ink jet! I tried inkjet with freezer paper and it smudged. Thanks Mary Anne

    1. Carrie

      Hi Mary Anne,

      I haven’t had a chance to try using an inkjet printer for transfers but I have read online that it will work as well. For the best transfer, you could do a couple of things. You could try out your inket printer but print the image on regular white office copy paper. The cheaper the paper the better.Then use your gel medium to transfer your image to whatever you are applying it to using my instructions for transfering. The gel medium will give you a very clear image, especially if you use the Golden Soft Gel Medium as I have suggested. There will be no smudging and it will look like the image has been painted onto your piece. I would test out your inkjet transfer on something that is not important to start and see how it works before trying it on your final piece. Your other choice would be to print your image on your inkjet printer and then take it to Staples or another copy center and have it photocopied and then use that for your transfer.
      I hope this helps and thanks for stopping by.

  14. Le Chateau des Fleurs by Frenchy

    This is fab!!!! Link to the French party on Monday!!

    1. Carrie

      Thank you. I will check it out! :)

  15. mary

    Such a pretty little stool! You’re featured at Very Merry Vintage Style this week. Thanks for linking this great post up to the party–stop by and grab a feature button.

    1. Carrie

      I was so excited to find out that my french step stool was featured at your linky party. Thanks so much for the feature Mary!
      Take care,

  16. Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage

    This stool is just way too cool! I love it, and I’m not surprised that your mom loved it, too. ;)

    Thanks for linking to Time Travel Thursday. Be sure to stop in and see the announcement of my latest giveaway.

    Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage

    1. Carrie

      Thanks Liz. I will be stopping by your blog to check out your giveaway.
      Take care,

  17. SoonerLaura

    I love how this project turned out. Love the stencil, love the blue, love the graphic. I’m just starting out with painting furniture. I’m going to try a graphic soon. Just finished a beautiful french bedside chest in black. It is Amazing!

    1. Carrie

      Laura, I stopped by your blog to take a look at your black bedside chest. What a wonderful transformation it is! I love that you chose black because it is so dramatic!
      I am happy you loved my step stool transformation.
      I would love to see photos of the piece that you transform with photo transfers when you are finished. Be careful, they are so addicting. :)

  18. BethM@Under A Pile of Scrap!

    That is a very cool stool to begin with, but what you did with it just sent it over the top! Love the color and the design is awesome! I’m sure your mom with be thrilled with what you did with it.

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