Published on July 9, 2019

Stools are one of the most versatile pieces of furniture around. Footrest? Check. Side table? Consider it done. Plant stand? They’ve got that covered, too. As if that weren’t enough, in Kate Zaremba’s Washington, D.C., sunroom, they serve yet another important function: artwork. 

“I have been illustrating and creating patterns using silhouettes for a few years, so the design was sort of instinctual,” says the wallpaper designer, illustrator, and cofounder of The Lemon Collective. With some leftover paint and an hour to spare, Zaremba gave her two birch veneer IKEA Frosta stools a literal facelift by turning the seats into abstract portraits. “If you look closely, the neck of one figure connects to the forehead of the next,” she adds. 

Of course, the real magic of this DIY is that it will only set you back $14.99 (the cost of a Frosta stool). Learn how to make your own head-turning furniture, below. 

The Supplies 

If you want the silhouettes of your figures to really pop, pick color combinations with higher contrast. Zaremba used Benjamin Moore’s Dragon’s Blood alongside the brand’s Pale Vista and Sheer Pink. Here’s everything you’ll need once you’ve got your palette down: 

  1. 2 IKEA Frosta stools
  2. Clear coat sealer 
  3. 2 to 3 colored paints of your choosing (acrylic or latex will both work)
  4. Pencil 
  5. 1 flat 2-inch paintbrush
  6. 1 angled paintbrush 

The Step-by-Step 

A steady hand will help you create the silhouettes, but there’s no special technique required to pull off this paint job. It took Zaremba just 30 minutes to complete each stool.

  1. Draw the silhouettes of the faces with a pencil, defining main features like the forehead, nose, mouth, and chin.
  2. Paint the legs and one half of each seat using a flat 2-inch brush for fast coverage. (It’s up to you whether you use the darker or lighter hue.) 
  3. Paint the other half of the seats with your second color using a smaller angled brush to carefully trace the silhouette. Let dry.
  4. Go over the legs and both sides of the seats with a second coat.
  5. Once dry, apply one layer of clear sealant with the flat brush.

The Aftermath

Make your new friends feel right at home by pulling them up to the dining table as extra seating, placing them at the foot of the bed in lieu of a bench, or topping them with equally cheeky vases for pure decoration. “In the evenings, we use the stools to put our feet up,” shares Zaremba, “but we also love how they look as a place for drinks or books.” No matter how you decide to use your stools, their colorful faces are bound to bring a smile to yours.

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