Reupholstering My Ottoman



I went into Hancock Fabrics to get curtain material for Jacob’s room last Tuesday. The first place I looked, hoping to get a good deal on his curtains, was the $5 remnant pile. There wasn’t anything there for his room, but the selection was still pretty amazing. I took a photo of this fabric to show Matthew.
He liked it, and I kept thinking about it. Aside from it being a cool print at just $5 a yard, it was also amazing that they had a ton of it. There were three large pieces. My living room furniture is in awful shape, and I’ve been thinking of doing some DIY reupholstery. At $5 a yard, that fabric was tempting me to try.

So I went back today, and luckily no one else had fallen in love with it yet. I ended up getting more than 8 yards (my receipt is hard to read, so sorry for no exact yardage totals), which were already cut into three pieces. And now, mere hours later, my feet are propped up on my old ottoman, which is sporting a new look with that fabric. (I also spray painted a lamp and some shelves and made pillows for Jacob’s room today, but more on that another post)

You might remember that I cut my ottoman apart a couple of months ago to create storage inside. Here’s a photo of it then.


I knew from stapling through the leather before that it was nearly too thick for my staple gun. Plus, leather is slippery. So I thought it would be best to strip the leather off of the entire ottoman, leaving just the batting over the wood.

First, I unscrewed the legs and set them aside.


Then I got to work with a flathead screwdriver and pliers, carefully removing dozens (hundreds, maybe?!) of staples.


The bottom mesh cover layer came off, and then I had another layer of staples actually attaching the leather to the wood.


Finally, when I got the staples off of both sides, the whole leather piece just slipped right off. Underneath, my once-expensive ottoman is just some cheap, splintery plywood with quilting batting stapled to it.


The top of the ottoman was pretty easy to get off. No staples there. It had a zipper, which the foam wouldn’t actually fit through to get it out. So I just used a pocketknife and cut the cover off. I knew it was a large piece of foam, but I didn’t expect it to be wrapped in batting too. Stacked on top of the frame, this is what it looked like.


I chickened out on keeping the storage ottoman concept. I’d be fine doing a box cover for a pillow, with a zipper in the back. But putting a zipper on the bottom of this cushion seemed like it would be more difficult to slide the foam into. Plus, zippers are expensive, and the one that came on the cushion wasn’t long enough to use. And lastly, I wanted to get this done tonight, and the fabric store won’t be open again until Monday. So ha, there are my reasons.

The upholstery was really simple. I draped the fabric, wrong side up, over the ottoman.


This piece was 2 yards long, with a bolt width of 54 inches. I got very lucky that the bolt width was just enough to go over both sides, with enough room to wrap it underneath. Remember that this fabric cost me just $5 a yard. So this makeover was a grand total of $10. Not bad!

Once I got it positioned how I wanted it, I pinned the corners together. Hmmm. That’s not a very clear way of actually saying what I did. There’s a technical term, I’m sure, but it’s midnight and I can’t think of it. Here’s a picture.


Since I did this wrong side up, I simply had to slide the cover off with the pins on, and then sew along the line the pins made. Then I turned it right side out and tried it on, without cutting any fabric away. It fit, so I trimmed the extra triangles of fabric away. (I’m going to have to think of something to sew with those)


It fit nice and tight. Honestly, you could just hem the bottom at this point and have a slipcover. But I decided to go ahead and staple mine to the frame. So I turned it over and got out my staple gun. The trickiest part was keeping the horizontal stripes even, and not making them swerve as I pulled the fabric and stapled it.


When the fabric was all nice and tightly stapled, I put the bottom mesh cover back on. More staples on that, and the bottom looked much more finished. Then I screwed the wooden legs back on.

The next step, of course, was the wake my sleeping husband to show him a photo of it. I’m not inconsiderate enough to ask him to wake up and actually walk into the living room! I should probably take better photos in the morning, with natural light. But I’m just so excited to share it here too. So here it is, poorly lit, but looking fun.


And just to save you the time from scrolling back up and comparing, here’s the before and after shots.





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  1. The best stuff we had ever ordered for my baby’s bedrooms is a double bunk bed together with room with a study area underneath. Our kids like sleeping on the top bunk. We like the fact that we are using any and all of the room.

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