Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DIY Ottoman

I'd lived with a coffee table in our hearth room for several months, but it just wasn't working for me any longer.  It was too long, too tall and too leggy for the space.  We wanted something we could put our feet on and still have plenty of space for books and magazines.  I've faced the challenges of decorating this tiny nook before, so I knew the typical showroom ottoman would be too large for the space.

So I built my own.  I found everything I needed at Home Depot and Joanns.

I selected four 14" legs from Home Depot.

I started by staining them with the Minwax Wood Finish, the usual stain in a can.  I really wasn't getting the depth of color I wanted, and in hindsight, I probably should have used a wood conditioner before I started staining.  So I switched to another product:

 This is my preferred staining product (Minwax isn't giving me anything to say it).  I love the warm satin finish it gives, but it doesn't always give good coverage on cheap wood.  But it looked great on top of the can stain.  The leg at the top has a coat of Wood-Sheen after staining with Wood Finish.  The leg on the bottom has been stained with just Minwax Wood Finish.

While the final coat of stain dried (follow the directions on the product for drying times), I began working on the rest of the ottoman.

I cut a sheet of plywood down to 24" x 40" to best fit the space.  I used 1/2" thick plywood, but if you have children who like to leap from things or you know it will be sat on a lot, you might want to consider thicker plywood.

The most expensive part of this project is the foam.  I bought the thickest foam that Joanns carries in stock.  Watch for it go 50 percent off at Joanns and then combine the sale with one of their 10 percent off everything coupons.  The best way to cut foam?  One of those cheesy electric carving knives.  Seriously.  But, if you don't have one, a regular carving knife will work.  Just make long straight cuts in a single direction.

I've read in upholstery books to roll over the edge of the foam and glue it to the foundation.  This gives the foam a smooth appearance, and I tried it with a spray adhesive.  But it was about 95 degrees outside with 60 percent humidity, and I wasn't in the mood to fight the stiff foam with sticky fingers in a puddle of sweat.  So I gave up and used a staple gun instead.

The messy part was behind me, so now I could return inside.  I wanted to smooth out the foam and give the plywood edges a little more padding.  A real upholster would use Dacron, but I don't have access to any without ordering it on-line.  So I used two layers of quilt batting instead.

Actually, I found the crib size was the perfect fit when it was folded in half.

Tip: When tacking the batting to the plywood, tack in between the staples that are holding the foam in place.  It will help smooth the scallops of the foam.

Also, reduce bulk by trimming the corners of the batting before tacking in place.

Now we're ready for the fabric.  This part isn't really rocket science.  Measure twice, cut once.  Leave yourself plenty of fabric to grasp while pulling and smoothing.  Always start tacking in the middle, working to the edges, but stop about 3 inches from the corners.  Then tack the opposite side, stopping about 3 inches from the corners again.  Finish the other two sides in the same manner.  I trimmed the excess fabric on the corners the same way as I did the batting.  Here's a close up of the corner as it's being finished.

Next, attach the piping and finally, a dust cover.  I'm going to save the piping details for another post.

I attached the metal plates that the legs screw into and flipped the finished product over.  Standing back, I decided that it was too tall.  Ugh.  I studied it for a few minutes, and then plugged in the mitre saw and unscrewed the legs.

 I'll save these for another project.  Reattach the legs, flip over, and now I'm satisfied.

To be honest, this isn't going to be a $10 project.  If you pay full price for all the materials, it won't be cheap.  Watch the craft store sales for as many of the supplies as you can get.  But if you like to change colors often, this is a great way to get a custom look after the initial investment for the legs and foam. 

I'm linking up...


  1. That looks great, a wonderful idea.

  2. looks great! i love your "assitant." my kitty looks just like that!

  3. I made a similar ottoman years ago when we moved into our first home and now you are giving me the itch to try my hand at it again! :-) Yours looks fantastic and we are so glad you shared it with us at Inspiration Friday this week!


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