Monday, March 5, 2012

... reupholstered ottoman

The ottoman, it is finished! I am so seriously happy with the way it came out, and the fact that it's done. This is a project that we've had on deck for months, so it feels really satisfying. Without further ado, the process!

I was taking a walk around my neighborhood with my mum back in the fall when we spotted this oversized ottoman frame out by the side of the road.  Incidentally, "the side of the road" is one of my favorite places to find old furniture. In our very college-y neighborhood in Boston, we found tons of great stuff that way, especially when everyone was moving out at the end of a semester. Anyway, the ottoman seemed sturdy and, being made of wood, seemed to have a low possibility of harboring bedbugs (I left it outside for like a month, just in case), so we picked it up and carried it back to my apartment. In the "Before" shots below, you can see that we basically started out with the wooden frame and coils with most of the padding and fabric already removed.

The first thing we did was spend some QT with the pliers, a screwdriver and a claw-foot hammer, removing the many, many staples left over from the previous reupholstering job and the last bits of fabric that were hanging on. I'm not going to lie, this part was no fun. But with two of us (the two being me and George, who was my partner in crime on this project) working on it, we banged it out in a few hours. The next step was re-tying a few of the coils where the original cord had broken. Luckily for me, most of the string was in good shape and I didn't have to do too much. Then we stapled a large piece of burlap over the coils.

At this point I should mention that for the majority of this project I followed the excellent Upholstery Basics tutorial on Design*Sponge - you can check it out here. It's incredibly detailed and helpful and it you're tacking this kind of project for the first time, I think you'll find it invaluable. OK, moving on! Next step was to add a bunch of stuffing for cushioning. I actually used the insides of some couch cushions we no longer use, so we got in a little extra bit of up-cycling there.

The cats were super-intrigued by this part, so it was hard to get an in-progress shot without them in it. So after the stuffing, it was time for the foam. We used a large piece of 2"-thick foam, cut to the size of the ottoman with an extra half-inch on each side. George used spray-adhesive to attach pieces of burlap to the edges of the foam rectangle, which we used to pull down and staple to the frame. This gave a nice rounded edge all the way around.

Sorry for the crap picture quality - we were working on this at night. And watching TV.
Next was a layer of batting. I used high-loft quilting batting, which is the kind that comes in a big roll. We cut a large piece to fit and draped it over the top. To attach it, we actually separted the layers a bit around the edges, stapling the bottom layer and then smoothing the top layer down to hide the dimple left by the staples. Neat trick, huh?

God, this picture is even worse. Sorry!
At this point, it was ready for fabric! I used a cotton slub (feels kind of like linen) in a yellow and white ikat-ish pattern. This was another drape-and-staple layer - the only tricky bits were the corners and making sure we got the staples as close to the bottom trim as possible.

This was the point at which we could actually sit on the ottoman and use it, so we got a little lazy about actually doing the finishing work. This weekend we finally completed the last step, which was to sew double-welt cord and glue it over the exposed staples. I used this tutorial  on Centsational Girl for tips on how to sew the double-welt cord without the special presser foot made specifically for doing so, since I didn't have one. Then it was just a matter of hot-gluing the cord over the exposed staples, just above the decorative wooden trim.

That's it! I just used a little Murphy's Wood Soap on the frame to shine it up, and it was 100% done. I'm so happy with the way it came out. It was definitely the most complicated reupholstery job that I've tried, but was also the perfect piece to start on since it was just a big rectangle - no arms or back to cut around. I was trying to figure out how much it cost overall - I think the materials set me back $60-$70 altogether (that's for the burlap, foam - which is always super-pricey although I got a pretty good deal on this stuff at Mardens's - fabric, batting and cord) which I don't think is too bad for such a large piece and I do have a bunch of materials left over for the next project. In terms of time, I'd say we spent 3-4 days on it, although we obviously weren't working on it all day on those days. Definitely a success for us - it's really comfy and has added two more much-needed seats to our living room. Well, really just one seat in the aggregate - while I was sewing the welt cord, George was stripping the fabric off and reinforcing the legs of an armchair that will be our next reupholstery project. It never ends! But that's kind of the point.


  1. Nice Work, That is a great recovery of a piece!

  2. Another beautiful glad we snagged that piece :)