Monday, February 21, 2011

building a tufted ottoman

Update: there's a cost breakdown and a basic illustrated step-by-step process for a similar ottoman here.

You guys, Allen and I totally built this ottoman.

If we can do this, anyone can do it. I think I'm going to forgo a detailed tutorial on how to do this particular one, because the bumper around the edge (copied from this one that I love) made for a really convoluted process. But anyone could easily (really!) build one like this.

I'd recommend buying these two books, building a simple frame out of inexpensive two-by-fours (you can have Home Depot cut these for you), buying high-density foam, cotton batting, and edge roll from DIY Upholstery, legs from Adams wood products (we used oak, 8" tall), and having covered buttons made by your local upholsterer.

Remember to use edgeroll vertically at the corners, or you'll end up with sausages at the edges, which is how ours looked before. Give it a try. You get to carve foam into fun shapes!


  1. This is fantastic! It continues to amaze me at what we can do as apposed to buy---I have a coffee table I bought at GoodWill for $3 that I plan to do something similar to. I will check out all your resources, yours is by far the best example of an upholstered coffee table I've seen. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you so much, Celeste! Good luck with your own.

    Allen would like me to point out that, while you CAN have your frame cut at Home Depot, we did not.

    In his words:

    "They won't cut mitered corners, build a square frame exactly 24"x40", designed for Paul loads. You need an Allen for that."

  3. Haha. You are always discounting my contributions on this website. Next time I'll just duct tape some lumber together that HD cuts for me and then we'll see what kind of lopsided frame you get.

    Do you think HD will cut you a 6ft tall moon too?

  4. I just stumbled on here, and I'm sad you didn't do a more detailed step-by-step, or a cost breakdown. But impressive, nonetheless.

  5. Anonymous -

    You're right; a cost breakdown would be very helpful, and I'll plan on doing it. Because of the cost of foam and turned wood legs, it's not as cheap as one might think - but you can still save a bundle, relatively speaking.

    Also, I think I'll draw a few terrible pictures and outline how one would build a regular tufted ottoman (without the side bumper). The process is actually so straightforward that I hope it would encourage people to buy or check out one of those books and give it a shot. Look for that in the next week or so.

    Thanks for the input!

  6. Yep, all those clothes are still in my dryer.

    Continually amazed at how much you are able to accomplish in a given week.

    Oh, and give me your butcher block.

  7. Elizabeth, you have skills! itlooks fantastic. and the foam is clever because you can sit things on it, where you couldn't with wadding.

  8. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You two continue to amaze me. Please visit Austin and give my apt. some much needed love!

  9. Just an FYI - making covered buttons is so easy to do yourself. So easy, that I almost burst into tears when the first one (and every subsequent one) came out as if it was done by a professional. You can pick up the kit (for $3.00 including a few buttons) at any fabric store, and you don't need ANY skills to do it.

  10. Lisa-Marie - thank you! I have to admit that I'm woefully unversed on wadding. I do have a book on upholstery that i recall was published in the UK, and it suggested using a lot of vegetable fibre - is that wadding? Or is wadding similar to cotton batting? Either way, foam definitely made it easy (though not inexpensive). I promise I'll have up a more in-depth post soon!

    Katie - you are the best. We miss you!

    Anonymous - thanks for the tip. I've used the button kits before (Dritz or Clover, maybe), and they're great. But since I was having double-cording made already (I don't have the proper sewing machine foot), and the upholsterer charged me something like $0.10 a button, and since I DO hate cutting all those little circles, I just asked if he'd mind doing it. But you're absolutely right - those are so easy to do yourself, and wonderful to have around for small projects. Thanks for pointing it out!

  11. Sick, just sick! Y'all rock the house.

  12. That's amazing!
    The foam is such a clever idea; I'd never thought there was a way to make an ottoman.

    Please post more details of how you did it! :D