The people in our neighborhood are either way more well off than we are, or they don’t understand what Goodwill is. Either way, they put some AWESOME stuff out for Big Trash Day. I kid you not, I saw a chaise lounge out there not too long ago, but it was gone before I got home from work.

Anyway, Hubby and I collect things we think are still good, and either keep them for ourselves, or donate them to Goodwill for a nice tax deduction. Our latest acquisition was this massive, round ottoman. I got Flapjack on it for scale:

We decided to recover it completely. This is going to be a long “How To” post, so get ready. First, we wanted to rip off the fabric that was already on it. It was torn up, and ugly, so we just started pulling.

The whole thing was held together with hundreds of massive staples:

Hubby had the idea to use the back of the hammer to pull them out.

We still ended up with a few strays, but the needle nose pliers took care of them. If you have any you can’t pul out, you can always snap off as much as possible, then hammer down the rest so you don’t have any pokey-bits.

It’s naked!!

My wonderful staple gun is all I need at this point.

This is the fabric we chose to cover it in. It’s a faux-quilt print, with lots of asian-esque designs. We measured the whole ottoman, and got a high-thread-count, and hopefully durable fabric. We spent about $35, so this is not really free furniture anymore. If it had been smaller, it would obviously have been cheaper.

We had to take two sections and sew it together down the middle to cover the whole top. There’s actually a seam running right down the middle, but because of the pattern in the fabric you can’t even tell. I used a sewing machine to join the two pieces. We then draped the big piece over the top, and made sure the seam was centered.

We covered the ottoman in 2 sections: the top first, and then the lower half, almost as though we were putting a skirt on it. I’ll explain the top half first:

Round furniture can be complicated because you have to pleat the fabric around the piece. We made it simple by stapling at first in one spot, then directly opposite to anchor the fabric in place, effectively dividing the ottoman in half. In the middle of each of those halves, we stapled again opposite each other, so that the piece was now divided into quarters. That means you only have to pay attention to making the pleats even in one section at a time, instead of the whole thing at once.

As I was going around stapling, I was trimming off excess very roughly, and tucking the bottom edge under. I stapled through both layers of fabric to give it more strength.

For the lower half, we measured all the way around the ottoman, and the length from the middle to the floor. We were able to cut the fabric in half length-wise, and then I use the sewing machine again. I folded what was going to be the top edge down, and down again, and sewed through it twice (which is what you see at the bottom of the picture:

We put the “skirt” on the ottoman upside down, which is what you’re seeing above. I stapled through the hemmed part, again, to give it extra strength. Once I had done this all the way around, we folded the skirt down, so the staples are all completely hidden. Here’s how it looked at that point:

The entire thing is basically hollow, and we didn’t want all of our crazy pets blimbing in there and destroying it from within. We stapled an old sheet across the bottom, and cut off the extra.

We stapled it fairly close to the middle of the wood on the bottom, so we could layer the main fabric over-top.

Like so:

You can see here the ottoman has tiny legs, which I just stapled around on the bottom. They are removable, and I didn’t want to impede that process in case we need to take them off and put them back in the future.

We did all the pleating around the bottom section the same way as the top: anchor the fabric in fourths, then take one section at a time. It looks so much better now, and we had fun working on it. It seems like a lot of steps, but it’s really fairly straight-forward. You might try it on a smaller piece for your first time, though.


April 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, House Stuff.


  1. Black replied:

    You guys seriously did that? That’s awesome. Trina and I have a hard time hanging a picture let alone reupholstering an ottoman. You really need to open an antique/hobby/furniture store. You guys would kill.

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      That would be a way for us to finally get rid of some of our excess furniture. We had to learn to reupholster things, because the cats destroy everything. I actually put up a bunch of pictures when Hubby was at work the other day, and his comment was “At least this doesn’t look like a hotel anymore”.

  2. Teltsa replied:

    Might I make a big suggestion for you in your furniture hunt. Make sure that any furniture you bring into your home or work on that you find or pick up second hand. Check it for bed bugs. There and been an increase of these little buggers as of lately and people are discarding more and more furniture these days to get rid of their problem. Bed bugs are a major issue in second hand stores and in side dumpster deals. One you get them they are the hardest thing to get rid of. Even harder then roaches. A bedbug egg is a sticky sucker and even if you don’t see them you won’t know till it’s to late. Other then that love the ottoman and the fabric.

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      Yes, I am definitely aware of the problem. I know it’s a major issue in New York, so anyone living there should be especially cautious. We did check this piece out, in addition to removing the original fabric. Most of the stuff that makes its way into our home is wooden, like bookshelves, or a kitchen table. We honestly have so much furniture at this point, much of it just heads right out to the thrift store for a tax deduction at the end of the year.

  3. Part 2: Seriously, call Stephen Hawking « My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] think I teleported. The next thing I knew I was standing on top of the ottoman, shrieking. Hubby already had a shoe in hand. Somehow he’d gotten the roach onto the floor, […]

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