How To Upholster A Storage Ottoman

12:02 AM AirplaneFoodCritic 0 Comments

My new ottomans!

Sometimes I get a bug up my bum to do a crazy little project. Being stuck in the house for the last couple years does that to me every now and again. I refer you to my shelving project or my night stand project as excellent examples. I am still working on fixing up the living room. I am enjoying the bright colors in there. I look around and I see a little black hole where the two ottomans sit. They are ugly, fake leather, brown square blocks that sit next to each other and suck the life and color out of the room. I bought them in 2004 for storage and used them as a coffee table when I lived in a 200 square foot studio. Now we use them as extra seating but mostly as a step ladder. We also used them while painting our emerald green bookshelves so they have bits of paint spattered all over.

Square, brown ugliness.

I have decided to buy some jewel tone fabrics and cover them myself. My closest friend is a costumer so I was able to get into a really cool fabric store with her. I went in to this thinking I wanted a magenta velvet material but none such existed despite the massive, massive warehouse I had to go through. I settled on a thick, fake velvet that is a bright purple. As I was about to leave an earthy, orange fabric caught my eye. Orange being my favorite color and it going so well with purple I decided to get it too. The BF wanted me to get a pattern but I figured that two bright colors kind of made up for not having a pattern. I was afraid that the two colors next to each other might look too mismatched. I also thought that, perhaps, I would do a pretty shoddy job. These two factors combined into making me think I needed something to tie the two together. Something like tassels. Well, if I am being honest, I walked into the Tassel ROOM and went bonkers. My friend and I were unraveling every roll, giggling and running around. It was a fun time. I settled on a relatively plain one but it was also of high quality and that quality showed. In fact, the tassels I bought cost more than all the fabric.

My new gun and the purple fabric

The orange fabric and the tassels.

I figure it would not take too much effort to do the reupholstering. Even if I totally screwed up, they were in such terrible shape before, I could really only improve them. Worse case scenario I would just rip the fabric off. I planned on only stapling the fabric on and the staples would be in non-visible places. I went to borrow a staple gun from my mom but the BF pointed out that it was an opportunity for us to add to our pitiful tool collection. I went to OSH expecting to buy one of the steel staple guns I have seen my whole life and move on. Little did I know that there are all kinds of guns out there. I must have looked perplexed because a man who was shopping two aisles over "came to my rescue". At least that is what HE thinks he did. He came over and was like "I see you look confused, Little Lady. Maybe I can give you a hand there." OK, me might not have called me "Little Lady" but he may as well have. He explained to me how he has always used the steel one and he knows because he works in "industrial settings", as he put it. I asked him the difference between that and the ones that have the pressure device above the staple, the ones that were electric, the ones that were also nail guns, the ones that had automatic dispensing and more. He looked at me dumbfounded. "I don't know about those, I just use that one". Wow, thanks for that help, Mister, you saved me. I am just a girl and I don't get it. I will buy the shiny one like you told me to. I left with the electric one with automatic fire, a safety and doubles as a nail gun. It was, after all, going into our slowly building tool collection. Turns out that I am not perfect after all though. I went against all the suggestions for size of staples and went with the 1/4 inch ones, the smallest. On the all the labels of all the brands of staples they suggest 5/16" for upholstery. Turns out they were right. My staples kept pulling right out if I folded the fabric over more than a couple times. This made it difficult on corners. I remedied that by pushing down harder on the staple gun. Next time I will follow the suggestions. I just thought that the smaller, the less damage.



Ok, enough yakking, below is how it was done:

1. Measuring.
I bought 1 1/4 yards for each ottoman. The lids were about 17x18 and the boxes were about 17 h and 70 in circumference, all in inches. I ended up with tons of leftover fabric but it was on sale so I was happy to over purchase than under buy.

Measuring the lid.

2. Cutting.
I laid the lid over the fabric, then measured 11 cm out from each side for folding over and cut.
For the box I measured an extra 5cm for the top and another for the bottom to get the height. I cut way more than I needed to wrap around. I measured by rolling the box along and cutting it after it wrapped the length of one extra side.

Revealing the screws on the stoppers on the lid.

Unscrewing the stoppers on the lid.

Prying off the stoppers on the lid.

There were these spikes under the stoppers that I removed with pliers.

4. Preparing the ottoman.
I removed the feet from the bottom and the little stoppers from the lid. For the lid, I had to pull back the leather cover that was glued on with a rubber cement type of glue. What I did not do was find a way to mark where the screw holes were to replace the feet later on. I will tell you how I solved that below. I did plan on using those feet and stoppers to further fortify the fabric and in the end it did work for me. Luckily.

3. Affixing fabric to the top.
I placed the lid in the center of the fabric (backside of the fabric facing up). I folded one side up and over, making sure the fabric was 11cm overlapped the whole length of that side. I put one staple in the center. I went to the opposite side and did the same, pulling the fabric pretty tight but not so tight it pressed into the cushioning warping the shape. I did this to all four sides. Then I put in a couple more staples once I had made sure the fabric was where it was supposed to be.
For the corners I tried two different things and found one to be best. The one that worked best was pulling the corner of the fabric across the corner of the lid, pulling tight, tighter than I pulled for the center of the fabric, then placing a staple to hold it in place. Next I took the flaps I had created and pulled them, one by one in a direction parallel to the opposite side and stapled them into place. After that I stapled the heck out of everything holding it all in place.

A successful corner staple.

This the experimental corner affixation I did not like.

The stapled lid.

The stoppers forced back on in approximately the correct places.

A screwed on stopper.

Making sure the lid still fits. It does. Pheww.

4. Affixing fabric to the box.
I tried a few different ways with this one too. I had to pull out a lot of staples, leaving then on the floor to be forgotten about until the BF's foot found them. Sorry, Honey. The method that worked best for me was this. I laid out the fabric and placed the box on its side making sure it was lined up with 5cm excess along the whole top which was the side of the box facing me. I placed the fabric sticking out one half the length of the sides, meaning I was planning on wrapping the fabric one extra half length of overlap. I folded the fabric over the lid of the box in the center and put in one staple. For the first one, I put in two more staples on either side to make certain it stayed parallel to the fabric. I stood the box up and placed it upside down, pulling the fabric as tight as I could without stretching the fabric so much it made folds. I put one staple in the center to hold it there, then two more, one on either side. I turned the box back upright and worked on the corners.

The corners have a little step I had to maneuver around.

The corners of the ottoman are not even. There is a little step in each corner that hold the little stoppers of the lid so the lid doesn't slide off. They are not all that necessary but they are there so I had to find a way to deal with them. I pressed the fabric right to the edge of the step and placed a staple against the inside of the wall I was working on. I am not sure if this really helped or not but I feel like it did: I made a small incision in the fabric to make it lie flat against the wall where that last staple went. I took the rest of the fabric and folded it as neatly as I could and laid it flat against the other side of the step. I think the incision helped me keep the fabric from bunching up thicker than my staples could handle. Once both the corners were tightened, I stapled the corners a bunch more times to keep them in place as I stretched the fabric for the rest.

The finished stapled top.

Next, I laid the box back on its side, measuring the 5cm all the way across the top and repeated, this time with just one staple in the center at the top, then the bottom. I did the corners next, stapling the fabric as close to the step as I could. I chose to do it this side by side rather than wrapping the whole box in one stretched length because I didn't want any staples to show on the outside edge. So what I did was staple up three of the sides. Once I got to the fourth and final side, I cut off all the excess fabric that could have wrapped the fabric another turn around if I let it. I left about 3 or 4 cm excess and folded it over. I folded it so it ended right on the last seam. Remember that I had left the beginning of the fabric half a length excess. I stapled that excess fabric on so it wrapped half way across the fourth side to cover up any mess ups I was about to make finishing off this final side. I took the folded edge and stretched it as tight as I possibly could up and down to keep it creased down and stapled it on the bottom and top after folding it over, of course. This created a really handsome seam that lead from top to bottom that is barely noticeable. In fact, someone even asked me where the seam was. That's the definition of a job well done, I say.

Not the worst job.

Once I finished the folded over seam, I checked to make sure the fabric was not pulled in any funny ways. I checked for that the whole time, too. Then I stapled the bajeezus out of it.

5. Replacing the feet and stoppers.
Uh-oh. I had folded the fabric over all the insides, two, three, four or more times so on the corners. There was no WAY I was going to find where those holes were. I tried many things up to and including un-stapling a whole corner. I was this close to giving up when I performed my last-resort action. I forced it. Turns out it was easy to force. I just eyeballed where the feet should have been, I even measured the untouched ottoman. Then I just forced the screws in and it worked. Phewwwww!

The seam is left loose but it is held tight enough.

The seam.

I am quite proud of myself and my work. I did a great job, a professional looking job, and changed the look of the whole room. I have not yet added the tassels. That will have to be another day and another blog. For now, I am thrilled with my orange and purple ottmans...ottomen?

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