I was recently able to snag a couple of ottomans for free. Score! They were solid, pretty well made and (bonus) in a neutral colour. I had hoped to use one of them as a makeshift side table in the lounge room, since they are cushioned on top (to minimise kid injuries) but yet quite a firm cushion so you could put a plate or cup on it. In addition, they were pleather so that spills wouldn’t matter. The other one was going to a friend who also needed a kid-friendly side table. Turned out they were a bit bigger than I thought and the scale wasn’t right for our sofa. Here is the ottoman next to our sofa:
Not bad but a bit larger than ideal – it dominated the space. Never fear though! I found a better use for it. We also needed a side table in our bedroom, for my husband’s side of the bed. We had been using a small glass topped table in there but it wasn’t great. The ottoman would be a great size and height for the bedside. But it needed a little bit of “something”. Being so plain and white, it was just a bit boring. So I decided to re-cover the top in a lovely fabric.
First step, flip over the ottoman and unscrew the four screws holding on the top cushion to the bottom frame. Then remove the cushion part from the frame so you can easily reupholster it.
Next up, you will need the new material. I used a cotton fabric that was reasonably thick – you want something that isn’t too thin so it won’t pull. I like to have a big enough piece that allows me plenty of extra material around the sides. Tutorials will say you only need a couple of inches spare but I always get nervous and make sure I have at least double that. You can always cut some off later, but if the print alignment needs a little shifting or something like that, you are screwed if the piece is too small. Go big or go home! I bought this fabric at Shenzhen for 40RMB for a yard or so, I think.
At this point, one should also iron the material. You can see when I first laid out the material below, I hadn’t ironed it yet. Don’t forget this step as it would be mighty hard to do it once it was stapled onto the ottoman!
As you can see, you just lay your fabric face down on a clean, flat surface and pop your cushion (or chair seat – this works equally well for fabric covered chair seats) on top. You want to hold it loosely (or even tape it down) so you can flip it over and make sure you are happy with your pattern placement. If your fabric has lines, make sure they are straight! If you have a favourite part of the fabric, make sure it is smack in the middle. Start on one side and use a staple gun to attach the fabric. Then go to the opposite side, pull your material so it is tight, but not stretched, and do the same thing. Then repeat for the other two sides. I did three or four staples each side then turned over the cushion to check my material placement again. I was happy with it so I then tackled the corners. I don’t really have a method to share on the corners. I just like to fold the material in various ways until it sits nicely on the corner. Don’t get too worried about it though – it’s easy to spend twenty minutes trying to get the “perfect” corner, but as long as it’s a neat fold down the sides, no one sees underneath so I don’t stress about that part! Once all four corners are done I like to go to town with my staple gun to make sure there is no way that fabric is moving or slipping. That way it will look better for longer. And staple guns are fun.
The last step is just to get your screws and screw the cushion back on to the frame! I didn’t even make room for the screws with my fabric – I just screwed the screws right through it. And voila! Now you have a statement piece in a colour and fabric that can perfectly complement your décor! In a pinch, you can also remove all those staples with a flat screwdriver and wash that material. Just in case you have a little accident. Or kids who have little accidents. This is another reason I leave a little extra – sometimes fabric can shrink a tiny bit in the wash.