This amazing upholstery features taking a broken down old ottoman and flipping it upside down to create some storage. It is an amazing transformation…watch as Jessica makes a storage ottoman.

How To Upcycle a Broken Ottoman

I’m Jessica from Running With Scissors and I’m so thrilled to be visiting Infarrantly blog today!

I also love taking trash and fixing it up, and will be sharing a little tutorial on reupholstering and adding storage to a dead ottoman I received as a hand me down from my mom.

upholster an ottoman

This was the whole trashed set we inherited.  The fabric just wasn’t very durable, thus the shredded arms of the chair and entire top of the ottoman.

I had already made a slip-cover for the chair, and just recently figured out a way to resurrect the ottoman.  

Here’s the whole set finished:

ottoman upholstery

So on to the ottoman, which recently looked like this:

The top fabric was totally gone, and my 2-year old had got a hold of the exposed batting on the cushion, shredding it even more.

So my new plan was to reupholster it in the matching chartreuse suede, and to flip the base of the ottoman upside down, to use as a storage chest.  

This would mean I’d have to build a sturdy new lid out of the trashed cushion.



I measured my base, and it was 20″ x 38″.

So to support the bums that would sit on this, I decided to use a sheet of 1/2″ thick MDF as the base.

I bought the tiny 2’x4′ sheet for $10 at Home Depot.   While I was there, I had them cut it down to my dimensions.


I decided to tuft the lid, so I measured off a grid to position 8 buttons on the finished top.


The intersections of the above grid are the holes in which to thread the tufted buttons to the underside of the lid.   So I used our largest drill bit 3/8″ to make 8 holes where the grid intersected.

Next I had to fill in the holes in my old cushion with polyfill batting to try to make it even.

You could always buy fresh 3″ thick foam and cover it with new batting, but this was free.


To get the layers connected before I started using my nicer final fabric, I took a yard of cheap ugly fabric to connect the MDF to my cushion (and keep my globs of batting in place).  

I quickly stapled the two sides, trying to keep the fabric smooth and tight around the cushion.   This step just makes the rest easier.


I was using the fabric scraps from the chair slip cover, so I actually had to piece my fabric into a big enough rectangle to cover the entire lid.

Then, using a standard cheap staple gun and 1/4″ staples, I stapled two sides around onto the MDF, pulling the fabric tight and smooth across the cushion.  

Then I worked in the opposite direction, stapling the longer sides up and around.


For the corners, I first trimmed off all the excess fabric hanging off.

Then folded the sides under to make a nice, neat edge.


To add the decorative buttons on the top of the cushion lid, you first make the buttons.

I used 7/8″ fabric covered button kits you can buy in the notions section.

You also need long upholstery needles.  

The package I bought had 6, 8, 10, and 12″ long needles. I used the 8″ for my cushion.

You can use thin cording, or I just used embroidery floss quadrupled for extra strength.

The first part is the easiest, stabbing through the hole in the MDF, through the cushion and out the front of the fabric.  

Then you thread on a button, and stab the needle back through the cushion, aiming for the hole in the MDF.

Getting the needle back in the MDF hole was the biggest challenge. I had the cushion on its side, and kept stabbing the needle in, until it went through the hole on the other side.

Once the needle made it out the hole, you need to tie the two ends of cord.  

Obviously a knot would just go down the hole.   I used scraps of fabric, rolled up as a blocker to tie the cord around.  

You could also use washers or something flat, that would probably look a little better.  

So I pulled the cording as deep as I wanted the button to pull, then tied it around my fabric rolls.

This is the bottom of my ottoman lid once all 8 buttons were tufted, and tied around the scrap rolls.

So at this point the cushion or lid of the ottoman is finished!

ottoman upholstery


Taking base to turn it upside down to create storage room for a chest ottoman.


This ottoman had a hanging skirt and welting that pulled off easily.

Just the bare base.

Most ottomans probably have fabric stapled on the bottom to cover the inside, but ours had been torn off years ago.  

So this upside down view is how the storage box will be. I was just using the trampoline-like black mesh as the bottom support for the chest, then of course need to put the feet on what was the top.


I measured the height of the base sides, and cut fabric strips about 4″ wider, to have enough to wrap on the top and bottom of the base. I sewed the strips together to make one large circle of fabric to fit around the box.   I sewed it about 2-3″ less than my perimeter measurement.  

This way, the circle of fabric was just a little too small, and fit tightly around the box.

**my suede has a little stretch, so 2-3″ may be too small if your fabric doesn’t stretch**

To secure the fabric to the base, staple the fabric on the bottom of the ottoman, stretching and smoothing fabric tightly as you go.  

Then flip it over and do the same thing to the top.


Because I was flipping the base upside down, I needed to add new leg plates on what used to be the top of the ottoman.  

These plates are $1.00 each and just screw into the frame of the ottoman in each corner.

Then I used the original feet to twist into the plates.

At this point, the base is finished!


Obviously there are different ways to use the ottoman as a chest. You could attach stoppers to the bottom of the lid so it won’t slide, and just lift the whole lid each time.  

But it was heavy, and I decided to use hinges to lift the lid in order to access the storage easier. I went with one skinny long “piano hinge” for $8.50.   It was 30″ long and 1″ wide.  

I first screwed it to the back edge of the lid, so I could lay the lid flat and drill straight down.  

Then I positioned the lid on the chest base to screw in the other side of the hinge.


So now the upside down base acts as a storage chest to hold quilts.  

Obviously, not that good-looking inside, but shut the lid and it looks a lot better than the shredded original trashy ottoman.

If you’re ever bored, come visit me at Running With Scissors for more furniture makeovers, DIY, sewing, clothing, and decor ideas!


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  1. Wow, I'm so impressed, although when you showed the underside my first thought was "Why is she showing dead roaches?" ICK! LOL I really need to look at things more closely.

  2. I think your mother and I must have had the same ottoman! Mine is in a different fabric, but other than that…. exact same!

    You did an amazing job with both the chair & ottoman. Gives me hope that when mine needs recovered (it's only a matter of time) I can do the same thing!

  3. Hi Jessica-

    What a fabulous makeover. Your ottoman now looks like something from the Crate and Barrel showroom. I love when I see someone take a relic and make it modern and fresh with a little cleverness and elbow grease.

    My best- Diane

  4. That was awesome! What a great lookin set now! Love that you utilized the ottoman for storage! – Karen

  5. Thanks for the tutorial! I just did my first upholstery job on my blog but it didn't come out exactly how I was hoping. This definitely helped for when I re-do an old ottoman I tore apart and need to put back together. 🙂

  6. I am in love with this post! I have an ottoman that I got in trade for something from my etsy shop, and it's just been sitting, unloved, until I knew what to do with it. Thanks for sharing, and the amazing tutorial.

  7. I am in love with this post! I have an ottoman that I got in trade for something from my etsy shop, and it's just been sitting, unloved, until I knew what to do with it. Thanks for sharing, and the amazing tutorial.

  8. I am in love with this post! I have an ottoman that I got in trade for something from my etsy shop, and it's just been sitting, unloved, until I knew what to do with it. Thanks for sharing, and the amazing tutorial.

  9. I am in love with this post! I have an ottoman that I got in trade for something from my etsy shop, and it's just been sitting, unloved, until I knew what to do with it. Thanks for sharing, and the amazing tutorial.

  10. Many people would have just thrown those pieces out. What a great transformation. What a beautiful piece…now.

  11. Wow, love that you finished that out of scraps, got more storage AND saved something from landfill.

  12. Omg… love the idea, but totally overwhelmed by it! Will have to look at it again step by step s-l-o-w-l-y 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing… it looks GREAT!

  13. Great job. If you have any old buttons laying around, you could use those on the reverse side of the ottoman as opposed to using the fabric rolls. You could also put some cheap fabric over the underside of the lid if it is important to you that it looks good.

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