Howdy, Killer B readers!
My name is Amanda, and I blog about life in my builder-grade 80’s style home that I’m desperately trying to upgrade over at Love & Renovations.
When Brooke told me that she was feeling exhausted from taking care of her (incredibly adorable) baby, I jumped at the chance to share a project. Brooke never fails to amaze me with all of the amazing furniture she builds, and while there is no way I’ll ever be as awesome as her, I had the perfect project in mind to show y’all.
Let’s start at the beginning of the story – way back in May of last year, Corey (my husband) and I bought a mid-century coffee table on Craigslist and refinished it.
We loved the table, but we didn’t love the finish on it. We had done the project before we had our awesome workshop, so it was done outside. On a windy day. In our old backyard, which had more dirt than grass. Long story short, the finish on the top of the table had quite a few specks of dust and dirt in it, and it never really looked quite as nice as we wanted it to. But, we loved the style of the table, so we held onto it with the plans of someday sanding it down and re-staining it.
Then, we moved from College Station to Austin. From a tiny little duplex to a nice, big house. And we bought a new couch. One that is much narrower than our previous couch. In our duplex in College Station, we had been able to lay down on the couch side-by-side to watch movies (that couch was deep), and we absolutely loved it. Once we got the new couch, our days of spooning while watching a movie were over, because every time we tried it I just about fell off the couch.
As much as we love our new couch, we had been totally spoiled by the old set-up, and we missed being able to lay down together on our couch. So, we thought up a solution: an ottoman. We figured if we bought or made an ottoman that was the same height as the couch, we could push it up to the couch for some extra room, and we’d be able to lay down on the couch together once again.
We’ve been tossing around ideas on how to do it for months – buying an old coffee table and upholstering it, building something from scratch, or just throwing in the towel and buying one. When I saw this DIY upholstered bench on Pinterest, I knew we’d found our answer.
It’s gorgeous, right? And we already had the perfect legs for it – all we had to do was take apart our current coffee table!
So, one weekend, after months of doing nothing but talking about it, we decided it was high time to get ‘er done. We took apart the coffee table…
And we found some gorgeous, tweed-y fabric at Hancock for $7 a yard (plus a 40% off coupon!)
I called upon the amazing sewing skills of my sister, because I’m still terrified of my sewing machine (thankfully, she got the sewing genes).
(Sorry, all the sewing photos were taken with my iPhone because I was lame and forgot my camera)
It was a much simpler process than I thought it would be.
We She measured out the fabric for the top and sides of the cushion, adding a few inches to the side so we could pull it underneath the ottoman, then cut that out. Then, she made piping with a long strip of fabric and the cording we got from Joanns.
I won’t pretend like I really know what I’m doing in explaining this, but the basics were this: she sewed the piping to the top, then she sewed the four sides together in a rectangle. Then, she sewed the sides to the top (that was already attached to the piping), and we were good to go!
The top with the piping sewn on
The sides pinned on, ready to be sewn!
What was I doing while my sister was doing all the work? Why, I was making buttons!
We bought a button making kit at Joann, which (should have) made the process pretty easy. Our fabric was technically entirely too thick to make buttons, but Jennifer has a nice little button press that made the job possible – my tip if you’re making buttons is to NOT buy a super thick fabric!
Luckily, after quite a bit of frustration and almost giving up, I made a button!
And after even more work (but less frustration!), I had 12.
While my sister and I were sewing and button-making, Corey was back at the house getting the bones of the ottoman ready.
All we did for this was buy a piece of MDF from Lowes (they cut it for us for free!) and attach the legs to it. Easy peasy.
(Side note: A few months after this project was finished and photos were taken, we decided the ottoman wasn’t quite as sturdy as we wanted it to be. So, we removed the legs and attached each leg to a separate piece of wood before screwing them back into the MDF. It’s MUCH more sturdy now!)
We knew we were going to be adding button tufting, so now was the time for us to mark out and drill holes for the buttons. We were planning on doing a 3X4 grid, so we did some quick math, measured, drew lines, and drilled.
Once the wood glue had a few hours to set on the ottoman, we were ready to start putting it together. We started by attaching 2″ foam to the MDF with spray adhesive, and wrapping that with 1″ batting.
At this point, we took the table into the living room and put it in place to make sure we were happy with the padding. We had tossed around the idea of getting more batting to make the padded part a bit more substantial, but once we saw it in the room we decided we were really happy with how it looked.
So, onto the fabric!
This upholstery job was a bit more precise than the ones we have done in the past, since we had to line up the corners and piping perfectly. We stapled once into each of the sides and flipped it over to make sure we liked it, and then we started actually attaching the rest of the fabric.
We were happy with how it lined up, so we got to work. The corners are always the trickiest part of any upholstery project, so we made sure to take our time – it’s hard to explain how to do it, but it’s very similar to wrapping a present.
Soon enough, the fabric was all attached, so we cut off the excess and got ready for the next step:
We already had drilled the holes, so the process was extremely easy. I threaded the 6″ needle with upholstery thread (that’s the important part – you have to get thread thick enough to handle how tight you’ll be pulling it), and pushed it through a hole and all the way through to the top of the ottoman. Then, I threaded a button on and pushed the needle back up through the hole (that’s the hardest part – lining it up correctly, but it never took me more than 2 or 3 tries).
Then, all you have to do is pull it tight – tighter if you want a deeper tuft – and staple the thread down in a few places.
Once we had all the buttons done, it was time for the last step – the bottom piping, which happens to be the one part I sewed myself!
We were shocked at how much more polished the bottom piping made it look. Very tailored.
We were so excited to check it out in the living room – we were practically giddy bringing it into the living room.
And oh em gee, it looked amazing.
We love it even more with the giant tray we recently picked up at West Elm – it adds a nice hard surface for drinks, but it doesn’t take up the whole thing.
We’re in love.
And the best part of it all?
It’s the perfect height to push up to the couch for some extra room! We use it all the time now and it works like a charm – plenty of room for cuddles!
And, because I love a good before and after shot:
We are pretty head over heels in love with our ottoman, and we love being able to tell guests that we made it ourselves. We’ve since completed several other projects in this room (like making curtains, sewing new pillows, and getting rid of those awful blonde couch legs) that you can see if you stop by my blog.
Have you ever built a piece of furniture yourself? Are you as insanely jealous of Brooke’s woodcrafting skills as I am?