the ottoman

So, remember the awesome ottoman we bought last winter/early spring? I knew as soon as we got it that the upholstery wasn’t robust enough for our house. It was a cotton/linen blend which would totally be fine in a house that doesn’t have a crazed chocolate milk wielding toddler.

Here’s the ottoman before we destroyed it. Lucy looks so tiny!

It got gross. And the thin upholstery meant that the tufting started to lose it’s shape after a while.

No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it clean.

I decided that I wanted to reupholster it, and that I wanted to try doing it myself (oh, ambition!) My local fabric store had Sunbrella on sale so I thought I’d give it a shot. Because Sunbrella is meant for outdoor use it wipes clean easily and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. I was a little worried that it would feel stiff or plasticky but I was pleasantly surprised by how soft  it was. I started by tearing off the old upholstery, which is where I ran into my first surprise.

I quickly realized that the buttons were only surface tufted – meaning they were only tufted through the top layer of foam.

That’s kind of a flimsy way to do it and means that over time the tufting can shift and move. I knew I had to make the tufts go all the way through the plywood so once I had all the foam exposed, I just used a drill to make holes through the exiting openings in the foam.

This is also the point at which I realized I could no longer just wing it so I used this tutorial about tufting from Little Green Notebook (which if you aren’t already reading, you should be.) Since all my foam was in good shape I just followed the end part of Jenny’s tutorial about actually making the tufts. First I had to make 23 self covered buttons (oy! my thumbs!)

Just to give you an idea of how grimy the fabric was, here’s a pic of it after I ripped it off. Ewww. Sorry.

I chose a color of sunbrella that was really close to the existing upholstery. I went with just a shade or two darker so that it wouldn’t exactly match our newly slipcovered sofa. I used almost exactly two yards of fabric, but I bought three so I have some left over for a throw pillow. The total cost of reupholstering was less than $50 including fabric. It would have been at least $200 to have it done professionally.

I won’t lie you guys; making the tufts was hard! The foam is really deep so it was difficult to thread the needle through the holes in the plywood. I would definitely suggest using a large drill bit to make your holes. It will save a lot of time digging through the foam. I also used a darning needle – again, use the largest/longest you can find that actually is sharp enough to pierce your fabric.   Once your button is threaded and you’ve dug back through the foam, you just staple it to the back of the plywood (check out Jenny’s tutorial for more details) Here’s how things were looking this morning –

My hands were soooo sore from tugging on the upholstery thread to get the tufts tight and deep, but I persevered and finished!

Excellent example of why we need kid-proof upholstery.

It’s not perfect, but considering it’s my first attempt at re-upholstery, I’m pretty proud! I love that the tufts are deeper than they were originally. Here’s a side by side comparison.

Considering how beat up it was, I’m super happy with how it turned out. It’s like I have my original ottoman back, but a little more durable and clean. Lucy actually spilled chocolate milk on the ottoman while I was upholstering it, and it wiped right off. I’m super happy with the Sunbrella fabric and would totally recommend it if you have need for new interior upholstery. It is so nice in a house with pets and a toddler. I’m really glad we are heading into the holiday season with fresh upholstery in our living room. We do a ton of entertaining during this time of year and it’s nice to not be ashamed of our dirty furniture. I don’t think I’ll be trying anymore tufted projects anytime soon, but it’s nice to know how to do it in case I ever want to make headboard or update a chair. I need to give my swollen hands a break!

Pk is coming home tomorrow and our Thanksgiving week will begin. Hopefully I’ll actually finish painting the porch and have a chance to iron our new sofa slipcover so I can show it off. Hope you all are well! Are you so excited about Thanksgiving? I am, especially because I don’t have to cook!


6 responses

  1. It is beautiful! And this is so funny to me because I have also purchased some Sunbrella fabric (from the Vogue near me) to…that’s right…re-upholster our ottoman. The color even looks really similar. However, unlike you, I’m yet to tackle the job! I think I’ve had the fabric for close to a year 😦 I’m hoping the new house is the kick in the pants I need because we’ll definitely need it in the new place. I’ll be coming back to you for tips for sure. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Looks great! What is the size of this ottoman and where did you buy from? I’m currently looking for something just like this for my living room.


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