27 June 2012

Turning A Coffee Table Into An Ottoman

As promised, here's how my husband & I turned this:

into this:

I started by removing both drawers and all the legs from the coffee table. {And if you remember, it then sat in our living room like this for 2 weeks.}

The legs got their own quick makeover the night before we did the table. (-More on that in another post- I'm trying to keep this one from being a mile long.)

We got started by shortening the legs. The coffee table was already bordering on too tall for our couch so as an ottoman it needed to be much shorter so we could stretch our legs out on it without them being higher than our butts on the couch. Cause that would look weird. 

When deciding how many inches should come off the legs, we had to determine how high I wanted it to sit in comparison to the couch, and then subtract 3 more inches because that's how thick our foam for the top was going to be. So in all, we took 4 1/2 inches off each leg. And "we" means Rob, because I'm not brave enough yet to use a power saw. I'm happy to just be the assistant.

Here's a leg after getting cut. The cut side was on the bottom. 

They came out super smooth so I just gave the edges a really quick sand and then did a coat of Polycrylic over the cut side to protect the raw wood. 

Then I attached all the legs back onto the table. 

It's so much shorter!

Next it was time to build out the sides so that they'd be even with the overhang of the table top. I didn't just want to add foam to the top and upholster only the top part of the table, because I didn't want it to look like a coffee table that's been converted to an ottoman. I wanted it look look like it had always been an ottoman which means the sides had to be even with the top, and the drawers and all signs that this had once been a coffee table had to be hidden. 

So Rob measured the sides and then cut 2x4's to fit each one so that it was even with the overhang of the tabletop. 

He didn't bring the 2x4s up against the tabletop, but instead attached them lower so that the bottom edge of the 2x4 was level with the bottom edge of the table. That big gap in the middle doesn't matter since the whole thing is getting covered in foam and this way when the fabric goes on in has a nice flat side to wrap around and can get pulled straight under the table. 

Then it was time to map out the holes for the tufting. I knew I wanted a bunch of them arranged in rows so that it made squares. Rob plotted out how many he could evenly fit on the table top (sorry, I suck at math so I can't even begin to explain how he came to the final number and placement). I just knew I wanted squares, and that I wanted the short rows to be rows of 4. 

So Rob figured out the placement and then used chalk lines to easily see where he had to drill.

Next we used spray adhesive to attach all our pieces of foam. We'd ordered them precut, which made it really nice because we were able to just pull them out of the bag and stick them right onto the table. We got them from BuyFoam.com. This is the second project we've used their foam for and we were really happy with it.  

We did end up having the one screwy corner that you can see in these two pictures where the two sides didn't meet up all the way. But it didn't end up being a big deal because of the batting that we added next. 

We did two layers of batting to really soften all the edges and make it nice and plush. Oh and we found that the easiest way to wrap and attach both the batting and the fabric was by laying it out on the floor and then setting the table upside down on top of it. That way we had easy access to the bottom which is where we were doing all the stapling. So from here on out the table will be on it's back. 

The fabric I chose is from West Elm and you can find it here. There aren't enough ways to say how much I love it. 

So once the batting was attached we spread out the fabric on the floor with the table facedown on top of it (with a blanket under the fabric because I was paranoid about it getting dirty.) 

Then after checking 20 times to make sure everything was lined up right and there wasn't any fabric bunched up or creased under the table, we started pulling it tight and stapling it to the underside of the table. We kept the staples close together that way we could pull the fabric really tight without it making a bumpy edge along the bottom from uneven tension against the foam and batting. We found it easiest to do the sides first and then all the corners last. 

It wasn't always easy to keep the kids away while we worked. 

We made sure as we were stapling along the sides to be really generous with how much fabric we were leaving unstapled near the corners. That way we'd have plenty of give for all the folding and tucking we were going to have to do over there. 

I didn't get any pictures of the corner process because we were trying to get this done and I knew I already had good pictures from upholstering the dining room bench a couple weeks ago, and we used the same method on these corners that we had on that one. 

So don't get confused- these next few photos are from that project so you'll be seeing a different fabric. But the technique is totally the same:

We started with the middle, pulling the fabric tight over the corner and stapling it:

Then we pulled one side of fabric over as close to the corner as possible, tucking in the extra fabric as much as we needed to to make a tight crease and so the fabric along the side of the bench was totally smooth, then we stapled it underneath. 

Then we did the same thing to the other side, making a crease and pulling it as tightly and smoothly as we could over towards the corner and stapling it. 

So we did the corners of the ottoman the exact some way we did the corners of the bench. It was just bigger and with a lot more fabric, so there was more tucking and folding (and some trimming of excess fabric) to get the corners looking that way. 

Here's how it looked from underneath when the corner was all folded and stapled down:

Even though this is the underside we didn't want it to be a raggedy mess. We wanted to make sure that even if you're laying on the floor next to this thing and looking up it's legs that the view would be a pretty one. 

So after we were done stapling everything down, I went back around and tucked all the extra batting into the gap between the side of the table and the 2x4s so that it was hidden. 

Then I went around and stapled any loose looking edges of fabric just to make sure there was nothing that would show and look sloppy when this is turned right side up. 

And now here's the nice, neat view we'll get if we're ever hanging out under our table. 

And here it is {almost} finished. Still have to do the tufting but we have to wait to do that until after we get back from Vegas in a week or so. 

But in the meantime it's looking very pretty already.

btw our walls are not as crazy, acid yellow as they look in this picture! The paint color in here really doesn't photograph well, especially with my phone! 

Anyways feel free to email if there's any questions. 
I'm going to go put my feet up. 

Update: it's tufted! You can read about that process here and see more pictures of the final result here

Liz Marie Blog

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating


  1. Nice job! Thanks for all the details. I didn't imagine that lower piece of wood that you would need. Where again did you get that fabric? It's way great!!!!

  2. This is a FANTASTIC tutorial!! I'm going to either find an ottoman, or do this. I'm redoing the family room and out ottoman is way too little! Great, job!

  3. You said you got the fabric from West Elm? Great Job! Love your new look!

  4. I really love that you thought out all the little details like using extra form on the four sides so it wouldn't like a coffee table turned ottoman! I would never thought of covering a coffee table like that. You are the genius, Brooke!

    I have a square coffee table that I love from West Elm that got years ago that got trashed by my son. I think this would be a great project to try, not now maybe later, somewhere down the road when we finished decorating all our rooms!

    The result of your coffee table makeover is fabulous!


  5. I am in love with this..... such a super duper job done.. :):)...

  6. oh my gosh...you have to win the prize!! really a fabulous job. send it in to a magazine.
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

  7. Aren't little helpers a challenge? But oh so cute!!! Sounds like you and your husband work together in much the same way me and the hubs do. He's the math/measuring detail guy too. Thank god too cuz if I was in charge of figuring out measurements...I don't even want to think about how that would turn out! :)

  8. This is a amazing idea....you are a genius! Love your fabric choice too. xoxox

  9. I've thought about doing this with a square oriental side table I just thrifted. I'm doing it! Thanks!


  10. I've been dying to see how this turned out and it's fab! I've got my eye on a tired looking table at a store down the road and this would be the perfect make-over for it! The corners look tricky though!

  11. I am completely impressed by your mad diy skills and patience! It looks fabulous!

    xo Mary Jo

  12. I am completely impressed by your mad diy skills and patience! It looks fabulous!

    xo Mary Jo

  13. Bravo! You guys did an amazing job!

  14. It looks amazing! And I love the fabric choice...as usual! Great tutorial too!

  15. I have been so chicken to do this with our table. Thanks for giving me a little more inspiration to try it!
    Tami @ Curb Alert!

  16. Beautiful makeover! Love your fabric choice!

  17. I love the ottoman! I was wondering roughly, how much fabric that you needed, and how thick the foam was! Im having my husband turn our old coffee table into just this, this weekend! :D

    1. Hi Alaina! This took about 2 yards of fabric, and the foam was 3 inches thick. Good luck with yours! I'd love to see a picture when you finish!

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Great tutoria!! Where can you get fabric wide enough to do it all in one wrap? I checked local Joann's Fabric Store but they didn't have any wide enough. West Elm was pricey but I did see you could order by the yard at 54 inch wide. Any other suggestions?

  20. this turned out lovely!

    thank you !

    xoxo www.showeredwithdesign.blogspot.com

  21. Nice to see your blog........really awesome.

    Thank you for sharing these information...... its very useful.

  22. Just found this on pinterest, and was intrigued, but when I saw your STAINED WOODWORK, I fell in love with your house. LOVE it! I am a fellow stained-woodwork-house-owner and it's so rare to see in blog world nowadays! (I'm going to be crushed if I go back to a more recent post to see that you've painted it!)

    Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek

    1. Thank you Katie! We actually don't live there anymore; we were renting that house for about a year and a half. I've never lived in a house like it (we were up in MN temporarily and there aren't homes like it down here in FL). I miss it; it was really cute!

  23. Hi Brooke,
    Love this coffee table turned ottoman transformation and just wanted to let you know that I’ve featured this project on my site: www.DIYFunIdeas.com. It’s a hub for all kinds of fun & creative DIY ideas. The direct link to the featured post is: http://diyfunideas.com/diy-ottoman-from-old-coffee-table-tutorial/
    Thanks so much for your wonderful creativity and please let me know if you have any questions/concerns.

  24. what was the purpose of drilling holes before you placed the foam on top? The final picture looked smooth on top, no buttons, so I'm not sure of the purpose for this step?

    1. Hi Laura, the holes are for tufting. I just hadn't started it at this point. If you go to this post you can see the tufting process: http://inside-outdesign.blogspot.com/2012/07/tutorial-tufting-ottoman.html

  25. I love this and am in the process of making one of my own! I'm on the batting step and I got stuck. How did you attach the batting? Did you staple it? If so, did you staple it first and then staple the fabric or did you staple them both at the same time? And how did you do the corners with the batting? I'm also curious to know how it is holding up after 2 years :). Do you still have it?

    1. Hi Deanna! I'm sorry I'm just now responding to this. I stapled the batting first, and then went back and stapled the fabric separately. Even though it made for a ton of staples, it was easier that way for me. And the ottoman is holding up really well! I can't believe it's been two years; I actually didn't realize it until you said that! It's missing one button but that's because my kid's ripped it out. I can easily put it back on (and I will at some point) but it's hidden under a throw so I haven't bothered. But anyway other than that the ottoman still looks just like it did when we first made it. We are really happy with it! Best of luck with yours!

    2. Thanks so much for the info! I finished ours and I love the way it turned out. I have another question. I did the corners the same way you did and an issue I've run into is that whenever we put our feet up along the edge, the fabric pulls from where it is tucked under around the corners which makes it loosen up around the sides. Its easily fixable - I just tuck the fabric back in and smooth the side out - but I don't want to have to do that every time we put our feet up. Do you have the same problem? I'm thinking I should have sewn the corners instead but I'm afraid I'll ruin the fabric if I pull everything apart now :/. Any suggestions?

      Thanks again!

    3. Oh shoot, we haven't had that problem, I'm sorry! It's kind of hard for me to picture exactly what's happening, but if it keeps coming untucked, maybe you could reenforce the folds on either side of the corner? Like maybe with some double-sided tape or something like that tucked into the fold to keep it in place? (or something stronger like fabric glue or something??) Just my initial thought. Not sure if I'm getting the right idea of what's happening though. Does that help at all or am I totally off base?

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  27. This looks awesome! Great job. It reminds me of a footstool project I had in my props class in college. But on a waaay bigger scale!