Ottoman Reupholstery for Under $30!

Do you ever just get a bee in your bonnet about a project and must complete it at once?  That is what happened with my ottoman refresh.  We had been living with it for a year (or more? gross) is a despicable state and it was super embarrassing.  There comes a time with our homes that we kind of get used to how things look and we don’t really see what it actually looks like.  You know what I mean?  Well, that is what had happened to us with this ottoman.  When I look at the before pictures now I can’t believe that I waited this long to fix it!  I have a bit of sewing experience, but I have not reupholstered anything and I don’t know where my sewing machine ended up after our move, so I decided on a “no sew” method to finish up this project.

We had been gifted this leather ottoman from a friend when we bought our house and needed furniture.  They were going to get rid of it and it was in great shape!  It was only missing two buttons and I told myself that I would just replace them all (yeah right).  Well, we learned something about bonded leather, or really the leather that this ottoman was made out of.  It is NOT meant to have your feet up on it!  We were really careful with it, but after a couple months it started peeling and cracking from us putting our feet up on it.  Them it ripped.  When we would have our nieces and nephews over they would try to pick off the peeling leather (I should have known then what an eyesore it was… hey… a child notices how messed up this is!).

Then it happened… I snapped.   It left little brown pieces everywhere.  It was impossible to make it look nice. I simply couldn’t look at it anymore.  I drove to the fabric store, found some fabric that would coordinate with the living room on clearance, and drove home with a plan.  I needed it done NOW!  No time for sewing.  The bottom part of the ottoman leather looked great and had not had any damage so I decided that to get the project done today, I would recover the top part only.  This also helped me keep this a “no sew” project because the base would have been more difficult and I would have had to disassemble more.

Now, this is my first reupholstery project and I am, by no means, an expert.  However, the project turned out amazing!  Here is what I did.

Materials Used:

Fabric (I got about 2.5 yards on clearance for a total of $18)
Medium Loft Batting (found a good sale and spent about $10)
-Flat Head Screwdriver
-Pliers (the ones I found had an angled head, which worked perfectly)
-Staple Gun
-Scissors (for removal of old leather)
-Drill (for removal of hardware… a phillips screwdriver would have worked fine)

The only things that I had to buy were the fabric and the batting.  I found everything else needed in the garage or made things work.  There are staple pullers that you can buy at the hardware store (found by the staple guns), but I didn’t feel like spending any more money on this project and my two tools worked really well!


1.  Take the top off of the ottoman.  My trick for keeping all of the screws is to use a mason jar or an old “to-go” cup to put them in.

2.  Remove the inner lining.  I was going to re-use this lining so that I didn’t have to buy anything more and it already matched the bottom part.  This lining hides the staples from the reupholstery.  I kept a cup close to put all of the pulled staples in (no stepping on rusted staples for me!).  Save this lining!
(technique photo)
Technique~ Use the flathead screw driver to get under each staple.  If they are stuck or only partially come out, use the angled tip pliers to pull the rest of the staple.
 3.  Remove staples from the leather.  Use the same technique as the lining.  If possible, pull up on the loosened leather to strip more than one staple at a time (this only worked on certain sections, but definitely sped up the process).
4.  Remove the leather and assess the damage.  I had to re-align the padding in a few places, but other than that it looked good.
5.  Since I had decided not to put on tufted buttons (this time), I filled in the holes with batting.  Then I folded the batten (so that it was doubled up) and put the cushion upside down on the batting.
6.  Secure the batting in a few spots around the cushion, mostly focusing on the corners.  Then cut away the extra.  Cut out the batting around wear the hardware will re-attach.
7.  IRON THE FABRIC!  This step I wanted to skip so bad!  I was a hot summer day and using the iron was not what I wanted to do.  However, it made such a difference in the finished product.  You want the fabric to lay down really flat and you don’t want a huge wrinkle where the fabric had been folded.

8.  Lay the fabric upside down and flatten out.  Then lay down the cushion upside down.  Straighten as needed.
9.  I started in the middle on the long sides and worked my way to the corners from there.  I figured that it would help me keep the fabric straight.  Pull the fabric tight for the first staple, then match the tension as you go.  My fabric had a little bit of tweed pattern, so I could see that my lines were staying straight.
I stopped about 3 in from the corner, then did the other long side.

Next were the shorter sides with the same technique.  I wanted to look to see how it looked so badly as I was working, but I didn’t want the fabric to shift at all.

10.  I cut away some fabric as I worked so that it was easier to work with.  Next time, I would probably lay out the fabric and cushion without as much “extra” fabric around the edges.
11.  The corners!  Since i was doing this “no sew” I needed a way to fold the fabric around the corner that looked uniform and tailored.  I’m sure there is a legit name for it, but I called it the “double hospital corner” because I came up with it from a variation on hospital corners when you are making a bed (I knew working as a maid when I was younger would pay off!).
-Hold the fabric coming off the corner and bend it back, keeping the fabric flat around the corner.
-Take one side and fold it over, making one “hospital corner” and finish stapling that side.
-Do the same on the other side making sure that the fold is about the same distance from the corner as it is on the other side.
*Through the whole process I cut away fabric as needed.  I did have a bit of extra fabric under these folds and if I was to do it again, I would cut out more of the fabric as I was folding and stapling.
12.  Re-align and staple on the lining that we took off in step 2.  (after this step you get to see what it looks like!)
13.  Re-attach the top Cushion to the base, step back, and appreciate the transformation!

I did it and I can’t believe that I waited this long!  Really, anything would have looked better than it did, but I am really happy with how the ottoman turned out.  My husband was concerned about the color being light (because we use it to put up our feet), but since this process was so easy and didn’t cost a lot of money I can change out the fabric again if needed.  I also found that the cushion board had more button holes than were used.  If I change out the material again, I will probably add a bit more foam and do a tufted top.

From start to finish (not including the time to the store and a few breaks) the project took about 3 hours and only cost me about $28!  The before and after comparison is crazy.  I can’t believe that I waited so long to tackle this project and I wish that I would have completed this reupholstery project earlier!  What do you think?  Does this help you with a reupholstery project of your own?  Let me know if the comments below!


2 thoughts on “Ottoman Reupholstery for Under $30!”

  • What an amazing transformation. I’m sure that took time and patience. Great tutorial! It was nice to meet you at Activate and chat. I look forward to seeing the renovation of your home.

    • Thanks Beth! It was great meeting you too! This project did take a little bit of patience, but it only took a few hours. 🙂

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