Easy DIY: How to Reupholster an Ottoman

This was a super easy and super inexpensive project, it just took a little time.  The matching chair and ottoman were given to us and each had only a small tear in them. This chair wasn’t used a lot at their house but between our heavy use and the dogs….well, the rips got bigger and bigger quickly.

I’m starting with the ottoman, the much easier project, but planning to soon give slip-covering a try for the first time with the chair.  Both are very comfortable and fit well in our living room.  Structurally, both chair and ottoman are in great shape so I think it will all be worth the effort.

I had been planning all summer to tackle this project.  Finally, one Saturday afternoon when the house was quiet and calm I put a show on Netflix and got to work.

You can see that our ottoman REALLY needed to be re-upholstered.

Honestly, it took longer to take all the staples out to get the old material off than it did to recover with the new fabric. I used a really small flat head screwdriver to lift the staples out.  Some lifted out easily that way and some would straighten out and make it hard to pull them out.  For those, I used pliers to grab hold of them and pull the staple out.  

In some sections I was able to pull the fabric off without removing every staple.

I didn’t remember to document this in photos, but on top of the cushion I first stapled a cotton/muslin type fabric over before adding the final drop cloth fabric that would show.  I already the cotton fabric on hand. I may not have done this step if I had to buy something extra.  You don’t have to do this, but since it had a thin layer done similarly under the decorator fabric when I took it off,  I decided to do the same.

I originally bought two canvas paint drop cloths at Walmart for 9.99 each, planning to use them as curtains in our spare bedroom I was redecorating at the time. I only used a part of one of them for this ottoman project.   I no longer have the packaging, but I think this is what I bought.  I knew when I bought them, that if I didn’t use them in that bedroom I would use them on this ottoman and the chair.

I washed both the drop cloths together on the longest possible cycle in hot water and added a good amount of Downy to the final rinse as this fabric has kind of a rough texture.  I LOVE textured fabrics, so I wanted that but also wanted it not to feel rough when we sit in the chair.  I may end up needing a third drop cloth when I slipcover the chair.  Even so, that will still be a really inexpensive way to get a new look!

After all the staples (the ones that needed to come out) were removed I laid the drop cloth over the top of the ottoman and cut the fabric, leaving enough hanging over the edge to staple underneath.  My cuts  were not perfectly straight and I didn’t measure. I knew I was planning to tuck the edges under and that they wouldn’t show.  Once my fabric was cut, I turned the ottoman upside down on top of my coffee table for the stapling.  That made it much easier to get to while sitting comfortably in my recliner.

When you make the folds around the legs it makes for a bunch of fabric to staple through, that’s why you see so many staples in those areas.

I turned the fabric under like a hem so the edge doesn’t show and stapled it to the wood.  I looked at a couple of other blog posts ( I searched on Pinterest) to get an idea how to do the corners.  I read somewhere to do it like wrapping a gift.  With that in mind I kinda winged it.  Wish I could show you precisely but I wasn’t very precise 🙂

This mesh looking fabric was under the ottoman to begin with and I put it back there, covering the fabric and staples.  If it hadn’t already been on the ottoman I wouldn’t have bothered with it.  It took a lot of effort to get all the staples out without tearing it, as it is fairly delicate, so if you don’t want to bother with it, it won’t really show anyway unless you turn the ottoman upside down.

This pic is a little blurry but you get the idea.
Finished product from the side.

Voile’.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  My corners are not all perfectly the same but I don’t think it’s terribly noticeable.  I’m happy with it.  I have sat in the chair and put my feet on the ottoman every day since I finished it.

Cost Breakdown:

  • I didn’t own a heavy duty stapler and had to buy one.   My husband got ours at Harbor Freight for around $15. They sell them at Walmart too.
  • With buying the stapler this entire project cost only about $25! If you have a stapler, the fabric was just $10, which makes for a crazy cheap and great project.  I still have some of the drop cloth left and may be able to use it in slip-covering the chair, not sure yet.

So, if you have an eye sore of an ottoman, you can fix it right up with some drop cloth and Netflix!  I first saw drop cloth used as a bed-skirt and curtains on Instagram which gave me the idea.  I like that it is textured, durable and some folks bleach (to make them more white than beige) or dye them too.  If you google paint drop cloth and upholstery or curtains, you can find a lot of projects on Pinterest using them. I’m sure this won’t be my last drop cloth project.

Hope you’re having a great week,


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