Alina Sewing and Design


Do you guys remember when I turned my $20 thrift store coffee table into an ottoman a couple of summers ago? If not, let’s refresh our memories.

When I finished college and moved to Kansas City to start my first “big girl” job at an ad agency, I didn’t have much in the way of furniture. OR much money. That’s where thrifting became a huge part of my life (and subsequently, the current content of this blog). When it comes to thrifting furniture, it MUST be solid wood. I can’t claim I’ve never bought a rickety chair, but it was ALL wood, goshdangit. 😀

So, I found this coffee table for $20 one day and brought it home (in my tiny little 2-door ’99 Honda Civic!). I lived with and used it for quite awhile (over a year) before attempting to change anything about it. I never really loved it, but I wasn’t going to change it until I thought of something I could do that I did love. If you remember the story (or just read through the old blog post, linked above), you’ll know that one day I DID figure out what to do and I was inspired out of my mind. I’ll quote my old post here…

When I moved to Kansas City (two years ago this past Monday!), I didn’t own a coffee table. In classic Alina fashion, I stalked Goodwill until a decent one showed up. It was solid wood and heavy as all get out (a requirement for me to buy a piece of furniture from Goodwill. It MUST be solid wood. Pressed wood and particle board make me shudder). It was in pretty good shape with only some minor wear and tear on the top, it was mostly modern/clean looking, it was simple and it was marked for $20. But I didn’t love it. I never have. It’s just kind of…blah. Nothing inspiring about it, you know? And I don’t like to be surrounded by things that stump my inspiration. ;) (Additionally, the lip around the edge makes it painful to rest your feet on since it cuts into the backs of your ankles. No bueno!) I’ve toyed with the idea of painting it, stripping and re-staining it (to take care of the damage on top), and I’ve even thought about tiling the top with some kind of glass tile. But none of it really struck my fancy.

Enter Pinterest. There I was, sinking deeper into the abyss, when I saw this: [enter picture from Pinterest of a DIY-ed tufted ottoman]

I stopped everything and immediately straightened up from my slumped position (I might have even stopped breathing for a second). I looked at the blog post behind the pin, looked at my coffee table, looked at the picture, looked at my coffee table. And the biggest light bulb to date arose above my head. I immediately pinned it, “DIY Tufted ottoman…yes, I will!!!”
And yes, I did. Within five days, I had started this project with no intention of stopping.

Ottoman Before 1

And LONG story short, that’s how that^ coffee table became the below ottoman.

Ottoman Before 2

Now…fast-forward a couple of years. Overall, the ottoman is still in good shape. It’s sustained many a dirty shoe, stinky sock, entire cups of spilled coffee (itwasntme), wet dogs, being used as a make-shift couch between weekend moves back and forth from KC to Wichita last year, holding pilesandpilesandpiles of stuff, and more. Really, I could not have asked for this ottoman to be in such great condition after all we’ve put it through.

Ottoman 1Ottoman 2

But, it was beginning to show some wear, in form of sagging, loose fabric. I had been noticing it for awhile, but didn’t think about updating it until Saturday morning.

I had just finished with Ginger’s chair the night before and was still swooning every time I looked at it. I wanted something fun, too! All of the sudden, those wrinkles and sagging fabric were a bigger issue than ever before.

And when that inspiration hit, it hit fast and hard. I mentioned it to Cowboy…”I’m thinking about reupholstering this ottoman…” I said into the morning quiet. “Mmhmm, OK,” he said, without looking up from his computer screen and coffee.

And, just like that, a sly smile crept onto my face. My mind started racing…”but what colors, what kind of fabric? Why did I choose this weird, gray microsuede? Oh, yes, it was on clearance. I need real upholstery-weight fabric this time. Maybe in black and white? Maybe a fun color and pattern like Ginger’s chair?”

And like a flash, I was out the door to go check out all of the local fabric shops to see what would strike my fancy.

Aaand, three fabric stores and two hours later, I was still empty-handed, unsure and uninspired.

One thing my mom taught me was to always have neutral furniture than can be updated with pillows and throws. I wanted to like a bold print & color combo, but I just couldn’t commit. Later that afternoon, I was back home and I remembered one of my favorite pieces of furniture. The Erin chair from World Market.

Erin Chair 2VIA

 So I took it to the mattresses went digging for fabric scraps in my studio and to see how much canvas dropcloth I had in stock (yes, the kind you buy at your local home improvement store…it’s what I make my grocery bags out of).

Ottoman 3.5

I had plenty of dropcloth (furniture looks great upholstered in it! It’s a durable and is a superdupercheap alternative to upholstery-weight linen). And within a few minutes, I had picked out enough scraps to recover the buttons and was pulling out all of the staples.

Ottoman 3
To recover the buttons (and this is totally and completely NOT professional, nor how I would do someone else’s piece of furniture…but it was for me and it was free and it worked, so it won out):

1) I cut out all of my circles (using the template that I still had from the first time I covered the buttons) from scraps.

2) Using the plastic button-covering kit that comes with the buttons, I placed the fabric wrong-side-up on top of the plastic piece, placed the button on top of that…

3) Pushed it all into the plastic piece, ran a line of hot glue around the back of the button…

4) …and pushed the fabric down.

5) Voilá…recovered buttons.

Ottoman 4

And then came the tufting and upholstering! I started working on this when Cowboy left to hang out with his brother for the evening. And it was back in the living room, finished, by the time he got home at 11.

Ottoman 6

Best part? It was F-R-E-E! I used dropcloth and fabric scraps and buttons I already had. And well, I do this for a living, so I obviously had plenty of button tufting twine and cotton to pad the sides with. If I had to count up the materials I would have bought though, it might add up to $10. Maybe.
Ottoman 7 Ottoman 8Ottoman 9

Amazing, right? I’m so glad I spent my Saturday night updating it. I realized while I was working on it that it was literally the only thing in my house that I had upholstered. Consequently, anytime someone was over and found out what I “do” and asked to see some of my work, it was the only thing I could point to. And, while it was just fine, it was my first-ever upholstery job. It did need to be brought up to current “standards,” just like a graphic designer would update their business card as they gained more experience.

So let’s see the lifetime of this coffee table all together now…

Ottoman 9.5
Worth the $80 I’ve now invested into this coffee table/ottoman, right?!

I try to not work-work on the weekends, but do projects for us instead. It keeps me inspired and fresh. Other times, I just need a rest and spend the weekend hanging out with awesome people. 🙂 What did you guys do this weekend?


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