Easy Upgrade: How to Reupholster an Old Ottoman

midcentury sofa and ottoman

Welcome to our new living room, complete with newly recovered ottoman and midcentury sofa! Actually, we call it the “rumpus room,” the place where we watch television, spin records and generally hang out. When we first saw the house, we fell in love with the original mahogany paneling and general midcentury modern vibe in the space. Those pinch-pleat curtains? Original. That shag rug? New, but fitting with the original look (or so we think). We knew we wanted a Danish-style sofa with wooden legs and an open frame for this room, and after a little searching, found this jazzy thing at a local vintage shop. Check it out.original sofa with flowered fabric

While we loved the shape, we weren’t too keen on the floral vibe and itchy feel. Reupholstering was necessary. But then the question was: to DIY or hire out? For the sofa, I decided that I’d leave the cushion recovering to a professional. We chose a bright turquoise outdoor fabric that could withstand wear and tear for a few years. The cushions turned out great and were well worth the professional expense (about $150 for labor, which I thought was a deal).

But I also had the ottoman you see above in an old, worn corduroy fabric, and I thought that DIY reupholstering the ottoman might not be too hard. (Apologies for not having a before shot of the ottoman. I was so ready to recover it that I ripped the fabric right off before taking a shot!) After asking around the office, several folks to me to call Danielle Benson to get an ottoman upholstery lesson. It was so much fun, I learned a ton from Danielle (who we’ve since deemed a Made + Remade Creative Genius), and I was surprised at how easy the recovering process was for the ottoman.

Follow along below to see how you, too, can reupholster an ottoman using basic upholstery skills and tools. And if you need help choosing fabric for your piece, read Danielle’s advice and tips for fabric shopping.


Step 1

 Open Galleryupholstery tools

Gather your tools and materials, including gloves, fabric scissors, screwdriver and needle-nose pliers (for ripping out old staples), upholstery adhesive, and a staple gun for upholstery. Staple guns are available at craft and hardware stores. You just need a basic, inexpensive one for entry-level projects like this.

Step 2

 Open Galleryuncovered ottoman

Remove the existing fabric from your ottoman. This takes a lot more time and energy than it sounds like it should. Danielle and I both worked on this piece for 20 minutes or so. Use pliers and a screwdriver to pry the staples out of the piece, wearing gloves to protect your hands. Be sure to throw the staples away and not let them fall on your floor!

When you’re done, you should have an ottoman with the batting (for cushion) exposed, like this. You can then decide whether to redo the batting, add to it, or keep what you have. We kept the existing and added to it, cutting pieces for the sides and using the spray adhesive to affix the new batting pieces to the ottoman.

Step 3

 Open Gallerysewing slipcover

Measure the sides and top of the ottoman, add an inch seam allowance for the top and sides, then add a few more inches for the bottom edge that will wrap under the piece. Cut out the top and side pieces from your upholstery fabric using these measurements. Then, sew the top to the sides, creating a cross shape, as shown here.

Step 4

 Open Gallerycorners of upholstery slipcover

Sew the sides to one another, creating the three-dimensional cover that will fit over your ottoman. Here you can see the corners that are created when you sew the sides together. Fit your finished cover over the ottoman. It should fit tightly, so you may need to wriggle the cover over the piece, holding the batting to the frame so it doesn’t slip down.

Step 5

 Open Gallerystapling corners

With the ottoman basically covered, turn it over and wrap the extra fabric around the bottom of the frame until it’s tight. Start by folding and stapling one corner in place, then move along the edge to the next corner.

Step 6

 Open Gallerystapling upholstery

Continue stapling along the edge of the fabric, securing the cover tightly to the frame. Go back over the corners to secure the entire cover well and to eliminate any obvious wrinkling.

Step 7

 Open Gallerytrim fabric

Trim any excess fabric from the bottom of the piece.

Step 8

 Open Galleryfind leg holes

Find the holes where the legs should go, and cut out notches in the fabric so you can insert the legs.

Step 9

 Open Gallerystaple bottom

Measure, cut out and staple a piece of canvas or muslin to the bottom of the ottoman to help finish it off.

Step 10

 Open Gallerycut out holes for legs

Cut out holes in the bottom fabric piece so you can attach the legs through it.

Step 11

 Open Galleryattach legs to ottoman

Reattach the legs or attach new legs to the ottoman. Flip it back over and admire your handiwork!


  • Upholstery fabric
  • Upholstery batting
  • Upholstery adhesive spray
  • Cotton canvas or muslin (for covering the bottom)
  • New legs (optional)



  • Staple gun
  • Gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
About Kelly Smith Trimble 


I grow vegetables wherever I can find enough sunlight and forage roadsides and hiking trails for plants that can be used to make natural dyes. You can find both vintage ...

More About Kelly Smith Trimble

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