Ottoman Adoration (Volume 1 of 3)

October 03, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Living Room   //  By: Emily   //  13 responses

I. Spy. Decor.

I set out with a new project in mind last week, one inspired purely by a collection of ottomans I loved at Anthropologie. In person, I very sneakily photographed one with my iPhone without bothering to focus. I had a big crush on this piece.

Sneaky, blurry shot in Anthro. Boy, this ottoman makes me happy.

But not with the price. The $198 Dutch Wax Ottomans were gorgeous and made of exceptional fabrics (and if the price fits your budget, I encourage you to shop for them right over here, because they are pretty stunning).

After inspecting the models at the store, I was surprised that they weren’t super-cushy the same way that poufs are, instead, constructed from a light framework with simple batting and a slipcover. I bet if you were there you could have seen the brain gears working away. I hop-skip-jumped into the I could make that mindset.

So I started. With intentions of making a series of 3 to serve as extra living room seating and literal ottoman footrests for the couch. It’s not a terribly annoying issue, but the trunk that I’ve been using as coffee table in my living room is a smidgen too high to be comfortable sitting with your feet up on for long periods of time, but at $15 from a garage sale, it’s been a fine solution over a store-bought model. Nonetheless, I thought slightly shorter, cushioned ottomans might improve our level of comfort, and add a little something by way of fun new fabrics.

Blurry face, aching back. The trunk-turned-coffee table is just a hair too high to be comfy.

I started by bringing home six 2″x2″ boards (which are in reality 1.5″x1.5″ each, and 8′ in length) to serve as the base for each unit. Before I made any cuts, I did determine what the size of each ottoman should be, and that be 18″x18″ in surface size, by 16″ in height. If you try this at home, I encourage you to scope out your own size; my living room is a little small, which is why mine are petite. In a dream world, I would be making a sweet 4’x4′ ottoman, maybe of leather like the one Robbie has in her spectacular beach house.

For each ottoman, I cut the lumber so that I had 12 boards.

  • four 18″ pieces
  • four 15″ pieces
  • four 13″ pieces

Pre-cut 2x2 boards for assembling one ottoman. Remember, I'm doing 3. I used six 8' boards all together.

The overall construction plan called for a piece-by-piece assembly, best illustrated by this not-perfectly-to-scale doodle right here:

Can you see it?

The only thing that would have made this assembly easier, was a Kreg Jig, which I really need to get one of these days. As a plan B, the strategy of using 2.5″ wood screws did quite well; I pre-drilled the boards before adding the wood screws, which helped prevent splitting and really made attaching two boards together a lot easier.

Pre-drilling the boards helped eliminate splitting, and made connecting the boards much easier. I assembled the top and bottom squares first, before attaching the 4 pieces that would set the height of the ottoman.

Assembling the top and bottom of each ottoman flat made the construction easier for me. With all four pieces in place, the legs were screwed into place, leaving me with a skeleton of my future ottoman.

Ottoman skeleton! It was feeling a little wobbly. As in, not quite sturdy enough to hold me if I were to stand on it to dust the ceiling fan, but I was certain that once I added some walls to the framework, it would shape right up. I happened to have a stash of backer board on hand already (the kind used in the back of picture frames), so I cut it into pieces that would cover each of the four surrounding walls, and planned to attach them into place with smaller, less intense 3/4″ wood screws.

Investigating screws and the backer board that would be used to begin the ottoman framing.

(Creepy lens glare/smudge right over Cody’s eye in that shot. Just noticed it. Ignore.)

The backer board I used (thin plywood would be a good alternative BTW) screwed into place easily.

Attaching the backer board to the ottoman frame.

Very quickly, my ottomans were taking form.

Ottomans taking form! The sturdiness of the framework was really improved with the backer board walls; the final touch for stability, was adding a piece of 5/8″ OSB to serve as the top of each ottoman (also leftover from a previous project and just taking up space in the basement). Thin enough to not weigh down the whole ottoman, it was also thick enough to reinforce the entire structure and make it sturdy enough to stand on if I needed to. Also, makes for a flat, non-bouncy surface for whatever we want to put on top of it.

Leftover OSB was the perfect fit for the ottoman surface.

All three completed, it looks a little like something that would be on the front lawn of an art gallery. For scale, how about comparing my masterpiece Stacko-De-Ottomano to Codeman?

Finished boxes. And a curious dog. (Naturally, two seconds later he howled and I caught it on camera.)

Finished boxes. And a howling dog.

If you’re looking for a shopping list, here’s an all-in count of what I purchased to complete these pieces. You’ll want to customize the quantities based on the size of your own piece:

  • 2″x2″ boards for the framework (roughly $1.50 each – I bought six, so that’s $9)
  • 3/4″ wood screws (roughly $3 depending on where you shop + total quantity)
  • 2.5-3″ wood screws (roughly $5, again depending on store + quantity)
  • Backer board or thin plywood (a single 4×8 sheet that you can find for <$10 should be enough for two ottomans)
  • 5/8″ OSB or Plywood (a scrap size would be ideal and inexpensive)

This project really needed to be broken into three sections to be digestible (and not become a singular mammoth post), so tomorrow, check back, because I’m sure you’ll want to see how this tower of madness becomes living room glam.

And not to give too much away, but I’ll need your expert design input… please.

  • Cait @ Hernando House
    6 years ago - Reply

    Looking forward to seeing how this turns out!

    I have been wanting to make an ottoman for the living room (because, you know, my to-do list obviously needs justonemore thing on it).

    Love the howling picture and the Stacko-De-Ottomano! :)

  • Shannon
    6 years ago - Reply

    I can’t wait to see the after! Wanna share a hint of the fabric choices?

    PS – Cody is too cute!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Check back tomorrow, Shannon! And yes, cute… and a total camera hog.

  • Heather
    6 years ago - Reply

    Innnnteresting, Emily! Michael and I were just looking at ottomans in Target today (you know, for our about-to-be-finished-this-week family room) and hated how cheap the ones looked there. But yeah, sucks to drop a couple hundred bucks on one. However, I don’t know if we could go the DIY route since we want a larger one that can serve as storage, too. *sigh* Curious how yours come out, though!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      I feel ya on how too many ottomans within an affordable range start to look cheap. I think it’s mostly that microfiber isn’t really my jam, although I know it has it’s time and place and is durable as can be, especially around kids. I briefly considered making storage ottomans too, with the same framework but by keeping the base and OSB top batted and wrapped independent of one another, and then hinged to each other on one side. I only tossed the idea aside because it was too far off my original Anthro-no-storage inspiration.

  • Jami Graham
    6 years ago - Reply

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out!! I am dying to build something, I mean I guess a nursery takes precedence. :p

    I can’t wait to show my husband since ottomans, a coffee table and at least one side table is on my to do list!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Yeah, I guess you have fair reason to prioritize that nursery. Ottomans fit into nurseries though, right? ;)

  • Kate
    6 years ago - Reply

    I’ve got an ottoman on my “to do” list too – I can’t wait to see how these turn out!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Thanks Kate!

  • Martina
    6 years ago - Reply

    This is fabulous; we’re big on building our own furniture here and have been snooping for some ottoman inspiration and this seems perfect! Simple, sturdy, cheap & customisable? I am there!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Glad you like, Martina! It was SO easy and totally inexpensive. Especially the felt one – considering the wood, screws, batting, and fabric, I bet I only spent $12.

  • Amy
    6 years ago - Reply

    I am loving these! I’ve never built anything from wood, but you make it look less intimidating! Maybe this could be my first building project…

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      TRY IT! My frame construction was actually pretty easy because I knew all of the screws would be covered; it didn’t have to be perfectly neat, just had to be sturdy. Good luck!

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