A Step by Step Guide to Making an Ottoman

Ottomans are unique additions to the form and function of homes. It would be more wonderful to know that you don’t need to buy a new one and you can make one yourself.

You could make an ottoman from scratch or upcycle your old furniture like stools. You need some basic materials like boards, foam, batting, and upholstery fabric. Take a crate as the frame or even a bucket, cover it with foam, batter, and fabric to make a nice, functional ottoman for your space.

In the rest of this article, we’ll outline different ways to make ottomans with various materials, such as recycled plastic bottles, as well as making one from scratch. The instructions come at different levels of difficulty, so you can choose whichever one matches your conditions. Keep reading if you want to see the step by step guide to making an ottoman.

Using Plastic Bottles

To make a decent ottoman, you don’t need new or expensive materials. Go green and use recycled plastic bottles to build a beautiful ottoman.

All you need is plastic bottles, a piece of cardboard, duct tape, fabric, foam, batting, and scissors.

  1. Put the plastic bottles on one board into a circle, and put the tape all around them, firmly holding all the bottles together.
  2. Cut two pieces of cardboard to match the dimensions of the circle you made with bottles.
  3. Put the plastic bottles on one cardboard and put the other on top of the bottles. You could either glue down the bottles using hot glue or tape them all the way up and down.
  4. Cut the foam to match the top’s dimensions and the area around the bottles and glue it to the edge of the cardboard.
  5. Cover the foam with one or two layers of batting and glue it down.
  6. Cut the fabric to match the area of the top and around the bottles. You’ll need a circular and a rectangular piece of material.
  7. Sew the edges of the two pieces of fabric and glue it to the foam.
  8. Glue the bottom edges of the fabric to the bottom cardboard.
  9. Cover the bottom with a piece of fabric cut to match the dimensions of the bottom cardboard.

Now, you have an ottoman with the cheapest materials. 

Making a Wood Crate Ottoman

This is one of the easiest ottomans to make that doesn’t need much equipment. All you need is:

  • Wood crate
  • Plywood
  • Hinges
  • Upholstery foam
  • 4-inch wheels
  • 2 x 4 boards
  • Nails and screws
  • Staple gun

Follow these straightforward steps to get a simple, rolling ottoman with storage space:

  1. First, make the lid or seat by cutting the plywood, the fabric, and the foam based on the crate’s dimensions.
  2. Staple down the foam and fabric to the plywood.
  3. After the lid is ready, screw down the hinges to the crate and the lid.
  4. To make the base for wheels, cut two 2 × 4 boards, matching the crate length.
  5. Screw the boards to either side of the bottom of the crate.
  6. Attach the wheels on the 2 x 4 boards—two on each side.

You can paint the ottoman if you like, or just keep the original color.

Turning a Bucket Into a Storage Ottoman

This ottoman is another easy-to-make DIY project. The good thing is it doesn’t need any sewing work. All you need is glue! Here’s what you need to make this ottoman:

  • A round bucket
  • Upholstery batting
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Glue gun
  • Wood glue
  • Scissors
  • Two wood rounds, one bigger than the circumference of the bucket and one small enough to go inside it

Now get ready to make yourself a nifty, functional ottoman with storage! 

  1. Cut the batting to the bucket’s height and use hot glue to attach it all the way around the bucket.
  2. Be generous with the glue, especially in the edges, to make sure the batting won’t come off. Then cut any excess batting to give it a nice, neat look.
  3. Cut the upholstery fabric to the height of the bucket.
  4. Glue the fabric to the batting, starting from the seam, and cover the whole bucket. Unlike the batting, you don’t need to use a lot of glue to attach the fabric. Just enough glue at the seams, and you’re good to go.
  5. When you cover all the way around the bucket, cover the seam by folding like 3 cm of the raw edge of the fabric and glue it over the first seam.
  6. Glue the excess fabric to the bottom. Work neatly by adding some pleats and carefully attach it to the bottom of the bucket.
  7. The top of the fabric goes inside the bucket. So you need to glue it to the sides. Again, add pleats to give it a neat look since the bucket is circular, and the fabric is rectangular.
  8. Cut the upholstery foam to the circumference of the larger wood round. Glue it to the board.
  9. Cover the foam with two layers of batting and glue them down.
  10. Cover the lid with fabric and glue it down. Be generous with the fabric here to have excess fabric around the edges. Cover the inside of the lid with the fabric, forming pleats to give it a flat look.
  11. Now, if you want to have a neat look, you can cover the lid inside with a piece of fabric or cover it with another wood round. For this, you need another wood round that is small enough to rest inside the bucket.
  12. Cut excess fabric inside the bigger lid and have some exposed area of wood. Be careful not to cut too much fabric.
  13. Attach the smaller wood round to the center of the bigger one using wood glue. Put something heavy on it and wait for a couple of hours to let the glue stick.

Congrats! With simple tools and no need for sewing, you made yourself a nice storage ottoman that you can use for many different purposes!

Turning an Old Stool Into an Ottoman

This is another great makeover with a surprising new look. To do this project, you need:

  • Flexible board
  • Zip tie
  • Drill
  • Foam 
  • Batting
  • Glue

Here, working with the flexible board might need extra pressure and power to keep it firmly in place. So, you could ask another person to help you. If you’re alone, use your knees to hold the flexible board while you’re going through the steps. 

  1. Wrap the flexible board around the stool. 
  2. To secure if firmly, you’ll need to drill holes in the board and pass through zip ties. So, make two holes for each leg on the corresponding parts of the flexible board. 
  3. Pass the zip tie through the hole, wrap it around the leg, and get it out from the second hole. Then fasten the zip tie on the outside of the board. You’ll need two zip ties for each leg, one near the top and one near the bottom.
  4. Close the seams of the board together using zip ties. Make sure to install the zip ties vertically and not horizontally to avoid getting cracks inside the board.
  5. Cover it all the way with foam and glue it.
  6. Add batting and glue it down.
  7. Cover the batting with fabric.
  8. For the seams, glue down one side, fold the other side and glue it over the first seam.
  9. Glue the fabric down to the bottom, which is actually the top of the stool.
  10. The stool’s bottom is your ottoman’s top that you cover with a round board as a lid.
  11. To make the lid, get a round wooden board, cover it with foam, batting, and fabric, and put it on top of the ottoman.

You can sit on this ottoman and also use it as storage to hide your stash of chocolates! You could store your magazines, sweaters, or blanket inside it. 

Building a Basic Upholstered Ottoman

This ottoman is very easy to assemble, although you make the frame from scratch. You can make it a square or a rectangle. The measurements are up to you, and you can use any size board you want.

For this basic ottoman, you’ll need: 

  • Two 20 × 50 cm (8 by 20 inch) boards (16mm thick)
  • A 50 × 50cm (20 by 20 inch) board (16mm thick)
  • Two 20 × 40.68 cm (8 by 10.84 inch) boards (16 mm thick)
  • A 1.8m (70 inch) pine board 4.4cm (1.7 inch) wide
  • 16mm screws
  • Foam
  • Thin batting
  • Staple gun 
  • Glue 
  • Drill
  • Scissors
  • Hammer

You can change the dimensions by making adjustments to build a larger or smaller ottoman if you want.

  1. Make the base. To attach the two 20 × 50cm sideboards to the 50 × 50 top section, you need 16mm screws and angle braces.
  2. Attach the 20 × 4.68cm sideboards and secure the angles with angle braces.
  3. To make battens, cut the 4.4cm PAR pine boards and glue them on the box’s four corners.
  4. Place the cushion. Cut the foam to the size of the top.
  5. Place the batting. You need batting for the base and the sideboards. So, cover the base and the sideboards’ height all the way with the thin layer of batting. Attach the side edges with a staple gun.
  6. Place the top fabric. To cut the fabric, put the base on top of the fabric and cut it with an extra 5cm. Then use the staple gun and fasten down the fabric at 1 cm from the top. Make sure to do the stapling neatly by tucking the corners and stapling them down.
  7. Add the side fabric. Fold the side fabric under the top base and pin it around the edges. This way, you make the stapling easier by keeping it in place. Staple the edges to the inside of the box. Again you should give the corners a neat edge, so tuck and fold them carefully after you’ve stapled all the edges.
  8. Finish off. To hide the join between the base and the sides, you can use upholstery strips or welting. Upholstery strips are easy to use. They have holes in which you can hammer upholstery pins to hold them in place.
  9. The legs can be ready-made or used from old furniture. Screw them into the battens.

Making Welting

Premade welting is available at any DIY store. You could also make your own very easily and quickly. To make it, you need a long strip of fabric and cording (available at upholster shops). 

  1. Take any fabric of your choice that is 3 inches (8 cm) wide.
  2. Put the cording at the center of the fabric on the wrong side. 
  3. Then, fold the fabric on the right side and sew it. 
  4. To have long strips of fabric, you can sew any length of fabric together.

Making a Simple Pouf Ottoman

Poufs are another versatile and cozy piece of furniture that you can use to add to the beauty of your home. To put together this simple ottoman, you need the following materials:

  • Fabric
  • Piping
  • Zipper
  • Polystyrene balls
  • Upholstery thread

The fabric you use for this ottoman is better to be strong, heavy-duty to give you the desired durability. You’ll need six pieces of fabric for each side of the cube. The sizes of side fabrics are different from those of the top and bottom parts. So, get two 20 × 20inch (50 by 50 cm) and four 20 × 15 inch (50 by 30 cm) pieces. If your fabric has a pattern, make sure the patterns on all sides match before cutting it.

  1. Sew side pieces. First, you should attach the two 15-inch side pieces. Put them on top of each other with the wrong sides out. 
  2. Iron the seam. Ironing seams is an essential component of sewing because it gives your work a neat look. You’ll also need to attach the zipper in the seam at this stage, so it has to be ironed.
  3. Attach the zipper. Place the zipper face-down directly on the seam (wrong side). To sew more comfortably, attach the zipper to the fabric with pins, and then sew.
  4. After attaching the zipper, open the seam using a ripper. Now, you have a working zipper.
  5. Do the same for the other two side pieces. Sew one side of the pieces together, and the other two sides to the previous one with the zipper. After sewing all these pieces together, you’ll have a kind of tube.
  6. Sew the tube to the bases. You can do this with or without welting. To use the welting, put the tube with the right side up and lay the welting on it. 
  7. Then, put one of the square pieces, the wrong side up, on the welting. All parts, including raw edges and corners, should align. Pin the welting into place and leave 4 inches dangling. You might need to add some length in some parts; that’s why you should leave this extra length just in case.
  8. Finish the corners. To get the tricky corners right, put the welting around the base side’s 90-degree angle, giving it a curve. Then put the tube seam over it, pin, and sew all three pieces. Sew all the way around the edges, leaving that 4-inch welting on both ends.
  9. Finish off the welting. Expose the cording by pulling it down for 1.5 inches. Then leave the welting material and cut the cording. 
  10. Now, fold down 0.5 inches of the welting fabric and insert the other end of the welting into that extra part, with both ends of the cording touching each other with no overlaps or gaps. 
  11. Now pin the whole welting down between the tube and the base, and sew it. This way, you’ll have a seamless welting with both ends sewn neatly into the whole work. Now you can flip the right side of the tube and check your welting. See if it’s not loose, especially at the corners, and sew any unattached parts again.
  12. Do the same welting process for the other half of the tube. And then turn it inside out to get to the right side.
  13. Check the whole work to see everything looks good. If there are any loose threads, cut them carefully.
  14. Now it’s time to fill the pouf with polystyrene balls. They’re highly static, so carefully handle them to prevent them from scattering around, or you’ll get into the trouble of collecting them. Fill it up as much as it feels good to you. Any time you think it needs more puff, simply open the zipper and refill it.  

Bottom Line

Ottomans are versatile pieces of furniture that can add to the beauty of your home. There are many different ways you can try to make DIY ottomans with used and new materials. Make one with caters, stools, or even recycled plastic work. That’s a great way to upcycle your used materials and reduce waste, or you can make an ottoman with new materials from scratch using wooden boards or plywood. 

Most of the DIY techniques don’t need many tools. Just some fabric, foam, batting, glue, staple gun, or hammer and screws are pretty much everything you need to put together a beautiful, functional ottoman. 


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