Sunday, October 13, 2013

My First Legit DIY Project, the Coffee Table Ottoman

We've all seen those awesome posts on Pinterest about the DIY coffee table ottomans. I was so enamored with this post in particular, I just had to figure out a way to replicate it. (BTW, I encourage you to take a look at my inspiration post so the rest of this blog post will make sense!).

Unfortunately, my inspiration post did not have step-by-step instructions which a DIY amateur like me needs. So I did quite a bit of research to find the best method for creating this beautiful piece of furniture. Many sites I visited had a "lessons learned" section where they shared tips to save you time/money/grief. As I share the process for how my ottoman came into existence, I also want to share some handy tips which I hope will help you in case you decide to tackle this project.

The first step, of course, it to find a table. Many people went to garage sales or thrift shops and bought cheap tables to use. I am lucky because one of our good Walker family friends, Chris Sutton, is a blossoming carpenter. He built several beautiful pieces for his wife, (another good friend) Laci, so I asked him if he would be willing to build us a coffee table. I showed him my inspiration and he built it! He also drilled the holes for me so I could tuft the final product. I told him I could upholster and finish the table, so he just built me the foundation.

Next, Jared and I collected all the materials. I covered the base with my foam so it looked like this:

Then I covered it in batting to anchor the foam:

Finally, I covered it in our fabric. All this upholstering was actually very easy, but the corners of the fabric layer were especially tricky. I couldn't find anything online which broke down the best way to do it, so I just treated it like a giant present. This required me to trim quite a bit of fabric from the corners so it would lay right, but if you know how the wrap a present, you can use a similar concept for the corners. Here's how the final product turned out:

GORGEOUS. I can't believe this piece of furniture is mine. I'm totally sold on DIY projects. Not only are they usually much cheaper than buying the piece, especially when it comes to furniture, but you can customize the piece how you want it. You might not be able to tell in the picture, but that bad boy is tufted and trimmed to perfection.

Now, as promised, my Lessons Learned:

  1. Foam is apparently an expensive product because, according to another blog I read, it is a petroleum-based product, so its price goes up just like gasoline. I used a foam mattress pad as a substitute for regular foam, which can be purchased for much cheaper if you look in the right place.
  2. Tufting requires some intense thread in order to hold the buttons into the foam. If you're not careful, all your hard work will vanish if the thread pops. I used drapery cord as my thread because it was durable, but still easy to manipulate. I had no idea what drapery cord was until I asked for help at Hancock Fabrics, so if you can't find it at the fabric store, ask for help!
  3. Get a really big needle for tufting! I didn't make my foam layer very thick, but I was still glad I got a six-inch needle with a large eye for tufting. This was more of a fluke than anything, but get a bigger needle than you think you need. It will make your life easier.
  4. Trim is optional, but I liked the ottomans with nail head trim the best online. It depends on the look you want, but you can buy nail head trim instead of individually nailing finishing nails on the entire ottoman. The nail head trim made the finishing process much easier for an amateur like me.
  5. I did not read this tip anywhere, but I was concerned about the durability of the fabric on the ottoman. Probably because I am prone to spills...but anyway! I also did not want the ottoman to get dirty easily, because I can't just throw it in the washer. I needed a durable, stain-resistant fabric. Well I did not know this, but you can buy outdoor fabric by the yard! Outdoor fabric is by definition resiliant because it has to withstand outdoor conditions. When I went to Hancock Fabrics, they had a huge selection of extremely cute outdoor fabric. It was also still easily to manipulate as I was upholstering and making buttons for tufting. Use outdoor fabric or another similarly resiliant fabric for your ottoman.
  1. Have someone help you tuft! It was nearly impossible for me to evenly pull all the buttons by myself as I was tufting the ottoman. I had Jared help me by holding the button down once it was in the correct place so I could tie it off in the back. This ensured my tufting was even.
  2. Use anchor buttons to hold your tufts. A lot of other blogs I read stapled the thread underneath the ottoman to hold the tufts in-place, but that seems wasteful to me. Also, it seemed very possible the thread could pull loose from the staples because the tufts are under a lot of stress. So I decided to just use anchor buttons, which hold the thread in-place once you tie it off. The anchor buttons were useless, I will admit, until I had Jared hold down the tufts for me because I couldn't hold down the tuft and tie by myself. If it is just you making the ottoman, you might have to use staples to keep the tufts in-place, but use anchor buttons if you can.