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My new, not-so-shabby ottoman!

Hello, all!

I am definitely on the mend! The first clue to my return to health: I started and completed a project! (Yes, I am psyched!) I have looked high and low, hither and yon, for furniture pieces I could repurpose. The problem is I have not found the pieces I need at a price I could afford (near $0). Yesterday, I visited my local thrift store and a couple of consignment shops. The one of the consignments had a lovely queen-sized bed set I would have loved to remake into a sofa; yet, it was way out of my price range. It also had two great tables, I would love to get my hands on, but they were $150 each! Yikes! The thrift store had a very sturdy coffee table, with interesting feet, which sported three panels of smoky glass. The table, left that thrift store (minus the glass panels) in my hot, little hands for the snazzy price of $20!


My $20 Thrift store table. Like: 1) the size and shape (25″ X 50″). I have a long, narrow front room, so this shape fits my space. 2) this table is sturdy, the legs are solid, no wiggles! 3)The feet already have plastic protection on the bottom so my wood floor is safe and I do not need to purchase them new. Not-so-much: 1) The oak is fine; but, not impressive. 2) The pattern in the wood are sea shells; again, not bad, just not “my thing.”

My fist step: Gathering the rest of my supplies. Luckily, I have pale paint from another project.

Next, I had a slab of plywood in the garage. I could have lugged it out myself; however, I called in a favor and had my husband cut it for me. Awesome!

He also hooked me up with the proper nails and staples to go with his compressor-powered nail gun and stapler, so I didn’t spend a weekend nailing and stapling by hand. Very nice!

I found a large piece of foam at my nearby Home Depot. I found it while comparison price shopping online for another project. Wow! $19.99 for a 3″ thick, 30″ wide by 79″ long slab.

I used some cotton batting I purchased during the gathering phase for another project, which will need to wait a bit (but that is okay because I still have other things to gather and I may find batting for it elsewhere).

Then, I mixed up some chalk paint. (I found a DIY blog via Pinterest (the gist: 2 parts paint for 1 part plaster of paris, which makes a thick, matte paint with a shabby/country/rustic/vintage feel). This was my first experience with chalk paint. My verdict is still out. Pros: I like the texture and the aged, yet clean feel. Con: I think it lightened my “natural wicker” paint a little too much. I may opt to give it another plain-paint coat later…

I cut my upholstery from a natural canvas drop cloth. (<$20 for a piece 3 yards by 4 yards! I am using the rest in another project next week, so none will go to waste; although, a smaller drop cloth could be used if this was a lonely, solitary project.)

Last, a piece of sand paper, which was the first thing I used.

Next step: I sanded just the feet/legs, and just a bit higher up the frame to rub the varnish out. I wanted to make sure my paint would adhere to the wood well enough. I waited a few hours for it to dry, then sanded it very lightly, and added another coat before turning in for the night (which was really early morning-typical for me).

This morning, I woke up eager to go at it again! I plugged in the compressor and let it build up pressure while I fed my troops and said, “hello!” to the morning. By the time I was ready to get to work, so was the compressor. I used the nail gun to fix my plywood to the top of the table frame.

The plywood was left-over from an old twin bed. Now… it is mine! (Insert villainous laughter AND grin.) It’s sturdy, a little spattered; but, that will not matter in a matter of minutes!

I measured the length of HD (high density/ Home Depot) foam to match the table. (I just used a straight edge and a sharpie.) A sharp, old kitchen knife with a serrated edge made shortening it easy. (Some people use an old electric knife when cutting foam, but I found that even with projects always in play, I never used mine; so, I donated it to a thrift store a couple of decades ago. The regular knife worked just fine for me.) I am relieved to get the foam covered because my children pounced on it immediately when it entered the house!

Anything this wonderfully big, white, soft, and new HAD TO be made into a toy in my home! Sonnet (my “baby”) could not resist it! She climbed right in.

A Sonnet Sandwich!

My foam is a little wider than my table’s narrower measurement, so I just split the difference and placed the frame right in the middle. I made a couple of guide marks with my lovely Sharpie marker so it would not come to a crooked end. Then I covered it with two layers of the cotton batting.

Here’s Christian, my third-born and my champion! He’s manning the music library on my laptop (he is phenomenal about taking listener requests!), lending moral support, and once I was ready, he lent a hand for holding my rolled edges in place while I operated the stapler. Sonnet is pleased-as-punch in the foreground, showing off the dragonfly ring I put together for her last week.

I used the stapler gun to attach the cotton batting to the corners, creating a tuck on each side of the corner. I rolled the foam on the long edges down toward the edge of the plywood, and stapled the batting covering it to the under-side of that edge, keeping the tension on the batting and foam even along the way. I wanted the sides to look “fitted” without puckering. I worked from the middle of each side out to the corner each corner. The staples made attaching the batting easier, and less noticeable. Because I want the base of the piece to have a straight edge, rather than the shell scallop, I attached batting (4-ply) to that edge as well. I had to assure I pointed the staples at appropriate angles for each shot because some spots had less wood behind them than others and I needed to be sure each staple caught the backing.

The batting phase is complete! Tidy staples and smooth edges in the batting made adding the canvas upholstery easy! (There’s the canvas next to the foot of the table.) I followed the same, basic pattern in adding the canvas, except (because I created a straight edge at the bottom of the base to hide the scallop) I started with the sides (middle mark to corner, smoothing as I went), and then did the corners.

I ironed the canvas and laid it across the top of the batting. I made one staple in the middle of the first long side. Then, maintaining the tension I established with the batting, I spaced a row of staples up, under the edged of the wrapped plywood. Then, to create my new bottom line, I placed a diamond-pattern tufting (created with the staples). The lower points of the scallop beneath my batting allowed just enough low staple placements, and the diamond pattern reinforced them higher up in areas where I could not place them as low. Because I used a packaged drop cloth, two of my edges were stitched, two were raw-cut. I could have used my sewing machine to run a straight stitch around the other two edges; yet, I didn’t because I was about to cover them anyway. As I continued my straight edge of fabric along the bottom of the base, I tucked the raw edge in and stapled it in place. Along the corners, I developed a lower point of fabric as I created the tucks. I trimmed them a little lower than the neat edge, and followed the same, tuck-and-staple technique.

I considered placing a row of decorative upholstery tacks around the edge (fancy!), yet I decided that was unnecessary. I will return the two packs of tacks ($1.99 each) and recoup the cost. I did decide to wrap the base with a giant burlap ribbon (Hobby Lobby 15′ for $4.99- I waited for the store’s weekly sale in that department, and bought it at 1/2 price for $2.50 +tax). So,

Table ($20); Foam ($20); plywood (free); paint and sandpaper (free); cotton batting ($30- could use poly batting or reuse an old comforter next time for lower cost); staples and nails (on-hand); burlap ribbon (<$3.00); Canvas (used less than 1/4 of the cloth, about $5 worth. I will use the remainder on another project next week. Not a speck will be wasted)=


My finished piece: A not-so-shabby ottoman! Cost: about $78. Response: My family loves it!

Well, although I adore days that end this way- a completed project always helps me relax, feeling satisfied with success for the day- I will sign off! I am stealing time from the wee, small hours of my morning. Later, I will be back to work, with a major project: repairing a damaged cupboard and replacing our old, laminate kitchen counter tops with concrete ones! I am SO excited, but it must wait until I have rested a bit. More on that before the end of next week… So, until next time,


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