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Ah, the ottoman. That is to say, our man, Otto. He’s finished! Hallelujah, praise above, and yadda yadda. Since we first mentioned him right here, it’s been well over a month, and goodness knows we took our sweet, slow time. The last time you actually saw the silly thing, it was looking like this:

Of course projects have taken much longer in this household (I’m looking at you, media wall – you multi-city, road tripping endeavor, you), but for something seemingly so small, we’re tisk-tisk-ing ourselves for being such slugs. Then again, those pink poppies and ziggity zag fabric decisions were enough to keep me awake at night (yes, really). But after our brain-clearing vacation – wait for it – we chose purple.

Okay, Scott chose purple. After a heated debate on pink versus yellow versus purple, my man finally got through to me by explaining that the purple sort of acted as a neutral against our gray, white, and aqua living room. Not only was it so, so cute that he busted out the word neutral, but he had a point. I agreed. And I could finally get that good night’s sleep.

After that, naturally, summer got the best of us. Work got crazy, catching up on Dexter became priority, and as you know, we recently hopped on a plane to Florida. But after finishing up with Dex and starting on our newest couch favorite, Twin Peaks, I realized I desperately needed my foot rest. And so we got to work. Here’s our official supply list, not including the tools (which, by the way, we needed a circular saw, large needle, drill, staple gun, scissors, pliers, rubber mallet and hot iron. Whew!):

Wood for frame (recycled from original Otto)
batting (recycled from original Otto)
fabric for upholstery
fabric to seal off the bottom
spray adhesive or fabric glue
2″ high density foam
cover button kit
4 x washers for securing buttons
heavy duty string
nailhead trim kit
4 x leg mounting plates
4 x legs

The whole point of Otto was to nix that big, boxy figure, and give him a more desirable sleek, slimmed down appearance. We decided on adding 12″ legs (purchased from our local Menard’s), which meant we needed a platform of around 3″. Here’s how the math broke down: 12″ legs + 3″ frame + 2″ foam = 17″ ottoman. Our circular saw cut it down to size…

And we were left with a messy, sandy pile of chip board. Not wanting to waste any supplies, we used hammers and our massive, brute strength (ha!) to tear the leftovers apart. Our ottoman is an 18″ square, so we used this heap to create two strips to equal 18,” then screwed them to the top of our new base. So, you know, we could have a sturdy, solid seat. We added two more thin strips (only about 5″ x 18″ each) to the bottom; this was necessary for our leg mounting plates.

Otto originally had 4 tufted buttons, which we wanted to keep. I marked a large “X” from corner to corner, measured in 6″ from each corner, then drilled those four evenly spaced holes.

Already I was excited at how things were shaping up, so of course you can imagine how giddy I was to get the whole thing wrapped up and ready for my foot propping pleasure. While most tutorials I scoured on the net recommended fabric glue to hold your foam into place, I used a spray can of photo mount to adhere my cut-to-size  2″ foam to the top. It was on hand (the glue was not), and it worked just fine.

Next, I was ready to use my batting. The problem is that I was using the old, recycled batting from the original form, so I scavenged the scraps I could and hodge podged it together (which went swimmingly, thank you). Because batting doesn’t have much stretch (in fact, if you stretch it, it’ll basically pull apart), I didn’t concentrate on pulling it too taught. I did, however, staple in the middle of all four sides to keep things in place before stapling everything solidly into place.

I must admit I was scared of starting the fabric. I even waited another few days to do this part – going so far as to dream of folded corners, messing up, and starting a whole new fabric search (Aye, I’m crazy). But first things first – Scott joined me for extra eyes and moral support. I laid out my pressed, pretty fabric and eyeballed the placement of our base as to not get a crooked pattern. I started the same way as the batting, stapling opposite middles of all four sides, then flipping it over to make sure I was on the right track. Once Scott assured me please, woman, you got this!, I pulled the fabric extra tight, still alternating sides to keep that pattern straight.

When it came time to secure those corners, we played with a few different options. In the end, my nutty OCD came in quite handy, and we got four perfect corners. God love a staple gun and some willpower.

I even went so far as to iron in a tiny strip of Stitch Witchery to each corner, giving the illusion of a crisp, tidy seam.

Okay, next. Following the instructions on the back of my cover button kit, I made four small circles of fabric and pressed each guy into a cute button. It was magic, I tell ya. Really.

Using a fat, white twine I had on hand, I threaded my massive needle (which was actually just the tallest yarn darner from a four-pack), poked through the bottom of my base using my pre-drilled hole, and used pliers to pull it through the top.

But the hard part was finding that f*@! hole on your way back down. (At one point I was physically sweating as I searched for this supposed hole. Pfft.) Once I found my way out (and the clouds parted and the angels sang!), I used the small, metal loops (recycled from Otto v. 1, although washers would also do the trick) as an anchor for my string. Scott pushed in the button from the front, while I pulled the string tight, securing a triple knot.

There’s no way I’d want that ugly, chipboard bottom exposed to… well, I suppose the kitties if they look up. But for my own peace of mind, I used a neutral (there’s that word again!) linen and sealed off the ugly part.

At this point, we’re thisclose. To match our media wall’s 6″ stubby legs, we used the same dark walnut stain on Otto’s legs. We wiped on two coats with an old rag and set them aside to dry.

We decided on angled mounting brackets for a bit of interest (of course this is another thing I agonized over – to angle or not angle?) and made a paper template on the first corner. By reusing this same template on the remaining three, we were able to give Otto his well deserved, perfectly spaced cutie-pie legs.

After all that hard work, it only made sense to use a fabric protector on our very carefully selected purple. And because I’m obnoxious, I did four thin coats of spray. The can called for two. (I considered a 5th, but that would be, like, totally crazy, right?)

And now, the last step – nailhead trim was added along the bottom edge (purchased from here, in French natural). I’ve never used a trim kit before, but it was the bomb diggity. Only one tack was needed for every five spaces, and oh, my, I had too much fun with this last step. Maybe because it was so easy (it took all of 10 minutes), or maybe because oh my goodness we were…

… done. Holy cow. Isn’t she the cutest, most sweetest little lady you ever did see? And yes, we realize Otto just changed genders. Maybe if we had gone yellow, that wouldn’t have been the case. And no, we’ve no regrets on the color.

Twin Peaks has been a much more enjoyable experience as a result. When not in use, we keep her stashed in the opposite corner of the living room, and wouldn’t you know, that purple really is so dang neutral. I’d be upset over the mucho-neutral-ness of it all (you know I’m a girl who loves her color), but that pattern keeps it fun.

Here’s how the numbers worked out:

Wood for frame (recycled from original Otto) = $0
Batting (recycled from original Otto) = $0
fabric for upholstery = $4
fabric to seal off the bottom = $2
spray adhesive or fabric glue = $0, had on hand
2″ high density foam = $6 (with coupon)
cover button kit = $3
4 x washers for securing buttons = $0, recycled from Otto
heavy duty string = $0, had on hand
nailhead trim kit = $19
4 x leg mounting plates = $8
4 x legs = $8
stain = $0, hand on hand

Total = $50

While this may not be in our imaginary top 10 list of the Vargo’s thriftiest projects, we plead this: The nailhead trim kit contained 10 yards of, um, trim. We used only 2 yards, which means not only do we have a hefty leftover amount, but it does bring down our total cost by over $15, giving us a grand total closer to $35. You know, if you want to be all math geeky about it (which, by the way, I totally do.)

Any recent furniture transformations on your end?

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  • Cait @ Hernando House8.29.11 - 9:04 AM

    That looks awesome! I love the fabric you chose and that nail head trim!ReplyCancel

  • aleksandra8.29.11 - 9:08 AM

    although i would argue that this is actually a completely brand new otto and not a “redone” otto, I ADORE it. you guys do amazing work. i never would have pictured the purple and the trim and the legs together, but wow. perfection.ReplyCancel

  • erin8.29.11 - 9:11 AM

    oh it looks so good! you definitely made the right call on the angled legs.

    i’m in the midst of an antique loveseat re-upholstery job. actually, “midst” might be too gentle of a word. but it’s coming along and i’m using that same nailhead trim- LOVE it! so easy and makes such a huge difference. and it’s quick. (i have that same button hat trick thing too! it’s like your ottoman is the younger, cooler, better looking sister to my love seat!)ReplyCancel

  • Jane @ The Borrowed Abode8.29.11 - 9:19 AM

    Oh my gosh, she looks fabulous! She’s like the ugly dorky girl from the 1990’s chick flicks who gets a total transformation and scores the hottie. In this case, your condo is the hottie. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jane @ The Borrowed Abode8.29.11 - 9:20 AM

    PS: Although I must add that I didn’t think she was necessarily ugly before. Of course, in those movies I never thought the “befores” of the girls were ugly either.ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.29.11 - 9:50 AM

      Jane, you have me laughing! I agree… the “uglies” before are just hotties that need to put on lip gloss. The comparison made my day!

      Everyone, thank you! We think she’s pretty fabulous, too.ReplyCancel

  • Katie @ ktmade blog8.29.11 - 9:45 AM

    Kim and Scott, it looks awesome! I love the fabric. I’m not generally a fan of nailheads, but those look great. And now I want to go out and buy a button-making kit – just because it looks fun.ReplyCancel

  • Erica8.29.11 - 9:46 AM

    Damn — adorable!! And that color turned out perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Heather8.29.11 - 9:56 AM

    Holy smokes, it looks so professional! Great job. And give agent Dale Cooper a big kiss for me. And a doughnut.ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.29.11 - 9:59 AM

    Heather, since we started watching, the doughnut jokes never end in this house. We’re likely driving Jack crazy!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth8.29.11 - 10:08 AM

    Mr Otto look fabulous – and I’m sure he feels fabulous too ;)

    Looking forward to more extended DIY adventures in the future!



  • Kate8.29.11 - 10:27 AM

    Love it! I thought you were going to be finished when you perfected those corners, but then you added the nailhead trim and it got even better!

    Question: how sturdy are those legs? I’m sure it’s fine for foot propping, but will it hold up if someone sits on it?ReplyCancel

  • Elisa8.29.11 - 10:34 AM

    Hot diggity! Two minds = always better than one. This turned out perfectly.ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.29.11 - 10:35 AM

    Hi Kate, the legs are very, very sturdy. We plan on using it as an extra seat if needed – and it’s much more comfortable than the original Otto! The angled mounting plates for the legs make it nice and strong, and it doesn’t wobble. Not even a little.ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten8.29.11 - 11:02 AM

    So brilliant! LOVE!ReplyCancel

  • jodi8.29.11 - 11:30 AM

    absolutely adorable!!ReplyCancel

  • Two Grads8.29.11 - 5:29 PM

    Perfect color! Looks amazing for a great price!ReplyCancel

  • courtneyoutloud8.29.11 - 6:38 PM

    I love that you pulled a “Crying Game” with your ottoman. It is really awesome — and you know that I love me some nailhead on a roll!ReplyCancel

  • Scott8.29.11 - 7:28 PM

    Does anyone else find it fantastic that Dale Cooper, The Crying Game, Doughnuts, and cheesy 90’s romantic comedies have all been cited in the comment section of a post about an ottoman? We just might have the best readers on the whole interweb…ReplyCancel

  • Kim, even though it took an eternity (haha, you know I love you guys) it was worth the wait. :) I really love the streamlined look and the purple is great! Oh, and the tufting with matching buttons. Where did you get the button maker? Tufting might be in my future.ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.30.11 - 10:45 AM

      Thanks, Amanda! The cover button kit came from JoAnn’s – it was in the button aisle, and we had no problem finding it. I see this in your future, too!ReplyCancel

  • tosha8.30.11 - 11:56 AM

    you guys are geniuses i tell you! genius!ReplyCancel

  • Jen8.30.11 - 4:40 PM

    Hahahahaha- Redo? Not so much. Looks great though!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly8.31.11 - 11:33 AM

    Wow you guys are so clever! LOVE it!!ReplyCancel

  • […] 10. How to Make and Upholster an Ottoman […]ReplyCancel

  • Rachel7.25.12 - 4:15 PM

    Oh WOW! This is fantastic! I love the super detailed and gorgeous tutorial! I can’t wait to make this, my husband has been asking for an ottoman. I would also LOVE to link to this tute if you didn’t mind.ReplyCancel

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