Reupholstering a storage bench

I'm in this serious nesting phase right now where I want to make aspects of my house feel more like a cohesive design. After over a year of living here, I finally bought window treatments. Then of course the corona virus hit, and the window treatments could not be installed... but that is still progress in my book.

While I did not determine a specific budget for this home improvement challenge, a zero dollar project is absolutely a win. Here's the story:
  • storage ottoman was purchased in Fall 2014ish from Wayfair
  • I specifically picked this one because of it's length. Most storage ottomans at the time were about 8ish inches shorter. I was putting this at the end of my bed, so the length made it seem less like a postage stamp in the middle of the room.
Why recover this ottoman? The existing fabric needed a refresh, not only was it darker than the rest of the room.. it was also a bit beat up. Eleanor the cat had given it some scratching attention several years back. Why was this free? I had purchased these 3 yards of fabric a couple years back when I was making the mattress cover for the daybed. wouldn't take them back despite my pleading... and honestly, I never got around to posting the fabric for sale on ebay.

Frankly the only reason, I'm writing this up in such a detailed way is because I looked through the internet for some tips and found absolutely nothing. So maybe this will give some poor soul like myself a few hints for their attempt to reupholster a Target or Wayfair storage bench.

I'm really pleased with how this project came out. It was amazing how much of a difference the lighter fabric made in the room. The master bedroom already has so much color and pattern from the big rugs that picking a fabric would have been such a challenge. The warmth and texture of this grey woven fabric from was the perfect solution.

Prep Work
  1. Deep clean the existing fabric as much as possible. I covered the fabric is baking soda and let it sit for 24 hours and then I vacuumed it up with my handheld Dyson animal.
  2. Take pictures of the existing ottomans interior focusing on the hinges and another other mechanisms. Since you'll need to remove them, it is important to have evidence of how they were installed in the event it gets confusing.
  3. Remove all the existing hardware, including the legs. Tape the screws to the hardware so you know what goes with what. 
I started with the top because it was more straightforward. If you've never done any reupholstery before, you should absolutely start here.
  1. Lay your fabric design side down in the middle of the floor.
  2. Place your top on the fabric and center it based on the fabric design. This can be tricky depending on your design and how much you care about details. I try to specifically pick fabrics that remove this level of insanity from my life.
  3. Starting at center of your longest side - pull the fabric up over the edge evenly and staple the fabric in place. Work your way around the whole top until it is complete.
  4. NOTE: Pay attention to where the holes are for hinges and avoid covering them. It will make your life miserable if you accidentally cover them.

You have two options for covering the bottom. One? You could take a similar strategy as you did with the top - but this uses a lot of fabric and you might have an issue getting a fabric with enough width to make this possible. Two? You end up with a seam in the covering.

I went with option 2 because it was the more affordable option. If this ottoman wasn't already on its second life I might have pursued a more eloquent solution. Also, I knew that the seam side would always be facing either a wall or the foot of the bed so it would never be seen ... unless you chose to hide under my bed which please do not do that.
  1. Determine the fabric height and length needed to cover the storage base. I like to have more extra to more super comfortable - so while I only needed something like 17 inches, I made sure I had 19 for a little extra wiggle room.
  2. Sew together two pieces of fabric that will suffice for wrapping all the way around the storage ottoman with about 6 inches of overlap. 
  3. On one end of the fabric, sew a finished hem. This is the visible seam. All you need to do is just fold the fabric over, sew it, and you'll get a nice ending.
  4. Take your fabric and wrap it around the ottoman to determine where you want your start your fabric. Keep in mind the visible seam in the back - or front really if that's what you want. I worked it so that my actual seam between the two pieces was along the corner and the visible fabric overlap was approximately centered on the back of the ottoman.
  5. Take the same stapling and upholstery approach as the top to the bottom. If you haven't ever upholstered before, watch a youtube video or two before on how to approach corners and fabric tightness.
  6. AGAIN, NOTE: Pay attention to where the holes are for hinges and avoid covering them. It will make your life miserable if you accidentally cover them.
Now that you've covered all your pieces, you just have to reassemble them. This will take awhile potentially depending on how easy or hard it is to find the screw locations again. Look at the pictures you took at the beginning if you need to double check placement of hinges or whatnot.

And you are done!

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