I am now at the point where I know what pieces can live on forever and what will be past it’s prime (and useless) by the time the fabric wears out (or is outdated).  So over the years I have been able to save loads of money by purchasing what I think I’ll be able to upcycle or recycle when the time comes.

One such forever piece is the ottoman.  Let’s think about this… an ottoman is really just a wooden box that has been upholstered.   When the upholstery has seen better days, the wooden box is still solid as… wood.  In other words, it’s still sturdy and usable, it just needs some love – perhaps LOTS of love.

In my case I had 3 ottomans that came with chairs that I purchased 10 years ago.  Normally I wouldn’t have gotten them because I don’t do sets, but the chairs came with them so there was no choice in the matter.  Didn’t much matter anyway; these were for my then pre-teen son and his friends to use for gaming and such.  I just needed something durable and wipeable.

Fast forward 10 years and add a few more kids to the mix, and these things have had it!  They have been through it all and can’t take it anymore.  I was going to just recover them individually when it dawned on me that I could make them so much more functional.  I could make them into something that can be used all over the house, depending on what I need and when.  Sooooo I made 2 of the ottomans into 1 bench!  Wanna see?

How to Make a Custom Bench Out of 2 Ottomans

How to Make a Custom Bench Out of 2 Ottomans

A word of encouragement before we get started.

There are a lot of steps to this DIY. It is not difficult at all but I want to provide as much detail as possible.

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Let’s make a custom bench

This is a very versatile piece that can be used as a coffee table, ottoman, or extra seating.

Disassembly & Reassembly:

Ready for fabric:

It was really hard to get great photos now that the bench is so long.

Tufting!  YAY!:

Again, a little hard to capture but here goes…

Finishing Touches:

About the legs…. actually those were spray painted as soon as I got them.  The sooner the better so you don’t have to think about it until it’s time to screw them back on.  If the legs of the original ottomans were the style I wanted, I could have just reused them.  it’s nice to have choices.

Well we now have a multifunctional piece for next to nothing.  I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking with all the materials and time spent, I could have just bought a new bench.  Well I could have, but not at the cost of this.  This is what I consider priceless… why?  Because…

  1. All total, I spent maybe $40 max on a bench that I chose EVERYthing for (i.e. custom) – the fabric, button tufts, and legs.  Being a decorator has it’s perks!  😉
  2. I know just how well put together it is (i.e. no anger in a year when it gives way and I find out the “wood” isn’t wood at all, AND whatever it is was was being held together with glue)!
  3. I’m still living The Green Life – I kept this out of the landfill and saved a tree or 2 by NOT buying new.  Okay, truth – I wouldn’t have thrown the originals out anyway, I would have donated them.  But still…. it’s a good thing.

So far, I have tested this at the dining room table as a bench and in the “entertainment room” as a little coffee table AND as a double ottoman.  It currently lives in the entryway – the “Direct Energy girl” got a little too comfy on it when she was trying to switch our service.  I still really want to give it a go in the bathroom or bedroom… looks like I may need to make another one day soon.  Ohhh, maybe with really fun bright fabric and turned legs!  Getting excited!

* Decorator’s Note:  I was perusing the web when I ran across this bench from West Elm (one of my fave online retailers offering sustainable products) for $349 with custom fabric choice, after the fact of course.  Truly I had no idea I was crafting a “knock off”, but it’s pretty decent if I do say so myself.  If I were in the market for a piece like this (and could not have otherwise built it myself), I would definitely buy this one.

 Update:  Added nailhead trim… I just had to do it!  I was unsure of the pattern, but I love nailhead ANYthing so it’s all good!

Bench with Nailhead Trim

Here’s the full transformation again. If you like it, please share!

Would you ever try your hand at a project like this?  Have you completed an upholstery project like this?  Please share, I’d love to see it!

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  1. That looks fantastic, love it. We have a storage ottoman that will soon need recovering, you have inspired me. Thank you for sharing!