How to upholster a coffee table & ottoman

Updated June 18, 2018

Purchasing new furniture pieces is not necessary when you can revamp old. You will save some cash and can design the furniture to suit your present decor and taste. With a little effort, turn coffee tables and ottomans into something that looks brand new and is more functional. With a fresh layer of upholstery fabric, you can turn an old ottoman into an eye-catching piece, or transform an old coffee table into functional seating with a little padding. Even novice crafters can complete both projects in an afternoon.

Clean any oily residue or dirt from the top of the table. Wipe it down with alcohol so the padding will stick better.

Measure the length and width of the top of the coffee table, to know how much upholstery fabric and padding you need. Add 12 inches to both measurements to allow room for padding and a bottom fold. For example, if the coffee table measures 36 inches by 24 inches, adding 12 inches gives you a final measurement of 48 inches by 36 inches.

Lay the upholstery fabric on a flat surface. Measure and mark your length and width measurements with chalk. Cut out the piece of fabric using scissors.

Measure and mark you measurements with chalk onto the foam padding. Cut out the foam cushion using a utility knife or scissors. Craft or sewing stores carry various sizes and thicknesses of foam padding.

Place the upholstery fabric on the floor, right side down. Place the padding on top of it. Adjust the fabric so it is equal on all sides.

Fold the fabric over onto the bottom of the foam padding and glue it in place. Work on opposite sides and pull the fabric taut as you glue it in place onto the padding. Place pins, if needed, into the fabric and padding to hold them in place while the glue dries.

Apply adhesive along the bottom edges and centre section of the foam padding, as well as on top of the table. Place the foam padding into position on top of the coffee table. Press down on the padding to stick it to the table; allow the glue to dry.

Remove the old fabric from the ottoman, if dirty or torn. Cut the fabric from the furniture piece, being careful not to damage the padding. You can also cover over the old fabric with new, if it is not dirty or too damaged.

Measure the width and length of the ottoman, including the upholstered sides. Add 12 inches to your measurements to allow enough fabric to attach to the bottom. For example, if the ottoman is 36 inches by 36 inches, adding 12 inches gives you a final measurement of 48 inches by 48 inches.

Measure and cut your upholstery fabric to size, according to your measurements. Place the cut fabric right side down onto the floor.

Turn the ottoman upside down onto the fabric and adjust to have equal lengths of fabric on all sides. Pull the fabric taut and over the bottom of the ottoman and staple in place. Continue pulling and stapling until complete.

Things You'll Need

  • Alcohol
  • Cloth
  • Measuring tape
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Foam padding
  • Utility knife
  • Adhesive
  • Pins
  • Staple gun
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About the Author

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.