Tuesday, November 20

Storage Ottoman DIY

I love crafts. I love DIY. My biggest DIY crush? Furniture redoing/making. I can't get enough. It takes every fiber of my being to keep myself from "rescuing" every tossed out piece of furniture I see along the side of the road {boyfriend, friends, and family frown upon my frequent adoption of such items}.

I am currently in the process of replacing my hand-me-down couch, and wanted a new coffee table or ottoman to replace my cheap and wobbly IKEA table that I broke in college a few years ago. I trolled Pinterest for a while, and stumbled upon my inspiration: A coffee table constructed from four basic crates by DIY Vintage Chic! I was completely smitten with this deceivingly simple design. Even boyfriend liked the idea, and that boy is hard to please.

I loved the storage capacity and the fact that it was on casters, but I really needed something boyfriend could put his feet on... Because he could not keep his feet off my old coffee table {which drove me a little crazy}. So, again, I needed something sturdy and foot-friendly. Thus, I added an upholstered top to make this coffee table an ottoman!

Now, prepare yourself... This post has a LOT of step-by-step photos... And no full supplies photo {my bad, guys!}. BUT, I promise, this project is not difficult. If you can handle a drill {trust me, you can}, and a staple gun {easy-peasy}, you can do this project!

Here's what you'll need:
To build: {4} wooden crates, {2} 8' 2x4s (or other beam wood), {4} 2" casters w/screws, {8} corner brackets w/screws, {12} 1.25" wood screws, {4} 2.5" wood screws, {4} 1" wood screws, drill w/drill bit & driving bit

To upholster: sheet of mahogany underlayment (or other sheet wood that is NOT plywood), 2"-thick foam, polyester batting, upholstery fabric of your choosing {note: materials amounts depend upon the size of your crates, but you need enough to cover your table}, heavy duty staple gun w/staples, {5} make-to-match buttons, polyester upholstery cord, upholstery needles, scissors, yardstick/tape measure

To paint: semi-gloss paint+primer of your choosing, paint brush, drop cloth

**I got my crates from Michael's using those wonderful 50%-off coupons, so my crates were less than $7 a piece (gotta love coupons!). They each measured 9.5" deep x 18" long, and I will be using those measurements throughout the post. If you use different crates, be sure to adjust your measurements accordingly.

Build the Structure:
  1. Arrange your crates like so: Place one crate on the floor/work surface so that the opening is facing down. Place a second crate on top of the first crate so that the handle-end is down towards the floor, against the back of the first crate. Make sure the edges of second crate are flush with the first. 
  2. Drill three pilot holes {in the arrangement shown} big enough for your screws using your drill bit. This will help prevent wood-splitting. You are drilling into the handle-end of the second crate (through to the back of the first crate), towards the floor. 
  3. Drive 3 1.25" screws (into your pilot holes) through the two crates with your driving bit, securing the second crate to the first. 
  4. Rotate your crates so that the open end of the second crate is facing downward, arrange a third crate on top of the second just as you did before, and secure the two together with screws. Repeat for the fourth crate. Rotate a final time and secure the first crate to the fourth, so that all crates are secured. Your final arrangement is shown in Photo #4, looking down at the crates. 
  5. Using your 2x4s, build a base frame. **I had my 2x4s cut at Home Depot, so if you don't have a saw, that's an option! Both Lowes and Home Depot do complimentary cuts, just tell them what size pieces you need! I used 2 pieces that were the full length of the table (9.5" + 18" = 27.5") and 3 pieces that would fit between those pieces. To figure out that measurement, multiply the width of the boards by 2 (since there are 2 boards), and subtract that number from the length of the table (27.5"). In this case, a 2x4 is about 3.5" wide, so 3.5" x 2 = 7", and 27.5" - 7" = 20.5".** So, you'll need 2 pieces @ 27.5" and 3 @ 20.5". 
  6. Arrange your pieces in a square with long pieces opposite one-another and short pieces opposite one-another, making sure that the ends of the long pieces are flush with the edges of the short pieces. Using your drill, corner brackets and screws, attach the boards at each inside corner as seen above. Screws should drill into the soft pine boards relatively easily, although you may need to tap them gently with a hammer to get them started. 
  7. In the pictures above, my frame is a simple square, but for added support or stability, I added a third short-piece (20.5") across the middle. I used a counter-sinking drill bit and long wood screws, but for ease and consistency, you can use 4 more corner brackets to attach this center beam to the 2 outside pieces it will line-up with. 
  8. This step is two-fold: Attach the frame to the crates and add your casters. First, with your table upside down on the floor, align your frame with the crates (shown in Photo #5). Be sure your frame is flush with each corner, and drill a pilot hole in each corner with your drill bit; you are drilling through the 2x4 and into the underside of the crate. Insert your 2.5" screws into your pilot holes and drive screws through the frame, into the crates (screw is shown next to the caster in Photo #8). Now place a caster in each corner and attach to the frame using screws (if no screws were provided, use screws ~1" long). 
At this point, your table will look like this! The original post from DIY Vintage Chic stained the wood and made a small "crate" for the middle to fill with wine corks. If you like this look, finish it off with paint, stain, or a simple sealant! Just beware that it is not foot-friendly. As soon as I got to his point, boyfriend had his feet up on the top of the crates and the wood was visibly bowing... Not a good sign (I told you he can't keep his feet off my tables). So, on to the upholstery!

Upholster a Top:
  1. You will need a thin sheet of wood for your top. I originally tried plywood because it's super cheap, but it was so hard that all my staples were buckling... So I found a sheet of (even cheaper) mahogany underlayment over by the molding at Home Depot. I had the 4'x4' sheet cut and ripped into a 28" square at the store. This way, I would have a little bit of overhang on my finished ottoman. Purchase enough foam to cover your wood (the foam at Joanns was only 24" wide, so I had to supplement with 3" of extra foam and a little polyester fiberfill), and piece it together on top of the wood sheet. 
  2. Using a yardstick or tape measure, draw your diagonals (from corner to corner) across the foam with a marker. Where the diagonals meet is your center. Measure out 5" from the center towards all 4 sides and mark an "x."
  3. Using scissors and your fingers, dig out a little hole in the foam at the center and at each "x" (the "x" still visible in Photo #3 was mismeasured). 
  4. Lay two layers of batting over your foam so that there is enough overhang on each side to staple it to the underside of the wood. Carefully and quickly flip your wood, foam, and batting over, so that the whole top is upside down but still aligned. Staple your batting around the perimeter of the wood sheet, working opposite sides in sequence (left side, then right side // then top, then bottom) and pulling the batting tight. For more pointers, refer to this earlier post: DIY Upholstered Trunk. Finally, repeat the process in step 2 on your wood sheet, and drill small pilot holes at the center and the 4 x's. I have circled these holes in Photo #4 as they were difficult to see, and sketched the diamond tufting pattern we are creating as well. 
  5. Flip your top over again so that the batting is facing you. Feel around the batting/foam with your fingers to find the holes you dug out previously. Use your scissors and fingers to push the batting down into the holes as much as possible, cutting some batting out if necessary. Push your long upholstery needle through the hole from the wood-side to verify that the hole in the wood matches up with the hole in the batting/foam and make any necessary adjustments. Again, I've circled these holes in Photo #5. 
  6. Cover your buttons in your upholstery fabric by following the instructions on your button package.  Thread a piece of polyester cord {about 16" for plenty of slack} through your button. Next, thread BOTH ENDS of the cord through your needle as shown in Photo #6. Drape your fabric over the batting so that it is square with the top and there is excess on each side for stapling. Locate the holes in the batting/foam with your finger, and push your upholstery needle through the fabric, through the hole in the batting/foam, and through the hole in the wood. **Note: Finding the hole in the wood may be tricky... I stabbed myself about a zillion times and it took quite a while... Try to push the needle through the batting as straight and perpendicular to the wood as possible, and wiggle it around to find the predrilled hole in the top. Be patient and careful!
  7. When you have pulled your cord through the hole in the wood, push the button against the wood as hard as you can with your dominant hand {my right hand}, and simultaneously pull the cord as tight as you can with your opposite hand {my left}. Then quickly grab your staple gun and staple the cord down in a zig-zag pattern as shown in Photo #7, keeping the cord pulled as tight as possible. Repeat steps 6 & 7 for each button. 
  8. When all your buttons are secured, flip the top over and make sure the fabric is tufted and pleated to your liking between the buttons. Then flip the top back over and staple your fabric down around the perimeter just as you did your batting. Again, refer to my earlier upholstery post for my details: DIY Upholstered Trunk.

Now your table has become an ottoman! Make sure your lid fits and is lovely. I actually like the look of the unfinished wood, but the couch I'm planning will be painted, so I wanted the ottoman to match. So... Painting!

Finish the Ottoman:
  1. Lay down a drop cloth to protect your work surface. I learned this trick from my mom a long, long time ago: Use a vinyl table cloth as a drop cloth. The vinyl will act as a plastic drop cloth, but it's less slippery and flimsy, and in this case, had a cotton-back that stuck to the carpet and kept it from sliding all over!
  2. Brush your paint into all the crevasses that will show. I didn't bother painting the top, bottom, or middle of the ottoman, as those surfaces wouldn't be visible. I only did one coat, because I wanted a less-than perfect finish, but paint according to your preference. 
  3. Once paint is dry, trim excess fabric and cording ends off of your top and lay it upside down on the floor. Carefully flip your crates upside down on top of the upholstered top, lining up the corners as best you can {keeping in mind the slight overhang}. 
  4. At each corner, drive a 1" wood screw through the top of the crate down into the wood sheet of the top, using your drill. If you have trouble with the wood splitting, back your screw out and drill pilot holes.
Flip the whole thing right-side-up and admire your work! Then start filling it with all kinds of goodies... Books, magazines, project boxes, decor... Fill that baby up! 

But seriously, look at that! A totally doable, custom furniture piece that boyfriend can put his feet on! :) If you give this a try, I'd love to see! 
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  1. Oh, fantastic!! I love all the storage it provides. And it looks hardy, which is great because I have two crazy pups at my house. Wheels are awesome so that I can move it out of the way when I want to dance around my living room singing at the top of my lungs (not that I do that of course ;) ... )

  2. Hey Monica!

    Becca here from DIY Vintage Chic! I'm in love with your crate table turned ottoman! I'm thinking about starting an Inspiration Page for the Crate Table. It would give my previous readers (and creators) a chance to show off their tables and my new readers some inspiration. I would post a picture and provide a link to your blog. Would you be interested?

  3. What an awesome idea!! Although I know mine would not look as cute when it's all done!!

    1. Oh I'm sure that's not true! :) It really was a relatively easy build! ♥♥

  4. Honestly, you.are.a.GENIUS!
    -Nash, Craft A Doodle Doo

    1. You are too kind! :) I simply put my own spin on a genius project. But I must say... I LOVE the results! ♥♥

  5. you are genius...I have been looking for something just like this. Can't wait to build next weekend.

    1. Mackenzie,

      Thank you! You are too sweet. :) It was a fun and relatively quick project... And I LOVE how it turned out! Email me or drop me a comment when you finish yours...I would love to see!!


  6. This is so great! I have wine crates that I didn't know what to do with! THANK YOU!

    Lesley / bytheporchlight.com

  7. Great Idea!!! I'll try it asap for my balkony

    1. That's great Ioanna! When you give it a try, I'd love to see! Send me an email or leave a comment. :))
      ♥♥♥ Monica

  8. If I had wine crates I might stain the unit, making sure that the name of the wine showed; it might be tricky for the placement, but I think it would be great to see the wine label on the side of the unit. Great idea, BTW, and Monica, you are one clever girl. Tell me, did the boyfriend help?

    1. Aww, thanks for the sweet comment, Nancy. :) The original tutorial at DIY Vintage Chic (linked in the post) adhered faux wine labels on her crates! Too cute. :)

      Haha, the boyfriend did not help one bit! Of the two of us, I am definitely the handy one... I even installed his TV & bluray player for him! ;) He's not so good with the power tools, hah!

      If you give this project a try with your crates, shoot me an email or leave a comment! I'd love to see how yours turns out!


  9. Is this strong enough to sit on? I'd like my storage ottoman to double (triple?) as extra seating. Perhaps I would need to build a full frame?

    Great idea, and it looks fantastic!

    1. Hi Natalie! I have sat on mine plenty of times, but not usually for long. The frame should be strong enough once the center beam is added, particularly if you add a second center beam going in the opposite direction. I would just make sure you buy high quality caster wheels, or use legs instead of wheels to prevent bending them. You may also want stronger, higher quality crates. The ones I used (from Michael's) visibly bow when you apply pressure to the sides, but like I said, the frame really helps.

      I'd love to see how your ottoman turns out!! :)

  10. I cant wait to do this but where do i get crates like that?

    1. Hi Bre! I got my crates at Michael's craft store, but you could check online somewhere like Amazon! :) I'm sorry I can't be more helpful!

  11. Looks fab! Definitely on my list of things to make!

  12. What an awesome project Monica! I've featured the storage ottoman on my blog :) Thanks so much for the inspiration and a fabulous blog!

  13. Hey Monica,

    Where did you buy the fabric for your project?

    1. Hi John! I bought this fabric at Joanns, in the upholstery section. :)

  14. What was the final height of the ottoman? My couch sits a little low, so everything store bought is a little too high!

  15. I made this ottoman! Your instructions were great - thanks so much for the inspiration! I feel so accomplished building my first piece of furniture from your post! I wish I could post photos here...


Thank you so much for your interest in my post! I'd love to hear your thoughts. :)

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