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Build Your Own Storage Ottoman

Making a multifunctional ottoman is a simple proposition. Follow these step-by-step instructions to make one for your home.

Ottomans have become very popular in recent years because they are so versatile. But the most important use of an ottoman is to rest your weary feet at the end of a long day.

Ottomans have become very popular in recent years because they're so versatile. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used as extra seating when company arrives. They can serve dual duty as coffee tables, making them a safe and stylish alternative for families with young children. They're also a great way to introduce an interesting new fabric or color into the design of a room.

And storage ottomans have another function, offering space to keep blankets and throws out of sight or to store games, files or videos. Making your own is simple. Just follow these instructions:

Materials and Tools:

fabric of your choice
cotton or bonded polyester batting
½-inch plywood
hot-glue gun
staple gun
bits (regular and counter bore)
wood glue
latex paint (color to match fabric)
4-inch-thick foam
brass piano hinge
friction lid support
4 rolling casters


1. Create a 20-by-24-inch lidless box. Cut the front and back pieces of the box to measure 20 by 20 inches. The two sides of the box should be cut to measure 23 inches by 20 inches. The bottom of the box should measure 19 inches by 23 inches.

2. To join the pieces of the box together, first drill pilot holes. Use a counter bore over each hole, which will allow you to drive the screw below the face of the board. (This will protect the upholstery fabric from rips and tears.) Join the sides and bottom, first adhering them with wood glue and then screwing them into place for added strength. Wipe away any excess wood glue with a damp rag.

3. Cut a piece of plywood to 20 by 24 inches for the lid of the ottoman.

4. Paint the interior of the box and the bottom of the lid with a latex paint that matches the upholstery fabric. This may require multiple coats. Be sure to let each coat dry completely before beginning the next coat.

5. Use an old electric knife to cut a piece of foam for the top of the lid. Cut the foam so that it will overhang the frame by an eighth to a quarter of an inch. Using a generous amount of glue, attach the foam to the top of the lid.

6. Cut a 31-by-35-inch rectangular piece of cotton or bonded polyester batting. Use the batting to cover the foam, wrapping it around the edges of the lid. Secure it in place with staples. Tightly wrap the four sides of the ottoman body with batting. Staple it in place.

7. Cut a piece of fabric measuring 22¾ inches by 89 inches. Using a half-inch seam, stitch the short sides together. Slip the fabric over the ottoman. Staple the top edge to the inside of the box. Staple the bottom edge of the fabric to the bottom of the box. Attach the casters to the bottom of the box, each about 2 inches in from a corner.

8. Cut a 31-by-35-inch rectangular piece of fabric. Wrap it around the lid it and secure with staples. Hot-glue the ribbon in place to hide the staples in both the lid and the box.

9. After drilling pilot holes, install the piano hinge and friction lid support to hold the top and bottom pieces together.

 (Matt Fox is co-author with Shari Hiller of Real Decorating for Real People.)

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