Want to take a junky old coffee table and turn it into something fab?

You definitely can…I did!

**If you’re considering giving this project a try, make sure you read my addendum at the end of the post with some suggestions for avoiding a few headaches I encountered. : )

I know it’s never a good idea to start a post with a disclaimer, so instead of a disclaimer, we’re starting with a…heads-up.

Here it is: this week’s project will be more of a before-and-after-with-some-helpful-pics than a hardcore tutorial. My only excuse for not having a pictorial blow-by-blow for you (boo! hiss!) is that I started this project before I started blogging (the nerve, I know).

So, first, let me show you what used to reside in our living room.

Absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, I really liked it. It was cute, worked really well as a bit of extra storage, and I could even use it as a sewing table while I worked on projects with a little Gilmore Girl banter going on in the background. Can I get a GG amen?!

So, why the change?

Well, after six good years…

It was time.

(I think I would almost feel guilty for my inconstancy if not for the fact that she now resides in the living room of my bestie, Mandy…so, see? I found her a good home. End therapy session).

Hubby asked me what I wanted instead, and I hesitated, but not because I didn’t know. I did. I was just a little afraid to tell him.

So, I turned the question around, and, to my great surprise and delight, he started describing his vision of something low and large, without sharp corners…

“Something like THIS?!” I interrupted (I might have squealed).

ishandchi ottoman
Ish and Chi’s drool-worthy living room.

He looked at the pic and said, “Well, yeah.”


Of course, I knew that a beauty like that doesn’t come without a price-tag to match, and I don’t do pricey.

But I do do DIY (please don’t analyze that sentence).

So, naturally, I started combing Craigslist for a coffee table.

Wait, whaaa?

Why would I do that when I’d just gotten rid of mine?

Patience, grasshopper ..and I will share my secrets.

After only one search for “square wooden coffee table,” I found this:


Really? How did that happen? (Especially when it started out $75, he wanted $50, and I got him down to $40). Not that I’m complaining.

Then I piled some of this on top (Can you see where I’m going with this?)


I wanted to make my ottoman extra-cushy, but foam is expensive, y’all, so let me give you a super-helpful hint: Hobby Lobby pretty much always has a 40% off coupon (you probably already knew that), AND they have 1” foam that comes in 39”X78” lengths for $19.99, so I got two rolls, cut them in half (since my coffee table just happened to be 38”X38”—and 78/2=39, so I had just enough…are you following?), and stacked them for a total of—wait for it—FOUR inches of 39”X39” foam…for only $24.

Do a price comparison on foam anywhere else, and you’ll quickly see this is a fantastic deal!
Here’s the part where the pics get a bit skimpy, but it’s also the boring part, so I’ll just break it down for you:
1) I decided on a twelve-button diamond tufting pattern, and my handy-dandy husband marked it out and drilled the holes for me. Here’s a view from the bottom:


Gorgeous, no?

Hubby also shortened the legs for me so I wouldn’t end up with a tufted pub table.

2) I did the foam cutting/stacking bit that I mentioned above using spray adhesive to hold the foam in place (yeah, that didn’t work. at. all).
3) I wrapped the whole table-top in 1” quilt batting (that I also got @ Hob Lob with another 40% coupon; Tip # 2: if you’re as obsessed with bargains as I am, have no shame, and are willing to go back to Hobby Lobby 2-3 times in one day—so you don’t run into the same cashier twice…awkward—you CAN use multiple 40% off coupons!!!) and stapled the batting under the coffee table edges.
4) I draped the beautiful and practical (Durapella microfiber) sea-foam green fabric (that I found at Hancocks for 50% off the 50% off price) over the top of the foam.


5) I stained the legs, but they never got as dark as I wanted, so I went back and painted them with a sample of Cordovan Brown that I got from Lowe’s.
6) I then proceeded to cover my upholstery buttons (that I got at Hancocks for 40% off) with a scrap of Goodwill fabric I had that happened to match the rest of the fabric per-fect-ly (after discovering that the fabric that I had bought at Hancocks was too thick/inflexible to work for covering buttons)…

And, no, my fingernails don’t have a fungus. Thanks for asking.

…then threaded them through the pre-drilled holes using a ginormous upholstery needle (jamming a 6” needle through 4” of foam is surprisingly therapeutic!), yanked them down to create deep tufts, and secured the thread to the underside of the coffee table.
**If you want a detailed, pic-by-pic tutorial of how to do diamond tufting, this one is great! I’m not saying that’s exactly what I did, but, umm, pretty close. Sure.

In my journeys through cyberspace, I had seen several examples of DIY tufted ottomans that were basically cubes, and I didn’t want that. One of my favorite parts of the ottoman in Vivian’s living room is the tailored band around the base of the ottoman underneath the tufted top. (If you want to see another good example of a coffee table cum tufted ottoman with slightly less intense tufting, check out The Little Green Notebook’s version here).


7) To simulate that, I cut my fabric into four 6”X40” strips (one for each side of the ottoman, since I didn’t have a long enough strip to wrap all the way around), and stapled them underneath the “poofy” top section, like so:


…then I folded the strips underneath and stapled them to the wood.


…and at the corners.


8) To cover all the visible staples, I added nail-head trim my hubby destroyed a bunch of nail-head trim tacks trying to do it for me (apparently that stuff wasn’t meant to be driven into aged oak covered in batting). All seemed lost (yeah, I was gonna throw the whole thing out on account of not having nail-head trim) until he got the brilliant idea to drill shallow holes for each nail-head tack to rest in before he hammered them home with a rubber mallet.

Have I mentioned he’s my hero?


and he has the greatest hands! (I’m a hand girl).


9) I turned it over, took pictures of it…


10) …showed it to you! (I was too close to an even 10 steps to quit).

Here she is, my very own tufted ottoman!


Meet Emmeline (a reader suggested her name, and I love it!)

Here’s a shot with the buttons:

Sorry if it gives you vertigo

And one more just to whet your appetite for the entire living room.


I get questions constantly about this rug. If you want to see where I got it as well as what the rest of the living room looks like, you can click here.

So, how much did all of this cost (without factoring in the years off my life)?

::Coffee table:: $40

::Foam:: $24

::Quilt batting:: $8

::Buttons:: $6

::Paint:: $3

::Upholstery thread + Needles:: $8

::Nail-head trim:: $12

::Fabric:: $15

TOTAL: $116

A similar option from Ballard Designs starts at a cool $400 and is 10 square inches shorter.

Which makes mine a pretty stinkin’ awesome deal.

If I do say so myself.

And I do.

See you tomorrow for Wardrobe Wednesday!

Oh, and if you need a smile, you OWE it to yourself to check out the addendum I made to yesterday’s push-up post (it involves my adorable daughter, Della).

1) Used “real” upholstery buttons. The ones I got at Hancocks are simply too flimsy for the deep tufting that I want (one has already popped), so I’m eventually going to replace them with true upholstery buttons. You can either salvage these from another piece of furniture or buy them from an upholsterer either in person or online (More expensive? Yes, if you buy new. But worth it in the long run).
2) Hollowed out holes in my foam like Kristi did in the tutorial that I linked to above (seriously, if you haven’t read it, DO it! It will save you a lot of time/annoyance/mess-ups).
3) Used only 2” or 3” of foam. I love how cushy my ottoman is, but I think I could have achieved the same effect with 2” of foam plus an extra layer of batting wrapped around, and the tufting process would have been easier.
I’m sure there are other things I could have changed, but the tufting is really the biggest deal with this particular project, and I think I could have save myself some headaches if I had done what I mentioned above. If you have more questions, be sure to email me or leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to answer them.

I’m so excited about everybody that is giving this a try!
I would LOVE to see pictures of your versions when you finish!
Linking up with:

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Join  us Saturdays at tatertotsandjello.com for the weekend wrap   up           party!


  1. hi! i came across your tutorial, i LOVE it and agree i don’t like the “cube ottoman” look. i do have a question because its not exactly clear in your tutorial- but did you put foam and batting on the sides too? or just on the topside of the table? it looks like you stapled the fabric directly on the side… is this correct? thank you 🙂


  2. Hey, I love your ottoman. I have made a couple myself andeach time I make one I come up with easier ways to make it, of cause combined with research. Your right, a thinner foam is much easier to work with and to avoid the whole button popping thing and tedious threading to make a tufted look, look up tufting with screws and washers, it’s awesome. If cause if you use a thicker foam , you will need to hollow a path in the foam. For thinner foams just screw the screw along with the washer right on the fabric all through to the wood and then glue your tufted buttons in. glue gun works best, but I would use the scrap material to glue on the back of the button so it can hold better onto the button. I love diys and of cause easier ways to do them. Chao!

  3. I didn’t read all the comments but wanted to mention that a cheap way to get a thicker cut of fabric is a shower curtain. Plenty of fabric and made to recover from spills. Also, I had a rectangular table and used cushions from a discarded couch (made sure they didn’t smell) and sprayed them really well with Febreeze before use.

  4. this looks awesome exactly what i was looking for in my living room.. i like a deal to and dont mind doing the work for exactly what i want.. can’t wait to try it out!

  5. Do you think it’s possible to recreate the ottoman using a pallet? Cuz if so, that would save some $ to put towards fabric. Also, do you think that an old school mattress egg create would work on top of pallet? Thanks for your help? Trying to create this the cheapest way possible but still want it to have the elegant appearance.

  6. Wonderful tutorial. Thanks for all the info. You had me laughing at the way you crossed out the things that didn’t work. 😀
    Ottoman looks great.

  7. What a fun and functional site! Thanks. I just tufted a chair and am going to do a “fabric” button.

  8. This is a GREAT tutorial! I’m in the process of making a tufted ottoman from scratch! I have the base done and will be starting the tufting part this week (hopefully) and I am a little nervous about it. This helps so much! Great post!

  9. I LOVE that! I have a coffee table I have been wanting to do something with. It’s got sharp corners and we want to make it more kid friendly. I am going to try this! Thank you!

  10. It’s exactly what I want and my daughter’s middle name is Emiline. Same pronunciation different spelling 🙂

  11. Wow! I just think that this is fabulous. I would not have thought to do that with a cofee table. I have a round one that I could do this with (you think that would make it more difficult?). Have to give it a try. My husband is handy as well (and…he has nice hands too!! I’m a hand girl as well. It’s so telling, isn’t it???!!)

    Love your blog! I posted a ptoject I did to your link party!


  12. Awesome Ottoman!
    By the way…Im following!
    (You had me at “smilings my favorite” and “I love parentheses)

  13. I am definitely going to try this…i’ve been looking forever and I haven’t found one that I liked nor something that would fit my decor. However, I had a question for you. I found a table on craigslist and it has a drawer in the middle. I would really like to keep that drawer to store remotes and little other things. What would be your suggestions so that I can keep the drawer and still keep the tufted look? I can’t wait for your reply!

  14. Oh my gosh!! What a genius idea! Incredible!!! I love the way it turned out! AND…thank you so much for showing us your whole LR…now I am off to make a wreath to hang in the middle of my curtains!!!! Another stellar idea!! THANKS!!!!

  15. So elegant!!! How did you attach the buttons to the wood and make the fabric looks squared on top? Hope that makes sense!!! Thanks!!

  16. i think you did a great job.i have a bench i am going to change and you have given me a really cool idea,Thanks!

  17. Oh my goodness! How exciting! Um…I think I probably used approximately 1 1/2-2 yards of fabric (though I bought 3, and it was 60″ wide).

    Sorry it took so long to respond. I’m sure you’ve already whipped it up. I would love to see pics!

  18. Love this! Saw it at 8am on Pintrest and by 4pm already found a 20 coffee table on craigslist and a staple gun from a friend. I am new to upholstery projects though so I was wondering how much fabric did yours take? My table is about the same size as yours was. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. So I am about to attempt this:) and I am trying to decide how to adhere the foam to the table if the spray adhesive didn’t work!

  20. Love it! Need one in white leather without the tufts. After my long list of “have to finish first projects”, I will add that one. thanks for the inspiration and for sharing.

    Diddie @ citicasita.blogspot.com

  21. It’s actually a coffee filter wreath that I made by gluing a bazillion folded…you guessed it…coffee filters to a wreath form. LOTS of hot-glue and burnt fingers later, that’s what I ended up with. Requires zero talent. Just patience. Hope that helps! : )

  22. okay…can i ask you about the wreath you have in the window? looking everywhere for one of these… ps the room is gorgeous. i’m learning all sorts of things around here.


  23. This is so COOL! I am SO trying it!! And you are completely right… I feel like a fool whenever I go back into Hobby Lobby and the same person is there… but that place is like a drug… I never leave when I plan, even when I set an alarm… It will probably be the death of me AND my bank account, because now all of my accessory furniture is going to be tufted!!

  24. Oh cool! I didn’t realize this was your living room that I pinned several months ago for my own living room inspiration! 🙂 The link on the picture from Pinterest was broken, so I could never get back to see where it originated from! I just always figured it was a professional picture from Houzz or something….that’s how good it is! Anyways, I saw a pin of your inspiration ottoman on pinterest, clicked on it, and low and behold! There was my living room inspiration! 🙂 So yeah…all of that to say…I love your living room…and while we are in the process of redoing ours, I keep referring back to yours!

    Oh…and you did a GREAT job on your ottoman! All of the times I’ve seen that picture, I never would have guessed it was DIY’d! 🙂

  25. I stapled the upholstery thread to the underside. I still had a couple pop off because my foam was so thick, but it wasn;t because of how I attached the thread. The buttons were just too flimsy. I’m going to replace mine with upholstery buttons. Hope that helps!

  26. OMG that is great!! I love Goodwill and such for great deals. Bought a bunch of furniture for my son’s college apartment and refinished some pieces that needed a facelift. Found a kitchen table for the trash from a neighbors front curb. I LOVE this ottoman, I am now on the hunt for a coffee table and making it myself just like you. Thanks!!

  27. I love love love the project just what I was looking for. BUT where did you get the orange rug. I have been searching for one to go in my living room. thanks

  28. Love it love it love it!!! I was just thinking about getting rid of the coffee table that somebody gave us some time ago (got rid of it, obviously) and we took it, because hmmmmm – just in case we would need it! Hehe! And it needs bunch of refinishing work and stuff, so now I know what I am going to do with that ugly Mr. Table! Thanks for the inspiration!
    God bless

  29. Something you might find helpful then…find something someone has pinned on Pinterest, click on the pin and look at the bottom left of the screen…you should see “also from fivedaysfiveways…” Click on that and it will take you to a page of everything people have pinned from your blog. Very helpful and fun to watch people pinning ideas from your blog! So much fun!

  30. Thanks for following! I know for sure I pinned your daughter’s nursery. I would have to go back and look for the others, but you can check out my pins as well! (There’s a link to my pinterest under the followers box.)

    Thanks again!

  31. Wow!! OK, I have a round table that I’ve been planning to do the exact same thing with and this has me inspired!! It’s just beautiful!

  32. Look at you go! I can’t wait to see pics (don’t forget to read the bottom of my post for what I would have done differently and to read Christy’s awesome tufting tutorial that I linked to…it’ll save you some headaches! : )). So excited for you!

  33. Got the table, foam and fabric..(yay!) hubby is even excited and is going to shorten the legs for me and map out the diamond pattern and drill the holes..excited to be starting on the project tomorrow! I’ll be sure to post pictures when it’s done!
    Ow and I got some more fabric to make a few matching pillows for on the couch as well, so that should bring it all together nicely (i’m rambling, but that’s just because i’m excited :))

  34. Wow, unbelievable! I’m looking to make a slipcover for an older ottoman that could use a bit more foam. Glad I found your tutorial. Thanks! 🙂

  35. I am visiting from French Country Cottage. Your ottoman looks ab-fab! I have a coffee table from 1990 with a marble top which only sits on the frame. I have considered giving this a try with a removable top, in case I want to put the marble on again sometime. (Ha!) The table frame is really pretty, and now I am inspired to give this a whirl.

  36. just a quick note to let you know that i am featuring your nifty ottoman today on fridays unfolded…have a wonderful weekend!


  37. I’m so happy you posted about this project! Everytime I start something like this I see my husband thinking..how is this going to turn out. So when we were talking about changing some of our furniture the “cheap” (or as I like to say creative and original) way, I told him I wanted a turfted ottoman..His first comment was “you aren’t going to do that yourself, are you?” So I showed him your finished product and told him that was a DIY as well and said “Yes I am!”
    I already got me some foam but haven’t found the perfect table to use yet, since all the tables I’m finding are too tall for my liking..Anyway, once it is done, I’ll be sure to share with you!

  38. This is a great tutorial! I had been pondering doing this (without the tufting) to a long rectangular coffee table or onto plywood and attaching it somehow to cubby shelves to make a bench for under the diningroom window. I love how it came out!!

  39. Ooooohhh, Alissa. I do believe you and I need to be bloggy BFFs! I’ve been
    *waiting* for someone to bite on my GG reference, and you’re the first.
    Yessss! Thanks for subscribing. I’m doing the same to your awesome site. I
    love your deals (and your use of words like “affinity” ; )). Oh, and I
    entered your giveaway. Any way you can make the winner less *random* than
    usual? Ha!
    Oh, and I added some deets at the end of my post about making the tufting
    process easier/better that you might want to check out before you start
    creating Emmy’s cousin.
    Have a good one, girl!

  40. You’re more than welcome, Ashley! I added a few details to the end of the
    post about the tufting process that should help with the tufting process if
    you decide to do it. Oh, and your site is fantastic. Had fun browsing for
    a while the other night!

  41. You’re welcome, welcome, welcome! ; ) It makes my day that I’ve helped
    people figure out how to do something they wanted to! I added a few details
    to the bottom of my original post which should help with the tufting
    process, so you might want to go back and check that out!

  42. AWESOME, Taunya! Check out the addendum I just made to the post before you
    get started. I made a couple of notes on things that I think are important
    about the tufting process to make it easier on you! I’m so glad you are
    going to do it!

  43. I absolutely, positively LOVE this. You have inspired me to do this. I love a tufted ottoman but the prices are YIKES! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  44. Completely amazing. And officially first on my to-do list is to give Emmeline a long-lost cousin. I’m officially subscribing by e-mail so I don’t miss that big living room reveal… It has absolutely nothing to do with your affinity for the residents of Stars Hollow. Nothing at all.

  45. This came out awesome. I will be featuring it at my Sizzle into Summer party that opens tonight at 8pm EST. Please stop by and pick up an I’ve Been Featured button. Thanks.

  46. This is amazing!! I can’t wait to try it with two coffee tables I have lying around!
    Great work!

  47. What an absolutely adorable DIY! Well done.

    I hope that you will stop by and enter my giveaway.

    Happy Monday!

  48. Amy,
    I would like you to know that the moment I read this comment, I went
    upstairs and told my husband that you said this and that it totally makes my
    day when people tell me I’ve somehow helped them to figure something out.
    Thank you! Send me pics when you finish!

  49. AHHHH! It looks amazing! I have had a coffee table sitting in my garage for three months, waiting to be upholstered….but I’ve been chickening out because I couldn’t figure out how to make the legs look tailored. Your post just gave me courage! I’m going to get my foam tomorrow….

  50. Augh! Augh! Augh! I LOVE this! It’s beautiful and your room is gorgeous. The pillows, the lamps…wow, I love it all. The ottoman is such a wonderful piece and now I want one! Love it!

  51. HI Abbie… what a great project, simply inspiring… how smartly you turned that table into such a lovely Ottoman…great job…Soon I am going to try one for me… hope you dont mind …
    Feel very happy if you pay a visit to me at

  52. This is absolutely amazing!! I am amazed!!! You did an incredible job! Sharing this on Facebook~ thanks for sharing at Feathered Nest Friday! 🙂

  53. Thank you! And I so appreciate the feature. Oh, and it would totally work on any shape table with practically any leg length (I think it would love fabulous in a round or oval version), since you can shorten them like we did. I would love to see pics if you find what you’re looking for!

  54. Abbie, the ottoman looks great, and your entire living room is amazing! I’d love to add it to the inspiration galleries on my site and include you in a feature post. What is the wall color? Let me know if you’re interested! Oh, and I’m a new follower!

  55. That is just gorgeous!! What an incredible job you did and what a great tutorial too! That last pic looks like something out of a magazine. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Inspiration Friday this week!

  56. oh my goodness. love this!! and you’re blog is cute 🙂 found you through “what i love wednesdays”

  57. wonderful job and excellent tutorial…love how your ottoman turned out and so happy you linked up to fridays unfolded…and me? i’m a hand girl too…;)

  58. umm will you please make me one? then ship it to me? that would be great, thanks : ) i LOVE it!!!!

  59. Hmm…That’s a good question b/c I definitely did it in stages (which, I think, may also be the answer to your kiddos question…you have to assume you won’t get much done at one time). I think it probably took something like 10 hours total, but none of that was too harrowing.

  60. Stefanie, I’m such a dork. As soon as I saw your name, I ran upstairs and told my husband, “Mrs. Limestone left me a comment!” (He’s heard enough about you that his eyebrows went up in at least a very pleasing facsimile of surprise and impressed-ness). Thank you! I’m so glad you like it!

  61. That is truly beautiful! I am so very impressed!! Thanks for the tutorial, I just might have to try something like this.

  62. That is so nice! I’m wanting to do this to my old coffee table as soon as I get this baby out of me 🙂

  63. I know I already told you this but it looks fabulous. Great tutorial. And I love how you are styling the living room.

  64. Impressive! So how long did this project actually take you? And how in the world do you find time for all this with 3 beautiful kiddos running/ crawling about?!?

  65. I love how this turned out! I have a large square coffee table in my living room that has seen better days and I’ve been contemplating doing this for years…scared to take the leap! Maybe you’ve give me the confidence!

  66. Your ottoman turned out beautiful, I never would have known it was DIY. I have been playing around with the idea to do this to my coffee table for awhile, but have not worked up the nerve….Thank you for the inspiration!

  67. Wow, that is quite impressive and I love your family room, too. Thanks so much for joining the party. I do wish you would use the wow us Wednesdays button if you can instead of my blog button. Love the wit in your blog post, too.

  68. Wow! That is very impressive, Lady. I love tufted ottomans, but can’t imagine tackling a tufted project. It turned out superb and love the color with the red carpet!

  69. Thanks, Michelle! And yeah, whenever I do a project on the cheap, I think, Hmm…I could sell this for twice what I spent, but then I’d never find something just like it for the price, and then I’d have to make it again…Nah! ; )
    Oh, and the rug is from Pottery Barn (a very rare splurge for me…though I got it on ebay). It’s their Moorish Tile rug in Clementine…don’t think it’s still around too much, though.

  70. Wow! You seriously did an amazing job! Good for you! You could turn around and seel it on craigslist, but really it’s too pretty to give away 🙂 I love Craigslist for finds like this. I am so impressed with what you did with it!
    By the way, I love the rug!! Where did you get it?!?

  71. Emmeline, it is! Seriously, that’s a great suggestion! (Do you watch Anne of Green Gables? Cuz that’s what I totally think of when I hear Emmeline : )). I’m so glad you’re enjoying yourself here, Andrea!

  72. Welcome, Kristi! It was my pleasure to mention you. Thank YOU for taking pics and giving good instructions. And thank you for the writing compliment. I like the projects, but I love the writing! Oh, and thank you so much for the feature! I am going to proudly display your button on my blog as soon as I post this comment. : )

  73. So glad you found me, Melissa! You could totally do this too! And I know how you feel about the sharp corners business. I have two boys, and they seem to have a knack for finding sharp corners wherever they go.

  74. This is totally amazing. I’ve been wanting to make one of these but had yet to find a tutorial. Love this, congrats on such a great project!

  75. I followed a link over from my Sitemeter (thank for the mention, by the way), and I’m so glad I did! Not only does your ottoman look fabulous, but I absolutely love your writing. You had me cracking up! Anyway, I think this is such a great idea that I’m going to feature it on my Inspiration Files. Your entire living room looks amazing!

  76. Wow! That looks awesome! I would love to have something like that in my living room! My poor little guys are always hitting the hard edges of our coffee table , it hurts my feelings. 🙁 I love your living room! – I also LOVE your blog! I just found it yesterday! 🙂

I love hearing from you guys!