Our Trunk Ottoman Makeover

When my husband and I first moved in together, I had moved from a 1,700-square-foot, two-story house with partially finished basement into his 1,700-square-foot split level house. We combined two very full and complete households and, as a result, were feeling very (very, very) cramped. The fact that my household came complete with two dogs and his came with two pre-teen boys and a third dog didn’t help matters.

We fixed the lack of space last July by purchasing a 2,400-square-foot ranch home with an additional 2,400-square-foot basement, approximately 1,600 of which is finished living area. We went from 1,700 square feet of living space to 4,000 square feet of living space. Suddenly, we didn’t have enough furniture.

Slowly over the past 7 months since our move we have been filling the spaces. A second large sectional for the (wo)man cave, a formal 8-seater cherry dining table for the dining room, a bar-height 4-top table for the breakfast area, three bar stools for the kitchen counter, a second desk for the office, a small bookcase for the entryway, a bar for the (wo)man cave kitchenette, etc. The last big item to tackle was a replacement for the extra large sleeper sectional that sat in our living room and had seen better days.

We knew when we moved in that we would want to replace that sectional with a sofa and loveseat. The living room was more of a formal area and the sectional, as used and abused (though still in decent shape) as it was, just didn’t fit. It was large and bulky, heavy and a pain in the ass to move. It needed to go. But the big matching trunk ottoman was different. The storage it provided for blankets and pillows was great and its large size made it very functional. We wanted to keep it, but not the way it was.

As you can tell, the ottoman was covered in the same dark brown fabric as the sectional that we were selling to the highest bidder. The top was foam resting on straps and not stable enough to hold the weight of the occasional person who would inevitably try to sit on it. Drinks had been spilled on it, feet had been put on it, resulting in fabric that wasn’t in the best shape. But the bones of the piece were great — very solid and functional with strong, industrial hinges mounted inside. Just after the Christmas, with the new furniture ordered and the old sectional up for sale, we decided to tackle the upscaling of the ottoman.

Stripping off the fabric was probably the hardest part just due to the sheer number of staples used to hold it in place. But once we removed them all, we were looking at a clean slate. The picture below shows the ottoman stripped down to the bare bones. You can see the elastic straps that were supporting the foam top. Those got removed as well, after the picture was taken.

With a plan in mind, my husband and I trekked to Home Depot and bought the lumber and natural wood stain that we needed to turn the skeleton of the ottoman into a functional and beautiful piece of furniture that would anchor our new sofa and loveseat. We measured and cut, stained (and stained again) and polyurethaned (and did that a second time, too) until we had the boards looking great. We opted for a natural wood look because the size of the piece is so large that I was afraid anything darker would make it too clunky. I also really like the look of natural wood.

After rebuilding the piece with the new wood, and placing it on casters instead of feet to make it easier to move around, I finished it off with leather strips and metal caps on the edges and rope handles for the sides. Finally, a large ring pull made the perfect handle for the lid of the ottoman.

Now we have something that compliments our new sofa and loveseat and still provides us with the functionality we loved. And now people can sit on it!

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