Budget Decorating: Ugly Furniture with Potential


When furnishing an apartment with a small budget, it is important to see the future potential of an item. This is especially true when sifting through the multitude of furniture for sale on Craigslist.

A few months ago I was searching for an oversized ottoman to  put in front of our couch. I found myself coveting a certain $400 item at West Elm. I showed the desired ottoman to my husband, hinting that maybe we could splurge just this once. The next day he showed up with an ottoman that he found on Craigslist for $25.

ugly ottoman

Hint not taken. He told me his grand plans of reupholstering and that it would look exactly the same as the ottoman at West Elm. I decided to go along with his plans and see what happened.

Here’s what we did:

  • First we had to take off the old fabric, turning the ottoman upside down and removing hundreds of staples with a slotted screwdriver. This is time consuming but it was nice having a project to work on everyday. Whenever I got worked up about something, I would go and take it out on the staples.
  • Then we altered the size of the ottoman, which was taller than our couch and chairs. No problem. My husband borrowed a rather old and rusty saw from our neighbor, measured how tall we wanted the ottoman, and cut a good six to seven inches off the top.
  • The next task was picking out a fabric. Since the ottoman didn’t require a lot of fabric, I was able to get a yard of the Ikat print at West Elm for $30. This was my one splurge for the project. I could have gotten an equally attractive and cheaper fabric somewhere else, but my heart was set.
  • The last task was the actual reupholstering. We researched various DIY websites and found an abundance of easy instructions. However, we both had busy schedules and when it came to actually getting it done, the half finished ottoman sat in our entryway for a couple of months. We reevaluated and looked for cheap reupholstering shops in the area. We found a small, affordable place a few minutes away that didn’t charge us the full price since we had done most of the work for him.

The total price of the project was $140. This was more than we were planning to spend due to the reupholstering costs, but was still considerably less than we would have spent at a furniture store. Plus, the finished product is almost identical to West Elm’s ottoman.

Ottoman 1


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