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The ottoman has had a long history of multifunctionality. It served as extra seating in early American households that had tight quarters and tighter budgets. Today, versions with under-lid storage, like the handsome example at right, push the utility ever further. It's the perfect place to stash blankets or store books, and the geometric design of the upholstery makes a bold statement.

If you're thinking of buying one, look for lids that either lift off or have safety hinges. If you'd rather have the satisfaction and creative control of building your own piece, your primary materials will be birch plywood, 2-inch-thick high-density foam, and—the most variable expense—a fabric of your liking. Customize the upholstery to fit your household decor or needs: stain resistant for pets and children, or suede for a lusher feel. And vary the height and style of the off-the-rack legs to complement existing furniture. Whether you build or buy, kick up your feet and enjoy your new focal point.

Step 1

Overview of How to Build an Upholstered Storage Ottoman

Illustration by Gregory Nemec


Download a printable cut list here.

¾-inch birch plywood top: one @ 27½ x 38¼ inches

¾-inch birch plywood bottom: one @ 26 x 36¾ inches

¾-inch birch plywood side pieces: two @ 11½ x 27½ inches

¾-inch birch plywood front and back pieces: two @ 11½ x 36¾ inches

1x1 pine cleats: two @ 26 inches

1x1 pine cleats: two @ 35¼ inches

1x1 pine corner blocks: four @ 10 inches

Batting: 10 square feet

Fabric: one piece @ 3¾ yards*

Fabric: one piece @ 6¼ yards*

2-inch high-density foam rubber cushion: one @ 27½ x 38¼ inches

*The amount of material needed may change depending on how the pattern needs to be situated on the piece.

Step 2

Build the Base

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Cut ¾-inch birch plywood for the base, top, and bottom. Glue and clamp the four sides together to form the base box, then drill pilot holes and secure the pieces with screws. Cut 1×1 pine cleats and install them around the base's interior, ¾ inch above the bottom edge. Attach reinforcing pine blocks to each inside corner. Glue, drill, and screw the bottom piece to the cleats.

Step 3

Upholster the Base

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Cut batting and upholstery to wrap the base. Coat the back of the fabric with fast-drying spray adhesive, and stick the batting onto it. Spray the batting and, starting at the center rear of the box, wrap the material around the sides and overlap it at the seam by ½ inch. Fold the material over the top and bottom, and staple it in place.

Step 4

Upholster the Lid

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Trim 2-inch-thick high-density foam to cover the lid, and use spray adhesive to stick all but the perimeter to the plywood. Then spray the foam's edges with adhesive and fold them down to meet the plywood. Wrap the top in fabric and staple it on the underside. Starting at the rear seam, line the perimeter with piping and staple it in place.

Step 5

Add the Top and Feet

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Join the upholstered top to the base with a continuous hinge and a toy-box lid support. Attach four 5-inch maple coronet bun feet, painted or stained to your taste.