Doing Stuff: the Crafty Edition

We’ve been very busy over the past three months: while living with my mother in law I was commuting nearly four hours a day and then spending most weekends at the house, getting it ready for our move in; once we moved into the house on May 1, we started committing every waking moment to getting unpacked or buying furniture or just trying to figure out how many things we can grill because we don’t currently have a working stove. Let me tell you, you never realize how much you use a stove until you don’t have one.

We’ve done other things, like attend some friends’ wedding (it was gorgeous and wonderful); we hosted a bunch of friends, families, and colleagues for Memorial Day (/house-warming); and we started doing little projects like replacing lights or, in my case, refinishing ugly furniture.

It’s too expensive to purchase all new furniture, although we have spent a pretty penny doing it anyway. We were looking for a coffee table for the living room, as our previous one was giant, ugly, and had been destroyed (by me) right before we moved. We were struggling to find anything that might fit into the space without covering up the funky carpet but also without overwhelming the room. It’s a narrow space, only about six feet between the couch and fireplace, so we couldn’t do anything massive. After lots of discussions, we decided we wanted to get a plush ottoman that would be good for multiple reasons. Once we settled on our idea, we were then tasked with trying to find something in a good price range. Sadly, everything that we liked was just a little more expensive than we could justify paying right now. Enter: my mother.

In January, during the first weekend we had the house, my mother had picked a dirty, stained ottoman off the sidewalk in front of a house down the street from our own. It seemed to be in perfect condition, save a teeny tiny tear and black stains (that looked sort of like ink). She threw it into the back of her truck with the intention of re-upholstering it and sneaking it into our house. Of course, she never got around to doing so and when she heard that we were looking for an ottoman, she trekked it over to our house on a visit. It fit perfectly. Except for the stains, of course.


I have very limited experience with upholstery, having only recovered the seats and backs of some easy to take apart and put back together chairs Jason brought to the old apartment. I considered just taking it to a professional, since we’re eventually taking our armchair to one, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on this very free item. Mom casually mentioned painting it, and after some researching, I discovered a crazy number of tutorials on painting fabric furniture.

I finally settled on using a post titled “IKEA Hack” that seemed to fit my fancy.

It’s pretty simple, and you can follow her tutorial, if you want to do this, which will be a little more involved than mine. I started out by purchasing a quart of latex paint from Home Depot – what’s nice about buying latex interior paint is that you have a world of colors to choose from. Originally I planned to go for a green, but on a whim grabbed a pink sample that ended up being almost a perfect color match. I then purchased two 6 oz bottles of Martha Stewart’s Fabric Paint Medium and some Martha Stewart All Surface Paint in Gold, both from Michael’s. I used a regular brush (Purdy) for the majority of painting, and a small paintbrush for the trim.


I mixed two parts latex paint with one part medium: or as close to my forgetting to figure out a way to measure as possible. I didn’t choose a large enough mixing dish, so it got a little messy. (that drink cup did NOTHING!)


Once mixed, I sprayed the top of the ottoman down with warm water – not until it was soaked, but just damp. This is supposed to help the paint adhere better. I cannot honestly tell you that it helped on top, but it sure did on the sides.

I gave the entire thing two coats, which took about 90 minutes – the color match was so dead on in places that I couldn’t tell what I had gone over. Also, even though the cushion on my ottoman was attached, it did lift up to expose about 6 inches underside; I chose to not paint too much of that since it’ll never be seen.


After I put two coats on the ottoman, I had planned to paint large faded gold polka dots all over the piece, but changed my mind. Instead, I just painted the piping trim around the top cushion. That took me forever (about an hour for the entire thing) and i only did one coat. I decided to leave it with a slightly worn and aged look.


The paint on top wasn’t drying evenly, so after it fully dried I painted a third layer there. That was a mistake, because I couldnt’ get close to the trim for fear of messing it up. Luckily, that dried better than expected.



It still isn’t perfect: the stains on the ottoman seemed to have created a barrier of some sort, so the texture is different. If you look really close you can see the difference.



But really, it’s not too noticeable. Plus, I have a wooden tray on top and that looks pretty darn good. Overall, it was a good project and I am very much looking forward to my next one.




My next project might involve the sander, which is pretty exciting. Until next time!


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