Before and After: 1950s Wire Ottoman

This is about the time of year when I realize that the mounting pile of projects in my garage has only continued to grow without any real progress toward finishing any of them. Sigh. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply to tackle a small project that can be accomplished in an afternoon. It doesn’t do much to thin the hoard, but it does perk me up a bit to know I’ve still got it in me. That’s exactly what today’s project was. Earlier this summer I had purchased this little ottoman at an estate sale.

Ottoman_BeforeIt was a miserable sale and this was the only thing I could find to buy in a garage of garbage. It was sitting there for one dollar and I felt sorry for it. I had no use for it, but I thought I could easily find it a new home. My original intent was to repaint the legs black, but leave the original vinyl. It was cute and I thought someone would appreciate the vintage charm. Alas, when I got it home and pulled off the price tag, I found this:

TearThe mark of an unscrupulous salesman! Using a price tag to cover obvious damage. A larger makeover it would have to be and so into the massive project queue it went until this weekend. Despite having put it off for so long, this was a quick and easy project, taking about an hour. The first step was painting the metal.

SuppliesFirst I used steel wool to clean all of the metal. I like to use neoprene coated gloves—they make it easy to grip the wire and the steel wool won’t cut through them. Instead of paint, I used satin black lacquer. Painting wire furniture is usually a nightmare of overspray dust. Lacquer has very little overspray. It also dries in minutes, so no waiting overnight for something to cure.


For fabric, I decided to dig through my massive reserves of textiles for a scrap of something that would look great. Initially I wanted something with a 1950s atomic pattern or a larger contemporary print. All of my patterned fabrics were too large for the size of the piece and I settled on this vintage inspired orange fabric. For small projects like this, if you’re headed to the fabric store, I’d recommend taking the piece with you before buying fabric. It was surprising how many prints I thought would look great but just didn’t work—if you’re paying for it, you want to make sure you get something that works.

AfterThe black legs and new upholstery definitely have a more sophisticated feel. Although it was tempting to just rewrap the original upholstery, I did remove it and also wrapped the base in an extra layer of new batting.

Living_RoomI never planned to keep this little guy, but now I’m torn. It’s looking right at home in my living room and is growing on me.

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