Introduction: Coffee Sack Coffee Table/Storage Ottoman

A blissful weekend at our house involves watching a good movie on the tube, snuggled in a blanket with a pillow nearby. Multiply that by six people and you have too many blankets and pillows in one room (and too few sofas for sprawling).

We solved that problem with a DIY oversized storage ottoman covered in repurposed coffee sacks. This weekend project gave us great storage and tripled the sofa sprawl capability :)

Supplies I used:

1 sheet of plywood, cut into two 45” squares

2 1” x 10” pine boards cut to 45”

3 1” x 10” pine boards cut to 43.5”

Wood screws

Spray adhesive

3” foam (90”)

Batting (had on hand)

5 Coffee Bean Bags (used 4)

Fabric- 6 yards of 54" decorator fabric (for tufted cushion and welting)

5.5 yards of neutral color cotton fabric

5.5 yards of black lining fabric


4 pre-finished furniture legs with attached hangar bolts

4 attachment plates

1 30-inch piano hinge

Safety hinges

To make the tufted top, I also used #10 washers and #8 x 5/8” wood screws

Step 1: Build the Box

When I originally had the plywood cut for the lid/top of my DIY Tufted Storage Ottoman (instructions to make a tufted top are here on this Instructable will use a simpler cushion top), I went for economy and had one large sheet of 4′ x 8′ x 3/4” ply cut into two 45” square pieces. I used one square for the top cushion and used the second piece for the base of the bottom storage section. (Most Lowe's and Home Depots will cut your wood for you, so bring your measurements with you.)

I also purchased two eight-foot lengths of 1” x 10” pine for the sides and cut it into 2 lengths of 45” and two of 43.5”. (I took off 1.5” of length from the second set to accommodate the actual width of the boards, thus each finished side would be 45” square.)

I drilled pilot holes and screwed the side pieces together (running the screws through the longer lengths into the 43.5” sides) to make an open box as shown above.

Next I screwed on the plywood bottom. (I used about 5 wood screws per side.)

I started thinking that—at our house—one or more adult-sized people may sit (or when I'm not home, stand) on this ottoman at the same time, so I decided I wanted a little more support to the box and added an additional 1”x 10” x 43.5” as a center support. I cut a small groove (1/2” by 2” at the top of the each side of the center support) to accommodate batting, fabric, and lining and the box was ready to cover.

Step 2: Cover With Batting and Fabric

First, I wrapped the outer side of the box with batting, folded it over the top and bottom edges and secured with staples. I use a compressor and staple gun...less stress on my approaching-senior-status hands. (Also, lesson learned: next time I would cut away significantly more of the corner bulk and trim away the batting about 1" to 1.5" from the edge to leave a clear space for the legs).

Then, because the coffee bags have a very open weave that you can see through, I covered the layer of batting with a neutral colored cotton fabric, stapling along the way and again paying special attention to the inside corners so the layers did not bunch/bulk up.

Next, I added the coffee bags. I wanted to use the stripe along the sides of the ottoman, so I sliced the bags open and used the best arrangement of the motif and printing. Again, as these are authentic bags, the design is just printed on the rolls of jute/burlap. It doesn’t always follow the grain and definitely had printing and structural imperfections..including lots of flyaway fibers. That was okay with me, I liked the rustic imperfections. I did weave the pulls to the other side to keep them from catching on anything else.

I found the best way to work with these bags was to place them at the center of each side, and work my way out to the corners. I folded the edges under just a little short of the corners, and stretched, joined and hand sewed the edges together at the corners (using strong upholstery thread) after all the sides were covered. I think that method gave the corners a very nice finish and, again, allowed me to control the bulk on the inside corners for a more professional look.

Step 3: Options for Spiffing It Up

There were messy looking exposed edges on the bottom so I covered those by stapling on some black felt I had on hand. I also lined the inside of the box and the underside of the cover for a nice finish.

To line the boxes, I cut the fabric a little wider and a little deeper than the sides. I stapled the BOTTOM edge of the lining just above the staples on the side walls, then folded the lining down (which hid the lining staples). I wasn't fussy and did not glue the corners, etc, and it looks fine. I covered the center support by simply folding the lining over the wood and securing with staples at the bottom. (I was very grateful for that groove I cut in Step 2!). Finally, I covered some cardboard with the lining fabric for the base of the box.

I have a thing for welting on furniture, and already had 10 yards of cotton cord on hand, so I added welting to the underside of the cover. I liked how it picked up the color from the top cushion and gave it a finished look.

I also wanted to try using nailhead trim. It took a little finessing and about 400 nailheads, but I liked the look.

Step 4: Give It Some Legs to Stand On

Adding the feet I had purchased was a little bit of a challenge, but led to lessons learned, as well as a method I would definitely use again:

Ideally, you’re supposed to attach a plate to the bottom of the piece with four small screws, then screw in the leg using the hangar bolt. But trying to drill through the fabric and batting to create all those holes proved problematic: the layers of fabric and batting kept wrapping themselves around the drill bit, ultimately jamming it.

Hence the previously noted "Lesson Learned" in step 3: minimize the bulk in the corners by trimming away excess fabric as you go. Because I didn't know that ahead of time, I had to adapt. SO, instead, I lined the plate up to the corner of the INSIDE of the box as shown above and (using the center hangar bolt hole as a guide), cut a drill-bit-sized hole in the lining, and drilled just one large hole (the same width as the hangar bolt) from the inside of the box to the outside. I could feel where the large drill bit had exited the wood and only had one place where I had to trim away fabric.

Then, I fed the leg’s hangar bolt through the OUTSIDE IN, i.e, up through the hole and screwed it up through the wood AND though the leg plate without needing additional screws. The plate functioned as a giant “nut” and the plate wouldn’t turn any more because the corner had secured it in place.

THAT was my favorite hack, because I think having the bolt pass through the wood ultimately made the legs much more secure than they would have been with the traditional method. Winner, winner! I could have still added the small plate screws, but really, they don’t seem to be necessary.

Step 5: Complete the Cover

As noted earlier, I built this with a tufted cushion...I enjoy learning new techniques and this was a great application. But tufting is a whole other opportunity for an Instructable (if anyone is interested), and this ottoman would work fine with a simple cushion. So, for a simple cushion:

Using an electric kitchen knife, cut upholstery foam about 1.5" longer than the width of the top so it will overlap about 1/2" to 3/4" inches on each side. Piece as necessary and secure foam to board and secure cut edges with spray adhesive. The adhesive is pretty forgiving and will allow you to reposition as needed.

Cover with batting. You can tack the batting with a few staples along the sides and then flip the cover to secure the batting with staples about two inches from the sides. Try to minimize corner bulk.

Cover with desired fabric by laying the fabric upside down on your work surface. Center the cushion (wood side up) on the fabric. Pull the fabric edges snugly around the sides and secure with staples on the bottom of the wood, ideally just past the batting. Start from the middle of each side and work your way toward the corners, completing them gift wrap style.

Neatly staple lining fabric to cover the raw stapled edges of the fabric, as close to the edge of the cushion as you desire (I took mine right to the edge). If you're fussy, you can cover the line of staples by gluing down fabric trim (called "Gimp") available at any fabric store. I did not do this and, to date, no one has complained about seeing the staples :)

Step 6: Attach the Cover

I attached the cover with a 30” piano hinge and two safety hinges at the sides. The safety hinges are functional, but, truthfully, they are inadequate for the weight of the lid. I think the lid would be too heavy even if I added a third to the center, so I may try a more heavy-duty safety hinge (though I welcome suggestions from any voices of experience).

No little fingers at our house, so I have time to fix that, BUT… I’d like to make it safer for any little visitors, or nosy dogs. Be sure to keep your peeps safe!

Then, turn on the tube, pick a movie and prop your feet!

Living Without Closets Contest

Second Prize in the
Living Without Closets Contest

Furniture Hacks Contest

Participated in the
Furniture Hacks Contest