How to Build an Ottoman with Inside Storage

We recently changed some furniture out in our living room, and needed an ottoman in front of the couch. We looked at several retail options, but couldn’t find anything that was perfect for our needs, so I decided to take a crack at building one. It turned out well, and is large enough to serve as a semi-coffee table for magazines, etc. or just a good-sized ottoman large enough for two people to rest your feet upon. Here’s a quick run through of how to build an ottoman with inside storage.

The steps are below with a few pics at each major stage. Let’s be clear, I’m not a carpenter or an upholsterer, just someone who likes to tinker, so take it for what it’s worth here. Yes, you probably can do better.

Create the box frame for your Ottoman

I used 3/4″ pine plywood to frame this since we would only be seeing the inside infrequently. You could use a better grade wood, if you plan on highlighting the inside with a natural stain color. I chose less expensive wood with a graywash stain and higher quality fabric and finishes on the outside.

Cut the plywood bottom panel, top and 4 sides. Assemble with wood glue, wood screws, and clamps. When screwing into the side of a plywood panel always drill pilot holes first to prevent splitting. For this project our bottom panel is 38″ x 28″ and the side panels surrounding the edge are 12″ tall. Your side panel lengths as well as bottom panel dimensions will vary depending on whether or not you want the long sides to screw into the short sides or vice versa.

Add furring strips inside

My local hardware store did not sell 1″x1″ furring strips, so I simply ripped a 2″x1″ strip down the middle leaving roughly square strips for interior bracing. I started by lining the bottom all the way around. Leave approximately 3/4″ inches on each corner for the vertical pieces. Install all of these with glue and clamps as well for a secure structure. The vertical pieces should leave about 1″ gap at the top.

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