Category Archives: reupholstery

A place to rest your feet

As you may recall, I went fabric foraging in the textile district a few weeks ago. I was in search of new fabric for my foot rests. It was time to remove the old and get on with the new.  The current fabric was hard to say goodbye to…but I never did find that bright red, modern sofa of my hearts desire.  I was so certain that I would find a bright red sofa that when I was roaming the textile district last spring, I saw this print and snapped it up! And away I did re-cover my footrests. But alas, I did not find my red sofa.  Okay, okay, I did find it on and it was quite swoon-worthy but the price was faint-worthy as well! 😀 I ended up with a dark gray sofa – and a savvy move to buy it, indeed – works very well with dark cat hair.

a moment of silence as we say good bye to this stunner
a moment of silence as we say good bye to this stunner

I’m going to walk you through the making of the foot rest as a  “how to.” I first built these foot rests several years ago using plywood and repurposing sofa cushions. They work great – for foot rests. Sit on them and you sink right down to the base. But for holding the feet – perfect!

They’re to easy make.  You don’t even have to do the sawing – the hardware store can do that for you.  I will give my measurements, but really, the measurements are up to you. Since the sofa seat cushions were already  the perfect size, I went with that.  These instructions will be based on that, so you may need to vary things. This is what I used for each one:

Picture list

For tools and utensils, you will need a measuring tape, scissors, staple gun, handsaw, miter box (optional) and a hammer (if you use nails) or a drill (if you use screws).  Btw, those are industrial staples – not office staples ;o)  In this tutorial, I will be using a drill and screws. If you are using a hammer and nails, everywhere I insert drill and screws you will just go ahead and use your hammer and nails.

And of course you need upholstery fabric!


For me, as I said, the width and length of the plywood was determined by the already available cushions.  The height of the foot rests was determined by this outrageously awesome, bright orange Ikea sofa I had scored at Salvation Army when I first made these. But to determine the height of the foot rest legs, I had to do some math.

1. First, I measured from the floor to the top of the sofa seat.
2. I then measured the height of my cushion and added that to the thickness of the plywood.
3. Lastly, I subtracted the cushion-plywood sum from the sofa seat height.

If your head is spinning and you’re thinking about one train going 50 mph heading to Topeka and another train going 35 mph….juuust take a look at the picture below.

Cushion and plywood

Once you have your measurements, write them down and bring them to the lumberyard/hardware store. Here was what I needed for one foot rest (I made 3):

1 piece of plywood:  23 1/4″ by 23 3/4″
Note:  I had the plywood cut 1/4 inch less than the cushion for the length and width to avoid it sticking out from under.  Not sure it helped. ;o)
4 – 2X4’s, each:  8 1/4″
2 – 1X3’s, each:  17 1/2″
2 – 1X3’s, each:  16 1/2″
Note:  You will only need to predetermine the 1X3’s length if you want the lumberyard to cut it for you. I cut mine at home using my hand saw and miter box.

Sand and smooth all your wood pieces.


Okay, once you get your plywood home, you need to determine where the legs are going to go. Measure 3 1/2″ from the outside in and create the dotted line square you see below.  You will be fitting each 2X4 into a corner of the inside square.  You can also saw off 3/4″ off the corners now (just be sure the plywood is on a sturdy surface that can withstand the saw) or after you attach the legs and it is elevated. (I did this to avoid painful sharp corners. So far it’s worked. :O).

Set parameters

With the plywood flat, take the wood glue and glue each leg to its place and let it dry overnight.

Place 2x4s

The next day, turn it upright and drill the wood screws through the plywood into the legs. (I used two screws for each leg.)

Top view of base with legs attached underneath
Top view of base with legs attached underneath

With legs attached, you could stop the carpentry, but for myself I wanted a little more support to keep the legs steady. I chose to attach 1X3’s just below the base. I also liked the look this detail would give. See below:

Measure  the legs from end to end on one side and then the opposite side. Take those measurements (16 1/2″) and create two 1X3’s of that length. Saw away using your miter box to keep the ends straight.
Measure side brace 2

Use two wood screws on each side of the 1X3.


Once you have put those two 1X3’s on opposite sides of each other, turn the foot rest around to measure the other two sides. This time, your measurements are going to include not just the legs, but the ends of the braces already attached.  Cut two 1X3’s, each a length of 17 1/2″ and attach them just under the base.

Measure 2nd brace set 2


With the support attached all around, time to measure and attach the fabric.  Measure starting at 2″ in under the base on one side and pull the measuring tape up and over the cushion to 2″ under the base on the other side. Do this for both the length and the width of your foot rest as it is slightly rectangular. Add an inch to the length and width to allow for folding the edge under to create a hem.  Measure and cut your fabric.

Measure fabric

Once you lay your lovely fabric on the cushion, it is going to hang very nicely over the edges – except at the corners.  There it will gather in a nice dramatic fold of excess.
What you need to do is pull the corner under the base 2 inches and hold that point with a pinch of your fingers. (I know, very scientific.)  Mark the pinch point and cut at a slight angle upwards about 4 inches on each side of the corner. If you don’t cut the excess, it will gather in a big, awkward wad – not fun to staple.

Fix corner with dotted lines


When attaching the fabric, keep your foot rest upright and apply a staple to the middle on each side. This is so you can keep an eye on the placement of your fabric – if it has a pattern.  Turn it over and staple the sides.
Note:  When pressing the staple gun against the base of the upright footrest, be sure to put pressure on the top of the footrest so the staple goes in properly. 

Now for the tricky part: the corners. For the corners, turn the foot rest right side up. Even though you have already cut off the excess corner length, you will still have bulk falling over the cushion.  Take the excess bulk and push it back and in on both sides of the corner.


Once you have the excess folded back to your liking, staple the last bit of corner overhang under the base and voila!


As you can see, I folded the fabric edge under itself about half an inch so the scraggly edges did not show.

The underside
The underside

Now all you have to do is safely and properly stow away your tools (as always :O) and you are done.

foot rest 31

Foot rest 2

I like the look of unfinished wood, but you can paint or stain yours.  You can also buy pre-cut and detailed legs at the hardware store. They have a lovely design and with this particular pattern, I think  they would look nice – so I might change things up a bit at a later date. :O) They also work great as coffee tables. I have a large round tray that I place on them when I am serving something to drink.

End Notes:

Be sure to practice safety and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when working with the tools and utensils listed above.

Here is a miter box, if you are unfamiliar. They are the handiest things. Place a 2X4 or anything smaller in it and you can saw an angled or a straight edge. Btw, use the miter box on a work table, concrete floor, or place a piece of plywood under it. The image below is just to show you what it looks like. If you used your miter box on a floor like the picture below, you run the risk of accidentally sawing into your floor!


The other thing I need to mention is to make sure you get the right length of staples. For this project, I used ones I had on hand  (in the picture below) and I can see that I need to get longer staples. I need to replace the ones I have in the corners of the footrest, where the fabric is folded over and bulky. Also note, it is better to use staples with the beveled edge as opposed to the straight edge; I find they go in more easily. Lastly, be sure to buy the right series # of staples for your staple gun. Your staple gun should say what #’s it uses.