Published on November 4th, 2013 | by Jules Yap


American Flag Karlstad Ottoman


Materials: Karlstad Footstool, American flag (Updated 13 Nov. Please do not use an actual flag for this hack. See this), drill, velcro strips, button kit, upholstery needle, fabric for bottom section, staple gun, scissors

Description: 1. Get a Karlstad Footstool from IKEA – no need to purchase the cover. I got mine from the discount area because there was a foot print on top of it.
2. Get an American flag – I went to AAA flag and got their 100% cotton flags. Most are polyester and would look terrible. Get the 5×7, 4×6 is not big enough… I tried.
3. Staple gun the flag tightly around the top cushion. Then staple your alternative fabric around the bottom cushion.
4. Measure out where you want your buttons/tufting to be and draw marking dots on the underside of the top cushion. Then take your drill and drill as far through the cushion as you can, this will make it easier to tuft.


5. Use some flag scraps and a button covering kit to create some buttons for the tufting.
6. Using a long upholstery needle, pull the buttons through and staple gun the ends to the underside of the cushion.
7. Use the velcro strips to secure the 2 cushions together.

~ Keara, Los Angeles


PS 2012 Marble Upgrade
Broder table

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

39 Responses to American Flag Karlstad Ottoman

  1. mathilda says:

    while I personally would chose a actual flag for this kind of purpose, I think a lot of the comments overreact a lot.
    the American and flag and the Union jack get used as a fashion symbol bare of political statements, that you can’t really blame this hacker using it. And that it is used so often is partly the fault of the Americans, who run around in flag-t-shirts, eat cakes coloured with the flag or paint the flag on their cars and houses.
    In Germany you find American flags on underwear, jeans,covers for toilet paper rolls, lighters,…everything…but for finding the same for our neighbouring country France you’d have tp search. Why? probably because the French present their flag different towards other nations.

    Yes, perhaps this is respectless…but it’s not like there’s done much from American side to change it. It’s not like the government can’t do anything about it. just put a punishment fine on the wearing or displaying of the flag the wrong way.
    “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.” and “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform” could give the States a lot of money.

  2. Bobbo says:

    Most of these comments are ridiculous.

    You can buy the US flag on a thousand different commercial products: cushions, plastic plates, mugs, kites, bed linen, cakes, shoes, bikinis, etc, etc, etc. Ludicrous people.

  3. Sasha says:

    I think I might be the only person that is honetly not bothered by this? Seriously guys, it’s just a flag. Yes, you put your feet up on it (although if someone is putting actual shoes on furniture inside the house that’s a whole other argument entirely), but you can buy products that have flags emblazoned all over them. How is this more disrespectful than wearing a flag t-shirt, or putting flag art on the wall, or having a mug with a flag on?

    Maybe it’s because I live in the UK, but IKEA over here sold an entire sofa that was a giant union jack pattern (KLIPPAN with DAGERBYN cover if anyones interested, and a KVIDINGE futon cover) and nobody complained about it once. Not even members of the military, veteran or active, that I know had anything bad to say about it.

    I don’t know though, perhaps its a culture thing?

    • yobo says:

      i’m with you, sasha.
      i don’t find it disrespectful at all.

      and i’m american. and my grandparents and many uncles were marines.
      they? would love this!

  4. otto says:

    I think the other posters have thoroughly covered *why* this is wrong.

    What I don’t get is why stuff like this keeps happening. How are the people who are “USA! USA! USA!” enough to want to make pants out of a flag or use it as upholstery not aware of how bad of an idea it is?
    I mean…you’ve got to be a pretty patriotic person to want to have flags all over the place, but how can you be that patriotic without knowing even the basics of how to treat the flag?

    FWIW, I’m not that patriotic, but I think the flag deserves respect (it’s like the bare minimum of patriotism…any step lower would require actively speaking/acting *against* your country). I get annoyed at an elementary school near me that keeps their flag up 24/7 in all weather without a spotlight…either take that down at night or point a light at it. If this is how schools deal with the flag, it’s no wonder people grow up to cover their foot rests with it…

  5. Karen says:

    Jules, Please consider removing this hack from your site. It is a very offensive use of the American flag.

  6. EvelynMcH says:

    I tried commenting but it still says my comment about this is in moderation? I pretty much said what the others said “Sorry, but this is a disrespectful use for the flag. Something designed to place your feet on? If the idea of a motif is what you want, go and buy some bunting. But not an American flag.”

    Don’t understand why this is not posted. If someone wants the motif, cotton bunting is cheap or cheaper, and does not convey the dsrespect that putting your feet up on a flag does.

  7. Cipollina says:

    Really well done hack!!!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. KDaver says:

    besides the HUGE issue with being against the Flag Etiquette.
    the flag you SAY you used is a 48 State Flag. and the one on the ottoman is a 50 state flag.. so you are already not supplying the correct information on what your using..

    but I and a lot of others think that this thread should be REMOVED from Ikea Hackers.

    • Kent says:

      How ironic if it was removed. Our 1st amendment protects free speech and yet you want to censor it because you’re uncomfortable.

      Removing this post because of that would be even worse.

      • Jon says:

        Excuse me, but when did this become a “first amendment” site? The fact is that this hack is simply offensive to the vast majority of Americans who once thought well of this site, and yet it’s parading around as an innocent craft project! Ikeahackers may hate America and think nothing of it, but I thought they had more respect for others than to be this openly insulting to hundreds of millions of people. I was wrong.

      • KDaver says:

        would like to see anyone here.. do what I have done in the USAF..
        being on the Funeral detail and having to recite :
        ” On behalf of the President of the United States, the US military and and Proud and Grateful Nation, I present this flag to you. ”
        and hand a a flag to someone that lost a loved one.

        this is a total disrespect to anyone that has Served and to the United States Flag.

        almost as bad as the flag burners that hide behind the flag they burn in protest.

  9. Julie says:

    Saddened/ horrified by your choice of materials; happy to stand up for your right to use. Perhaps a flag company could have been a source for a vibrant material without using the American flag?

  10. LindaC says:

    This is not a proper use of the American flag.

  11. Sean says:

    Who said America wouldn’t fall to the Ottomans?

  12. lisa says:

    Very poor judgement.

  13. Courtney says:

    Ugh. I can’t believe you made this out of an actual American flag. It would be one thing to paint a flag pattern on the canvas or get some upholstery fabric with a flag print on it, but using an actual flag is just terrible. Boo.

  14. Nick Lo says:

    I immediately thought the same about desecration of the US flag when I saw this but is that because this is literally an US flag being cut up?

    If so does it need to be a particular type of flag, e.g.. some kind of official one made by a particular manufacturer in the US, or does it apply to even the cheapest of polyester things made overseas? The stars and stripes are available on an incredible number of products:


    Do those also desecrate the flag? I’m not asking all this to be contrary, I’m genuinely curious as a non US citizen since I see stars and stripes on all kinds of things (including upholstery, cushions, etc) but the ethics of this IKEA hack has been questioned in every comment so far.

    Anyway, in case anyone else wants to try this they could use the Union Jack since the UK has no laws of desecration and we Brits love to stick the Union Jack all over stuff too.

    • Brittany says:

      It’s not against the law to desecrate the flag here in the US. The First Amendment protects an individual’s right to free speech, including symbolic speech like desecrating a flag. People get pissed when an actual flag (regardless of who manufactured the flag) is used improperly. So in general, people wouldn’t be offended if someone wore a shirt with a picture of the flag, but people would be offended if someone wore a shirt made from an actual flag. Also, putting an image of the flag onto something that will get soiled (like toilet paper) is considered disrespectful, too.

  15. Ken says:

    This is simply outrageous, disgusting and shameful! I find the thought that you have posted a step by step how to rest filthy clodhoppers on the flag that represents the ideals that people have died defending to be in poor taste at the very least. I notice are from Kuala Lumpur but live in L.A. I wonder if you would ever consider doing this to a Malaysian flag and what the reaction would be from fellow Malaysians?

  16. Tish says:

    Am I the only one that things this is incredibly disrespectful to the American (or any) flag? Cutting up/destroying a flag, using it merely as a decoration and as something people will be putting their *feet* on. Not right.

  17. Kristen says:

    Though this is a well-executed project, I think the use of materials is amiss. Service members would be aghast that a brand new flag was cut and used to cover a piece of furniture commonly used as a foot rest.

  18. Annie says:

    First: I know you did this hack to be patriotic, and I love the idea of recovering the Karlstad ottoman. I’m not rabidly patriotic or anything, but it’s not good flag etiquette to use a real flag to upholster somewhere you rest your feet (dirty shoes! spilled drinks!)
    “The flag should not be emblazoned on items such as lawn chairs, paper products, yard goods and furniture. (U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8) “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.”

  19. Glenn Heydolph says:

    Looks great but what American is going to put their feet on this footstool?

    Great 48 star in the second pic btw.

  20. Paul Lannuier says:

    Awesome way to show respect for the American flag!

    If I “hack” an ottoman to look like a book entitled “Holy Koran,” can I get featured here, too?

    • Kent says:

      Oh please, on July 4th you can buy tons of paper plates and napkins that feature our flag. Along with boxers and have it painted on cars.

      The point is of intent. Obviously this person doesn’t mean anything bad by it. And you know what, even if they did, that’s their right and I’ll proudly defend it.

  21. F. K. says:

    I like the ottoman, very cute! I think I’d prefer maybe to use flag fabric or get the fabric and construct the flag pattern myself rather than cutting up a premade flag. But it’s a lovely project. :)

  22. Chris says:

    For those of us that have served this great Nation in uniform, I cannot tell you how offensive it is to see our flag used to cover a footstool. Sure you have the freedom to do so… It would be nice if you had the decency not to. If you think that’s BS, why don’t you visit a VA hospital and ask folks there what they think of it?

    • Kent says:

      As a veteran, I’m perfectly fine with it. I volunteered to defend our nation because I believed in our rights and ideals. People can do whatever they want, as long as it isn’t hurting others.

  23. Evelyn says:

    Sorry, but this is a disrespectful use for the flag. Something designed to place your feet on? If the idea of a motif is what you want, go and buy some bunting. But not an American flag.

  24. Ostracon says:

    Nicely done. Unfortunately, this would fall under flag desecration, and although it’s not convictable (1st Amendment), it isn’t considered “patriotic”. Flag desecration includes “cutting or ripping” and “[m]aking … items bearing the image of the flag, so that the flag’s image will be destroyed or soiled in the course of everyday activities.” According to the American Flag Guidelines passed by joint resolution of Congress (June 22, 1942), the American Flag “should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise… should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored so that it might be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way… should never have anything placed on it… nor embroidered on cushions….” Also “[w]hen the flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” FYI

  25. Daniel says:

    Way to go desecrating your nations flag. Might as well have wrapped it around a toilet-seat for all the respect your paying the flag.

  26. Karen says:

    Your intentions are good and it looks nice but this is a very disrespectful use of the American flag.

  27. Gabe says:

    This is kinda disrespectful – now you’re going to be putting your feet, sitting on, putting food on the flag. Better ways to handle the flag

  28. c says:

    So….I’m not crazy patriotic or anything..but doesn’t putting your feet up on a flag seem a little disrespectful to that symbol? Unless that’s what you’re going for, in which case, um, well done?

  29. kirkingout says:

    Just so everyone knows, this is not honoring the flag. This is flag desecration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_desecration

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