How To: Turn a Coffee Table into an Upholstered Bench

Okay, here it is... a finished project!  And, I thought I would give you a how- to in case you have a coffee table that needs a transformation. A warning: some of the photos are not the best since I only had an assistant part of the time and part of the project was completed in the evening (dark photos taken with one hand = ugly)  but, you will get the idea. 

 Here is a little background on the project:  
Baby Hughes was clearing tables to play cars on... basically throwing photo frames on the floor.  We needed a coffee table since we were using baskets in the place of a table... wicker baskets = not a good "road" surface.  Plus, Mr. Hughes likes to put up his feet when he's watching the TV (but not Cable!)  So, we relocated a table that was in the library to downstairs.  Only problem is, sharp corners.  And, I didn't want to use corner guards.  So, I decided to cover the coffee table.  It is very sturdy and can actually be used as a bench.

Here is where we started.  This table had already been stripped and refinished once.  We seriously got it for $15 at Goodwill... sometimes I have the tendency to exaggerate the deals I get, but not this time.  I painted the legs and apron of the table with 2 coats of black paint.

Here is what you will need:
Spray Adhesive
Utility knife (or a serrated knife)
Staple gun
Batting ( I used a twin size quilt roll)
Foam (get the store to cut it to size, I used 2" thick)
Scissors (ones that are sharp that you only use for fabric)
A rotary cutter
Glue gun
and an assistant will make it go faster (the handsomer the better *wink*)

Start by laying the foam on the floor and turning the table upside down on top the foam.  Then cut your foam to size with your knife... be careful not to cut through to your floor!  (If you get a little jagged edge, don't worry, the batting will help cover it.)

Next, take your foam outside and spray one side of it with spray adhesive.  Let it dry for a minute, then place the sticky side down on the table top.  

Next, lay out your batting.  Place the foam covered table upside down and make sure the batting is very flat with no wrinkles.  Trim your batting so that it will cover the foam edge and fold over so that you can attach it to the under side edge of the table.  (Someone needs a manicure!!)

So, here is the table laid out on top of the trimmed batting.  Notice the detail in the table's edge... that wouldn't look great if I simply stapled my batting and fabric over it.  So here is how I solved that problem:

I used the extra batting to fill in the detail of the table.  It was a narrow piece folded in half.

Then I just stapled it on the edge of table.

This is how the detail looks covered.

Then I took the batting that I trimmed and covered the foam and the extra batting I added.  I just wrapped it like a present and stapled it.  Be careful around the corners and trim the extra batting, otherwise your finished bench will have lumpy corners.

I flipped it over to give you an idea of what it looks like at this stage.  Now you are ready for the fabric.

Roll your fabric out face down (make sure you iron it if it has been folded.)  This fabric was easy to measure and cut because it was geometric, but it was harder to get straight and even because it was geometric.  If you are using a geometric pattern or a stripe, be sure that you have it even or the lines will be all wonky.  Florals and solids are easier to work with.

Now flip your table over on top of it and make sure your fabric is straight and taut.  Trim the fabric, but leave enough that you don't end up short.

Pull your fabric taut and staple once in the middle of one side.  Now, go to the opposite side and staple once in the middle.  Repeat on the other 2 sides.  I flipped it over at this point to make sure the pattern was straight.  Then, flip it back over and staple one side, stopping a few inches from the corner.  Go to the opposite side and repeat.  Then staple the 3rd side, again stopping a few inches from the corner. And repeat on the 4th side.

Now for the corners:  I had Mr. Hughes do this so I could attempt to photo the play by play.  You may have to add a staple so there isn't as much fabric to get in the way like he did here.  Regardless of which way you fold, just make sure they are all identical.  And, it may take you a few tries to get it just how you want it.

You are going to fold down one side and staple it to the opposite side of the corner to secure.

Make your fold and try to stay along the corner.

Tuck the extra fabric from the opposite side into the pocket that is created by the fold

Pull the fabric taut and keep your fold in place.

Staple to the underside of the table.  Make sure you like the way it turned out before doing the other corners or trimming.  Repeat on all 4 corners.

This is what it looks like trimmed... I didn't get a photo of us trimming it with the rotary cutter.  It definitely needed some trim.

I wanted something a little more fun than this trim, but I couldn't find anything that I liked in Jo Ann's and I wanted the project finished, so I went with a basic black braided flat trim.

I just added the trim with a hot glue gun (and took off some paint in the process!)  Keep your trim level, taut and flat while you are gluing.

Then, you are finished!

Here is a shot of the corner once it is all complete.

And, here is the finished project. I would have liked to do tufting, but as Mr. Hughes wisely pointed out, cars don't roll on tufting.  Plus, this pattern might not look great with it.  I also thought about piping, but that is a crumb catcher and my little boy loves to eat Goldfish crackers.

Now,  I really want a white lacquer tray for Baby Hughes to throw on the floor, I mean, to put lovely things on.  And, I know I saw one at Target, but now I can't find it.  So, the books will do for now... they will be gone by tomorrow I am sure and replaced with cars and other books!

I hope to finish Baby Hughes' bathroom this weekend... actually got the towels from Pottery Barn Kids yesterday, instead of March 6th!  Love it when that happens!  So, maybe I will get one more project marked off my list.

I am joining Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Friday!

and Maryann at Domestically Speaking!


  1. Looks fantastic. Great job and great detail in the way to do it. Thanks

  2. I love that! I will be keeping my eye out for an old coffee table for sure! Great project!

  3. Very cool! Now I'm going to have search craig's list for a suitable coffee table to try this.

  4. What a great idea! I have inherited a crayon coated coffee table along with my new I know how to make it easily presentable again! Thanks for sharing! I'll be visiting you often!

  5. Oh rock! That is so awesome!!
    I need to run now so I can go to the thrift store and find an old coffee table to transform, but thanks for the make it look so easy!

  6. That is not only genius, but gorgeous! Such a great idea and it looks amazing!

    Kat :)

  7. Unbelieveably freakin fantastic! I love what you did! I am gonna do this the next ugly goodwill table that comes my way. WOW!!! Great job!

  8. speechless.

    okay, I've collected my thoughts. UH-MAZING. I so want to do this!!!!

  9. So impressed! You make it look so easy -- but your attention to detail is what really makes it. I am totally guilty of rushing/being careless and finding myself left with disastrous mess!
    I always love to watch someone do something well and carefully! Awesome.

  10. Good grief you did a heck of a job!! Way to go, it look FABULOUS!

  11. Great job! And I love the fabric you chose.


  12. It looks wonderful!!! What a great job that you two did!!!

  13. It's perfect!!!! Now come on over and help me do one :)

  14. It looks awesome! And I think you just gave me a tutorial on how to cover my dining room chairs! Thanks.

  15. I was in complete AWE of this tutorial!! I have been looking for a cute bench, but they are so expensive. I love this idea!! Your bench turned out fabulous, and I can't wait to make my own!!


  16. What a great tutorial and I absolutely love this piece. The fabric and lines of this table look perfect together. Beautiful, as always.

  17. perfection. and thanks for the extensive tutorial! this piece turned out SO good!!

  18. Great tutorial and your bench look awesome...I love the fabric and it looks right at home in the spot!! Great job & happy weekend!

  19. This looks awesome friend!! fab job for sure! I'm sure that baby Hughes is thrilled with his new road. ;) Happy weekend!


  20. This is so great! You need to submit it to Design Sponge.

  21. Great job! I wish my husband and I could work amiably together on a project, but it normally ends up with one of us chasing the other around with the staple gun.

  22. This is brilliant! And your tutorial was awesome. It probably took longer to do this post than to do the actual table. Such detail. Thank you for sharing!!!

  23. Beautiful! Love all the detail and great photos you showed. I'd love if you'd share this at my Power of Paint Party on Wednesdays!

  24. This bench turned out great! Great way to think outside the box! I LOVE the fabric you selected and I just noticed it matches your blog. ;)

  25. Looks fantastic!
    And those photos aren't bad at all.
    I could even tell that the hairy hand was Mr. Hughes's and not yours. ;-)


  26. that is fabulous dahling! thanks for the step by step instructions!

  27. omg I wish I had seen this yesterday. I throw our coffee table into the trash this morning.
    Loads of alcohol ink fell on it.

  28. I have a coffee table sitting in my "shop/garage" that is screaming for this kind of project!! Oh can i just shout yippee!! I love it and i needed the step by step tips, and will have to come back for corner help... you made it look so easy but it's a bit scary,

  29. Simply awesome!!! Corners are the tough part, but every bit of yours looks FABULOUS!!!

    You've got talent my friend!!!

    :) T

  30. So pretty! Your fabric choice is perfect for that table. I really like what you did with it.

  31. Wow, you did an amazing job!!!

  32. What a great ottoman! I wanted to do that with a table I have, but it was too small-I'm keeping my eyes open though. Thanks for sharing!

  33. I did 2 of these a few months ago and put one at the foot of my bed. Check out my blog for pics

  34. It's so beautiful now. Love the material too. Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

  35. What a great makeover! Thanks for the tutorial, I'm bookmarking this for sure!

  36. I was just thinking I was going to have to make my new coffee table/ottoman because I can't find anything I love - your post was perfect timing! Thanks for the great tutorial, it turned out great.


  37. Wow! I have a coffee table just like that! And I don't know what to do with it until now! Thanks for the idea and the tutorial! Yay!

  38. I just love all of your projects! Thank you for sharing. I wonder if you have any ideas for an antique brass floor lamp, (the kind with three places for light bulbs). I like the look of the base and would like to make something out of the old lamp and not necessarily keep it a lamp. You are so crafty, I hope you have some great ideas! Thank you-

  39. Thanks sooo much for your tutorial! It REALLY helped me make my own simpler version of a bench for the foot of the bed!

    Drop by and have a look if you'd like!
    Thanks so much!

  40. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to look for a coffee table. Great Job!! :)


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