Monday, November 8, 2010

Coffee Table To Bench: Tutorial

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Sorry for the delay!  This was one of those posts that kept going and going and…well, it’s long.  I hope it easily explains how I went from this:IMG_3751





To this…


What you need:

  • sturdy coffee table that is a good seat height
  • spray paint (Rustoleum’s Heirloom white)
  • electric knife
  • spray adhesive
  • foam (high density, 3”)
  • batting
  • fabric (Coral Cascade Ebony from Joann’s)
  • staple gun
  • scissors
  • button kit
  • fishing line
  • finishing nails
  • long upholstery needle
  • trim
  • hot glue gun

Step one:  Make sure the table is sturdy


My table had one wobbly leg.  After a a little inspection, I noticed that one of the brackets holding the leg to the top was bent and that caused the whole thing to be unstable.


I removed the bracket, hammered back into shape and reattached it.  All good.

Step two:  Painting the legs

Most of the pieces in our master bedroom are dark, so I wanted to go lighter for this bench.  I lightly sanded the legs and the sides of the table only because I knew I would be upholstering the top anyway.  Then, I applied 2 coats of Rustoleum’s Heirloom White Spray paint and sealed the deal with a few coats of clear acrylic spray.

Step three:  Deciding where to place the buttons


I measured and marked six spots on the top of the table with a permanent marker.  Then I drilled holes into the table top for each mark.  No turning back now!!


Step four:  Attaching the foam

I used 3 inch high density foam that I purchased at Johann’s.  Luckily, there was a 50% off sale going on that day because it can be a little pricey.  You can also use 2 inch foam that can be found much cheaper, but I really wanted a bouncy cushion for our bench.

The foam wasn’t perfectly square and it was a few inches too wide.  I measured and marked a 1/2 inch from the widest point of the table’s top all the way around.  


After getting all the lines marked, I used an electric knife to cut the foam.


To attach the foam, I placed the foam on the ground.  Then I sprayed it with adhesive.  I borrowed my hubby and we set the table upside down onto the foam.  It was easier to position this way.  You want to make sure you get it centered.

NOTE:  Somehow, during this DIY frenzy, I forgot to do an important step that read about it in other tutorials.  After attaching the foam and before adding the batting, take a long needle, poke up through drilled holes and mark foam where buttons will be placed.  Cut or pinch out a bit of foam where markings are.  Believe me…this will make button tufting easier.

Step five:  Wrap it up with batting

Spread out your batting and then put the table foam side down onto the batting.  Cut the batting to size, making sure you have enough to cover the top, plus the sides of the foam and then add a few extra inches to both the length and width.  You can trim the excess it later.


Since my table had a curvy top edge, I had a hard time making the batting look smooth.  So I stuffed a little extra batting here and there to smooth it out before stapling the large piece of batting in place.

Attach batting to table by stapling at center of one long side, then continue stapling towards each leg.  Stop stapling a few inches before each corner. Repeat on opposite side and then finish the shorter sides.  To finish the corners, trim off excess batting and fold the corners like you would wrap a present. Trim excess batting as need to make a smooth look.  This took a little time to get the lumps and bumps just right.

(Good examples of this here and here.)

Step six:  Making it pretty…Adding Fabric


First up, iron your fabric.  Then, using the same steps as you used with the batting, lay out your fabric, cut it to size, adding a 2-3 extra inches for stapling and pulling.  Lay the table, batting side down, onto the cut fabric.  Start with one of the long sides and begin stapling.   Remember to pull the fabric tight as you go.  I flipped my bench over several times to make sure I was getting it snug.  Just like the batting, stop stapling the fabric before you get to the corners.

Again, the corners are the hardest part.  I actually had to take a break and come back to it once because I was getting a little frustrated.  It took a lot of trial and error, but you just have to work with it until you get the look you want.  I again, folded my fabric similar to wrapping a present.  I cut out excess fabric as necessary to avoid that lumpy messy look.

Step seven:  Button Tufting

Create your fabric covered buttons with small squares of extra fabric and a button making kit.  I found these at both Hobby Lobby and Joann’s. 


Thread the buttons with 16 inches of fishing line.  I tried using the upholstery twine and it snapped on me several times.  The fishing like is much more durable.  To thread, fold the line in half, poke the loop end through eye of button and then thread the two loose ends through the loop.  Pull snugly.  Set aside.

Flip the table right side up.  Poke long needle up through bottom of table and thread the button through the eye of the needle.  Pull the needle down and the fishing line should come through to the underside of the bench top.


Pull the line VERY tight.  Staple several times to attach the fishing line to the wooden underside of the table.  Due my mistake in Step Four, I couldn’t get my buttons to “tuft” as deeply as I wanted.  To pull them tighter, I tied a small finishing  nail to the ends of the fishing line in order to have something to pull tighter.



I kept the line pulled tightly by adding another staple near the nail.


The result: Nice tufting!


Step eight:  Trim it up and Enjoy!

To give the piece a finished look and to hide all of my staples, I used hot glue to attach a 1 inch black trim all the way around the bench.  Be sure to trim off excess fabric before trimming.


Now, sit back and admire your work.


Giving credit, where credit it TRULY due:

After bringing my little table home, I did  a net search for “coffee table to bench” and came across a wonderful tutorial on Curbly by modhomeecteacher.  This post really got me jump started on my own bench.  

Then I happened upon another great post by Allison at A Glimpse Inside where she takes an old sofa table and transforms it into a bench.  Funny thing?  I have the same sofa table, still in use, in my living room!  Yep, the same one she hacked up!  Ha! 

Thanks to you all for the great feedback on my coffee table to bench transformation!  Please feel free to send me any comments or questions you might have about this long tutorial! 


handmade projects Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special  The DIY Show Off 


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  1. Wow!! That's an amazing transformation, I LOVE the black and white fabric! Great job:)
    Visiting from

  2. WOW! This is wonderful! Great job and very inspiring.

  3. Once again you amaze me. This is simply beautiful!

  4. Beautiful job! I love the shape of the legs! That table was just asking to be a bench! :) Your fabric is fabulous as well. Thanks for sharing a link to my bench as well.

  5. You did a fantastic job on this! I am blown away at the transformation! You have me thinking, since I love benches!! Thank you for the detailed steps & the photos.hugs, Cathy

  6. This is truly fantastic...Your tutorial was very informative and easy to follow.

    Take care,

  7. It looks so good. I love how fabric can completely change the look of something!

  8. This is stunning! You're very clever and have given me a wonderful idea for my bedhead. Thanks!
    Megs :)

  9. Wow. I just found your blog (through Pinterest) and I loooooooooooooove. it. :)

  10. This is fantastic. Love the idea!

  11. Where did you find the coffee table? It's perfect!

  12. Just discovered your post on Pinterest and was tickled because I have the same style coffee table sitting in my garage just WAITING for me to transform it into a bench for my sitting room. You've given some wonderful tips and tutorial pictures; I may just begin this weekend. This is the first time I've visited your blog. Mine is Feel free to stop and visit some time.

  13. To make your sides smoother, you take a jigsaw and cut off the curves before attaching foam and batting.

  14. AWESOME! VERY inspirational! So smart! Definitely trying my hand at this one day :)

  15. I really liked this project. I would love to pin this, with your permission, of course!

  16. I LOVE this! I just picked up a coffee table today, but it's oval, has a dodgy top, but nice Queen Anne style legs, so am wondering if something like this might work on my oval shaped top?! Hmmm. Got me thinking. Have just started furniture refurbishing about 6 months ago, and enjoying it immensely. I'm new to blogging, but please pop on over and see some of the things I've revamped so far.

    1. I have an oval table too...did this work?

  17. Love this bench! I wanted to stop by and let you know that I'm featuring it on Friday's Fabulous Furniture Finds today! If you have a minute please stop by and check it out!

    Blessings! Barbara @ Chase the Star

  18. I'm wondering if you could do this with a coffee table with glass inserts...would it hold the weight of someone sitting on it...and where would you place the buttons...on the outside wood frame? this would be so perfect if I could do this!

  19. I'm wondering if you could do this with a coffee table with glass inserts...would it hold the weight of someone sitting on it...and where would you place the buttons...on the outside wood frame? this would be so perfect if I could do this!

  20. @unknown, I think you would need to remove the glass amd replace with a piece of mdf to fill in fhe space. Should work ok.

  21. Well done - thanks for sharing!!

  22. I've been itching to do something like this. Once I find the right table for my project, I'll follow your guide.

    I hope to be able to post it on my Pinterest board for you to see very soon.

  23. Ohhh, how awesome!! I have an UGLY coffee table I've been wanting to replace. But I HATE throwing things out and had no idea what I was going to do with it. (Its really old and has this fake marble top that's cracking) I think this would be an awesome idea! I could use some outdoor fabric and make a bench for my porch! This also gives me a reason to get a new coffee table! Whoo hoo! :)

  24. Great job on the "new bench" for your bedroom! That would be great to hold an extra blanket, quilt, or your top bedspread at night, or your clothes that you are too tired at end of the day to put away(this is me sometimes, so I just throw them in the floor on the rug. Nobody in that room but me!

  25. Thanks for the amazing tutorial.... I am making one!! I have a question though. The fabric you used.. is it normal cotton or the home decor ones which you get at Joann's?? (the 54" ones). I have a cotton bedsheet which I would love to reuse but I am just worried will it hold or should I use a heavier fabric. Thanks !!!


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