Coffee Table Turned to Mid Century Bench DIY

DSC00655Remember this guy from last week? As promised today I’m going to share how things went from this…

To this…


A Formica top coffee table would not normally be something I would purchased but knowing I wanted to turn it into a bench for my bedroom suddenly gave this little table great potential. The short height makes it perfect for adding 3-4″ of foam and the Formica top made no difference since it was going to be covered up. A quick check underneath also showed the top was easily removable making it perfect for upholstery.


But before conquering the task I decided to do some research. I spotted this bench from West Elm which is nice and fairly easy to produce with the base I already had.


But the true vintage versions often had more cording and seaming details like this one.


Although this design would be a little more work I thought it looked a lot more expensive so I decided to take the extra time.

My first step was to remove the table top and hardware so I could re-finish the wood which was in pretty sad shape. Stripping and refinishing didn’t take long since the legs are removable and there was very little wood to work on. I also took this chance to polish up the brass hardware.


Now for the big job upholstering the bench…

Since I will be tufting my bench the first step is to prepare the top by drilling holes for the tufting cords to go through. My top is ‘8’x48″ so I chose to do 8 tufts 6″ from the sides and 12″ apart. This spacing will vary depending on your bench size, the key is to measure them out for equal spacing and drill wholes at those locations.


You will then want to transfer those same marks to your foam.


I chose 4″ foam which I ordered cut to size from Cushions Express ,the piece for this project cost me $26 plus shipping.

Another step you may want to take at this time is to trim and sand down the corners of the table top if they are not already curved. You can see below why this is important. Since the foam will compresses a sharp corner will stick out past the foam once it is upholstered, a curved corner will allow for a smooth transition between the wood and the foam like you see below.

With everything marked spray the table top with spray adhesive and adhere the foam. This will keep the foam from slipping once the bench is in use.

DSC00573 DSC00575

Now it’s upholstery time! I start by making a slipcover of sorts for the bench. The top should be 1′ larger than the top of your foam and the sides about 2-3″ wider than the depth of your foam plus the depth of the table top, I used 7″ strips.


A flat top would be fine here but I chose to add some seaming to mine along the same lines as I would be applying the tufting. I cut my top larger than I needed and then added the small seams like you see below. Once I had all my seams in place I cut the top down to the finished size.


Putting the cover together takes a few step, the cording you can either make yourself or buy ready-made. I made mine so it would be a perfect match. You can find plenty of tutorials online on how to make your own if you need them.

Once you have your cording you will apply it to the right side of the top with the raw edges aligned, use a zipper/cording foot on your sewing machine so you can get right up to the cording. then with right sides together apply the skirt/side of the cover in the same way. Turn right side out and you’ll have your cover ready to attach.

Attaching the cover begins with tufting requires long upholstery needles, covered buttons, and thin nylon cord to attach the buttons.


I used 24″ cuts of cord and double looped it around the button shank and then threaded it onto the needle.

Then starting with the cover then the foam (which is marked with your points) push needle through to the hole in the table top pulling the treads all the way through.

You’ll want to start at one end and work your way across so you can flip the cover back to see the marks on the foam as you go.

DSC00625 -2

Once you have all the buttons threaded through the back will look like this.


The next step is to put tension on the buttons. The Formica top was very hard to staple into so I chose to attach my buttons to the wood frame. To do this pull the cords tight and staple to secure, then pull the thread in the opposite direction and add another staple. Then pull it again in the opposite direction fromn that staple and staple again. This will create a zigzag pattern that will keep the cord which is under tension from slipping out of the staples.


As you go be sure you are applying the same amount of tension to each button so the tufts will be even.

Now you are ready to pull the cover tight. For this cover I started with the staples at the ends of each top seam to make sure the were straight and the stapled in between moving towards the corners.


Once pulled tight the top will look like this.

IMG_7119 2

The final step is to add the cording around the bottom edge applying the staples right against the cording.


Now that the upholstery is done you can re-attach the top to the table base.


and enjoy the results.


Which I think are pretty great!


Linking with Erin Spain


  1. Karen says:

    Wow, you did an amazing job. Impressive!

  2. Coralee Hines says:

    Beautiful job and great directions, thank you!

  3. So impressive! I love the tufting, I have a big old storage box of my grandparents’ that I brought in, put castors on and use as storage in our living room, I’ve been thinking about adding a top to it for awhile so it could double as extra seating. This is beautiful!

  4. This looks so good, Maggie! I am trying to work up the courage to tackle reupholstering a chair that my grandmother gave us. It’s a beautiful mid-century chair with a mirrored base. It’s comfy but the color is just all kinds of wrong. I’ve done chair cushions, but this one would be much more involved. Saving this post for reference!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial I am trying this for sure. I have a similar coffee table, so now I have three and I was debating to place a bench in the hallway, upholstered in velvet. Thanks for the inspiration I will tackle this great diy soon. 🙂 I link back to you 🙂

  6. Michel says:

    What a great job you did here!!!! Can you please tell me about this beautiful fabric. What is is called and where can I get it.

%d bloggers like this: