Transform a Coffee Table Into an Upholstered Bench

Add a high-end touch to your bedroom on a budget. Learn how to upcycle an inexpensive coffee table into a luxe upholstered bench with leather strap details.

By: Samantha Pattillo

Materials Needed

  • 1/4" plywood sheet
  • staple gun
  • fabric scissors
  • serrated knife
  • miter saw
  • foot caps
  • sandpaper/block
  • 3 leather belts

Create Cushion Layers

You will need a total of three layers to create your upholstered cushion: a 1/4" plywood sheet, 5” foam and a roll of batting. 

Start by cutting your foam and plywood sheet to size. Measure the width and length of the bench seat. You will want to cut your sheet of plywood about 1” smaller than the overall size of the bench top so that you have about 1/2” around all sides. (If you don’t have a saw at home, you can always have the plywood sheet cut down at your local hardware store.)

Next, cut your foam to the same size as your plywood board. We used a band saw to cut ours, but you can use a serrated kitchen knife if you don’t have access to machinery.

Now that you have your plywood sheet and foam cut to size, lay your batting out on top. Wrap it around the foam and under the plywood board so that you have enough to staple it underneath later. Cut the excess batting with scissors.

Determine the Right Height

Attach your legs into the existing bench to make sure everything fits properly.  Once you have the bench assembled, place your layers of plywood, foam and batting on top. Sit on this to decide how much to cut off of the bench legs. The coffee table height with the added cushion is too tall for a bench, so the legs will need to be cut shorter. Since we used 5” foam, we will cut 3” off the legs to get our desired height. A standard seating height should be between 16”-19”, so depending on what thickness of foam you used, be sure to measure from the floor to the top of your stacked foam and cut your legs down so the overall height falls somewhere between 16”-19”. (Remember, the foam will squish down when you sit on it depending on your foam density. Always do the butt test.)

Cut the Legs

We are taking 3” off the height of the coffee-table-turned-bench. Mark your feet and, using a chop saw, carefully line up your cut. (Make sure you cut each one as closely as possible so none of your feet are uneven, making the bench wobbly once assembled.)

Sand the edges of the feet after you cut them. It’s always best to knock off sharp edges after a fresh cut so the wood doesn’t scratch the surface of your floor.

Stain the Bench

Apply stain to the bench seat using a dust-free rag or an old cotton T-shirt. We used an oil-based stain in a dark espresso color. Follow the directions specific to your stain brand; this one called for applying the stain liberally, waiting a few seconds, then wiping the excess away.

Stain the legs, as well as the nubbin at the top of the legs that show through on the bench. (Don’t stain the wooden screw-in sections.)

Apply a coat of polyurethane using a natural bristle brush. Apply it liberally as you will only need one coat since this is an indoor product.

Once the polyurethane is dry, screw the legs back into the bench.

Flip the bench over and hammer in the foot pads. These aren’t required, but they’ll help protect your floors from scratches when the bench moves.

Upholster the Cushion

Grab your layers of plywood, foam and batting. Wrap the batting around the foam and onto the plywood underneath. Flip everything over and staple the batting into place on the plywood.

Now wrap all of your layers with fabric. We used a total of 3-1/2 yards of fabric for this length of bench. Staple the long edges of fabric into place, leaving the ends loose.

On the ends of your cushion, fold the excess fabric like you are wrapping a present. This is a no-sew upholstery method.

Cut away the excess fabric and staple all edges into place on the underside of you cushion. Make sure there are no excess fabric or staples visible once you flip your cushion over.

Now grab your belts to add the finishing touches. Measure the center of your bench for your first belt, then split the difference for the other two on each side.  We purchased size XL belts to get the desired length needed for this size cushion. Just attach the belts like you would normally wear them and slide the metal buckle to the underside of the seat so they aren’t visible from above.

Enjoy Your New Bench!

You are all set with your finished bench! The size of this table ends up being the perfect length for a bench at the end of a king-size bed.

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