Turn a Goodwill Dog Into a Slick Upholstered Bench




About: Furniture, fabric, architecture, building, painting. I specialize in upholstery design, restyling, repurposing and writing all about upholstery. I teach loads of upholstery classes all week long and also te...

Charlotte and John didn’t believe this plain old $6.99 Goodwill coffee table could be anything more than mediocre. Little did they know that thrift stores, garage sales, and grandma’s basement are chock full of low slung coffee table castoffs that can be inexpensively converted into stylishly modern upholstered benches. And don’t stop there, more traditional tables with ornate turned legs, a jazzy ikat fabric and the right paint can be transformed into a handy mudroom, entryway, or upholstered bedroom bench.


Step 1: Decide What to Do With This Table

Think about your needs. Where do you need an upholstered bench/glass top table combo? The mud room or front hall is the perfect place to take off boots, set your packages and get settled. Dont' get stuck collecting too much furniture for your space.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Here's what you need to get this project underway:

Old coffee table with straight sides
Measuring tape
1/2″ plywood (Cut to fit at Lowes)
1/4″ double strength glass (Cut to fit at Ace Hardware)
2″ piece of foam
1 yard of dacron
Elmer’s spray adhesive
1 yard of fabric
Staple gun
spray paint
LocTite Power Grab
3 1 1/2″ wood screws
drill with phillps bit

Step 3: Upholstering the Seat Section

Here's How to Make the Upholstered Section:

1. Determine the dimensions for the seat and the table. I divided my table into 2/3 of the table top for the bench and 1/3 for the glass top table
2. Have the wood and glass cut to fit those dimensions
3. Attach the pre-cut foam to the wood with the spray adhesive
4. Cut a piece of dacron to fit around the foam and attach to the edges of the wood. Spray adhesive to the top of the foam and place the dacron on top to secure it.
5. Cut fabric so it fits around the dacron covered bench top and add 2-3″ for pulling and stapling
6. Using my basic, four side upholstery technique, upholster the fabric on to the wood and foam insert
7. Flip the table upside down with the cushion in place, use drill to screw the cushion in place.

Step 4: Making the Underpainted Glass Tabletop

Here's how you go about making the awesome (I don't like using that word, but it's the best word for this) underpainted glass top:

7. Use sandpaper to smooth off the edges of the cut glass, being careful. Clean glass and let it dry.
8.. In a well ventilated area, spray one side of the glass with spray paint, let dry, repeat until glass is opaque, one side only. This gives you an underpainted piece of glass that looks like a custom made table surface.

Step 5: Glue Glass to the End of the Table

10. When the glass is dry, spread the Power Grab glue across the remaining 1/3 of the table top, place glass PAINTED SIDE DOWN on the wood and press firmly in place. Let dry overnight.

Any low coffee table with straight edges will work. Give it your own style and spin with jazzy fabric and any color of painted glass to make it sing!



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    24 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 5

    I'll say awesome, too. Just got a similar coffee table at GW today, but it cost me $9.99. Nice and sturdy, though. I hadn't thought of leaving a section for glass, but it's a great idea. Thanks for a great ibble!

    Beautifully planned and executed! Love the idea of using glass. The fabric is very appealing as well. The straight legs and extra 1/2" ply should make this thing beefy enough to hold way more weight than will fit on the seat! Extremely vigorous chair dancing might not be the best idea, however. ; )


    awesome work! I have an old coffee table begging for a new lease on life! Going to go for some funky colours and patterns


    7 years ago on Step 5

    You are right by saying "awesome" Off to Good Will I go. Thanks

    1 reply

    If you are overly worried, as some of these commentors are, just get a something bulkier. I happen to like the minimalism of this.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Certainly not for my fat ass. There is no way that this thing was rated for sitting weight when first designed and built, and I see no additional supports added. While this is a lovely instructable, and a great use of the old that reflects your good eye and tastes, it still seems short-sighted to not consider load. The mere fact that it did not collapse under your husband, doesn't mean it is safe.

    Now, I am a little geeky about this having spent a few years building furniture for the stage that had to be light enough for an actor to lift with ease, tough enough to be thrown or danced on for weeks or months without serious repair. I'd choose the coffee table carefully were I doing this project. It would be at least a six leg table for one that long, or one with an integrated top and base, and I'd reinforce the top.

    I've been building and converting furniture for over fifteen years and I guarantee this "bench" will not collapse. Now, if you're talking a 300 pounder, it may squeak a little. And, seriously, how many people sit on a bench in a mudroom or hallway for more than about 3 minutes. Let's not be over-worriers. I've had purchased chairs collapse sooner than this "bench" will. Love to all.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm echoing the same question -- maybe the extra layer of plywood bolsters the top a bit, but I'd be concerned about calling this a "bench." Looks really nice, though, and a good 'ible.

    Absolutely sturdy. I've been converting furniture for many many years. I wouldn't go to the trouble and expense with a flimsy table.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Love it, but I wonder who much weight it can hold before it breaks? Coffee tables really aren't made to hold the weight of people. At 6' & 250 lbs, I would probably have to put a couple extra legs under the middle, or 2/3 point of the edge of the cushion.

    2 replies

    Well, I would respectfully disagree. My husband is 6' 5" and 240 lbs and he has sat down there many times. It is structurally sound. I have four coffee table in the garage that would also hold up with a few people sitting on them. I think a very flimsy table might be questionable.

    touche, I will have to give this one a try, I could use one of these next to my front door for my boys to put their shoes on. Then again for my needs I might be better building a custom unit based on this idea with a shoe rack built in under the bench seat, then topping it as you did with the cushion and top.


    7 years ago on Step 3

    I love this idea. Never would have thought of the glass part. When you say dacron, are you referring to a plain cotton liner for the cushion? Thanks.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Dacron is the man made batting quilters use. Only in the upholstery business, it's a bit heavier. It forms a nice barrier between the foam and the fabric.