Bench Press: How You Can Convert A Coffee Table Into A Tufted Bench

This is kind of a celebration of three things: benches, ottomans, and the awesomeness of DIY and Aimee Swikit (more on her in a bit). Okay, so that was technically four things but you get the idea. We think benches and ottomans are fabulously useful and we know you can DIY an amazing one just the way you want it — with just a little help.

It goes like this, you’re rushing out the door and you need to get your shoes on and you look around for somewhere to sit to get the job done and you end up either on the floor, on the stairs, or even sitting on your coffee table.

Actually, let’s stick with that last one: the coffee table. Because today we have something a little special for you. The aforementioned ode to benches and ottomans (read: why you want them) and a bit more info on this fabulous DIY video from the Artisan Upholstery Studio that takes you from start to finish through a DIY deep dive on turning an old coffee table into a gorgeous tufted bench. 

The Difference Between A Bench And An Ottoman And How They Help

As passionate as we are here at KOVI are about upholstery, you can imagine the amount of time we spend considering and talking about furniture as well. And one curious thing about furniture is that even the most well-appointed home develops unexpected sort of gaps in service. Like dead zones in your cellphone coverage.

You’ve got great chairs, sofas, end tables, dressers, headboards, coffee tables, and more. But there never seems to be anywhere to set your bags down when you walk into your room. And when you want to pull back your duvet it just ends up on the floor. 

Watching tv on your comfy couch is great, but for really kicking back you need somewhere for your feet to go. And then there are those shoes again. Whether coming or going, hopping on one foot or sitting on the floor or coffee table are not sustainable solutions. 

Enter the bench and ottoman.

How Benches And Ottomans Are Different

Generally speaking, when you hear the word “bench” you likely picture a park, bus stop, or picnic area. So there’s one difference. While both benches and ottomans are often used to offer extra seating, benches are often specifically designed for seating and typically offer a bit more height than ottomans.

Ottomans are more of a low rider. They tend to be a bit lower in height so — while still useful for seating — they’re excellent for propping up your feet while chilling on your sofa or enjoying a good book in your favorite reading chair. Ottomans also frequently offer storage space making them a popular choice for bedrooms (throw pillows, spare blankets, etc) and living rooms (games, throw blankets, etc).

How Benches And Ottomans Are Similar

You win either way. Benches and ottomans solve the entryway problem, the duvet at the end of the bed problem, the where to put random decor or other stuff I’m not using problem, and even the extra seating for guests problem. So many of those little gaps in the functionality of interior design can be fixed simply, cheaply, and easily with the help of benches and ottomans. And that’s what’s to love about them. Make sense? Great! 

Storage Bench DIY And Choosing The Right Fabric To Make It Your Own

Back to standing in the entryway or back door hopping on one foot and trying to get your shoes on/off, needing someplace to sit for a second (dang it!), and landing on the coffee table. 

A while back, in a post we shared about how to measure fabric for your upholstery projects, one of the experts whose insight we leaned on was Aimee Swikit — artist, upholsterer, and founder of Artisan Upholstery Studio and its YouTube channel of the same name. In short, when it comes to upholstery with an artist’s eye and flair she’s kind of a rockstar. Plus, she’s one heck of a teacher.

Today Aimee’s going to help you lean into your inner DIYer. In this super comprehensive and easy-to-follow video, she walks you through — from start to finish — how to take an old coffee table you own or you find at a secondhand store and turn it into a gorgeous, fully functional tufted bench or ottoman.

When all is said and done, not only will you have a stellar new piece of furniture you’ll also have a stellar new story to (modestly) share what a freaking DIY rockstar you are. We’ll leave the how-to journey to Aimee. Once you give the video a quick once-through, you can gather your supplies and get to it.

And speaking of supplies, let’s talk about fabric. In the video, Aimee goes with a large diamond pattern for her tufting and KOVI’s eco-friendly blue floral print fabric. She mentions that she’s chosen a large-size diamond pattern so — once tufted — the floral pattern itself isn’t awkwardly pinched and distorted. (Which is kind of a boss move.)

If you’re loving that idea, but that particular pattern isn’t feeling like you. There are so many others to choose from. Perhaps a contemporary diamond patterned jacquard in steel blue instead. Or maybe a rich deep red and muted yellow floral pattern performance grade fabric.

Tighten that tufting pattern with smaller diamonds and use small-scale patterned fabric. A classic Wedgewood blue patterned damask would be lovely. Make it pop with a contemporary black and white Houndstooth patterned tweed. Offer a soft place to land with abstract patterned performance-grade fabric in lagoon teal.

And whatever size tufting pattern you choose, you’ll find literally hundreds of solid colored fabrics in a vast array of textures and styles to choose from. So you can make your new bench feel right at home in your design style.

Now You’re Ready To Make A Bench Or Ottoman And A Much Happier Home

Here are today’s key takeaways. Look around your home. Start noticing places where you find things piling up on furniture they don’t belong on, finding their way to the floor when you’d rather they not be, or spots where a quick place to sit would make all the difference in transitioning from one part of your day to another. 

All of these are great opportunities to add a bench or an ottoman. 

From there it’s just a question of whether you want it to sit high (bench) or a bit lower (ottoman). And decide whether you want it to have extra storage space inside — usually an ottoman but totally a can-do feature for either one. 

Finally, head to your garage or favorite secondhand store and pick out a piece you’d love to reimagine for your home. And tune into Artisan Upholstery Studio to make it your own one step at a time. You got this. And we’re here to help you find the perfect fabric for your fabulously you new piece. 

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