Tired of your old coffee table? Have you found a table with great legs or a fine shape at the flea market? How about turning it into an ottoman that you can use as a bench or an upholstered coffee table.

I found this old coffee table at the flea market for $10. It was horribly dirty, and the finish was cracked and dull.

The first thing to do is clean and sand the existing finish.


After you clean and sand, be sure to wipe all the excess sanding dust off. 
Next, decide on what finish you would like it to have: light, dark, natural, or painted.

If you would like to paint it, see instructions for priming and painting here.

If you decide to keep the look natural, proceed to the waxing step.

If you would like to change or darken the color, use Minwax Stain and apply one to two coats depending on the depth of color you are looking for.


After staining, wax your table with a small soft cloth in small sections (buffing in circles). I wanted a nice warm glow but not mirror gloss, so I went over it twice to protect the finish and to achieve that "old world" warm buffed finish.

When you have completed the finish and wax work, you can start on the upholstered top. You will need a piece of 2 or 3 inch foam large enough to cover the top of your table, or even slightly larger, in order to cut the exact shape and size. You can usually get foam at your local fabric store or Discount Fabrics.

Lay your foam on top of the table and trace an outline of your table top onto your foam. A bread knife works very well to cut your foam. Just follow your traced outline while sawing back and forth with your bread knife.

Once you have your foam cut, you can use regular Elmers glue or a spray adhesive to glue the foam onto your table top. Be sure to let it dry before proceeding to the next step.

Next cut a piece of batting at least 2 inches larger than your foam table top. Place the batting on top of the foam and secure it to the table edge just below the foam with a hand held staple gun. Start on one side (an inch from the corner)  of your table by turning under the batting edge and stapling the batting at the folded edge at least 1/4 inch apart until you reach (an inch from)  the other edge of that side. Then staple the opposite side in the same fashion.

Leave the corners open as you will staple those last. When you are ready to staple the corners, first staple the middle of the corner, then you will have wings on either side that you can fold in and under (toward the corner) and secure them with staples.

Now it is time to place your fabric on top of the batting. Make sure you have at least 2 1/2 inches of extra fabric all the way around the top of the table. You can always trim later. Secure the fabric in the exact same way as the batting. Be sure to cover the batting edges with the fabric.

After your fabric is stapled on, you can choose your trim. I used 1/2 inch wide trim but depending on the look you want, you can go narrower or wider. 

Glue the trim around the base of the fabric, covering the staples with your trim. I use hot glue as it is easy to use and dries quickly. Just glue approximately 3 inches at a time so that your glue doesn't dry prior to attaching the trim.

Once you have finished glueing on the trim it is time to add the upholstery tacks. There are so many styles of tacks to choose from; silver, brass, floral, pyramid shaped, etc. You can either purchase these at the fabric store or order online here. 

Decide on the spacing of your tacks. They can be right next to each other or further apart. I decided to leave 1 inch of space in between tacks which kept the look a bit lighter. You can use a regular hammer to put them in, just be sure to protect the head of the tack with a piece of fabric before hammering lightly. This way the tack will not be damaged by the hammer.

Voila! You are finished! 

Now it's time to sit back, relax, and put your feet up on your new ottoman.