Turning Side Tables Into Benches At The End Of The Bed

Here’s a tale I’ve been dying to tell for a while, but now that we actually got it done (this has been done in my head for over a year), we can spill the beans. Because apparently doing something in your mind does not a blog post make. Ha. So without further ado, here’s how we took two 5-year-old side tables from Target (that we hadn’t used since we lived in our first house) and turned them into much needed padded ottomans at the foot of our bed (since Burger needs a little help getting up into our extra tall bed, they’re like our version of doggy steps).

First we placed the side tables in front of the bed to see if we liked them there.

Sold! The color is great since they tie into the hand-me-down dresser that we got from John’s parents. And we’re always suckers for an x-based anything, so we were off to the races. Of course they didn’t feel quite as integrated with the rug as they could, but we thought a thick charcoal fabric on the top of them (along with some nice cushy foam) could help them tie in a lot better (scroll up to check out the first pic to see how much that gray cushion seems to help).

But on with how we did it. First we used a flat cutting attachment from our Dremel Multi-Max to cut off the top of the table (freeing it from the x-based legs). Sounds crazy, right? But since we wanted to upholster the tabletops – to take them from side tables to benches – and it didn’t pop off with the removal of some screws (it was attached with nails and some glue), using the Dremel to get them separated was our best move. Yes, we might have been singing “Keep ‘Em Separated” during this phase.

Next I used 1″ foam from JoAnn to create cushions for the top of each ottoman (a 50% off coupon scored us enough to do both tables for just $9). I cut it to the exact size of each top by tracing it with a sharpie and then just cut along that line with a regular old scissors.

Then I used some spray adhesive that we had in my craft drawer to spray the back of each foam square (I did it outside since the residue is super sticky if it settles onto your floor) and then brought them inside and stuck each of them to the table tops.

We only needed one yard of $15 fabric that we snagged at U-Fab to cover those babies (it’s sort of a dark charcoal corduroy). So I cut squares of it that were about 4″ wider than the tabletop on all sides (to give me enough fabric to wrap around the foam & wood sides and staple it in place around the back).

I like to pull it all tight and staple it just a few times (ex: 3) on each edge of the back of the table (see above). Then I flip it over to make sure it’s tight enough (and nice and centered, since there are small lines in this fabric) before going crazy and adding the rest of the staples to hold everything in place, like you see below:

The corners are always a little tricky, but I just folded the fabric into triangles, sort of like how you wrap the corners of a present. One little triangle overlaps another one and they form a nice clean edge.

Next we brought the legs down to the basement and sanded the edges to make sure there wasn’t anything pointy going on (since we cut the top right off of them, they were a bit sharp from that step). Then we used a regular old brown magic marker to color the unstained parts that we sanded down, just so it would all blend again.

Then we pre-drilled some very small pilot holes at an angle that would ensure that a nail would go right through the legs and into the tabletop from underneath, securing everything for a strong result. We did two 2″ nails on each leg (8 nails total) just to be sure it was all nice and secure.

Boom, done. Total spent = less than $12 per ottoman. Total time spent = around two hours (mostly while watching NY Housewives, which might have slowed me down since I was pausing every few minutes to try to understand why everyone was fighting the. entire. episode).

They definitely work for our Burger-getting-into-bed objective, and the best thing is that the colors/materials are so diverse that if we ever wanted to scooch them around the house into some other room/spot we totally could (if we ever found a super long bench for a steal that we’d rather use at the foot of the bed someday, for example). Gotta love flexible pieces. Oh and just for fun here’s what we had there before (an old leftover storage bench from our first house), which felt a lot heavier and clunkier:

Oh and as for our “construction” process, our tables are both super light, so our little foam + fabric + nails seem to have done the trick (Burger has hopped on and off a bunch of times along with the bean, who has completely manhandled them provided some great quality control) but if yours are heavier it probably doesn’t hurt to use small screws instead of nails to secure things (the way the legs of our x-based tables were configured we worried that screw-heads would be a lot more obvious/ugly, so we figured if small-headed nails worked that would be a more subtle choice for us).

Oh and I sat on each of them and they didn’t explode into kindling or anything, haha, so they’re decently strong, although I don’t know that we’d actually use them for perching (we have a chair in the corner of the room for that), so as long as they hold Burger (and piles of dirty clothes if we’re being real) we’re happy.

What items of furniture have you guys been tweaking with fabric or paint or foam or hardware lately? Any other side-table-to-ottoman conversions going on? Does anyone else remember that awesome Victoria Hagan collection from Target from back in 2007? That’s where we got these x-based babies (I think for around $50 a pop). Her collection was totally the best. Wish she’d come back for an encore presentation. Who wants to bang on the table and slow-chant “we want Hagan” with me? Anyone?


  1. says

    I was a little lost when you first cut the legs off, but the pic of you nailing them back in totally makes it make sense. Upholstering with the legs on would be a nightmare!

    I love how they tie into the other wood tones in the room and bring a little warmth to the foot of the bed.

    PS. I love how Burger poses! He’s such a good puppy!

  2. Brittany T says

    They look AWESOME! But I’m wondering if the side tables have enough support to hold one of you sitting down on it, like to put on your shoes or something.

    • says

      I sat on each of them and they didn’t explode into kindling or anything, haha. I don’t know that we’d actually use them for that though (we have a chair in the corner for perching, etc), so as long as they hold Burger (or piles of dirty clothes, haha) we’re happy.


  3. says

    Love these! I wish I had your ability to look at something and see something else in them… I think I’m too literal sometimes. I would have looked at those and saw only side tables and probably would have painted them and used them as side tables for the rest of their lives. Thank goodness I read your blog though – because now I sometimes look at an old, worn out piece of furniture and think “What could Sherry do with this?” Or look at our tired old bathroom and think – “Well John DIY’ed their bathroom in after-work spurts… whats stopping me?!” :)

  4. says

    We are all about airy pieces lately and your “new” footstools make our case even more! The difference between the ottoman that used to be there and these two awesome (!!! love them !!!) x-benches is so great. It feels so peaceful and light. You should include a before photo with the ottoman!

    • says

      I think it might be tricky with these since they’re not solid wood (it appears to be a veneer on top of some sort of framing) so I think we’ll keep things simple, at least for now ;)


  5. Merideth says

    Richmond tip when you need foam and don’t have coupons handy: Foam to Size (http://www.foamtosize.com/) in Ashland is a warehouse where you can walk in and get upholstery materials for a good price. They have many different densities and heights as well as other necessities like batting. I used them for redoing our dining table chairs and the advice they gave was realy helpful for a first time upholsterer like me.

  6. Sarah says

    Had you considered building a new top for them and upholstering that?
    Like setting each across the length of your bed and building a top to make one large bench?

    Either way they look nice. :)

    • says

      Yes, that was actually my first thought, but then we liked the idea of them being lighter and just having a pairing of two that were more flexible. It definitely could have worked too though, so if anyone else is looking to make all one pieces that would be an awesome way to do it (a long slab of wood, with foam and upholstery, just drilled in from beneath).


    • says

      That was exactly my first thought – make a larger bench out of them rather than two separate ones. They look great but I would love to see it longer since every time you spoke about upgrading the bench you mentioned you wanted something longer there (and I agree). The two separate benches don’t seem much longer than the bench you had there, though they are a bit taller and lighter/airier.

    • says

      Oh yes, if we see a longer bench that would work better for that spot, we’ll be all over it! We’re just working with what we have for now – especially since we think they’re diverse enough to hang out in other rooms if we invite a new bench-friend into our bedroom. Haha.


    • Jess says

      Oh, I thought I was the only one with the super original idea to make those in to one long bench… haha. Good thing I read the comments before posting one!


  7. Monika says

    The pictures of your bedroom appear so much lighter than before (I’m assuming that’s the new camera at work). Like the wall color looks completely different. What is more true to life (the lighter or darker version)? Nice job on the ottomans. :)

    • says

      It’s actually somewhere in the middle I think. It also has to do with time of day (sometimes it feels like a light mocha and other times it’s a dark gray without much brown in it at all).


  8. Brittany says

    Love what you guys have done with this room! I have loved watching it evolve! I also have a really random question about painting over oil based paint. How would you go about covering it? It’s on a wall and we’ve tried Kilz and the color underneath is still showing through!

    • says

      Hmm, I would make sure you’re using oil-based Kilz (there are lots of water based versions, but to go over oil paint you have to use oil-based primer to neutralize it, and then you can follow that with latex based paint once it’s dry).


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