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. Stephanie says

    They look really awesome. I love how they have more height than the other bench so they look more related to the bed. I can see how you’d want something longer though. Maybe someday you’ll come across a 3rd one and you can have 3 of them! haha.

    I finally painted an old dresser I’d had sitting around for like a month. I painted it black and it looks really nice. I was considering doing a fun pop of color on the inside but once it was painted, I liked the natural wood inside. :) Now I need to go buy hardware and then I can move it into my room. It’ll be so nice to have a dresser after 4 months of being dresser-less! Yay! :)

  2. says

    Love them! I have a similar plan in the works for a few old side/coffee tables once we do our basement. I love how these turned out.

    Was 1″ foam thick enough? And did you consider a little batting on top to add to the plushness?

    And another trivia question (‘cuz I like to keep you thinking) – what’s your favorite one-day-super-quick project on THIS house?

    • says

      We actually were conscious about not making these too tall for Burger reasons, we didn’t want to make him jump higher since it might defeat the purpose) but if height is no issue, 2″ foam would be even plusher, and layering on some batting never hurts (our fabric was so thick that I thought it would be great without batting, but if it were thinner I would have used to to “smooth things out.” Hope it helps! And as for the trivia question, hmm. I think it was our headboard. It wasn’t super quick, but it was a one-day project, so it didn’t drag on. I bet if you ask me again in a week it’ll change though. Haha. I’m a fickle soul.


  3. says

    Really like these! Just wondering how they might look side by side turned the other way (so you didn’t see the X)? Did you try it that way?

    • says

      Yup, I was sort of deadlocked either direction (they seem to work both ways) but John loved the x, so his vote tipped them over into staying x-forward. It does give them a little more of a special feeling for sure.


  4. Sarah says

    I’m so glad that you did this! I keep looking for something to help my Chihuahua to get in our bed. He is getting older and has a hard time jumpng up there. Most of the ottomans are so clunky, but this seems light and easy to do! I’m wondering if there are any side tables at Target now……:)

  5. says

    Beautiful! Love the color and texture of the fabric.

    I also love “X” things — I have many subtle “X” shapes in my living room.

    (Subconscious recollection of childhood days spent watching “Family Feud” …?) :)

  6. says

    I’m with Erin I think they definitely need some nailhead trim if you can manage it! They look amazing, but there is something…unfinished looking about them. Just compared to all the other amazingness going on in that room! Love you guys though and I didn’t comment yesterday, but I am so excited for your book release- I pre-ordered a month or so ago and I can’t wait!

    • says

      Aw thanks Jennifer! I think for now with things like the chandelier and the headboard and the rug, we don’t want everything to compete/shout, so we’re ok with some basic stools that just slide in without demanding too much attention. I worry that nailhead might be too blingy/look at me with all the other stuff going on, but who knows where we’ll end up!


  7. Krissy says

    I love end-of-the-bed benches/ottomans/stools. Our current bedroom is too tiny for that, but I’m hoping our bedroom in whatever house we move into (wayyy down the line) will have room for something at the end of the bed!

  8. Ammie says

    Love the new ottomans. Have you considered using that brown magic marker to cover the nail heads? I think it’d help them blend right in.