goodwill hunting.

Shelly Leer (a.k.a. Upholstery GODDESS) just sent me over her most recent DIY project and I am LOVING the result. A boring Goodwill coffee table was given the ultimate makeover and is now a decorator’s dream bench! She was kind enough to write out step-by-step instructions for the textile-deficient (read: me). Thank you, Shelly—- FANTASTIC job!

[If you’ve got a fun DIY project to share with Design for Mankind, send it on over right here.]

old coffee table
cordless drill
dacron batting
electric knife
spray adhesive
twine or string
long tufting needle (available at most fabric stores)
staple gun (electric works best)
crescent pliers or standard pliers
flat head screwdriver
button forms to cover (available at fabric stores)
enough fabric to cover your bench

1. Lightly sand, prime and paint legs of old coffee table. Measure, mark and drill holes where covered buttons will be placed.

2. Lay piece of foam on flat surface and place table upside down on foam. With yardstick measure and add ½” all around sides of tabletop. Mark foam for cutting lines. Using electric knife, cut foam, making sure you keep knife blades at a right angle to foam. If knife cuts slowly, spray silicone spray on blades.

3. Spray one side of foam with adhesive and center it on top of coffee table. Poking up through bottom with long needle, mark and cut or tear out a bit of foam where buttons will be placed.

4. Cut enough dacron batting to fit over top of foam and roll under wood edge of tabletop.

5. Starting at the center of one long side, attach dacron with three “anchor” staples. Do the same on each side, pulling firmly so tighten batting around foam. Continue pulling down and at a diagonal on batting while stapling out towards each corner from center.

6. Finish corners like a crisp, flat sheet corner, folded and tucked under, pulled taut and stapled securely. Repeat this for all corners

7. Lay fabric over top of bench, centering if necessary. Cut off excess from all sides leaving five inches extra for pulling and stapling.

8. With this workable size of fabric, repeat steps 5 and 6, always pulling snugly and diagonally downward and then back in towards wood edge so you can set staples uniformly on underside of wood top. Work carefully to get corners nice and clean. If you need to re-do, use flat head screwdriver and crescent pliers to pull out staples, always pushing away from your hands.

9. With your LONG upholstery needle, push up through pre-drilled holes in table bottom, through foam and mark with chalk or pencil where buttons will be placed. For the perfectionists, make note of fabric pattern at button markers so button coverings can be cut from scraps to match pattern.

10. Cut upholstery twine or string in 14-18 inch lengths to be looped through eye of button and secured.

11. For the final detail, poke the long needle up through holes from bottom side of tabletop. It will go through, eye side up. Thread both ends twine through the eye of the needle and send the needle back down, pulling the button down snugly into top of foam. Pull twine out and repeat for remainder of buttons. Now, using your best yoga moves, do any twisting and bending necessary to pull twine down tightly with one hand while trying to maneuver the stapler up and under the table with the other hand so you can staple the twine down while pulling the button tight. You may have to make a few adjustments to get it tight enough and be sure to staple it a few more times, folding it back over and stapling again.

That’s it! Thanks, Shelly!!! :)

  • What a great post. I have a bench in my basement that just calls out for a cushion. This makes it look so easy!

  • Fabric is from Braemore. Purchased at Calico Corners but I just saw it at Hancock fabrics.

  • This is adorable! I really like the pattern of the fabric. I need to find me an extra bench :)


  • oh my, this is fabulous. thanks so much for this post.
    p.s. LOVE your blog!

  • I don’t see your “I gotta have one of these” nail gun listed as a supply. One would think it might get the job done more efficiently than a staple gun for the DIY.


  • You definitely would WANT the official upholstery staple gun by Rainco with an air compressor, but you there are also electric upholstery staple guns. $$$

  • I was just thinking of doing this! Awesom I was wondering how to do the buttons!

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