Convert a Coffee Table Into Seating, Storage Plus a Night Stand

by Thea
5 Materials
5 Hours

Change a sturdy coffee table into a multi-purpose furniture item - a perfect solution for a small budget, little space or no woodworking skills.

Here it is again, the room featured in two of my recent posts. Quick background: we had to suddenly convert the study into a teenager's bedroom. Although I did a project to hide some of the electronics (see under my Hometalk profile) there is always something else that needs to be done, like hiding the black UPS box lurking like the proverbial monster under the bed, surrounded by miles of excessive cabling.

"So just move it," I hear you say. Well, I pick my fights and the battle of 'Darling, can't you just move it to the store room?!' is not one that I will be winning in the near future. Besides, the space needs more storage and seating and there isn't room for either.

The chunky pine coffee table pictured above has served us well over the years and has, in fact, been unofficially tested as seating by numerous butts. It is just the right height and design but more importantly it has yet to even wobble as a sign of impending collapse. It's a trooper, so how difficult can it be to convert it into something spectacular?

Give a table a fresh coat of paint

So I haul out a tin of enamel paint. And that's where the ‘fun’ starts. I promise this is actually an easy peasy project but eish (the South African version of a despondent sigh), did I mess it up! Just a summary of things I did wrong with the painting:

  1. Didn't sand
  2. Couldn't find a handle for my paint-roller so went hunting at 2 shops without success
  3. Bought a cheap roller instead that left fluff on the paint
  4. Left the table outside to dry when there was a veldfire and bits of soot became embedded in the wet paint
  5. To fix the soot and fluff, decided to paint the top with chalk paint without checking that it actually works on gloss enamel. See the result below.
  6. Left it outside to dry again the next day, only to have more soot land on the glorious green.
Some paints just don't play well together

Above is the result of mixing enamel and chalk paint. It eventually came right after three coats. But that was not the end of my painting hassles...

7. Since I now had to seal the chalk paint, I decided to use a spray sealant, only to be left with glossy blotches because my spraying skills left something to be desired. This was corrected by brushing on Gripseal, mostly...

Most DIY’ers would laugh at these basic mistakes. But that’s what happens if you are lazy.

Should have used this from the outset

Make some fabric panels:

Measure the drop

With the table painted at long last (after all the issues I definitely wasn't going to do the underside, I don't care what you think), I flipped it over to measure the inside, how wide the fabric panels must be but also the maximum and minimum height.

Instead of having just a flat surface and legs, this table has an overhang onto which I could stick my fabric panels. This meant that I only had to get the absolute maximum height of the drop (from the floor to the bottom of the top) and the minimum (where it wasn't long enough to be stuck to the overhang panel). Any height in between those two would be fine. I planned for 3 panels and left the back of the table open for ventilation.

Make a hem

Using fake leather was so much easier than sewing fabric because you only have to make the bare minimum of hems. BUT... make very sure that you use a glue that is compatible with soft plastic (which is what this fake leather essentially is). And do a test run first!

This line was the result of using normal contact adhesive. I'm not sure if it was bad gluing technique, the glue eating the fabric or just the fact that the fabric was soft but I wasn't happy with the result. I then tried sewing glue (no!) and ended up using something like E6000. This also left a line but not as conspicuous. You could of course, sew the hem or use a matching duct tape to tape it up. Or what about double sided tape? The fact is that the fake leather will be wiped clean and not washed, so you can use all sorts of sticking methods.

I made three of these. One for the front, long side of the table and two for the short sides. Whether there are gaps at ends and you can see through the panels or not is a matter of taste (and a concern over the UPS's ventilation requirements). My panels hang flush with the legs.

Nail the panels is place

With the table lying flat on another table surface, I drove tiny nails into the underside. They have to be tiny otherwise they may just end up sticking out on the outside of the table. I used jewelry pliers to hold them in place whilst initially hammering them in. I used about 4 for the short sides and 6 for the long side.

Make a seat

To make a comfortable seat I bought a chair pad of an appropriate size and thickness (not too thick otherwise your feet might not reach the floor) and cut two strips of wide Velcro. I stuck the Velcro sides to each other...

And then stuck the soft side of the Velcro to the cushion pad with superglue. My pad can only be spot cleaned so the glue doesn't have to be wash proof.

Then, using contact adhesive on the Velcro because I was concerned that the superglue would dry too quickly whilst I was still working, I stuck the chair pad to the table.

If you wanted to make a backrest, you could also stick a pad against the wall but make sure that the Velcro can carry the weight of the pad and that it won’t slump downwards. I just added a loose scatter cushion.

So now we have storage, seating and a night stand, all in one. And hopefully still enough ventilation for the UPS.

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  2 questions
  • Carmela Carmela on May 05, 2021

    I like how your project turned out. Just wondering what's that thing that looks like a popsicle stick fence?

  • Ginger Ginger on May 05, 2022

    What is the UPS box? Is the storage the floor space under the table?

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