Coffee Table Conversion

From the desk of Amy Frederickson - vintage enthusiast, revitalization fanatic and Revitaliste founder.

Restoring a vintage coffee table San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles

Backstory (because every vintage piece has one!)

I love benches for their versatility. Arguably one of the the most functional furniture pieces, they can double as a coffee table, ottoman, extra seating around a table, a place to sit while putting on shoes, a decorative touch in an otherwise non-descriptive wall, or (my personal favorite) an easy place to “hang" clothes at the foot of the bed.

When looking for additional seating to accommodate our dining room table that can seat up to fourteen, a long bench seemed like the perfect solution. I quickly realized that EVERYONE must crave a good vintage bench with a touch of architectural appeal because they are surprisingly difficult to come across.

A friend of mine was selling several pieces of furniture she had inherited when her grandmother downsized her home. Of particular interest to me was a coffee table from the early '60s. The top, teak with inlaid formica, had seen its fair share of use - apparently her gram' threw some wild bridge parties back in the day, as evidenced by the kaleidoscope of cigarette burns and water marks. However, the fantastic teak base was in mint condition. If a bench can double as a coffee table, why can’t a coffee table double as a bench? The length was just right and there was ample space to add a comfortable cushion top - perfect!

Furniture restoration San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles

Revitalization Checklist

  • Upholster table top with a box seat cushion (meaning with 90º edges) - best choice given the style of the bench and the cow hide I planned to use

  • Wood condition: Perfect - great vintage patina

  • Structural integrity: Needs reinforcement to accommodate new functional use as bench

white cow hide for upholstery

Design Decisions

Before discovering this piece, I knew I wanted to upholster the bench in a hair-on cowhide. Hair-on hides are great because they can stand up to a lot of use and handle almost any spills--just what we needed for the dining room. While we don't exactly host raucous bridge parties, we do tend to be a rather red-wine-spill-prone crowd.

Mid century bench upholstered in white cowhide

Things To Keep In Mind

  • Height of coffee table - if the converted coffee table will be used at a table, make sure the height is still appropriate (standard dining chair seat height is ~18")

  • Structural integrity in a weight-bearing situation - technically, coffee tables are not constructed to be bearers of any significant weight. That doesn’t mean they can’t be reinforced to allow for this.

  • As with any project, choose a fabric that will be appropriate for its new use.

The new bench is chic and ever so versatile! It stylishly sits along the wall, adding a touch of architectural interest but not stealing the show. It’s light enough to easily move and the design works in virtually any room in my house.


Want to reupholster a bench in your house? Get in touch for an upholstery quote HERE.