Jun 20, 2011 | Post by: janine rose 75 Comments

Mid-Century Modern Bench Tutorial

After years of drooling over expensive Mid Century Modern  benches I decided to make my own!

Measures 47 inches long, 17 inches deep, and 13 1/2 inches tall.


-Mid Century style legs -I purchased them from eBay for $30. EBay has an array of legs from many time periods for an affordable price.

-Plywood- At home depot for $1! Great tip- ask if they have remnants from pre-cut wood, they hardly charge you anything to cut you something from it!

-High density foam -$40

-Cording- $4

-Cotton – $8

-Muslin for bottom of bench -$4

-Lots of staples $-5

-Tacks- $5

-Buttons -$10

-Cream colored vinyl fabric- $15 a yard. Used two yards for $30

Total Cost $137


-Staple gun


-Measuring tape




-Waxed button thread

-Large sewing needle



1. Sand and stain legs to desired color. I chose a warm cherry stain

2. Using saw, cut foam around plywood and allow 1 inch extra around sides.

3. Using staple gun, pinch foam and staple foam to plywood all the way around.

4. Determine where you would like your buttons and mark with chalk, using a drill, drill holes just through the wood, not through the foam

5. Lay out vinyl, measure and cut to fit bench body (top and sides) adding an extra inch to sew cording

6. Cut out vinyl for cording and an extra 1/2 inch

7. Sew cording to the top piece of vinyl, then sew the sides

8. Lay layer of cotton over foam to create a smooth surface

9. Secure vinyl over the foam/cotton, hold tight with tacks. Then start stapling while holding vinyl taught, remove tacks as you go along. Keep going around until it is nice, even and taught

10. Attach lower lever of cording with staple gun

11. Staple gun down ½ inch pieces of cardboard flush to cording to reinforce strength of cording

12. Cover buttons with vinyl with button cover kit

13. Using long needle, sew buttons through board with waxed button thread, securing on back with staples for double (or triple!) reinforcement

14. Attach muslin to bottom of bench by stapling all the way around the edges

15. Position legs where you would like them, screw them in and you are done!

75 Comments to Mid-Century Modern Bench Tutorial

  1. Debbie Adams
    July 29, 2011 6:52 am

    This is awesome!! Great job and thanks for sharing!!:)

  2. Adriana
    July 29, 2011 10:17 am


  3. Alissa
    July 29, 2011 11:26 am

    Wow! This is amazing! Thanks for the great tutorial… you make it look easy! Can I ask… where did you get that gorgeous pillow?

    • admin
      July 29, 2011 2:12 pm

      Thank you so much for checking it out!

      The pillow, I got from the DwellStudio line at Target a year or so back as part of my bedding

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they carry it any more but they have a similar one here

  4. Steph @ BirdHouse
    August 4, 2011 3:25 pm

    Love this! Thanks for the great tutorial! Pinned it!

  5. Meredith @ Welcome to Heardmont
    August 4, 2011 7:54 pm

    Beautiful job! I just spotted some mid-mod legs for sale at Lowe’s the other day, but I like the length of yours better. This is going on my DIY Project board on Pinterest! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • janine rose
      August 4, 2011 8:04 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by! Try eBay or Etsy, they always have great mid century legs. Enjoy the project!

  6. Annette
    August 4, 2011 10:34 pm

    Now that’s a tutorial! And, to have such a professional-looking piece to show for your labor is excellent. I will be a follower.

  7. Renata
    August 4, 2011 10:38 pm

    I love it! I really wanna make this for my house!
    Great blog!!

  8. michelle
    August 5, 2011 1:25 am

    This is really awesome! I’ve been thinking about turning my current coffee table into something like this. Great inspiration and steps to get me started. Thanks!

  9. Andreea
    August 5, 2011 2:16 pm

    Amazing, thank you for sharing! I’m totally going to make this. Though the endless fabric, leg, length, buttons, etc combinations might make it difficult to decide what to make!

    • janine rose
      August 5, 2011 3:10 pm

      I completely understand! I would love to see it in a different color/fabric! Please share with me when you do, I would love to see it!

  10. Kompromisslos toll
    August 6, 2011 12:03 pm

    It looks fantastic and is so simple. Thanks for sharing this. Comes on top of the I-want-to-make-this-list… ;-)

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  12. Merry
    August 11, 2011 3:33 am

    Beautiful! Simply beautiful.

  13. Lucy
    August 11, 2011 4:13 am

    This is a-mazing. Where did you get your foam from?

  14. Miki
    August 11, 2011 1:38 pm

    LOVE the bench but I am in love with your sofa as well! I have been looking for a charcoal grey with low track arms forever to no avail! Any chance you want to share where you got yours? :)

  15. Nicholas Post
    August 11, 2011 5:17 pm

    In case, you want to change legs in the future, check this link for affordable custom hairpin legs.


    This will make any of your furniture, even bed very classic, vintage or retro. It worked for my personal credenza bookcase I made 2 months ago.

  16. belgiumifye
    August 11, 2011 5:43 pm

    Great job!! I took @ class @ Eliot School too and loved it. Gorgeous final piece.

    • janine rose
      August 11, 2011 9:06 pm

      Thank you! The Eliot School is so great, I would love to take more classes there. Which class did you take?

      • Rae
        August 14, 2011 3:37 am

        I just found a table-esque piece for free on the street with great mid-century legs. Know I now it was fate and I can transform my find into something truly unique and special. Thank you for the tutorial!

  17. Shelly
    August 12, 2011 10:38 pm

    You can also find new stainable mid-century style tapered wood legs on http://www.tablelegs.com in a variety of heights — 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12″. They also sell angled or straight top plate hardware. Quite affordable too.

  18. Amy
    August 14, 2011 1:36 am

    Absolutely love this. Great, great job. Good to know you can find those legs online…never thought about that before!!

  19. jennifer
    August 14, 2011 7:57 pm

    I love this and am interested in making it, but I got totally lost when you got to the cording part. I also don’t have a place to make it or a sewing machine! Not much of a DIYer but totally intrigued. Will try to find detailed directions for cording… is this something that’s more “advanced” and a newbie might botch?

    • janine rose
      August 16, 2011 1:57 pm

      I am not an expert by any means and needed a little help myself. I think if you look up how to do the cording you will find it isn’t so hard. Also, working with a more forgiving fabric is a good idea too, that way if you mess up the cording, you can take it apart and re-sew it easily! Thank you for checking it out!

  20. RetroRuth
    August 15, 2011 2:51 pm

    Wow! Amazing job and excellent tutorial! Was the vinyl easy to work with? I have to recover 10 barstools this winter, and I am totally going to steal this look for them. Love it!

    • janine rose
      August 16, 2011 1:28 pm

      Thank you! The vinyl was actually easy to work with. It was my first time working with it and I thought i would ruin it while sewing but I didn’t have any problems. And it was actually quite affordable!

  21. Sara {House Bella}
    August 15, 2011 8:25 pm

    Um, wow. Amazing! Marking it in my Pinterest. :)

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  23. Britany Choe
    August 19, 2011 12:00 pm

    Awsome blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also

  24. John
    August 19, 2011 9:09 pm

    Nice work, looks good… very thorough.

  25. Abigail
    August 22, 2011 4:40 pm

    Janine – It’s great to see the fabulous narrative through photos of you remaking your bench. It turned out so well! I hesitate to direct your fans to the Eliot School, where you did the work, because our Upholstery classes are so crowded. But they might want to know about it anyway: http://www.eliotschool.org

  26. H
    August 24, 2011 12:19 pm

    Wow!! Awesome ! Thanks for the tutorial :-)

  27. Human Rights
    August 25, 2011 11:13 am

    Useful website. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Nancy
    August 29, 2011 5:17 am

    This is awesome thanks! Quick question – is it possible to just sew the buttons on the fabric and foam and then staple it to the wood – or was that done for a specific reason?

    • janine rose
      August 30, 2011 5:33 pm

      Thank you! The buttons were done that way so they would pull on the fabric and foam to create an indent to show a bit of depth. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  29. Raymonn
    September 1, 2011 3:57 am

    I so wish I could create furniture like this. I’m jealous.

  30. Kevin - Diy Dork
    September 26, 2011 5:20 am

    Ok, now that’s an awesome bench. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you scored a real mid-century bench off craigslist or something!

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  32. Aly
    November 4, 2011 10:31 am

    This is fantastic! Any idea whether a piece like this could be used for seating instead of as a coffee table (i.e. can a piece of plywood bear weight)?

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  35. Emily
    January 13, 2012 10:30 pm

    I just came across this fabulous piece on Pinterest. What thickness foam did you use?

  36. Brit Wash
    February 1, 2012 10:52 pm

    Amazing bench! How thick was the foam that you used? It definitely looks thicker than 4 or 5 inches.

    • janine rose
      February 4, 2012 9:29 pm

      Thank you! The foam I used was 4 inches. It may look figure because the plywood it is attached to on the bottom and a layer of cotton over the foam. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  37. Dana
    March 14, 2012 8:33 pm

    Really cool that you shared this!!!!! Great job and very clear instructions! I’m just not clear on how to do the cording…but since I don’t have a sewing machine, I will have to have a seamstress do that part – but if you have another picture or two of that so I can tell her how to do it, that would be so appreciated:)

    • janine rose
      March 15, 2012 5:41 pm

      Thank you! I unfortunately don’t have more photos of the cording process. If she is a seamstress who is familiar with doing work with furniture covers etc, he/she should know. If not, you can google, “how to sew welting cord” and there are videos and photos everywhere!

  38. Rachel
    June 24, 2012 4:20 am

    So you sewed the vinyl on a regular sewing machine? I’m very intrigued! Our third kid is almost to the walking stage and I’d love to do this bench as a ‘coffee table’ so she doesn’t bang into the table like our older two kids did! :)

  39. nurdiin daifufgo
    August 8, 2012 2:50 am

    wow..I wanna try to making it..I have some waste material thing here..

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  41. Wendy McLemore
    January 13, 2013 8:15 pm

    I wanted to thank you so much for this tutorial- I made one for my home and am so pleased with the results! I went with a seafoam green vinyl and I think it looks great. My corners are not exactly perfect- I did all the steps myself and I have a regular (non-industrial) sewing machine.
    Thanks again for posting the tutorial- our ottoman was worn out, but my husband perfers something to put his feet on (rather than a wood coffee table.) It is the perfect compromise!

  42. Amanda
    March 18, 2013 7:33 pm

    I just found this post and I love this project! How much weight do you think this piece would support? One person sitting on it? Two? Or just to kick the feet up? Does it sag in the middle at all?

    • janine rose
      April 3, 2013 11:56 pm

      It is definitely heavy duty, does not sag because its heavy grade industrial foam. I have had a couple people sitting on it with no problem! Thank you for checking it out!

  43. Nicole
    June 5, 2013 2:56 am

    Hi, just found this tutorial after looking for a few DIY benches! I actually bought a great set of mid-century modern legs like yours for 4$ at an antique store. This is a great tutorial, but I have one question. Did you buy the cording like that or did you make your own? New to the upholstery world…this could be a disaster!


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