Monday, May 5, 2014

DIY Tufted Banquette Tutorial

Here's how I made the banquette in 11 easyish steps!  I wouldn't say it was super easy, but it is doable, if you have the patience for it.  For the cushion part, I mostly followed the tutorial done by Jenny from Little Green Notebook.

Step 1- Build your base

I needed a base for my banquette.  I didn't want to bother with building or framing it from scratch so I bought 3 Ikea Besta shelf units for $150 total.  They're also pretty light weight, so I can move the banquette and clean under it easily.

They're not very deep, and I wanted to have enough space to sit comfortably so I made the cushion seat deeper by 3 inches.  The cushion base and seat overhang at the back.  This also allows me to still plug things into the wall sockets that are now behind the banquette.

Step 2 - Chose your cushion base

I decided to use 2' x 4' white pegboard panels for the cushions.  I bought 6 of these for a total of $41.70.  I had Home Depot cut them to size.  These pegboard panels also come in 8' lengths, but they're made out of a thinner and flimsier material.  Because I needed to span more than 4', I joined the pegboards with 2" double wide mending plates.

Step 3 - Cut your foam to size

The next step was to cut the foam to size.  You can buy foam over the internet cut to your specifications, but it is super expensive.  JoAnns and Hancock Fabrics sometime have good deals on their foam, but not as cheap as using camping pads, which is what I decided to go with. I really saved a bundle by using these.  They're 6' by 2' and cost $22 each.  I made sure I picked the firmest I could find.

The easiest way to cut foam is with an electric knife.  I used a long ruler as a guide.  It also helps to hold the knife blades from underneath with your other hand (make sure you're wearing gloves!).

Step 4 - Mark your tufts

Next, decide where you want your tufts to be.  This is where using pegboard comes in handy.

Mark the holes before hand.  Place the marked pegboard on the foam.  Use a marker to create dots on the foam.

Step 5 - Make holes in foam

You then remove some of the foam where the dots are.  I used a hollow end of a broom.  Simply punch it through the foam and remove the cutout foam.

Step 6 - Batting

Next you'll want to glue the foam to the pegboard with spray glue, and cover it with some batting for extra cushiness.  Staple the batting to keep it in place.

Step 7 - Make your fabric covered buttons

Make your buttons.  This is where the project starts to get tedious, and frustrating.  In all, I used 172 buttons!  I bought all of the buttons on sale so they only cost me about 30 cents each, approximately $50 total.

This is where I almost lost it!  Thankfully, I didn't cover all of my buttons at once, because after tufting a few, I realized that the backs would come off when I tried to tuft.  This happened on a number of occasions.  So I decided that I would glue all of the backs onto the buttons.  This was an extra step but so necessary.  I know upholstery shops will make you covered buttons for $1 each which is great if you're only doing a few, but not a couple of hundred.

Step 8 - Measure and cut your fabric

Next stage is to cut your fabric.  Make sure you have enough fabric on either side of the foam to be able to tuft into the holes.

Step 9 - Tuft

Start tufting.  There's definitely a bit of a skill to this, and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.  I think it was a lot harder for me because I was tufting such long pieces.  I started in the middle and worked my way out.

You'll want to guide the fabric into diamonds with your hands.

To secure the buttons you can either use a staple method, or a button method.  The staple method was difficult because I was using a stapler that didn't have much power, so the staples weren't sitting as tight as I'd like to hold the cotton.  Definitely make sure you use upholstery thread for your buttons.  Pull the thread tight and staple in a zig zag fashion.

My hand started to hurt after a while of doing these, so I switched it up and decided to use some buttons instead of staples.  Use a slip knot to pull the buttons tight.  You probably wouldn't want to use buttons on the seat cushion because they might break when you sat on them, but for the seat back, this method could work fine.

Step 10 - Staple fabric on back

Then turn your cushion over and staple the fabric, making sure you pull it tight.

Step 11 - Make banquette skirt

Next step, the skirt.  I wanted a tailored skirt that could be easily pulled up to access the storage in the bench.

I made some piping, and cut the panels.  I ironed a 2 inch seam on either side of the panels.

The panels were then stapled to the underside of the seat cushion.

Project cost:

Base cabinets - Ikea Besta - $150
Foam pads - $120
Buttons - Dritz - $55
Peg board - $40
Mending plates - $7
Fabric - Warsa Lime Linen, Gray Lines Linen Inc 14 yds - $140
Batting - 4 yds - $20
Upholstery Thread - $3

Grand Total - $535!  

Project time:

Too many hours to count!


  1. Wow that's wonderful! Fantastic job! Love that you have hidden storage! Can I ask how you got the boards against the wall to stay put? Whats holding them up?

    1. Hi Claire, thanks for the kind comment. At the moment the back pieces are just resting on there. I bought some flush mount hanging thingies from Ace yesterday to attach the back to the wall.

  2. Wow! That is amazing..I would be patting myself on the back for weeks. Very cool, clever and impressive <3

  3. I'm in awe! That banquet is amazing - highly creative and very well done. I so want one!

  4. This is so beautiful! Do you have any other idea for the cushions besides tufting? What if I wanted to do a simple cushions? If you have any pictures with different cushioning? Thanks!

    1. You could just do a regular box cushion. I posted some inspiration photos that have a tufted back with a plain bench seat. They're probably much more practical, but I was on a tufting kick! Here's the link

  5. This is so gorgeous, I love everything about it! Awesome job, this takes DIY to a whole different level :)

  6. Great job. I'd say, one of the smartest pieces of furniture I've seen. DIY has a new definition, now.

  7. WOW! This is so impressive and do-able. I have a (non-tufted) corner bench on my kitchen now -- you've got me thinking! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Excellent solution! Amazing idea. Great execution! Thanks for the step-by-step!

  9. Seriously impressive!! You've done a wonderful job, it looks incredibly professional! xxx

  10. Wow! That is quite a project and looks so professional! I love how creative your materials were. Love it!

  11. This is incredible! You're very ambitious.

  12. This is very cool. About how far apart did you space the buttons? (Thank you for posting.)

    1. The rows are 4 inches apart. The buttons are spaced 8 inches apart on each row.

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  14. What a great project! I'm currently considering making a wall of Besta bookshelves, and was a little surprised to see IKEA's recommended weight limits, which are pretty low. Did you reinforce your Bestas in any way, or have you had any issues with a sitting person being too much weight for them?

    1. Amy, I used Besta benches which I believe are stronger/sturdier than the Best bookshelves. I did not reinforce them and have had no problems with people sitting on them.

  15. How were you able to attached the 3 Besta Shelves together?

    1. I didn't attach them together. They occasionally shift a little bit, but not much,

  16. This is AMAZING! I saw a Tufted Banquet on sale at Home Goods for $800, but I like DIY projects and came across your blog!! AMAZING!! I would like your advice/opinion on how to create something like the top of this chair?

    Wondering if I'll need to trace out the shape on the wood and do a custom cut... to get the top of my banquet to look like this...?

    1. Yes, you probably need to trace the shape on to plywood and cut it out with a jigsaw. Good luck with your project.