Refurbished Bench


Today I’m going to share my latest project with you guys. (I told you I get all crafty this time of year!) This is a little bench seat I picked up at a thrift store for $15. It was a disgusting stained mess (as you can see), but it had fantastic bones. I knew that the metal frame was a nice solid design and that everything else could be changed. [I realize that the brightly patterned rug isn’t the best photo backdrop, but what can I say? I needed the space of the living room.]


Click photos to enlarge.

My stained, ripped, tarnished bench. It sat in the garage for weeks, serving only as a tacky but luxurious kitty seat. 😉 I couldn’t wait to rip off that fringe!


The first thing I did was choose a fabric that exactly matched an available spray paint color. I knew I wanted to paint the wooden handles, and I also knew it would drive me crazy if they didn’t match. Since spray paint is much more limited than fabric, I started with that. Luckily I found this shade of green I love that happens to be very on-trend right now. The fabric ended up being an indoor/outdoor material.


The underside of my bench let me know that everything except the metal frame and wooden base must go, including the holey and water-stained cardboard backing.


So I unscrewed the seat.


This is what my frame looked like without the cushion. Helper cat approves.


Next I sanded down the wooden handles. If you’re going to paint, this is a necessary step so your spray will properly adhere. Be sure to wipe off any remaining sawdust.


Then I gave my metal frame a good scrubbing. I used Goo Gone, water, steel wool, and lots of elbow grease.


But then she shined almost as good as new!


Next I carefully covered everything but the wooden handles with plastic bags and painter’s tape (which leaves no residue). I did this after cleaning the metal frame because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold onto the freshly painted handles to scrub.


I sprayed both handles with a coat of primer to be sure my color wouldn’t flake off later.


A close-up shot of the primed handles.


While that was drying, I returned to my removed cushion. I had to strip off the old fabric, which I did using my staple monster and a flathead screwdriver.


As you can see, the staining went straight through to the foam, so the only piece I kept was the wooden board.


Next I cut some nice clean foam to size. I wanted the seat to be thicker than the foam I had on hand, so I cut two pieces.


I painted the handles green within an hour of the primer coat, returning every thirty to sixty minutes to apply light touch-up coats to any spots I missed.


As that was drying, I used spray adhesive to glue my foam to my board. I did this on the grass because that glue is super sticky and leaves a residue everywhere.


I also put a layer of adhesive between both pieces of foam, because a solid cushion unit is easier to work with when upholstering.


Once everything was lined up, I gently pressed down to make sure everything was snug.


At this point I cut a new cardboard backing, using my wooden seat as a template. I also punched holes where I would need to put my screws through to reattach the seat.


Helper cat #2 approves as well!


Next I used batting to gently curve and smooth out my two pieces of foam. This step isn’t entirely necessary, but I had some lying around. I wrapped it around my seat and used a staple gun to attach it to the board.


I trimmed off the excess to remove bulk.


Then I did the same thing with my green fabric. Be sure to cut yourself enough extra size to wrap all the way to the bottom of the board.


I stapled my fabric to the back, being sure to pull the material snug but not too tight. I folded the corners just like wrapping a present, then stapled them down.


Again, I trimmed off excess fabric to remove bulk.


Then I stapled on my new cardboard backing to make everything look neat and tidy.


Once my paint had settled but before it was entirely hardened, I carefully pulled off all of my tape and plastic bags.


A close-up of why taping is necessary before painting. See the clean lines?


Finally, I reattached my newly covered seat cushion.


And voila! It’s small enough to tuck into corners when not needed, and light enough to pull out whenever we want an extra seat in any room. It’s simple and modern and adds a nice pop of color. For a total of about $20 — since I already had most of the materials — this was a fun and useful little project. I love my new bench!

I had a blast doing this. Do any of you guys refurbish cheap finds like this? What’s your latest project?

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  • Leslie

    It’s beautiful! Thanks for the excellent step-by-step instructions with visuals. I’m the kind of person who is interested in this type of project, but needs a bit of extra help from conceptualization to completion. I learned a lot from reading through your post!

    • Thank you! That’s great to hear! I hope you have fun with whatever you decide to tackle, and let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

  • Regina Richards

    Great project. It turned out really beautiful. 🙂

  • klstevens

    Great job, Annie! I love DIY projects… and this is one of those that really inspires me to do something about the crud laying around my house. I’ll be sure to blame you if the SO gets annoyed at my fall projects <3

  • It’s beautiful! Well done, Annie. I’d love to find a little bench like that. Maybe I should hit a few flea markets sometime soon.

    • Thankya ma’am! I was on the prowl for a new project, and I was pleased to find something small enough to keep in our house. 🙂

  • Cynthia Robertson

    Nice job! You really went all out and the finished product is beautiful, Annie. I’m amazed at how nicely the metal polished up.

    • Thank you! I was pleased by that too. I scrubbed long enough, jeeze! =)~

  • That fringe really was horrible, wasn’t it? Your bench looks awesome now — you’re quite the handy-woman! Do the cats still get to use it? 🙂

    • I can’t quite decide, honestly. For now the answer is no because it’s sitting in a room they can’t get into, but I know when I bring it out they’ll be all over it. 🙂

  • Julia Munroe Martin

    Wow, that’s gorgeous! I’ve put new fabric on chairs (the seat) but have never put new padding, but with your great pics, I now know how — thanks! Do you also do reupholstery of larger furniture? I’ve always wanted to learn… so if you know how and visit Maine, please come visit! 🙂

    • Thanks Julia! No, the biggest upholstery I’ve done is a headboard, which is pretty much the same as a giant bench or seat cushion. I’ve never learned how to do a piece of furniture with multiple upholstered parts. That’d be cool though!

      • Melissa Crytzer Fry

        Oooh. I LOVE it. And the kitty helper photos are precious. I need to ‘borrow’ you for a few months as I search for ‘recoverable’ furniture to add to the house we’ve been building for 8 million years. Seems you’d know how to help me find JUST what I need, and how to salvage the pieces, too!

        • That sounds like a blast, actually. If I weren’t a writer, I’d probably be some kind of interior designer/flipper/organizer type person. =)~

  • Nina Badzin

    Seriously, Martha, you are a woman of many talents. #impressed (You like that nod to your recent WU post?)

    • Haha, thanks Nina! And yes, I love your #madhashtagskillz. 😉

  • jclementwall

    Love this! I’ve just started tackling little refurbishing projects. I’ve been intimidated by anything that involves fabric (sticking to picture frames or entirely wooden furniture). But your step-by-step pictures make it seem less daunting. Thank you!

  • Natalia Sylvester

    It came out great! And what a fun project. I’d love to do something like this, but I’m not as talented at seeing the potential in less-than-perfect furniture pieces. Next time I come across something at a thrift store that has good bones, I’ll remember this!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I’m not sure why but I’ve always just had an innate instinct for this type of thing. I constantly “see” the potential in design projects, etc. Good bones is always the key, regardless of if it’s a house, room, or piece of furniture.