Monday, November 1, 2010

Craiglist Trash to Treasure: Bench

I've been looking for a bench for our entry for some time now, never quite loving anything that I've found.  Big surprise, I know.  So, I decided to peruse Craigslist and see if I could find anything with potential.  Sure enough, about 35 minutes from our townhouse was a bench for sale for $30.  I'm sure other people would look at this and say, "ummm what were you thinking, Megan?"  I'm pretty sure that was on my boyfriend's mind as he hauled it into his suv. But, I knew I could rescue it!

The bench was in rough shape: the finish was worn in spots (I wasn't originally planning on painting the bench, but as you can see, we have a mix of woods in the entry already and with the spindles on the stairs, the bench seemed a little lost), the seat fabric was disgusting, and to be honest the whole thing smelled a little, but those things can and would be fixed.

The first task was getting rid of the fabric on the seat. Luckily the seat is held on the bench by 4 screws, so removal was a breeze. Now if only I could say that for the rest of the rehab project! A flat-head screwdriver, some patience, and an hour later and it was bye-bye ugly grey fabric.  Unfortunately, that exposed an even uglier choice- the original red vinyl - complete with dust, dog dander, and a huge gaping tear.  Back to the screwdriver for a bit and that too was gone.  For good measure I also trashed the original foam (goodbye weird smell!) and replaced it with fresh, clean batting. This is not the most comfortable choice, but foam was super expensive and it's not like we're going to be lounging on this bench anyway, so I went to economical route.

I must have spent two hours staring at the fabric at Joann's, I kinda knew what I wanted but couldn't really find anything that fit that idea.  Finally, I ended up choosing a brown floral decor fabric with hints of teal and green for the base of the seat and a coordinating fabric to make an accent pillow.  To finish it off, I bought a darker teal green trim to fill the gap between the bench and the seat, this would help give it a clean finished line.  Little did I know that this decision would also be a trial.  Every time I would staple a section of the trim on the seat and then try to put the bench in place, the trim was either too long or too short.  After a lot of trial and error, wasted staples, and some frustration I finally figured it out - tape is your friend!  I put the seat in place on the bench and then tucked the trim in until it was sitting right where I wanted it, then I simply taped it in place, removed the bench and stapled the trim where it fell on the backside of the seat. 

Refinishing the wood on the bench was not as easy as recovering the seat, however.  I wanted a clean look that would help it to stand out from the other wood in the entry, so I decided to go for a white or ivory finish.  Armed with mineral spirits, I cleaned the bench- twice, and still there was more dirt and crud to be found.  After I was finally satisfied with the cleanliness, I attacked the bench with spray primer, which is uber sticky and gets everywhere (including the boyfriend's new grill cover, oops!)  The bench absolutely ate the paint, every coat I put on it just seeped into the bench with no end in sight.  Once I had finally exhausted the primer, I let it dry and then started to coat it with the actual spray paint.  It was splotchy, not at all the look I wanted and I was uber frustrated.  So I let it dry completely and pulled it back into the house.  What was I going to do?  I didn't want to buy more spray paint, nor was I keen on inhaling any more of it.

I remembered the set of test paint I bought, and if you know me well enough you'll find this funny- they are Martha Stewart paints.  Yep, Martha Stewart saved the day!  There happened to be a color- Heavy Cream, that was exactly what I was looking for.  So, while I really didn't want to hand-paint the entire bench, I broke down and did it.  It worked beautifully.  Three coats with a foam brush (so there would be no bristle marks) and I was done.   Here's another tip, if you know you'll need to do multiple coats on something, put your paint brush in a plastic sandwich or storage bag and seal it, this will keep the brush from drying out and save you from having to wash it between coats.

Last step was to put the seat back on the bench and place the finished project in the entry.  I added a simple pillow (envelope pillow covers are the easiest to make in the world!), oh and some pumpkins as part of my fall decor.  I'm totally please with the finished project and the fact it cost me less than $50. 

On another note, I recently joined on a recommendation from another crafty friend.  Got a blog or an interest in crafting in general?  Head over to their site and join- connect with other crafters to learn something new and share your talent too!

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