Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to: refinish an upholstered bench

Here she is ladies and gentlemen. The refinished bench I put my blood, sweat and (almost) tears in. She's updated. She's timeless. She's... beautiful.

Ready for the story? Well, if not, I'm going to tell it anyway. You see, a long, long time ago, my parents inherited a bedroom set from my dad's best friend's great aunt (I think). Part of that set included this bench which clearly was in need of some TLC. Poor thing.

So I took off the needlepoint cushion and started sanding with my trusty Deoin Sander. And kept sanding. And sanding. And sanding some more to the point where all the finish and old, reddish stain was completely removed.

TIP: For grooves like the ones in the legs of this bench, use a steel bristle brush to basically dig out the excess finish and stain.

Next, I cleaned the entire bench with mineral spirits and finished it off with tack cloth. This removed all of the excess sawdust from sanding and gave me a nice, clean, dust-free base to work with.
Then, I prepped the wood with pre-conditioner and slathered on some MinWax Dark Walnut stain. I did this in sections, waited like 30 seconds and wiped off the excess.

TIP: Follow the pre-conditioner instructions. Pre-conditioner helps the stain go on evenly vs. becoming concentrated in some areas.

Finally, after waiting overnight, I applied a very thin coat of MinWax satin polyurethane. I dabbed the excess off with a rag to make sure it was as thin as it possibly could be, looking for as minimal of a sheen as possible.

For the cushion, I used the original baseboard and "padding" since the needlepoint upholstery was attached using tacks (read: way to hard to take apart). Since the "padding" was pretty much nonexistent, I added an additional 1-1/2" foam top ad wrapped the whole thing in a couple layers of batting to keep everything in place.

From there, I stapled on the new fabric (found at JoAnns out of all places) making sure to center it first, pulling it tightly along the way. For the corners, I left them unattached, pinched in the sides so that they touched, flattened out the top and wrapped underneath.

P.S. I really have no clue if that's the appropriate way to upholster a seat. I've experimented with a few other techniques and this is the only one I've actually liked the outcome of.

And there you have it! My new little, precious bundle of joy. It currently lives underneath Lois my sewing machine (yes, I name my equipment) but I'm kind of thinking about relocating her. Any ideas?


  1. This is so cute! I have been wanting to start refurbishing furniture too. You just might have persuaded me to try :)

  2. Get yourself a staple gun and sander and you'll be in business! I recommend at least trying it at least once - the pride when you finish is overwhelming and you'll be able to 100% guarantee that no one has anything else quite like it.

    Good luck and shoot me an email when it's finished!

    Change of Scenery

  3. Such a big difference from the old to new look!

  4. I totally need one of these. You did a wondeful job! I would love it if you would stop by and share your bench at my linky party!

  5. Done. Thanks so much for your support!