DIY: Vintage curbside bench transformed into beautiful piece of furniture!


It was a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, and I opened the blinds in my bathroom and looked out the window.  My neighbors had a big dumpster in the driveway – they were emptying the house that my 90+ year old neighbor had been living in, for probably 60+  years.   They had moved him into a nursing home, and they are cleaning up and emptying the house, I’m assuming to get ready to sell it.  I noticed near the curb, there was this bench.  Were one of the relatives taking it home with them?  Were they throwing it away?  I had no idea.. but I called in my BF and asked him if he would ask them next door.  If they were throwing it away – I WANT IT.  I’ve always wanted a bench like this.  And I could do my DIY magic and make it look beautiful!


BF goes outside in a while to start his yard work and I hear him coming up the stairs.  He comes into my craft room and says “it’s yours”.  YEAH!!  He moved it on our front porch until I knew what I wanted to do with it.  I ran downstairs and I could tell this bench had so much potential!  The seat lifts up, so I could store blankets in it.  It is clearly hand made.  If you look close, you can see all of the imperfections.  All the little pieces of wood in the corners to make it fit, etc.  But that’s part of it’s charm!


I was debating on painting it, or staining & varnishing it.  My mom, who isn’t, but could be considered a professional painter, suggested I stain & varnish it.  So I went to the store last week and picked out my stain & varnish.  I have painted what seems like a million rooms, but I have never in my life stained or varnished anything.  So this was all new to me.   I definitely learned a lot as I went along, things I will know better for next time!

So I gathered up my supplies, and my boyfrient had already moved the bench to the back deck, and he had his air compressor and a brush and scrubbed and aired all the dust & dirt off.  It was *really* dirty.  My neighbor told Chris that her dad had this bench stored in his basement for 50+ years.  And, it looked like it!


So after Chris aired it all out, he got his shop vac and vacuumed it inside & out, completely prepping it for me. bench14


Even though it was aired out and vac’d out, it still needed a wash down.  So I did that.  It. Was. Gross.  I had no idea it was so dirty.  Yech!


Here’s where my project really began.  I chose a Pecan wood stain (I wanted it a little darker to match the furniture we had in the living room).


Um, I have the supplies, but now what do I do?  LOL (That’s what I was thinking!)  I think I just stared at it for like 10 minutes, scratching my head, not knowing what to do.  I should have called mom. lol


Let the staining begin.  I remember Chris saying “is that what the directions say to do?”  I was like, “there are directions?” LOL


Staining… complete!  Now to let it dry.



The next day, I tried my hand at varnishing.  It was easier than staining, I’ll tell you that much.  It went on MUCH quicker.  But it seemed a lot thinner to me than paint, and I was forever trying to keep up with all the “drips”.   This was after the first coat of varnish.  I let it dry and then gave it another coat the next day.

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I applied another coat of the varnish today, and when BF got home, it was completely dry, and he brought it inside for me.  I had the perfect place picked out!



I had bought some cushion foam at Joann’s last weekend specifically for this bench. (It was on sale 50% off, score!!)  Cost me $7 for the foam.  I didn’t buy fabric, because I have a huge stash of my own, and knew I would have something for the cushion.  I ended up finding this really pretty, heavy duty fabric that Chris brought home from work.  He works for a furniture manufacturer, and often gets to bring home rolls of remnant fabrics.  I chose one of those fabrics for the cushion.  It’s a pretty paisley pattern, and the black in it is velvet. Very luxurious looking.

Finally got the cushion done, and this bench is now complete!!






I’m so thrilled with how it turned out!!

Overall, here’s my cost for this project:

Bench… $0
Stain… $7
Varnish. $8
Paint brush.. $0 (already had)
Foam.. $7
Fabric.. $0

I have a 3/4 left of the cans of stain & varnish.. I bought big cans because I didn’t know how much I would need.  I could have easily bought the little cans, which would have reduced the price of this project significantly!  But, I’m not complaining.. now I have stain & varnish for future projects!



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