From Old to New: Antique Bench Makeover

vintage bench makeover home improvement project

In this post, I will share the steps for this antique bench makeover. I enjoy finding something old and restoring it. Some of our favorite decor are antique items. It gives me an appreciation for how people lived life years ago.

This was one of my favorite of this antique bench makeover for many reasons:

  • a treasure from my father’s house;
  • old;
  • able to trace its history (the furniture manufacturer);
  • able to combine two of my favorite things (chalk paint and fabric); and
  • quick transformation!

I noticed the original sticker on the bottom of the cushion. I researched the Brumby Chair Company. They are located in Marietta, Georgia, and are still in business today. They have the history of their company on their website. I love knowing where this bench originated.

picture of sticker on bench cushion - Brumby chairs

Here are the tools I used on this antique bench makeover:

  • staple gun and light-duty staples.
  • hammer
  • screwdrivers
  • plyers
  • chalk paint
  • poly and a cotton rag
stapler, box of staples, hammer, 2 screwdrivers, vice-grips

Below is a picture of my favorite chalk paint and color — primitive.

I buy this at Home Depot but you can also purchase at Amazon. This is my favorite chalk paint color (primitive). It is sort of an oatmeal color. Once I put polyurethane over this, it tints it just a little darker, sort of an antique look. I have used it several times. Here are some other chalk painted projects using this color:

Preparing the bench

First, I removed the cushion. It was screwed to the frame.

I then sanded the entire frame. Always sand in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Sanding helped me remove all the loose paint and other dirt and rough spots. After sanding, I wiped it down to thoroughly remove any dust that occurred as a result of sanding.

Chalk Painting

Now we start seeing the transformative nature of this antique bench makeover. The first step was to paint two coats of chalk paint, being sure to get all the crevices. I paint small items on my kitchen island on wax or butcher paper. When I paint furniture, I turn it upside down at first to get the feet and underside, then I flip it right-side-up and finish painting. Just knowing that it was not painted underneath would bug me.

A few painting tips . . .

  • When you paint, be sure to paint in the direction of the grain of the wood. Try to paint using long, even strokes.
  • Also, check for drips. If you have a drip, go over this again with your paintbrush.
  • Because chalk paint dries so fast, try to chalk paint inside (shop, basement, garage, etc.), especially on a warm, breezy day. I learned the hard way.
  • Make sure you provide adequate time for the paint to dry between the two coats of paint.

Below are pictures of chalk painting. Up close, you can see the grainy texture, which is characteristic of chalk paint. The purpose of using chalk paint is that it sands off easily to reveal the wood or color beneath the chalk paint.

off-white chalk painted bench base


Then I started sanding.

I sanded off some (but not all) of the chalk paint in strategic spots. I sand all the like areas first (all four legs, then the four flat brace pieces, the four flat pieces around the top, etc.) This helps me to double-check myself for consistency (so all the legs and sections blend/match), but at the same time wanting it to look random as if naturally worn spots.

off-white chalk painted bench base

Even though I try to be consistent from leg to leg, I am also inconsistent to give it a naturally worn appearance. I like the rounded sections. To me, it gives it an authentic look once sanded. Below is a closeup of one of the legs. You can see the randomness of the reveal after sanding.

The edges are easiest, but I don’t overdo it. Then I work on all the flat pieces. Again, the goal is to have a naturally worn look.

Corners are fun to do because I can give them a worn look.

I constantly look over the piece until I am happy with its appearance. You can sand more or less depending on your preference.

Apply Polyurethane

My next step was to use polyurethane. I don’t use wax, but instead use Minwax wipe-on poly (clear satin). I use rubber gloves so I don’t have to clean my hands with paint thinner and reuse them for each coat. When applying polyurethane, I use a cotton rag from an old cotton T-shirt.

I don’t want the furniture to have a shiny look, but just to have protection.  I put two coats of poly on the entire piece of furniture. Just like I did when painting, I started with the furniture upside down. Make sure that you read the directions and give plenty of time to dry between coats — overnight is best.

The poly tints the color a little – – sort of an antique/aged look, but I like the look of this, especially when I use this color.

Recovering the cushion

I pried loose the small nails holding the vinyl covering.

Below is the bench, the original cover, and the wood that was under the cover.

old bench cushion

Here is the original cushion under the vinyl bench cover.

old bench cushion

I pried out the nails to remove this layer of fabric. There was a layer of cotton cushion. It was old and was a little questionable in terms of cleanliness, so I opted to replace it.

I used one-inch foam for a cushion. Here is the wood under the original cushion coverings. Pictured below is the wood part of the seat just laid on the bench so you can see how it fits.

off-white chalk painted bench base with wooden cushion base

Making the Cushion

Next, I laid out my fabric, the foam, and then the original wood insert.

wood bench top, foam, and polkadot fabric

First, I started by pulling the two longer sides tight and then stapling both sides. Then I pulled the two shorter ends tight and stapled both of these ends. I tried to keep the polka dots aligned with the edge of the cushion.

Below is a picture of both sides stapled, but before stapling the corners.

bench cushion being covered with fabric

I then pulled each corner tight, making sure it has a uniform appearance from the top.

stapled corner of fabric covering bench cushion

Here is the top view of the corner after it is stapled.

corner of bench cushion with gray with white polka dot fabric

The fabric is secure on the cushion.

polka-dot cushion for bench

Secure cushion to the bench

Using the right size screws is essential. They needed to be long enough to securely hold the cushion in place, but not too long that they came through the cushion. Neal helped me with this (trial and error on the length of screws until we found the perfect length).

ruler measuring a screw

The Final Result

And Voila! Here is the big reveal!

off-white chalk painted bench base with polka-dot cushion

The fabric blends so well with the color of the chalk paint!

I LOVE how it looks and now I use it in my closet. It is nice to have a bench to sit on while I put on my shoes.

Thanks for letting me share this project with you! Please comment below and tell me what you think or ask any questions about our antique bench makeover.

Don’t forget to Pin this for future reference.

pinterest pin bench makeover

Happy Painting!


  1. Lizzy on 09/27/2018 at 2:46 PM

    This is remarkable!

  2. Leatha on 09/28/2018 at 7:23 AM

    I love the bench!!!! (two ovens…I am jealous)

    • Suzanne on 09/28/2018 at 8:33 AM

      Leatha, thanks for your comment! We do enjoy our double ovens, especially when we have a full house over the holidays. Thanks for reading my blog!

  3. Georgia F. on 10/27/2018 at 11:04 AM

    Such a pretty paint color and blend ms nicely with fabric.

  4. Sannygeway on 12/11/2018 at 5:39 PM

    Nice posts! šŸ™‚

  5. Ahmed on 04/14/2019 at 8:01 PM

    Hi there! Such a wonderful write-up, thanks!

  6. kiara satchell on 08/14/2019 at 8:36 PM

    This is so adorable! I love how the fabric and paint compliment each other

  7. Rebecca on 10/04/2019 at 6:51 PM

    Cute, cute, cute!
    Great fabric choice too!

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  12. Megan on 09/24/2021 at 4:24 PM

    If you wanted to chalk paint it a different color after a few years how does the poly differ from a traditional wax top coat seal? Beautiful work, Iā€™m just used to wax top coat instead of Poly.

    • Suzanne on 09/26/2021 at 8:48 PM

      Hey Megan,

      Great question! I just sand it off the poly and repaint it the new color. I hope that helps.

      Thanks for the compliment. I love the process of transforming furniture as I know you do too!


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