Refreshed Tradition

Turning a very traditional style bench into a totally new look with fresh, coastal vibes

I loved the clean lines of this bench when I saw it for the first time. Wasn’t too keen on the dark, cherry wood and red velvet seat, but I knew a quick paint job would freshen it up immediately. I was excited to take it on as a short term, fast turnaround project. But, best laid plans and all that jazz, this bench languished on my to do project list for several months instead. In the end it was best because I ended up doing something totally different and love it so much more than my original plan.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

So, let’s look at how this piece transformed from point A to point B.

The easiest part of this renovation was removing the old red velvet seat covering. Along the sides of the seat trim had been glued down. Using my trust flat head screwdriver, I pried up one area to be able to start the peeling.

Because the bench was older, the glue holding the trim down was past its prime holding days. It peeled up off of the paper backing leaving that along each side: no trim now, but velvet material still firmly attached with staples.

Next step was to remove all of the staples along with the velvet material, any padding underneath, and hopefully no huge surprises await underneath.

I had some leeway with this because the material was not going to be used in the final piece, so grabbing it with a pair of pliers helped me to pull it up pretty quick.

Still left a LOT of staples to remove on all four sides of the bench, but they were fairly easy to grab with the pliers and remove. Just a bit time consuming.

After all original material has been removed. Not so pretty, but we'll fix that later.

If you recall, I originally planned to do a quick paint job, but lately, I have been obsessed with natural wood and the beautiful grain lines that develop as old stain and paint are removed. Looking at this piece and the clean lines, I wanted to strip it down to its original wood grain, hoping it would produce a lighter wood tone than the original piece had. It was not the easy task I thought it would be, unfortunately.

It took three stripping processes all over the bench, top-sides-bottom. Bear in mind, each application took a minimum of 30 minutes to process, then additional time to scrape the stripping agent off, wipe the piece down, and reapply the stripping agent again. Also, I could only work on small to medium sections of the bench, so overall, this was a pretty drawn out timeframe to get this to the final stripping.

You can see the change from the original, dark wood to the lighter (cleaner) wood on the final strip picture below.