Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Church Pew to Dining Bench - Design Inspiration

I would love to show you this from the beginning and give you a complete tutorial on how we revamped it. But I can't for two reasons, 1, someone else revamped it first and 2, I didn't take any pictures of us taking the whole thing apart and starting from scratch because I was a little too terrified of messing the thing up to think of pictures. Plus, I wasn't a big DIYer at the time.

So. You will just accept this as, perhaps, design inspiration? I'm still adding finishing touches such as pillows and backrests - which involves me and power tools, something I'm trying to become more comfortable with. I will tell you what we did to revamp this bad girl and pass on the pillow tutorial I used for making the pillows in the reveal post. I also added some great fabric flowers (which I'm still finishing) to the pillows so I'll pass along that tutorial as well.

And, once I have her complete, I'll do a reveal so you can see her in all her glory. (I will also have to clean and fancy up the table she sits with before I do because I don't want you to see how we really live). So stay tuned!

What she might've looked like before:

The only difference, she was older and less attractive and she wasn't solid wood.

What we did:

When I got her - for free - she had already been painted white and her avocado green burlapy fabric was covered in a black and white damask. I had to be difficult and decide I only wanted the seat to be covered and not the back. I wanted the back to be a plain backdrop for all the pillows I originally planned to put on her.

We had to remove the black and white damask first. Then that burlapy fabric (why are church pews covered in this scratchy, ugly fabric anyway??). Under that was the foam. However, we only got passed the first layer, the damask, when we realized her back was made with particle board and not wood. Taking out the heavy staples left behind huge gouges that couldn't be covered again even if I'd wanted to.

Our problems got worse from there. We had to remove the back to get to the seat in order to cover it. Doing so we realized that not only was the back not real wood but the seat wasn't either. The act of separating them from one another created such a mess that we knew putting them back together wasn't an option. I wanted to scream but, hey, it was free, right?

Well, since I wanted a plain back instead of a covered one and since we couldn't put the thing back together (if we wanted a sturdy bench) we decided to replace these pieces. All we were left with was the end pieces and the topper to the back of the bench, which were all, ironically, wood.

Being the innovator that he is, my husband fashioned a back piece and seat piece out of MDF. MDF is sturdy, cheap and really easy to paint. So in the end it wasn't as big of a nightmare as I had first decided it was. But there is a lesson here...

Get a real wood pew! Your life will be easier.

Once the new pieces were made, we were ready for re-assembly. I got a long piece of 2" foam from a local store for around $25 and cut it using a serrated knife to fit. The blue and white fabric is from Hobby Lobby. We glued down the foam onto the seat piece and covered it with the fabric, securing with a staple gun. Then we put it all back together.

After all that, I just left it that way for a while. Then I found these great yellow pillows (that match my kitchen walls) from TJ Maxx for $16 each. And it stayed like that for a while. Finally, I decided instead of a back covered in pillows I wanted to add two accent pillows and backrests. I'll show you how it all turned out, complete with tutorial for the backrests and accent pillows soon.

Don't forget about my Summer of a Million Projects Giveaway! Click the prize pic to enter the giveaway.

Linking up to....
Tip Junkie handmade projects


  1. I would like to leave a comment that makes sense, i would
    i would
    but i've had wine and sense making is not exactly my forte right now.
    oh forget ti.

    i sort of Really want to know how you ended up with a church pew in your possession, but something tells me that i am way off, and i'd better just visit back tomorrow.

    Xx, amy

  2. Your project turned out lovely, Jamie! I don’t even recognize it's original face. It’s really amazing! Good job on that!

    Earnestine @CovenantChurchFurniture.com


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