Transformed: Vintage Entry Bench
Oct 08, 2009
I know I'm lucky to have a real foyer— something so many modern homes lack. When I designed our house I built a jog into the wall just right of the front door to hold a small bench, tucked away out of the traffic area. I figured it would be a nice place to sit and take off shoes, a good spot for guests to toss a purse. But it took me more than two years to find the right bench to fill the space. Size requirements were one thing that held me up, since the nook was only 15" deep by 30" wide. And I wanted a vintage or thrifted piece, not only for design appeal but also for environmental reasons.
So the search carried on. (Mind you, the search is half the fun for me!) Multiple visits to my usual haunts around town, spontaneous visits to roadside shops, scrolling through pages of not-quite-right benches on Ebay... couldn't seem to find what I wanted. Then I stopped into one of my favorite TC shops, Reclectia, which carries mostly vintage furniture and accessories. (No website: check it out at 1132 South Garfield Avenue, Traverse City, MI. 231-929-0022). There was this perfectly sized handmade footstool with sturdy plywood construction, simple lines, and the ugliest upholstery ever. You know that spongey fabric they put on the ceilings of cars? Yeah, that. In brown. I knew it would be an easy job to paint and reupholster. Search over, project phase begins.
My next dilemma was choosing a fabric from my overflowing stash. I only needed about a half-yard to do this project, which meant that, unfortunately, just about every fabric in my collection was fair game. I narrowed it down to these four.
This upholstery remnant was a $2 Goodwill find. I think it's a DesignTex fabric. Probably $80 a yard new! But not quite the hit of color I was after.
This graphic floral cotton duck was a serious contender, but in the end I decided to save it to cover the seat of a chair that was still sporting its original gold naugahyde. The color scheme fit better in my guestroom where the chair lives.
I've been holding onto this fabulous chunk of 1950s barkcloth for years. I would have had enough left for another project, but I felt the large pattern wasn't being displayed at its best on this little seat.
So finally, I settled on this piece of heavy-weight vintage cotton with a woodsy wildflower print. Burst of color, graphic pattern, natural influences... perfect. And I liked how the white lines picked up the color of the baseboard trim. The only problem was that the fabric was so close in tone to the wood, but I fixed that with paint.
Here's the finished project. I spent $30 on the stool. Paint was left over from painting our garage doors (Sherwin-Williams Black Bean semi-gloss), and fabric was probably $2-3 back when I bought it at an estate sale.
how to shop for vintage furniture
- Shop frequently. Antiques stores and thrift shops restock often.
- Always carry a tape measure (and your required measurements). I keep a keyring-sized retractable metal tape in my purse.
- Overlook fabrics and finishes. Those can easily be changed. Focus on line, form, and scale.
- If you aren't good at visualizing, carry photos of pieces you like, and compare.
- Carry cash. It makes bargaining much easier.
- Don't dismiss homemade pieces. They're often made with rock-solid construction and simple techniques that result in clean-lined furniture.
- If you can't decide, take a picture. The camera on a cell phone is good enough as a visual reminder. Then ask the dealer to hold the item for 24 hours. —Diane
Do you need help envisioning a makeover for a piece of furniture? Sounds like an Inspired Question to me. Email me a photo and I'll give you ideas here on the blog, for free!
TAGS: vintage furniture makeover revamp recycle reuse thrift store find trash to treasure repaint reupholster bench stool footstool fabric foyer before after
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