A DIY Bench – Guest Post

Whew! So much for blogging Fridays the last few weeks. Things have been very busy with me this month. work has piled up, family members have moved (which translates to weekend hours spent helping), and I have been working on some massive (as in size…or scope too I suppose) projects around the house. That has left me with very little time to compose some blog posts. Don’t worry, I have some things in the works however so fun things to come hopefully soon.

That being said, this post was written by my older sister Libby, who is living in Oklahoma City, OK. She’s an amazing little gal (I am not demeaning her at all. She’s tiny in stature, though mighty in personality) who can turn her hand at anything sewing/engineering, calling it “soft engineering.” Libby does not have a blog so I offered to post her bench makeover here. The exact Ikea bench/table that she used is a mystery, but don’t worry, any similar table structure would work for this tutorial. Everything following is in her own words.


My husband is in the Navy and, because of that, we’ve moved three times in the last three years. Before the first move, we decided to leave our nice TV console in Fort Wayne at our condo for sister Lesly to use while she lived there. Now that we are in a semi-permanent location (as semi-permanent as you can be in the military) we finally moved the cabinet to our current location, big thanks to dad for driving it out to us.

Now that we have our original cabinet back, we had an extra console, some table that I had purchased at Ikea to use in the interim. I don’t remember what the style name of the table is, but it is about 18” tall by 17” deep and 46” wide. Perfect for an upholstered bench, I thought. So I bought some fabric, foam, batting and got to work.

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I started by taking the bench apart and gluing all the joints together to help with stability. While that was drying I took my fabric outside and sprayed it with Scotchgaurd. You could skip this step, but the fabric that I chose to use is fairly light with a white background and since I have an almost 2 year old, I anticipate some spills, or snotty noses being rubbed on it. While the bench and the fabric dried I cut my foam to size. I was able to find a 3” thick piece of foam on Amazon that was 17” deep and 60” long, so I laid it on top of the bench top and marked the appropriate length. Then I drew the line all the around the foam, using my right triangle and rotary cutting ruler to make sure it was all nice and square.

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An electric carving knife is recommended for cutting foam at home, but I don’t have one of those so I just used my serrated bread knife and it worked quite well. Since I drew my line all the way around the foam, I as able to make sure that each slice of the knife lined up with the mark on both sides of the foam, so I ended up with a pretty square cut.

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Once I had the foam cut to size I took that and the bench top outside, sprayed both the top and one side of the foam with spray adhesive and secured the foam to the top of the bench.

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Next step was to cover the foam with batting. You could also nix the batting but it helps with the final appearance, making the upholstery nice and smooth and soft looking. I folded my batting in half lengthwise and it was the perfect length and width so I didn’t have to cut off any extra waste. Then I just tucked the batting in along the sides and at the corners I made one cut and folded the excess under, kind of like tucking a flat sheet when you make a bed. Ready for fabric!

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Once I cut my rectangle of fabric, I used a zig zag stitch and sewed twill tape along all the raw edges. You certainly wouldn’t have to do this, but I used cotton duck, which has a tendency to fray easily. The last thing I wanted was for the edges of my fabric to fray and pull away from the upholstery tacks.

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Then I laid my fabric on the floor, flipped the bench top over so it was foam side down and centered it on the fabric.

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For the next step I used upholstery tacks and my hammer. I’ve read a lot of other tutorials on upholstering benches and most of them use a staple gun and staples to secure the fabric. I don’t own a staple gun and after pricing them, I decided to save the $10-15 it would have cost me to buy a staple gun and just buy upholstery tacks and use the hammer I already owned. It was a little more difficult than using a staple gun, but I was able to push the tack into the wood to hold it long enough to grab my hammer and tap it all the way in. I started by placing two tacks at the center of each long side and one tack in the center of each short side.

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Then I simply moved down each side, pulling the fabric taught, placing a tack and tapping it in.

When I got to the corner, I brought the corner of the fabric in so it was at a 90 degree angle to the corner of the top and tacked that. Then I tuck the extra fabric in and folded up side and finished tacking the side. I place a couple extra tacks at the corners to keep the fabric laying flat.

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Here is the top with the fabric secured and ready to be reattached to the base.

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Once I had finished tacking the fabric to the top, I applied glue to the base and placed the top back on the bottom of the bench and retightened the cams that keep the bench together.

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Voila! A new, upholstered bench. Sometime in the near future I want to buy some baskets for the open shelves for storage.

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Thank you, Libby for a great step-by-step post! I have a table of my own that I am considering turning into a bench so seeing this is really helpful.


Home Office

I work from home so one of the first spaces that I really wanted to be completed was my office. Our living room is L shaped and the small end was originally a dining space, but Zach and I decided that we didn’t need two dining spaces. Since I didn’t want to be shut up in one room of the house all day while working and watching our dogs the extra dining space was the perfect solution.


Here is my handy man figuring out how high to hand the shelves. He cleverly figured out how to mount the shelves to white boards that he had attached to the walls directly to the studs. That way we didn’t have to worry about making sure that all the shelf mounts were lined up with studs and offset the placement. With his mounting system we made sure that the shelves were centered like we wanted.IMG_6402 Ikea Besta storage systems on the one wall create the perfect place for me to my office and craft supplies, and display plants and photos.IMG_6404IMG_6408

I liked the paint in the entryway so much that I decided to use it for two walls in my office. I left the third wall white because it connects with the living room and I will eventually paint it the color I do the rest of the room. I love how it turned out. IMG_6423_2

After going crazy sitting all day, I decided a desk that I can stand up at while working is a must. I got the Ikea Finnvard trestle legs and by mistake I grabbed a top that was a little too small but it was only $5 and I have plants to eventually replace it with a great cut of wood.

Zach cut this piece of walnut out in his Grandpa’s woods after finding the tree down. It was not perfectly level so he had left it in his shop for ages where I found it. The second I found it I pounced on it and asked if I could keep it. Zach didn’t care because he told me he could get me a better piece eventually. After sanding it for ages with a belt sander and then using a clear varnish coat on it, its now one of my favorite pieces and a lot of people ask about it. Zach was even surprised how well it turned out.IMG_6431

IMG_3379Although this is before painting, this is usually how things turn out while I am working. I never work alone!



Steal of a Deal

This weekend was our official town-wide garage sale. After yoga this morning, I decided to take a spin through a few neighborhoods to see what was out there since I had found a great old picture frame and mat for $3 the night before. I have been collecting frames and matting to makeover so I was thrilled to find this baby to add to that collection. You can read more about the gallery wall DIY process here.



The picture in this frame is pretty awful. Actually the whole thing is pretty outdated. The frame is a little more ornate than I would choose perhaps if I was purchasing it from a store, but as I didn’t I can live with it. Still trying to decide if this baby should be black or white.

I found the frame while I was driving back into town Friday afternoon and almost passed on it, but then decided to turn around and go back. That seems to be my style with garage sales because today I did the same thing. I saw this table from the road and drove by three times before deciding to stop and get out. I know.
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From the road it looked pretty promising, but there have been a few occasions that I have been disappointed on closer inspection by what looks to be a great piece from the road. This coffee table was bigger than I thought from the road, but other than wear on the top it was in great condition. The price listed it at $10, and then the owner said that everything was half price to help get rid of it all since it was Saturday. I had to hide my excitement when I heard him say it would be $5. It was very sturdy and I decided it would hold up to my rambunctious brood of dogs better than my current table was.
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I love how it goes with my couch (Ikea Karlstad!) and the style is a lot more me than the other coffee table.



This is not my current living room setup, but it shows the tiny little coffee table that we were using before. The picture doesn’t show it but it has a mirror top. It was an antique from that belonged to my Grandma, but the joints were all rickety and the constant tussling of the dogs knocking up against it was taking its toll. I really don’t want to lose it because it was my Grandma’s, so I have been thinking about finding a replacement for a while.FullSizeRender 13I love how this table ended up working perfectly. Piper, our German Shorthair Pointer absolutely loves it already.



The detail of the wood is incredible, and the dovetail joints add a unique flair to the top of the table. Other than surface damage its in wonderful condition, and I am grateful there are no deep gauges in the wood that couldn’t be fixed by a light sanding.

After a little research on it, I found that my $5 deal was an incredible steal. The Acclaim coffee table was made by Lane Furniture base in Altevista, Virginia in 1960. In addition to being a great quality piece that was expensive in its day, it is going for between $200-$300 today, sometimes even more. I’d say that’s a pretty good days work for bargain hunting. I can’t wait to get the top sanded off and refinished and I’ll be sure to document how that goes.


Dining Table Daydreams

In my last post I showed you my dining room and what I had done so far to make it over. I ended up buying an Ikea table that was large and simple to go with the midcentury waiting room chairs that I have. The table is temporary however and I would like to trade it in someday for something a little more unique. My furniture shopping philosophy is to find unique pieces that have interesting lines and strong architecture.

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I love a lot of West Elm design and the Geometric Base Dining Table is just one of their tables right now that I love. It has great lines and is very unique, but at $1499 it is definitely a someday in the future table.
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West Elm’s Midcentury Expandable Dining Table is also a favorite of mine and at $699-799 it is a pretty decent price for a West Elm piece.Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 5.04.21 PM



I have just recently discovered that CB2 has some great pieces also, and adore the Dylan table. $999 isn’t that terrible for a great dining table, but at our current budget it is pretty much unthinkable (think flooring, painting, kitchen, laundry room, etc., first before awesome expensive dining tables). Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 5.06.08 PMI really enjoy Ikea furniture too. I like the Swedish minimalism in their designs and the Stockholm Collection has some really great pieces that are great quality in comparison to some of the other lines. They may not be a store of show stoppers, but some of their stuff is actually beautifully designed. This Stockholm walnut veneer table is very similar to the West Elm table, and is only $599, a cheaper alternative to WE. I love the simplicity of this table and the color would look great with my chairs.
Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 5.06.16 PMAnother Ikea table that I really like is MÖRBYLÅNGA. Its a new release and a great looking dining table. I love how the shape of the legs is similar to the squared arms design of my chairs so I think it would look great with them. At $699, its definitely on the more expensive end for Ikea, especially since it is not part of their Stockholm collection.

Hopefully in not too many years I can upgrade to a table that has a little more pizazz like some of these, but for now my Bjursta table looks fine and works great with my chairs.

Dinning Room

Our dining room/kitchen is a blank slate. The previous owners had taken up the flooring before we purchased the house and it is still sub-flooring currently because we want to remodel the kitchen and do some great tile, but our in between solution will be some linoleum (meh) as soon as we can get it. In the mean time, I have been working on getting everything else the way I want it.



At first after getting married Zach and I were borrowing a round table from his parents but it was only a temporary arrangement and I wanted to get a table that we could fit more people around for Sunday brunches, etc..

After looking around I realized the table I wanted was pretty much out of our budget at the moment. I considered building a table, but I couldn’t decide on exactly what I wanted. In the end I decided spending $200 on the Ikea Bjursta extendable table was a good way of getting us a table we could keep and allow us to have more seating space.

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The table can seat 6-10, which for the price was perfect. Plus I have a set of dining chairs that I had been itching to get out and redo and they would work with the Bjursta table.



I couldn’t wait to take a picture of the table after I set it up with the chairs in place, and you can even see the old table dismantled against the wall.



The chairs were waiting room chairs from my Dad’s dental office. They are 1970s so technically a little after the midcentury design phase, but they are similar style. The original upholstery on the chairs was a dark brown tweed and the backs the same color of leather, and then my Dad had them redone with this fabric. Considering the state of the house when we bought it these chairs would have fit in perfectly with the 70s era decor. Perhaps I should have kept it and done a retro look!

IMG_6376_2I decided to do a similar look to the original chairs by doing the backs in leather and the seats in fabric. I love how they turned out and you can read about how I redid them here.

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I love how the chairs turned out and how they look with the new table. I contemplated refinishing the chairs a darker stain to match the table, but since the table will likely be replaced as soon as I can I decided to keep them original.

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