Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trash to Treasure: Upholstered Piano Bench

Allow me to set the stage for you.

It's Sunday afternoon.  Monday is garbage day in our neighborhood.  This is Reed's favorite day to drive around and scope out what valuable junk we can acquire curbside.  Insert my face cringing while I imagine the Panther basement being featured on the next episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive".  So here we are, wandering through our neighborhood, probably on our way home from Menards, Home Depot, or Lowes, because really, those are the only places we go. Especially on the weekends.

We turn the corner of our block and Reed spots what looks like a very old piano bench.  I, on the other hand, spot nothing.  For one, I am not skilled at the art of garbage hunting while driving.  Who are we kidding, I'm barely skilled at the art of driving.  I don't know how he does it.  Miles away he spots things on the side of the road and thus begins the "by the time we get to the garbage I will convince you of the enormous value this piece of junk has.  I will convince you we need it and that we are the luckiest people in the world to have found it."  Reed is the dreamer.  He also doesn't like to throw things away.

So back to the bench.  I am still torn between "OMG this is steps from our house.  What if the neighbors see us picking up their garbage?!" and "Ohhhh it’s a bench! I've been wanting to make a new bench!"  I eventually give in and let that nasty moth ball covered, dusty, crappy looking bench come home with us.  Of course with the added stipulation "You run & get it fast- and whatever you do, DON'T let the neighbors see us!"

And once that baby made it to our garage and went through a serious cleaning, I could see what Reed saw. I could understand his dreams. I saw its potential. And I remembered why I love him so much.  THIS bench was going to make a statement.  She was a real beauty.

After measuring the top of the bench, we headed to JoAnn to pick up a few things:
  • Enough fabric to cover the bench top + 6 inches on every side.  So we added 1 foot width-wise & 1 foot length-wise. 
  • 2.5in thick sturdy foam- big enough just for the top of the bench (this stuff is pricey- don't forget a coupon*)
  • 1 package of sheet batting (same amount as the fabric)
  • Staple Gun (with staples)
  • Scissors
  • Spray Adhesive (we used Tacky Spray)
  • Sandpaper- 220 grit
  • Spray paint primer (favorite brand- Rustoleum)
  • Spray paint in color of choice
*We highly recommend downloading the JoAnn app on your smart phone- instant coupons at your finger tips!

Reed removed the top of the piano bench so I could work on upholstering it with our new foam & fabric.  Since this was going to be covered, it didn't need to be painted like the rest of the bench. 

While I worked my fabric magic, Reed gave the clean bench a light sanding with 220 grit sand paper.  Then he wiped down the entire thing so no dust would be left when spray painting.  Once she was ready to go, Reed lightly sprayed the bench with the spray primer and let sit in a well ventilated area to dry. 

First I took my thick sea-foam green foam (seafoam foam?) and set it on the table.  I flipped over the top of the piano bench (bottom/inside up) and laid the foam on top.  Since I'm a little lazy, I aligned the corner of the bench top with the corner of the foam so I only had to cut 2 sides instead of 4.   I took a pencil and traced the other two edges on the foam and then cut out my rectangle. 

(Photo below shows the foam cut to the same size as piano bench top which is hiding underneath the foam)

Next I sprayed the foam with tacky spray (let it sit for a few minutes) and the adhered the foam to the top of the bench.  I laid my fabric (pretty side down) on the table and once again flipped the wood/foam upside down so the foam was touching the fabric.  I centered the wood/foam piece so there was about 6 inches visible on all 4 sides.  You can check and make sure you have enough fabric by wrapping it around the foam/wood.  You also will want to make sure the fabric design is centered correctly on the bench top.

After I had roughly 6 inches on all 4 sides, I cut the piece of fabric.  It’s better to have more than you need at this point.  I cut a matching sized piece of sheet batting.  The sheet batting helps to soften the look of the sharp cut edges of the foam.

To start upholstering the bench you need to lay the fabric back on the table (again, pretty side down), then put the sheet batting on top of the fabric, and finally center the bench top (foam side down) on the batting. 

I like to start by stapling in 4 places (imagine 12, 3, 6, 9 on a clock). I started with the long side of the bench (12 o'clock). Pull the fabric & batting around and staple about 1/2 in from the edge of the wood.  Next go exactly opposite of that first staple, pull your fabric tight and staple. I continued to work my way around the bench (keep working in a staple-opposite side staple fashion).  For example, I did the 1 o'clock, then 7 o'clock, 10 o'clock then 4 o'clock - make sense? (Good thing I'm not teaching this to Snookie). You ultimately want the staples about 2 inches apart from each other, all the way around. 

Once you get about 2 inches from either side of each corner, stop to arrange the fabric. 

You have some flexibility here to play around with the fabric and see what looks best before stapling. I took my left side and then folded the right side over it (almost like I was going to braid hair or wrap a present).  Once I had it looking right, I pulled tightly and put about 4 staples in. That baby wasn't moving.  Next work the opposite corner until all 4 are done. 

When you have finished stapling, go ahead and cut the extra fabric off.  I left a 1/2 inch past the staples. TA DA! Step back and admire your beautiful new bench top. 

Once the primer was dry on the bench, Reed sprayed it with some cream colored spray paint. After it dried for 48 hours, he re-attached the top and gave it a new home in our entryway.  Isn't she great?!


  1. Deanne, I love this little bench. What fabric is that?

    1. Thanks Mary! I can't find the exact fabric online, but I am pretty sure it was Waverly Sun 'n' Shade brand. I really like using Indoor/Outdoor fabric around the house because it comes in really cute, bright prints and the fabric is thick & durable- comparable to drapery fabric. Here are some of the Waverly indoor/outdoor fabrics-

  2. I love the bench and the blog. You are so going to love Clean Sweeps day in a month or so. It is the best weekend for trash picking.

    1. Reed and I didn't even know "clean sweeps day" existed- we are really excited!!

  3. What a great turn out! I am the same way I could never be bothered to pick something out of someone else's trash but you sure found a diamond in the the ruff!

  4. Such a great transformation. I love the fabric you used!

    1. Thanks Tamsyn! And thank you for stopping by :)

  5. Wow! What a great bench! Looks awesome

  6. What a great idea. I never thought to dress up my piano bench. My living/dining area flow together and I wanted a way to bring the yellow into both rooms. Now I don't have to commit to just one color (which would have happened if I painted the entire piano yellow.) Can't wait to tackle this project!

    1. Katie - your painted piano is going to be adorable! I can't wait to see how it turns out!

  7. Our piano bench was "goldilocksed" during a recent birthday party when multiple girls tried to sit on it at once. I was able to get a replacement off Craigslist but it was kind of ratty. Then, I saw your bench on Pinterest and was inspired to do my own. Great tutorial. Mine has a few flaws, but I'm quite happy with it. Thanks for the inspiration.