Vintage Bench Makeover

Remember how I recently inherited an abundance of beautiful vintage treasures from my late great uncle’s estate? That post does not contain even half of what I brought home.  I plan to write another post about the rest of the stuff because it is JUST.SO.GOOD.  I mean, I can’t even talk about it.   It’s a vintage goldmine in that house, I tell ya.

One of the items I discovered, which I briefly mentioned in my last post, was an old vinyl & wood midcentury bench, considered to be one of the best according to James from  It must have been stored in the basement of that house for at least 30 or 40 years.  The vinyl was VERY dirty, but I crossed my fingers and hoped that giving it a good scrub would do the trick.

It didn’t.

I wish I had taken a “before” photo of it’s super dirty state.   Sometimes I get so excited about starting a project, that I just cannot be bothered with taking “before” photos.  Of course, once I’m done I always wish I had.  I’m trying to be better about it.

Anyways, just picture it totally dirty and awful.

And here is what it looked like after a TON of scrubbing and the use of every cleaning product in my house.

Still pretty awful.  I mean, sure, I would sit on it now, but I don’t really want to look at it.

I did some research on how to remedy such a tragedy on a small budget, and found that many other people have used vinyl & fabric paint.

Hold Up!

Paint on VINYL?!  I know, it sounds cucko for crazyballz but there were some good results on the googler.  I swear.  Case in point.

I found three potential paint options online.  This guy and this guy both looked pretty professional and of high quality, but they were only available online, and I was chomping at the bit to get started on this project, so I went with option number three – Rustoleum Vinyl & Fabric Paint, available at AutoZone.  Made for fabric & vinyl surfaces and won’t rub off, crack or peel.  Only $7.  Sold!  I picked up a can on my way home from work last Friday and immediately got started.

Here is the fascinating story of how it all went down.

First – I taped up the legs to protect them from over-spray.  If you are trying a similar project yourself,  make sure to give the vinyl a thorough cleaning for good paint adhesion as well.

Next – I started spraying.  When spray painting, always keep the can moving, about 8-10 inches from the surface, and make sure to shake the can frequently.  Several light and thin coats are always better than just a couple of thick coats.  After this lesson, you will have absolutely no excuse for improperly spray painting because I also covered it here and here.

Ok?  Ok.

Here’s what ye ol’ bench looked like after the first coat.

Not bad, not bad.

Two more thin coats later, BOOM.  Game Changer.

I mean, whoa, right?

Let’s look at the before again.

Now let me just disclose, in all honesty here, I’m not thrilled with the texture.  It looks good, but it feels kinda rough (like sandpaper) and… well… painted.  I was hoping the texture of the paint would mimic the smooth texture of vinyl.  It doesn’t.  But I will say this.  After sitting on it, and applying a fair amount of pressure to the seat, it does not appear that this paint is going to crack or peel.  It has quite a bit of flex in it, which is good.  Plus it looks pretty dang awesome, even up close.  I plan to use this bench for purely decorative purposes and maybe, once in a while, to plop down on to tie my shoes.  This bench won’t be getting much use, so I’m fine with it’s less than desirable texture.

So, my advice is this.  If you get your hands on a free or inexpensive piece of vinyl furniture, and it’s not exceptionally precious, unique or sentimental (therefore not worthy of spending the money to reupholster),  and you don’t plan to spend a lot of time lounging on it, then try painting it.  This particular bench fit that bill.  Plus, the beauty of paint is that you can always redo it.  Maybe down the line I’ll decide to order one of the more expensive vinyl paint options and put a coat or two on top of the existing paint.  We shall see.  For now, I’m content.

Except for one more tweak.  A baby tweak.

I’ve been romancing the idea of dip dye-ing some furniture after seeing these chairs.



Also, I want everything that girl is wearing.

I already had a test pot of a light robin’s egg blue sitting around, which I used on this little bird thingamajig, and thought it would be the perfect color for some dip-dye action.

I applied painter’s tape just above where I wanted the paint to begin and then used a little sponge applicator to apply the paint.  Here’s how it looked after the first coat.

Those bastards took 4 (thin) coats.

And… tada!

Cute as a button.  A benchamin button.

Hey, sometimes I make terrible puns, ok?

Anywho, here is Mr. Benchamin Franklin in my dining room, after I plopped an old suitcase, some books, a big frame, and an ampersand on top.

See this fancypants photograph – it’s of me & Mr. Mike D shortly after we were engaged.   We used that photo as the cover for our wedding invitations.  True story.

I plan to paint that ampersand as I am strongly opposed to it’s faux gold finish.  I may use the same robin’s egg blue as the bench legs, or maybe a coral, dark bronze, or hot pink.  Help me decide!

And now for a strange fact about me.  When I am in the comfort of my own home, I am constantly, uncontrollably, singing awful made up songs to everyone and everything.  ALL THE TIME.  Mainly the dog and the cat, but also to inanimate objects like spatulas and coffee cups.  It drives everyone crazy, including me.  I can’t help it.  For example, I tried very hard just the other day to silently fill Eleanor’s kong (you know that little red rubbery thing you stuff with treats).  I pursed my lips and bit my tongue, yet somehow I became distracted and before I could stop myself I began belting out “Let… me …see… that… kong.  That kong kong kong kong kong” to the tune of this.

It’s terrible!  This particular outburst immediately led to a full on google self diagnosis and it has been found, by power of the googler, that I have tourettes.

Why do I tell you this?  Well first, I want your pity.  Second, I find it necessary for you to know, that while performing this bench makeover, I sang this song THE.ENTIRE.TIME. (replace the word “Ben” with “Bench” for the full effect). But it’s not my fault.  Because I have an incurable disease.

And, OMG! Do you guys remember that horrible movie Ben? With the rats? Creepsville.

Oh, and chairs!

I got some.  Just like the ones I wanted. Aren’t they fetching?  Excuse me while I go make out with them.

This room is coming along, eh?

More to come!


Posted on by Tracey
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