Monday, December 1, 2014

Revamped Bench Revamp

This bench has been revamped, then revamped a bit more, and revamped again. Each time it's served a purpose and gotten closer to it's destiny, and I think it's finally arrived!

This bench was actually a coffee table I bought on craigslist for $10. I added length to the legs and gave it a nice coat of paint to cover the ugly brown paint and the white paint smears I made while using it to hold other projects. When I finished, I put it in our master bedroom (you can read the details here.) Somewhere along the way I painted it a lighter blue-gray and finally added the brown cushion, but I was never truly happy with how the cushion looked. When I rescued the sideboard and put it in our room, the bench was moved to Sunshine's room (you can see it under the window in the first picture in this post). Recently I've been rearranging furniture all over the house and the bench has moved once again.

Our LEGO table used to be in the living room, but we moved it to the basement where the other toys are awhile ago, which left us without a coffee table in the living room. I saw the Marcelle Tufted Ottoman and the Clare Tufted Bench at World Market, and while I liked them, the prices were out of our budget- $400 and $250.
Marcelle Tufted Ottoman via

Clare Tufted Bench via

I realized our bench could be altered a bit to become a tufted ottoman/bench. The style of the bench is not the same as the ones at World Market, but they did inspire me as I moved forward with this project.

The first thing I did was to cut some length off the legs. The irony is that I had added height during the original revamp. Ah well. It worked then, but didn't work now. I actually cut off some of the original legs, in addition to the feet that I added.

That made the height just right, and I could move to the next step, which was removing the cushion and repainting the bench. The light blue was too close to the rug color and I wanted something a little different. We have other pieces in the room that are white, so I just stuck with that. Hard to beat a piece of furniture in classic white. I very lightly distressed the corners and edges that were most likely to see wear and tear anyway. When I was happy with how it looked, I gave it all a coat of wax to seal it.

Once the wood portion of the bench was taken care of, it was time to move on to the cushion. I never really liked how the cushion looked without buttons (I tried to tuft it the first go round, but it didn't work), so I decided this time I would find a way to tuft it.

I removed the cushion and the piece of 1/4" plywood that was sandwiched between the cushion and the bench. When I added the cushion originally, I wrapped the fabric around the cushion and the plywood, then used screws on the underside of the bench that screwed up into the plywood. Since I     wanted to do real tufting, the plywood was no longer necessary.

After some googling, the consensus seems to be that you use an apple corer to make good size holes in the foam. This gives you a nice channel for threading and sinking the buttons into. Of course, my apple corer is not sharp enough to cut through foam (I used it on pumpkins a few years ago and it's never been quite the same since). Another suggestion I saw was to use a drill bit in reverse and to start it before you touch the foam. That didn't work either though. Finally I decided to try my Dremel. After looking through my bits, I decided to try one meant for drilling/shaving wood (it's a fluted metal barrel). It was narrower than what I wanted, but it worked great. After all the frustration of trying to figure out how to make the holes, it took all of two minutes to make 27 holes.

I was going to use some velvety gray upholstery fabric I have (it's supposed to be for the chair in the guest room) but decided I wanted a pop of color like the World Market pieces. There's a lot of gray in the house already and now it's time to start bringing in some color. I found some teal/blue/gray microfiber  fabric that I liked at JoAnn's, and while I wanted a velvety fabric, the price of the microfiber was right since I happened to catch the 60% off Veteran's Day Sale. So instead of $20/yard, it was $8/yard. I purchased 2 2/3 yards and since the last 2/3 was the end of the roll, I got an additional 50% off of it, which made it $2.67.  I paid $18.64 (before tax) for 2 2/3 yards that would have been $53.31 (before tax) at full price. Less than the price of one yard for 2 2/3 yards. Even with our current super-tight budget, I couldn't pass up that kind of deal.

I had some cover buttons that I thought would work, but they were too large and not as heavy-duty as what I needed. And I didn't have enough. Since I had to go to the store anyway, I checked out the selection and found some half ball cover buttons that looked more heavy-duty than the ones I already had. The only problem with the half ball cover buttons is that the teeth you're supposed to hook the fabric into aren't long enough for the microfiber fabric I was using. So I hot glued the fabric into the underside, then glued the back of the button on top of that. Then, just to make sure it all held together, I ran some wire through the button loop in the back. A bit of a hack job, but it's held up so far.

blurry nighttime pic

I had planned on threading the buttons through with twine and a needle, but after the problems with the buttons I decided to go the other route I'd seen online: screwing a washer partially into each hole in the foam, then glueing the buttons on top of the washer and screw head.

After some trial and error I got the tufts in place and my diamonds looking pretty good. I trimmed the fabric and folded it under the cushion, on top of the wood.  Because the wood extends out past the foam I had to staple the fabric to the top instead of wrapping it around the wood and stapling it to the bottom like most pieces I've found. If foam didn't cost so much I would have purchased another piece and not trimmed it quite so narrow. But at the time that I did the bench originally I thought I wanted it that way. And in reality, I don't mind how it looks.

To cover the staples, I made some double welt with the fabric left over from the cushion. Double welt is nice because you just glue it on over the staples and it gives the whole piece a nice, finished look.

The last step was to carefully hot glue the cover buttons in place.

And an ugly bench that was then an ok bench is now a fantastic bench!

While I'm very happy with how it turned out, it's not perfect. There's definitely some things I'd do differently if I attempt tufting again. I should have tacked the foam in place- it shifted slightly as I was working and is now just a smidge off-center.  I'd also make sure the fabric is laid out straight as well. I thought I lined it up along one long edge, but when I got to the other end I realized it wasn't. Luckily I still had enough fabric on the other side to make my double welting. I'd prefer to thread my buttons, so finding a better solution to the button/cover button issue would also be something I'd do. The bench isn't great for sitting on because you land on the hard screws that stick up an inch or so. It's great for putting your feet up on or resting your laptop on, though.

Despite those issues, I love it! I love the colors and the tufting looks so much better than the untufted version.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I've been moving furniture around. The living room and library furniture got moved around the most, and now our living room looks like this. I wasn't sure if I'd like this arrangement (the love seat is a little closer to the fireplace than I'd prefer, but since it's a gas fireplace we don't have to worry about sparks and embers), but I actually really like it.

view from the hallway that leads to the kitchen

view from the front entry

I've also finally decided what to do with the fireplace, but have to wait till we have the money to buy the materials needed. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long- I really want to get the living room finished! In the meantime, I'll focus on taking down my fall decorations and putting up our Christmas decorations and enjoying our living room :)

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