Mid-Century Bench Made From 2 Chairs

Lately I've been getting back into the swing of my DIY driveway shenanigans since we're getting pretty settled in the "new" house (it's been over 9 months since we moved in). So, I was excited to hear from the Habitat Restore here in Orlando again this year asking if I'd like to partner up and DIY some goodies for you all to see. When we came together last year I made the DIY Tripod Floor Lamp that is still one of the main sources of lighting in our living room. With $50 in-hand, Kaley and I hit the Restore to see what we could get into.

The Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando Restore offers a wide variety of items from household goods to home d├ęcor, furniture, and appliances. The store also accepts donations of these gently used goods and offers a free pick-up service through its donation hotline: 407-426-7859. And the best part is all proceeds fund Habitat’s mission to help homeowners achieve the self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families through affordable homeownership.

Since the Restore is only about 10 minutes away from where I work, I visit quite often on my lunch break so I know their stock is constantly changing. New things arrive (and leave!) every day. Today we were on the hunt for a headboard (which didn't quite pan out) but found MANY other things instead...

That dresser on the top left was awesome but I really don't have a place for it. Kaley tried hard to get a bright purple sofa for her bedroom. Chairs for days! And I couldn't resist that sweet "mom" needlepoint that I promptly turned into a "wow" needlepoint when we got home. :) I also found a Le Creuset pie plate for $3! If you're one of my cooking enthusiast friends, you probably know how amazing that is ($50 on Le Creuset's website... what?!).

But on to the main event. Like I said, we were looking for a full-sized headboard but ended up with a couple $5.00 chairs and some $1 planks of wood instead. Here's what the haul looked like when I got home (never mind the ever-present soccer stuff).

My plan was to turn these supplies into a bench for my kitchen. Total cost here: $15.

The chairs were $5 a piece and looked like it. However, the frames were a nice shape with the tapered front legs.

So I disassembled almost everything. I took the chair backs off and removed the seats. Then started playing around with what would work best as a bench base. Clamps are good to have in this situation.

This was version 3 I think. I liked the idea of following the curve of the chair frames and rounding the ends of the bench however, if anyone sat on one of the ends, then entire bench would flip over. Probably not a good idea when you know your children will use this as a stage/diving board/gymnastics apparatus at some point.

So this was the final configuration. I liked the tapered legs out to the sides and it was by far the most sturdy. Time to assemble.

First I spaced the top boards evenly using scraps of 1/4" plywood.

Then I clamped, glued, and nailed them together using another scrap of wood from the garage.

After that was dry, I removed all of the legs and added some wood glue to the joints to firm them up. They were a little wobbly.

Then I glued and nailed the bases to the top and trimmed off the ends with a circular saw so they were even.

After that, I sanded for. an. eternity. I'm pretty sure these boards were once bed slats and not intended for a finished furniture look. Anyway, I started with a rough grit and worked my way up to a 220 grit with my orbital sander. Then I sanded the legs mostly by hand and just to rough them up a bit since I knew they were going to be painted.

When staining furniture, my go-to is Minwax. Pre-stain works wonders for giving a smooth, even look and wax is 100% my favorite way of protecting whatever it is I just stained (I used wax when I refinished our bedroom dresser too). However, these wood finishing cloths totally did not work for the look I was going for this time. They are kind of like wet wipes soaked in stain, which is convenient and all, but it ended up going on way too thick and red. Kind of like brownish-red paint. NOT the look I was going for. I resanded that section and went with a walnut liquid stain instead.

I took a pic of the pre-stain going on since I sometimes get questions about that. It really just makes the wood a little wet/oily so when the stain goes on it spreads really evenly. No blotches.

After the stain cloth debacle, I found myself quickly running for rags and sandpaper to correct the red/brown blobs that I had applied. Since I was wearing stain-covered gloves, there are no pictures of the actual staining process that worked. But here's the finished product! This was 2 coats of Minwax walnut stain wiped on with a rag then waxed with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax.

Once that dried (in about 2 minutes since it was 103 outside), I flipped the table over and primed the legs.

After a quick sand, they got several coats of white paint. I usually use exterior paint for furniture because I think it's more durable. But, whatever you have should work fine with the right primer/sanding.

And that's it. My new mid-century style bench has found a new home in our kitchen. By the way, that blue pillow is also from the Restore. It's still had the Homegoods tags on it and cost a whopping $4. :)

The tapered legs are what I hoped to show off with this bench and I think the crisp white helps do that.

And who knew bed slats could look so yummy.

Here's the before and after. I hope this gets you excited to hit the Restore and see what fun projects you can come up with for very little money. If you're local, and mention my blog at the Orlando Restore, you'll get 15% off your purchase too! (Open: Monday–Saturday, 9am–7pm and Sundays, noon–6pm)

And I wasn't alone in this DIY challenge. Two other talented Central Florida bloggers braved the heat and created their own Restore projects as well. Head over to see how Kerri at Shaken Together Life and Elizabeth at Within The Grove came up with their own refreshingly summery ideas. I love how we all had the same budgets and shopped at the same places and our projects are so different! They rocked it. Such creativity by all!