DIY: Tufted Bench Transformation

May 4th, 2009

Last week, I picked up this dowdy bench with really great lines at a local thrift store.  It was $12.  I transformed it this past weekend with fresh paint, a bit of silk, and some custom fabric covered buttons.  If you want to know how to create a custom tufted seat, follow the tutorial at the end of this post.

Here’s the Before and After:

The first thing that had to go was the original fabric.  Ewwww.  The bench seat was easily removed with a screwdriver, but those side cushions were another story.  I thought they would simply peel off with a little tugging.  I was way wrong.  I had to take the end of a hammer to them, and the inner stuffing completely disintegrated in the process.  Pliers were necessary to get the green fabric off.


The paint had yellowed, so I decided to prime it and give it a fresh coat of white paint.  Then I gave it a good coat of spray paint in RustOleum’s ‘Heirloom White’.

Once the bench’s wood frame was completely painted, I recovered the bench with some fabric and a staple gun in some pale green silk.   [That’s “lemongrass” colored silk from Joann’s Fabrics – it was on sale for $8 for 2 feet.] Note:  If you are tufting a cushion, make sure you drill your holes through the seat cushion before you cover with fabric.


Tufting Tutorial for a Bench or Cushion


    1. Screwdriver to create holes in seat cushion
    2. Long needles (called Decorator Needles) from craft store
    3. Thin twine or embroidery thread (regular sewing thread is not strong enough)
    4. Button cover kits
    5. Staple gun and staples

Once the bench had been covered in fabric, I created the custom buttons with the scraps of silk leftover and some custom button kits.  These kits make it very simple to use your fabric of choice to create custom buttons for tufting with the same fabric you use to cover your seat cushion.

Thread your decorator needle with the thin twine or embroidery thread.  Push the needle up from the bottom through the pre-drilled hole.  Once you come up on top of the cushion, thread your needle through the button.  Push the needle back down through the hole and pull button tight to fabric to create desired amount of tufting.


Use your staple gun to secure the thread to the underside of the cushion.  Staple the thread once, then pull the thread in the opposite direction, and staple it down again.  Secure with a knot.

One final problem with my bench was covering the marks from those previous side cushions.  Rather than creating my own side cushions like I did here and here, I chose to keep the sides open and airy.  I covered the marks from the previous cushions with hot glue and some simple gimp trim.




Bench $12, Primer and Paint $6, Fabric $8, Button Kits $7, Needles $4, Embroidery Thread $1.  Total = $38  Isn’t it amazing what a little paint and fabric can do?



Isn’t it amazing what a little paint and fabric can do?

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Gorgeous Dining Rooms: Part Two

May 1st, 2009

Last week, I posted some of my favorite dining spaces. Here are the rest of the images I’ve collected over the last few years.

house beautiful dec 08

House Beautiful, December 2008: Perfect blue walls and Chinese Chippendale chairs, paired with a dark wood table and floor, an elegant console and simple drapes. Photo by James Merrill  Read the rest of this entry »

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Cherry Tree in 3-D

May 1st, 2009

I am in the process of redoing my five year old daughter’s room, adding a little French garden inspired style to the space.  All of a sudden I was struck with the grand idea to paint a tree on her wall to carry along with the jardin theme.  What’s very strange is I don’t fancy myself a mural artist by any means, I typically shy away from wall murals as a bit “themey” and I rarely decorate with fake flowers.  Which makes it all the more bizarre that I would take upon myself the task of painting a cherry tree mural on my daughter’s wall and then glueing fake blooms to the branches.  Go figure.  But it turned out pretty cute!

My inspiration came from these images:

For the task, I gathered up some supplies including:

1. Three colors of brown acrylic paint from dark (burnt umber) to medium (brown velvet) to light (tan). (The third color is not shown in the picture below.)
2. Two colors of green paint, from forest green to light green.
3. Medium sized paintbrush, and No. 10 or similar sized artist’s paintbrush, and a kitchen sponge
4.  8 faux cherry blossom branches (optional)
5. Hot glue gun
6. Courage
Use a pencil to lightly sketch your branches and trunk, then take a step back and make sure it is the size you want. Then fill in your sketch with the dark brown paint using your medium sized paintbrush.


Follow up with your artist’s paintbrush to create finer lines around your edges. (It’s also a good idea to have your wall color paint ready in case you absolutely hate it. . . or just want to clean up the edges a bit more.)   Paint over center of trunk and branches with medium color brown paint to add some depth. Note: all of you folks with ‘orange peel’ wall texture will appreciate the bark effect that results from the texture underneath.  I didn’t paint it that way – it just happened.

While the trunk dries, paint simple leaves with your medium sized paint brush and light green paint in a simple leaf shape.


Then add a lot of dark green paint to your leftover light green paint, mix it, then swipe the leaves on one side or another to give some shading.

 You can even go back a third time with just the dark green paint to add more depth.

Return to your tree trunk with your lightest shade of brown/tan paint. Swipe the center of the tree trunk and the branches with your paintbrush using the paler color, then use a kitchen sponge to smooth it out. This gives the subtle look of light cast upon the tree trunk, and provides even more depth and shadow. If you’re sentimental like I am, carve a message into your tree trunk!

 (if you dare to decorate with faux blooms): Pluck the bloom off the plastic branch, and trim the plastic bottom of the bloom so that your blossom will glue flat to the wall. Apply with hot glue to the end of your painted branches.


And in the end, this is the result!


So tell me readers, give it to me straight.

Is it a botanical beauty, or are you totally allergic?

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