Turning Oldies into Goodies: Transformed Phone Bench
I love buying vintage furniture and adding new life to a piece that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. eBay and their local classifieds site, Kijiji, both have millions of great treasures that, with a little TLC, can be turned into something totally unique and fabulous. Now the eBay Green Team brings together thousands of eBay users who are shopping pre-owned not only because it’s chic and affordable, but because they know that the greenest product is the one that already exists.
The eBay Green Team asked me to do a few DIY furniture make-overs from pieces I bought off eBay and Kijiji in order to get you inspired to create your own. From November 4-19 the eBay Green Team will be accepting DIY entries for a chance to win a $1,000 eco shopping experience on eBay and a 2 hour eco consultation with me. So check out my video below, stay tuned for more DIY “Turning Oldies into Goodies” post in the coming weeks, and get started on a project of your own!
I bought this telephone bench off eBay for $75. My vision was to create a fun but sophisticated piece for my daughter’s room. She has a little jungle in her room, so I chose a gorgeous organic cotton fabric from Rubie Green to echo the animal print theme.
Here are the steps I took to transform the telephone bench into something a little more modern:
|Step 1: Remove the Seat
I unscrewed the bottom of the seat and popped it out, setting is aside for later. First, I needed to address the wood.
|Step 2: Sand to Prepare the Wood Surface
Using a buffer pad, I lightly sanded all of the wood. Since I’d decided to paint the piece black I didn’t need to labor too long, 20 minutes was plenty. Just needed to make it smooth and rub out any minor inconsistencies and it takes off any discoloration as well as opens up the grain of the wood so that the new coat will apply well.
|Step 3: Apply the Primer
As you see in the video, I chose to rent a power sprayer (about $60 for the day) for this piece because there are so many angles and curves and I wanted to get a nice, even coat… and it makes everything go much faster. When you use the sprayer, hold the nozzle about one foot away from the surface and use even, fan-like motions, back and forth. I had the paint shop tint my low-VOC primer gray so that I wouldn’t have to use as many coats of black paint.
|Step 4: The First Coat of Paint
After the primer is completely dry (usually 24 hours, but you can sometimes speed this up with the use of a blow dryer), it’s time to paint. First, I lightly sanded the primed wood to smooth out any dried drips or unevenness and to get the surface ready to receive the paint. My paint is virtually free of VOC’s. VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) are what give paint that toxic smell, so it’s best to try to avoid them all together. I applied the paint in the same way as the primer, keeping the power sprayer slow and steady, back and forth.
|Step 5: A Second Coat of Paint
After another 24 hours (or however long it takes for the coat to dry), I applied another coat of paint. You can continue to apply paint until you have the desired depth of color – I only needed two coats since my primer was tinted.
|Step 6: Reupholster the Seat
First, I removed the staples on the back with a slotted screwdriver and pliers. If you want to replace the cushion, make sure to choose from one of the many sustainable options (organic cotton, organic wool, natural tapped rubber). NearSea Naturals is a great online resource for eco-friendly batting and stuffing, or you can order custom-cut 100% natural latex cushions from foamorder.com (scroll down to the bottom of the page).
Next, I laid out the fabric to make sure it was smooth – you can use an iron or steamer to eliminate any creases. I used the old seat as a template to cut a piece of the same size from the new fabric, paying attention to where I wanted the pattern to line up on the seat. I placed the fabric on the cushion and pulled taut. I then used a staple gun to fasten the fabric to the back of the seat. Make sure to fold the fabric neatly around the corners (think of a hospital bed corner) and use plenty of staples.
|Step 7: The Final Gloss Coat
Using a low-VOC, water-based lacquer I brushed on a final clear glossy coat. Don’t worry if it looks milky when you first apply it, it dries clear (think Elmer’s glue). Make sure the paint is completely dry before this final coat so as not to cause any bubbling under the surface. This coat can be reapplied multiple times for a glass-like finish.
|Step 8: Reassemble & Admire the Job!
The final step was to place the seat back on the bench and fasten with the original screws. Ta-da! The transformation was incredible, it completely elevated the style of the telephone bench. My daughter loves it, and the black color will work with anything – even if she wants to change the fabric down the road. The completed project cost just over $200 but it’s personalized, totally eco, and stylized enough to sell for a pretty penny. Plus, I have extra fabric left over! Just enough for a pillow… but that is for another post!