Asked on Apr 30, 2014

Rustic Old Wood Bench Conundrum

by Sfg178760
What should I do with this old wood bench? I love the the look of the old wood. I am pretty sure it has been upholstered in the past, but way in the past. It does not look nice enough to have been upholstered, so not sure! I love the old nails in it...but not sure how to keep them. Any suggestions on what I should do?? The most basic would be to remove nails, maybe shabby chic paint it...but not sure I want to cover up the wood.
rustic old wood bench conundrum, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, rustic furniture, shabby chic, woodworking projects, Not fancy wood
Not fancy wood..
rustic old wood bench conundrum, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, rustic furniture, shabby chic, woodworking projects, But I still like the weathering it has
But I still like the weathering it has.
rustic old wood bench conundrum, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, rustic furniture, shabby chic, woodworking projects, And those nails
And those nails!
rustic old wood bench conundrum, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, rustic furniture, shabby chic, woodworking projects, it really is not that special at all but I so want to save it
it really is not that special at all...but I so want to save it!
  47 answers
  • Michele Eures Michele Eures on Apr 30, 2014
    Any idea what that circular mark on the top is from? I don't know...maybe remove the nails (they look a bit dangerous), fill in the holes and whitewash the wood. Then give it a cushion on top in a bright pattern.

  • Therese C Therese C on Apr 30, 2014
    I will go out on a limb here..I would actually leave all the old weathering (the blackish) leave the nails aged as they are (but clean the old fabric away from them CAREFULLY), rough brush the whole thing with a wire brush, then ever so carefully put clear caulk around the nail heads to make them safe, 2-3 coats of poly all over and add a very snazzy cushion on top. Maybe an old style damask print to compliment the aging of the wood. I like the old turned new-ish look without painting on certain pieces, and this would be one of those pieces. Good luck and post pictures when you decide so we can see it!

    • Geri Rolfe Geri Rolfe on May 01, 2014
      @Therese C I love this idea with a great cushy seat and the cleaned up weathered look. If you don't like it then you can try painting it later. Easier to start (or finish here if you love it..) than to start with painting and lose the wonderful aged look. Good Luck... can't wait to see what you decide on!!!

  • Tina Wickham Tina Wickham on Apr 30, 2014
    I would clean it up some and put some good poly on it

  • Z Z on Apr 30, 2014
    It all depends on what/how you want to use it. Do you know yet?

    • See 3 previous
    • Lori Johnson Lori Johnson on May 02, 2014
      @My Gnome Little World I'm thinking this was probably a shoe shine bench...yes? no? lol

  • Ramblingreno Ramblingreno on Apr 30, 2014
    I'd clean it, put some poly on it, then add a sheet of acrylic on top and use it as a coffee table

  • Kris Erb Kris Erb on May 01, 2014
    I have done several of these as plant holders. I would use a long needle nose plier to remove the old cloth, then tap in the nail heads. Do a light sanding to it, then use a coat of clear marine varnish (best for outside items) or oil based wood floor poly on it after I had cut one or two holes in to top to insert plant pots. I would buy the self watering type of plastic pots and use them to measure the hole size and help stop water from spilling on to floor if using in the house. You could also add your street/house numbers on to the sides if your going to use outside.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on May 01, 2014
    I would clean it up without changing the look of it, make it safe, cover the top and use it as a bench. Whatever you decide to do, be sure and post photos!

  • Pat S Pat S on May 01, 2014
    I am normally a "paint it" person BUT I would just clean it up, sand it if needed, perhaps add some old looking hardware and coat it with poly. It is a beautiful piece. Looked again.... maybe a stencil or compass rose on top.

  • Sfg178760 Sfg178760 on May 01, 2014
    Had to "talk" to some neighborhood kids that like to play on my porch. I have vintage stand alone hammock out there and I have told them to NOT play on it...but they did it again. They are good kids...with LOTS of energy and obviously are not supervised for a couple few hours after school. So I told them, maybe I should start an after school program for them and all 5 of them got excited. I may start with having them work on this bench as they are very interested in what I do and how I made my Porch Lounger (see my other Hometalk projects). The only girl actually helped me paint part of the Porch Lounger and they 4 boys seemed a bit jealous. IT TAKES A VILLAGE...and since I am a Recreational Therapist and have worked a lot with kids...I guess this time it will start with me. )

  • Janis Hill Janis Hill on May 01, 2014
    I would use pliers to pull the bits of fabric out, tap the nails in and paint it with coconut or linseed oil to enhance the existing wood. It would be beautiful!

    • See 1 previous
    • Mary Emery Mary Emery on May 02, 2014
      I would the same thing as @Janis Hill! No cover pad needed then use it as a end type table or as a vintage look chopping block set a wood dough bowl or vintage kitchen tools. love it!

  • Rosie Velasquez Rosie Velasquez on May 01, 2014
    clean it up.....Use it as a Coffee table!

  • Michelle Van Horn Michelle Van Horn on May 01, 2014
    put it as is on the porch with colorful flower planters

  • Tamara Tamara on May 01, 2014
    Clean it with Murphy's and leave it as original as possible. Anything you do to it is only going to ruin the beautiful and rustic look it now has.

  • Anamarianebe Anamarianebe on May 01, 2014
    you should sand it and stain in. it's a very beautiful piece

  • Karen Irvine Karen Irvine on May 01, 2014
    How about a butcher's block? It's awesome!

  • Gloria Stover Gloria Stover on May 01, 2014
    It is beautiful just as it is, a little cleaning and enjoy!

  • Jasmin Loriezo Jasmin Loriezo on May 01, 2014
    Clean it up, put a sturdy cover on its top, use it in the front porch for a flower stand.

  • Andrea H Andrea H on May 01, 2014
    I see a red velvet cushion on top

  • Teresa Wills Teresa Wills on May 01, 2014
    Maybe a good sanding might do it some good, then I'd go from there.

  • Lisa Garrett Lisa Garrett on May 02, 2014
    I think it would look cool hung up as a bookshelf! It should be a star!!!

  • Angie W Angie W on May 02, 2014
    If I was redoing this for someone and they left it up to me, I would clean it up, sand it, cut the feet off, add new feet like below....paint it turquoise, add a very vibrant flowered (with the color turquoise in the pattern) padded top...It would be gorgeous !

  • Carla A Carla A on May 02, 2014
    I love the old rustic very used look. Has tons of character. I would take a heavy chain beat the top to give the indentations. Then I add a quick stain and rub it off quickly then wax it and enjoy...

  • Carla A Carla A on May 02, 2014
    Stain just the top... Reason being the stain will settle in the indentations. And will only add a slight color to the rest of the top... The top to me doesn't look as worn as the rest of it... Think painting it would plant make it look like a cheap piece of furniture and take all it's character away from it... Please show your end results...

  • Teri Teri on May 02, 2014
    I'd clean it up a bit, sand any spots rough enough to be a splinter hazard and then wax it to protect it. If you love it as is, then it really doesn't need much!

  • Donna's Pendergrass Donna's Pendergrass on May 02, 2014
    If you can clean it up and sand it down good I would just stain it so that you leave that old rustic charm. Maybe change the legs out on it and put a nice chevron Patten seat cushion on top. Good luck.

  • Joan Dingeldein Caughlin Joan Dingeldein Caughlin on May 02, 2014
    It looks like a table to me! Cover the metal knobs with masking tape and paint it shiny black!! Take off tape and shine up the metal.

  • LeAnn O LeAnn O on May 02, 2014
    DO NOT PAINT IT. Clean it up and stain it.

  • Karen Brenay Karen Brenay on May 02, 2014
    clean it with steel wool an soapy hot water let dry good an the oil it with some linseed oil, it will bring out all of the wood grain, its really pretty.

  • Debra Mead Schroeder Debra Mead Schroeder on May 02, 2014
    Leave as is, get a old bucket or crock fill with a green plant or flowers, with a old framed picture.....BEAUTIFUL!

  • Jim L Jim L on May 02, 2014
    Hmmm...the wood on the sides looks nice, but the top doesn't. This would be such a great "coffee" table on a porch, or in a rustic, shabby chic family room. Get a glass cut for the top, paint one side of the glass a complimentary color. This would be a fun piece to have. Also, with a cushion (NOT upholstered) it could go at the foot of a bed or under a window.

  • Kelly Clark Kelly Clark on May 02, 2014
    I would clean it then sand the rough edges and oil it and then poly it and see if you like it!!!

  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on May 02, 2014
    I'd use this on a porch and place a nice green plant in a pretty pot or old china piece in it. I love it when plants and treasures are raised up.

  • MaryJean MaryJean on May 02, 2014
    dont paint it! clean it with firm brush and soap and water. i see it as a bench with a faux leather cushion on top or a side /coffee table on a covered patio, depending on dimensions

  • Dawn F Dawn F on May 02, 2014
    Clean it up and put a glass top on it . Use it for a table.

  • Eunice Rochner Eunice Rochner on May 02, 2014
    Clean the sides and paint the top

  • Diane Kleier Diane Kleier on May 02, 2014
    I agree with Joanne C. My very first thought was a beautiful coffee table on a rustic porch with a plant, books and a vintage tea pot and server. Exquisite!!!! Please send pics of your final piece, and have FUN!!!

  • Marilyn McClelland Marilyn McClelland on May 02, 2014
    Clean, sand to smoothe, oil and coat with clear poly

  • Kay Goodwin Kay Goodwin on May 02, 2014
    i would clean sand then torch it to bring up the grain....apply a light tint poly,,,then add leather belts or straps to each side making it appear to be a trunk!!!! sweet

    • Sfg178760 Sfg178760 on May 02, 2014
      @Kay Goodwin Oh sooo win the most creative idea! My husband would worry his little brain to death thinking that I may torch something...especially if I get the neighbor kids involved! Leather belts have come to my I have a bunch of them...but not as straps. Thanks for the ideas!

  • Dee Davidson Dee Davidson on May 02, 2014
    Its beautiful!! pad it and cover it with decorative nails.

  • Tara Lenihan Tara Lenihan on May 02, 2014
    I think this would be beautiful if cleaned up, sanded, and sealed! Maybe with a bench cushion laid on top, something earthy with leather buttons or sides?

  • Stephanie DuWig Stephanie DuWig on May 02, 2014
    Clean it and polyurethane it. Than set colored tiles or craft colored stones in the top in grout. And add a glass table top on it.

  • Annette Portell Annette Portell on May 02, 2014
    paint the base black. Had the top and a poster with a feed sack or stencils burlap add a few accent pillows

  • Samantha Adams Samantha Adams on May 03, 2014
    leather and studs would make a great ottoman

  • Kay Goodwin Kay Goodwin on May 08, 2014
    thanks.... i torch wood ll the brings the natural grain up.....can't wait to see your final product done!

  • Sfg178760 Sfg178760 on Aug 19, 2014
    Hey This is What I Ended Up Doing!!! And you can find it for sale at

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 21, 2022

    Have a go at removing the old bits of fabric around the Studs, then Stain the whole lot to suit your taste and then seal it. You could always add a loose bench cushion if you want it to be comfy.

  • Deb K Deb K on Mar 04, 2022

    Hello! the job you did on this looks awesome!!