Home Projects

Before and After: A Stylish Make-Under for This Authentic Mid-Century Bench

published Nov 30, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Before: Bench with American flag painted on top
Credit: Liz Woodward

Not every vintage piece needs a makeover—in fact, some might need a make–under to reveal the old-school charm hidden beneath later additions.

Take this bench, purchased by Liz Woodward. “I’ve been on the hunt for a mid century slat bench forever,” she says. “When I found this one on Facebook Marketplace for $75, I had to rescue it!”

A previous owner had started to paint the American flag on the bench with chalkboard paint, so there were three different colors on top of the piece. But Liz discovered that what was underneath was way better: “After a little elbow grease, I sanded enough to see a Made in Yugoslavia stamp, which would date this piece to somewhere in the 1960s,” she says. So she got to work sanding down and refinishing the rest.

Credit: Liz Woodward

“It took so long to sand everything down!” Liz says. “After hand sanding all rounded pieces, my boyfriend and I disassembled it and planed all the slats. That saved so much time!”

Her boyfriend touched up the bench’s beveled edges with a router, and she sanded everything down to 400 grit.

Credit: Liz Woodward

The wood underneath was lighter than Liz wanted, so she made a custom oil stain using Odie’s Oil.

“Reassembly was trickier than we were bargaining for,” Liz says. “60-year-old screws strip really easily! After multiple failed attempts, we ended up buying new hardware and assembled it all with spacers.”

Credit: Liz Woodward

In the end, the natural wood bench is a star. “It is so much better!” Liz says. “I am thrilled that I was able to give this piece a new life!”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.