Before and After: Just $15 Took This Thrifted Bench from Basic to Bold

published May 25, 2021
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Before: Bench with dingy striped fabric upholstery
Credit: Faith Carbon

Reupholstering hand-me-downs and thrift store finds can be a great way to make old furniture match your style. Although some reupholstery can be expensive (and difficult) depending on the piece, starting with a small surface area and a simple shape is totally doable for even first-time DIYers, and Faith Carbon’s dining room bench redo is here to prove it.  

When Faith saw the bench at a thrift store, it immediately caught her eye. “I thought it was beautiful and would match nicely with another thrifted piece I had recently found, so I bought it with the intention of reupholstering,” she says.

Although the existing pale blue striped fabric on the bench was in decent condition, Faith was looking for something brighter that would pop against the dark wood — and with more meaning. “As I was choosing pieces for the home, that I wanted to see bright, African-inspired textiles that would speak to my heritage and identity as a Caribbean-American woman,” she says.

For Faith, landing on one fabric out of so many great choices was the hardest part of the project. “I was still in the process of choosing colors and the ‘general feeling’ I wanted different rooms in the apartment to exude,” she says. “I spent hours scouring Etsy and was very intentional about shopping from a black-owned shop.”

Credit: Faith Carbon

Ultimately, she narrowed it down to two fabrics. She used one $15 selection from Etsy seller TessWorldDesigns for the bench, and her mom used the other to make a pillow case. Once the fabric arrived, it was smooth sailing. She watched reupholstery tutorials on YouTube, borrowed a staple gun from her partner’s mom, and learned as she went.

Her takeaway? “If you’re interested in reupholstering something, just do it!”

Credit: Faith Carbon

Faith recommends that beginners start with something that’s already in decent shape and that’s easy to take apart. She’s proud that her vision came to life in the space.

“I had no plans to use the bench functionally,” she says. “But I felt that it would add something to my space. I am proud that without a specific plan, I was still intentional about how I wanted to shop, what I wanted the bench to add to the room, and made it all work.”

Credit: Faith Carbon

Faith also loves the color it adds to her space.

“I absolutely love the fabric that I decided to go with,” she says. “The bench currently sits in my dining room and matches the plants, and the bright yellow dining table perfectly. I wouldn’t change a single thing.”