the bed bench from belgium.

Do you remember the bench that I picked up at a garage sale last May?  Also scouted by my friend Meggan, I might add.

find of the day 2

The sellers said that it was made out of a bed that their parents brought over from Belgium.  Although it was gorgeous ‘as is’, the finish on the bench seat was ruined.  It looked as though someone kept house plants on it, lots of water damage.  I could have opted to strip and re-stain that bench seat, and I might have gone that route if I wasn’t going to keep it.  But I did some measuring and I discovered that it would fit perfectly into the spot just inside my back door.  Which is exactly where we need something to sit on when putting on our shoes.  As much as I love the warm look of a beautiful wood piece in a room with white walls and ceilings, my room has red barn wood walls, dark wood floors and a wood plank ceiling.  That’s a lotta wood, none of which I plan to paint anytime soon.  This bench would be kind of lost among all of that wood.  Also, you might remember that I am on a mission to lighten up that room with white furniture.

So, I decided to paint it.

belgian bench angle

I held my breath the entire time just hoping that I would be doing it justice.

I used my own mix of Miss Mustard Seed whites to create Farmhouse White.  I found the recipe on The Ironstone Nest blog.  It’s equal parts Ironstone, Linen and Grain Sack.  It would have made more sense to just buy Farmhouse White, but I had plenty of the other three colors in my paint stash already so why spend more money?

The only thing I did to prep my piece was to go over it with a damp cloth and some TSP substitute.  I didn’t sand it at all.  I wanted plenty of chippy-ness.  I was willing to take the chance that all of the paint would just chip off, in which case I would have had to start over.  But I also didn’t want to totally eliminate any possibility of chipping altogether, which sometimes happens when I pre-sand.

I also painted a small test patch on the back of the bench before I started.  I wasn’t sure whether or not I would get bleed-thru on this piece and I wanted to know that before I was committed to the white paint.  But it was fine.  I started painting at the top, but when I got down to the bench seat, guess what?  Yep, it was a bleeder after all, but just the seat.  I’m assuming the seat was added when the bed was made into a bench and therefore it had a different finish than the rest of the piece.

After just a couple of swipes of Farmhouse White on the seat, it was obvious that I needed to do something about the bleed-thru.  Out came my secret weapon, Shabby Chic Clear Primer.

clear primer

I gave the seat just one coat of the Clear Primer.  Once dry, I painted over it with my homemade Farmhouse White and no bleed-thru.  Problem solved.  However, take note that the seat did not chip like the rest of the piece.  The Clear Primer will give the paint a great surface to stick to, thus eliminating chipping.

I ended up doing three coats of Farmhouse White on the bench to get good coverage.  I did two coats one day, then came back the next day and added the 3rd.  Normally when you’re going to get chipping on a piece you’ll see the paint lifting before you get to coat number 2 or 3.  With this piece I only saw two little spots of lifting paint.  I was a little bummed at that point, thinking I wasn’t going to get the chippy-ness I wanted.

bench pillow

It wasn’t until I started sanding that this chippy-ness in all of its glory showed up.

bench detail

The sides of this bench have some lovely details, don’t you think?

bench side view

I am so happy with how my bench turned out!

belgian bench titleCan you see my little photo bomber in the picture above?  Behind the left side of the bench?

That’s Lucy, my cat.  She absolutely insisted on being included in these photos.


I would call her away between shots, and then she would just meander right back over there.

Anyway, this fab bench has found a new home in my dining room.

bench long shot

I think it works beautifully mixed in with all of that dark wood.

bench in room

You may remember that I started a dining room makeover last summer.  Here we are a year later and I still haven’t finished it!  Somehow my own projects always come last.  Here’s what I’ve done so far.

Replaced my black waterfall buffet with a Welsh cupboard full of ironstone …

hutch after 2

Replaced brown leather Parson’s chairs with painted cane back chairs with feed sack seats …

chair seats

Painted the cedar dining table that Mr. Q made …


Swapped out some IKEA hanging lights for this …

dining light closeup

And now I have the bench.

Still on the to-do list, strip wallpaper (there is wallpaper behind that bench), replace the window (we’ve theoretically got that in the works) and come up with something fabulous for the giant blank wall.  Hopefully I’ll get the rest of it done before another year comes and goes.  I know I’m not the only one who takes this long with a makeover project though, right?  And I have to say, I think the bench was worth the wait.

36 thoughts on “the bed bench from belgium.

    1. I don’t truly have a foyer, just a corner of the room that functions as a foyer. Every home should have a real foyer though right? They are so practical.


  1. I’ve never been fond of bed benches for some reason. But this – this is gorgeous, it isin a class of it’s own. This is a real beauty. The detail is amazing. Sue is right you are creatively magical person!
    I think rooms take time because you have to wait until that perfect thing/things come along. And sometimes you didn’t even know what it was you were looking for until tada there it is.


    1. So funny Victoria, I’m not a huge fan of bed benches either. I definitely wasn’t looking for one for this spot, but the universe sent it my way and it just sort of fell into place from there. Coincidentally, Miss Mustard posted about this very thing today, rooms taking time to come together. I agree with you and MMS, I’m always happier with results when I take the time to wait for just the right piece.


  2. Can’t wait to see it in person! This is such a cool piece of art. It was “nice” before, but now it’s truly “stunning” AND functional to top it off. What a great find and even greater makeover…


  3. The bench turned out great and looks perfect by your back door. Very nice addition to you dinning room do over.


  4. Love the bench! You made it even more beautiful. I saw another blogger who had windows replaced and wrote a blog post about it, maybe you need someone to sponsor your window replacement! (Hi Lucy!)


    1. Thanks Linda! Actually the waterfall buffet (you can see it here) is gone, you are looking at a Welsh cupboard that I put in the waterfall’s place last year. At least I’m guessing that is the case.


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