Once again, my handyman Ken did a fantastic job turning a bed into a bench.
Mr. Q retrieved it from Ken’s house and set it up in our piano room (which is where I paint in the winter) last Friday afternoon. When I got home from the day job I took this quick ‘before’ photo so that I could get started painting it right away.
Originally I was going to go more neutral and paint it either white or a pale grey. But then I decided I was bored with playing it safe and I pulled out Dixie Belle’s Savannah Mist. This is a lovely grey blue color.
But before I applied the Savannah Mist, I decided to paint out the new wood bench seat using Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Curio, which is a dark brown. This way when I distress the edges you won’t see brand new wood underneath. Milk paint (much like a traditional stain) soaks into bare wood rather than sitting on top, and it dries really quickly so I didn’t have to wait long to start painting over it with the Savannah Mist.
I was able to paint the seat in Curio, then add two coats of Savannah Mist to the bench in the space of a few hours on Friday evening.
I decided to try the bare leg look again on this piece since there were four pretty turned legs to work with. They were fairly dinged up though, so this was a good opportunity for me to try Dixie Belle’s No Pain Gel Stain in Walnut. The difference between a gel stain and a traditional stain is that gel stain sits on top of the surface, while traditional stains soak into the wood (like milk paint does). Because of that, you can use a gel stain without having to completely strip off the old finish.
I sanded the legs just lightly with some 220 grit paper first. As you can see in the ‘before’ photo, for the most part I did not sand down to bare wood. I also did not have an even color before moving on. I then cleaned off the dirt and dust using a damp rag. Next I applied two coats of gel stain with an old t-shirt. Looks pretty darn good for not having to strip first, don’t you think?
It’s not perfect, but certainly totally sufficient for these legs. If you’re a perfectionist, you might prefer stripping to bare wood, using a traditional stain, and then adding a poly finish. But if, like me, you think some imperfections simply add to the charm of an older piece then the No Pain Gel Stain is for you!
You might be wondering at this point why I didn’t just use the gel stain on the seat before painting it, rather than the Curio milk paint. That’s because the gel stain is an oil based product. It takes much longer to dry than milk paint. I would have had to wait a couple of days to paint over it.
So to recap; gel stain and chalk/latex/acrylic paint sit on the top of a surface, traditional wood stain and milk paint soak into the surface (providing they don’t meet resistance from a pre-existing finish).
In addition to leaving the legs unpainted, I also left that little trim piece at the top of the bench unpainted.
It has the sweetest little original floral decal on it. I don’t usually try to save those because, to be honest, usually it just looks a bit wonky to paint around one or otherwise try to retain it. But in this case I thought leaving that part unpainted along with the legs created a nice triangle for your eye to follow.
As a final touch, I added re.design with prima’s The Birds & the Bees transfer to the bench.
I just love what this transfer says, This is the place that I love the best, a little brown house like a ground-bird’s nest hid among grasses, vines & trees. Summer retreat of the birds and bees.
How sweet is that? And how perfect for a bench in the foyer of someone’s home.
I used a variety of brands on this piece.
So thank you to Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint (Curio milk paint), re.design with prima (The Birds & The Bees transfer) Fusion Mineral Paint (clear furniture wax), and Dixie Belle Paint Co (No Pain Gel Stain and Savannah Mist paint) for providing all of the products used to finish this bench.
Let me know how you like the end result!
And if any of you locals are in need of a unique bench, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.