refinishing a bench – One Room Challenge Week 4


Goodness, it’s been a minute. Are you ready to see what I’ve been up to since last week? It’s time for another One Room Challenge update, and I’m definitely at the point in my project where things are getting a LOT uglier before they’ll get pretty!


Like I mentioned during week 1, I’ve been hunting for an old pew for this space for the last several months. Every few days I’ll hop on craigslist and Facebook marketplace and do a quick search for “bench” and pew” just to see if anything new comes up. I even drove up to Fresno planning to bring home a pew, but they ones listed ended up being made of cheap plywood for a wedding–not what I was going for!

As a reminder, this was my inspiration for the whole space:


I love that this bench is old and worn–my kids couldn’t do any damage to that! And that was the kind of bench I’ve been looking for, but after months of searching and coming up short, I decided to finally pull the trigger on a pew I’d spotted at a local antique mall back in July. It was painted white, which I didn’t love, but the length is perfect for my space. It’s in the lead-off image up top, but here it is again just in case.


Once I got it home, I knew the white bench on white wall wasn’t going to work. I toyed with painting the bench in a super dark, rich tone, but since we already have a painted (any heavily distressed) desk on the opposite wall, I really didn’t want both main pieces of furniture to be painted. Paint stripper to the rescue, right?!

One sad coat of paint stripper later and the results were pretty underwhelming–don’t mind the captions, these were taken from my instastories.


My first coat of paint stripper barely took off the top layer of white paint, leaving a weird beige-y coat underneath. The second coat yielded similar results. . . .


Luckily for me, a kind follower on instagram recommended covering the stripper with a layer of plastic wrap and letting it soak for longer, so that was my third step!

Now we’re getting somewhere! I could finally see some wood grain and that made me so happy. Here is where I left off after that last coat of stripper.


You can see where the paint is still sticking in a few areas, though, so I broke out my palm sander and smoothed those out. I plan on doing an oil finish on the wood–I don’t have any of my favorite Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil on hand, so instead, I tested the finish with my favorite wood butter I made a few years back.


It’s going to be so great! So this is where we stand tonight–I’ve applied two coats of stripper to main portions of the pew and scraped off as much paint as I can get.


Tomorrow I will rub the entire surface down with steel wool dipped in mineral spirits to remove the rest of the paint residue I can, then I’ll sand down where needed and oil the wood. You’ll see the finished product in two weeks at the reveal! It’s crunch time, I ordered my light today and am working on selecting art and accessories. I’ll be back with updates.


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