Living editor Lorna Aragon walks us through this high-impact refurbishment.
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elegant recovered living room bench
Credit: Frank Frances

When this fusty circa-1970s bench came up for sale at a furniture auction, Living home editor Lorna Aragon instantly envisioned a modern stunner. She gave the Queen Anne-style piece the royal treatment, sanding off its glossy finish and painting over the cherrywood with Benjamin Moore's Rockport Gray HC 105, a cool, understated neutral. Then, she replaced the dated damask fabric with linen in a graphic, geometric motif from Serena Dugan Studio. Now it's the best-looking seat in the house—or at least in the living room.

Ahead, learn exactly how Lorna tackled this project, so you can retrace her steps when you find a similar piece of your own. And if you're interested in a slightly different textile and paint option when you do attempt this project? Complement Clarke & Clarke's Sissinghurst fabric in Midnight/Spice with Valspar's satin interior paint in Smoky Pitch 4007-4B—it's a striking combination.

Prep the Piece

Unscrew the upholstered seat base from the frame. With pliers, pull out the staples. Use the old cushion and fabric as templates to cut new pieces of foam padding and cloth (add 2 inches all around).

Sand the Wood

Rub off the wood's finish with 80-grit paper, then wipe down with tack cloth. Repeat with 120-grit paper.

Prime and Paint the Frame

Apply primer to flat surfaces with a foam roller, and to the ornate legs with a paintbrush. Let dry 4 to 6 hours. Apply two coats of paint with a foam roller and a brush; let each layer dry overnight.

Re-Cover the Cushion

Place the fabric pattern-side down. Center a new foam cushion in the middle, and lay the seat base on top. Starting on a long side, fold the cloth over the padding and staple to the base. Repeat on the other long side, then on each short end. Add staples every 1/4 inch. Trim excess fabric, and screw the seat onto the frame.

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