DIY Headboard Bench – An Easy How To

Last month we were on a mission to jazz up our entryway, and had our hearts set on a new bench to do it! We think a decorative bench multitasks in terms of decor. It provides style, seating, and accessorizing it adds charm to the home. We also like it when we’re not entertained to set purses, backpacks, etc.

The plan was to purchase the bench, but most of what we found was expensive and lacked the character we wanted. After a little exploring, we found some amazing DIY bench projects on Pinterest that were made from old headboards and footboards. We fell in love with the idea of a low-cost, one-of-a-kind bench! Here’s how we made one of our own…

Repurposed Headboard & Footboard

The first thing we did was hop on Facebook Marketplace to see what headboards we could find for free or for next to nothing. We were looking for a headboard AND a footboard based on our vision, but this isn’t 100% necessary if you go with an armless design.

The search itself was super fun! You can get creative here and find all sorts of options in different styles. Vintage, classic, modern, rustic. You name it and it shouldn’t be hard to find with a little patience. You can also stop by local garage sales and goodwill stores if Facebook isn’t your thing.

Quick Tip!

One issue we ran into was some of the sets had details that didn’t allow for a super easy assembly. You’ll see in your research that often footboards are cut in half and then attached directly to the headboard. Make sure you measure beforehand how high you want the seat to be, what size headboard would be best for your space etc.

From Headboard to Bench

Up next we took the footboard we chose and cut it in half as mentioned above. Using a drill and some screws, my husband attached the footboard halves as arms. We then used extra scrap wood that we had laying around to create the frontal frame, as well as an extra middle base before laying 1 x 3″ pieces on top. You can use a variety of different sizes of wood here. But hold off on screwing it together unless the bench will be all one color.

Bench Prep

Sanding was necessary for both the back and sides of our bench. Since you will likely be reusing another piece of furniture, we always recommend sanding it and then wiping it down after to remove dust and debris. We loved the look of a two-toned bench and had previously refinished some bar stools using the Milk Paint by Rustoleum in Eclipse. We wanted to use that again but thought the seat would look great stained against the matte black. Perfect for our shabby-chic décor.

Since the seat would be finished differently, we did not nail it together at this point. It’s much easier to paint them separately so that you don’t need to be so careful when painting. No sanding was required for the seat, but we did use a pre-stain conditioner. We noticed a difference in how the wood absorbs the stain when using it and highly recommend this step.

Milk Paint

The black paint took about three coats. Dark colors can be tricky! Even when you think you’ve got it all covered, you’ll move it into new lighting and suddenly see spots you have missed. (Even when you think you are being super thorough!) The amount of paint you need will differ based on what the headboard is made from, the degree of prep, etc.

Wood Stain

Make sure this step is done in a well-ventilated area. The smell of stain is STRONG and needs a few days to wear off before bringing the bench inside. We started slowly in terms of the amount of time we let it sit before wiping/brushing off any excess. The type of wood, the amount of time you allow it to sit, and layering will all impact how a stain turns out. Just have fun with it and find your favorite tone! We used two coats of Minwax Special Walnut for about 5 minutes each.

Finishing Touches

Once all the coats were applied and the drying was complete. (At least a solid 24 hours)
We applied a top coat to the stain only. We knew essentially that this bench would be decorative and didn’t feel that the milk paint required a top coat in this case. If you believe yours will be in high traffic then we recommend a top coat for the entire bench. The top coat over the stain seals and protects the wood. It also helps mask any remaining smell. Last but not least we evenly attached the seat and voila, a beautiful bench!

Of all the areas within a home, the entryway is such an important space don’t you think? It sets the tone for the entire house and we love how this headboard bench made such a welcoming one to ours!

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