Thursday, February 20, 2014

Upholstered Nursery Bench

Well, little Emma’s nursery didn’t quite get finished before her arrival. I’m still messing around with the curtains, bed skirt, and trying to select artwork. But I wanted to show you the finished bench/toy storage piece since I completed that a few days before she was born. Nothing like last minute projects, right?

Here it is:

This is a tricky space because it measures approximately 55” long by 14.5” deep. Most of the entryway benches available in furniture stores are 15.5-17” deep. Unfortunately, that is 0.5” too wide for our space as it would interfere with the closet door and the trim around the closet opening.

Hence the Ikea wall shelf, which measures 48 7/8x14 5/8.

It was a bit of a gamble: Ikea only rates the unit for a maximum of 90 pounds as it’s meant to hang on a wall as part of a bookcase unit (like this). But we’re a bit heavier here in the J household so I decided to beef it up with two stout 3/4” plywood sheets. 

Honestly (and surprisingly), it’s pretty stout: reinforcements may not have been needed. It can hold Chris’ weight with nary a complaint. But I also needed a good solid place to attach the legs and upholstered bench seat. Hence the plywood. 

After cutting the plywood to size, I glued 4” foam blocks to the plywood. Note: At this stage, the plywood top is not attached to the bench. I completed all the upholstery work on the plywood; attaching it to the bench was the final step. 

So, in summary:
1. Glue down foam
2. Staple your fabric to the bottom side of the plywood (and then up and over the fabric)
3. Finally attach foam bench (with interior plywood sheet) to the base. 

I’m not going to go into any upholstery details since it was my first attempt at the task. I just googled ‘how to upholster a bench’ and came up with a few decent tutorials. It went ok - the corners are the trickiest parts and mine are decent (but definitely not perfect). 

My favorite part was the painting. I did a very light sand on the legs (from Home Depot - 6”). I didn’t bother with a primer. I was pregnant at the time and I really like the fume-filtering masks shown below (also from Home Depot).

 Improvised spray paint booth.

The key to spray painting: many, many very light coats, done 15 minutes a part. I had 5 coats on these guys. 

The base plywood also needs to be painted, but just along the three skinny edges. This picture is taken from the back (the side that goes against the wall), so it’s not painted. 

You’ll notice that originally I painted my edges grey but then changed it up for the bright tomato (look at the first picture in this post) as it was too close (yet not close enough!) to the grey of the bench. 

 The final step is screwing the plywood leg base and the seat onto the bench. I drilled down through the base to attach the plywood leg sheet and up through the bench to attach the plywood bench seat.

And here is the finished product:

Add a few baskets, and you have a great bench/storage piece. 

A few notes: 
  • The bench is the perfect height for my tall husband, but about an inch too high for me to be completely comfortable. Perhaps a future builder could eliminate the 3/4 plywood from the base and attach the legs directly the the bench seat, thus cutting out almost an inch of height. Or you could use less foam. 
  • Baskets are from Storables
  • Bench fabric is from Ikea. Yes! They now sell wide, heavy-duty fabric and it’s great for curtains and other home projects. Looks like the navy is sold out but here is a similar style.
  • Speaking of baskets, I ended up removing the Ikea-provided backing board for the bench as the baskets were about 1/2” too long and I didn’t like how they protruded out. The now-backless bench is now just the right width for toy storage. 
  • Bunny stuffed animal. Tutorial from the Purl Bee.
  • Octopus pillow case made from a tea towel. Similar here

xo, Sonja