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My friend recently came to see our new home for the first time – within minutes of walking around she said that it had “Really good bones.”

I probably could have been offended – but she had already brought me an iced coffee and honestly – I knew exactly what she meant.

She was able to look past the disheveled state of the rooms – the piles of future and ongoing projects stacked in each corner and the flat piece of MDF which is currently subbing in as a coffee table. Instead could see the vaulted ceilings in the lounge and the mid century Preway Fireplace we were so lucky to inherit with the house.

Many items and places start with “good bones” – ideal proportions, proper real wood or a nostalgic nod to past eras.

The recent bench recycle I did for Project J was one of them. Bought on a whim at one of the Main Street retailers, as soon as this was brought home and assembled- my client hated it. Yes, it was exactly what she was looking for – it fit perfectly at the end of her bed, had slick minimal design and also contained a hidden storage compartment for her shoes.

Bench in its original glory

However, it was also everything she didn’t like. The beige fabric blended in with her walls and carpet and overall looks bland. She rang me to discuss re-upholstering to get rid of the played out pattern and the safe white and cream colour scheme. However, unless something is vintage or has sentimental value – upholstering can more often than not outweigh the cost of the original item. Instead I offered up the idea of painting the fabric. She was game.

We decided to go with a deep charcoal grey with copper legs. She was already doing a great job mixing patterns and textures with her bed and linens so we wanted to draw further on that theme.

Bed with mixed pattern and textures. Lots of pillows - variety of sizes and shapes. Play on greys, warm neutrals and yellow.
Mixed patterns and textures

I researched these tutorials here and here and here as it had been awhile since I had painted straight onto fabric. I bought, Chalkpaint and TreWax and had the other supplies needed.

As you need to go slow and allow for drying time on these sort of projects – the overall remodel took me just over a week.

Bench about to be sent off to finishing school

The most difficult part was trying to get that pattern out. It was a vinyl painted on top of the fabric so it was holding onto the paint differently – and basically not absorbing the paint that I was putting down. I ended up using five separate layers of the Chalkpaint mixture and eventually the white pattern held onto the grey. Overall, the client and I were very happy with the additional mix of texture and pattern that the Chevron added to the refinish and concluded done in a monotone (grey on grey) – it changed the overall reaction we initially had towards it.

Recycled bench with Chalk paint - sanded and waxed. Charcoal grey with copper feet on existing furniture. Upcycle project design. Sheepskin throw and handwoven basket with plant
Bench in its final glory with sheepskin throw and plant in handwoven basket

In the end – both the client and I were very happy with the result of the bench. We added in a sheepskin throw to again return to this mash-up of textures – and it brings a playful vibe to a sophisticated bench.

Does painting fabric change its texture? Yes, of course. Is it hard and crunchy and not pleasant to sit on? No. Once sanded and waxed, the fabric softens up significantly and the linen on this bench now feels like a new leather jacket. I know that this will be a recycle trick that I will return to over and over again.


Heather KW

One thought on “Good Bones

  1. Pingback: Closet Re-set

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