Skip to Content

The Not So Simple Wooden Stool Makeover

Sharing is caring!

What should have been a quick and easy makeover of thie mid centuty wooden stool, turned into a two-day affair. But the end-result was well worth the effort for a piece of furniture which has been in the family for decades!

A Simple Mid Century Furniture Makeover – Not!

This has to be the most frustrating project I have ever tackled!  Just look at it – all simple and shy!  And it was saying to me  “come and make me over, I am just a humble little bench.”

Never have more false words been spoken!  Because sometimes things may look simple but they are not! And so, this is the tale of the not so simple transformation of a bench. A Mid-Century Modern bench at that!

Small vinyl bench before, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

Now I have done MCM transformations before, but this one was a piece of work!  Literally!

First of all I could not tell if it was a stool or an ottoman or even a bench.  Apparently, there is some sort of difference. 

It turns out that stools or footstools are just that, used to rest your feet.  They are lower than ottomans.  Whereas ottomans can actually double as seating.  You can see by my photo that this thing here has pretty high legs and is actually very good as a seat, so it is now officially going to be called an ottoman?? 

Hmmm or is it a small bench? 

What I used:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  If you purchase any of these products through the links, we receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. You can find our full disclosure here.

closeup of bench, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

The How to:

My original thinking was that I would freshen up the legs by getting rid of all that cherry colored stain.  And because I have a color scheme in mind for this room, I wanted to repaint that blue vinyl piping and make it gray. A half an hour job at most!

That was my original thinking. 

But what ensued was another story altogether.  

I started to sand the first leg and a half an hour later I was still at it.  What?  This whole project was supposed to take me half an hour!  Not just the leg!

After sanding one leg, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

The next day I had to move the whole project to the back yard.  This time I borrowed my dad’s Black and Decker sander.  Guess what?  I ended up burning the rubber off half the bottom of the sander.  That is not a good sign is it?  

Was I using the wrong number sand paper?

Trying to sand the rest of the legs, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

After another half an hour of fighting with a hand sander I gave up and took a trip to the Home Depot where I purchased this. I am not getting paid to promote it, I just saw that it had good reviews on Amazon so I bought it. 

New sander for the project, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

​See here the power of this one?  It took out all that stubborn stain and blew dirt and sand all over the place!  Boy was I feeling powerful after those hours of sweat and toil!

The stain from the legs of the bench on the sandpaper, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

Finally, after more sweat and toil, I was finished.  It turns out the legs are made like this where the wood has a degradation.  If I continued to sand I would not have removed the darker color, I would just have ended up with a weirdly shaped leg. 

I went over it with creme wax to protect that naked wood and I was finally finished with those legs. It could not have ended soon enough!  My arms are still hurting from trying to do it manually! But they sure have a pretty honey color now!​

After the legs are finished with the sanding, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

​The next and much easier step was to paint the vinyl piping going across the bottom of the white upholstery. 

I chose black pearl metallic acrylic paint.  It really doesn’t look black at all but more like smoky gray.  I just stuck a piece of paper behind the piping and painted so as not to get the paint on the white. 

Painting the blue vinyl piping, The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

And here she is, my refnished mid century “excuse my French” ottoman/stool/bench!!  The one that was supposed to take a half an hour to do and ended up two days of work.​

The finished small bench, #Midcenturymodernbench #furnituremakeover #midcenturylegs #Vinylbench #furniturerefresh The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

​Of course, now that you have seen my “why take the easy way when you can make things hard on yourself” method,  you will know to use a sander right away and also to use the appropriate sandpaper.  Not like me!!​

The finished small bench, #Midcenturymodernbench #furnituremakeover #midcenturylegs #Vinylbench #furniturerefresh The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

Now that it’s done and sitting pretty I can say that I have learned my lesson.  

Never underestimate a simple looking piece of furniture!

Closeup of painted vinyl piping, #Midcenturymodernbench #furnituremakeover #midcenturylegs #Vinylbench #furniturerefresh The Not So Simple Transformation of a Bench,

​Below you can see the before and after together in one shot.  It is a subtle difference but still worth the effort in my opinion.​

This one happens to be an original from the sixties. Yes, it too was one of my dad’s treasures but he did not treat it that well, did he? 

In fact I have only seen one other that resembles it here. ​

It is far from perfect, see how the edge of the vinyl upholstery has been misshaped from all the years of use.  I could have thrown it out but there is something beautiful in those lines.  And who can resist those legs?​

And that is my exasperating story of the not so simple transformation of a bench. 

Now tell me truthfully, what is this piece of furniture called?  Bench, Stool or Ottoman??


If you really like what you see subscribe to my blog and get my adventures in your mailbox. The form is on the sidebar and on top.  Your e-mail will never be shared with a third party.

Additional Furniture Transformations You’ll Love  

This blog is for entertainment purposes only; my DIY tutorials are not professional advice. Read my full disclaimer here.

I love it when I get your comments and I will try to reply to every one of them. ​Please do not add a hyperlink to your comment, otherwise it cannot be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Thursday 17th of May 2018

Isn't that always the way, Mary? The ones you think are going to be easy are the most troublesome, the ones you think will be a huge hit, flop and the ones you think, eh, who will like this, rocket to the top! Looks lovely though!!


Thursday 17th of May 2018

Yes Kim that is exactly how it goes. That really says a lot about our powers of prediction doesn't it?


Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Girl, when You said "FRUSTRATED" I thought, If she is has a frustrating project then something is bad wrong! LOL! You always make things look so stinking easy. Ha! I have me one of those sanders and it is my best friend. Mercy it saves lots of times. Of course in some of the very small areas on a project I still have to use the old hand style sandpaper way. It turned out lovely and your hard work paid off. Hugs and blessings, Cindy


Thursday 10th of May 2018

Cindy that is so true, I may get lazy once in a while but I never ever get frustrated. This one took the cake!


Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Let it be what ever you like, ottoman, bench, stool, you name it! It turned out gorgeous Mary! I love that metallic stripe you painted, it is a real unique piece now and looks great in any room I think!


Thursday 10th of May 2018

I was determined to save it no matter what. And I agree Katrin that metallic color really adds a little something extra.

Marjan Hoebeke-Pfaff

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Oh dear, poor Mary! But it does look much better now!


Thursday 10th of May 2018

Thank goodness Marjan, my arms got a real workout. Hah!!

Linda at Mixed Kreations

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

I am guessing a stool! But whether it's a stool/bench/ottoman it turned out beautifully. Glad you got a sander, it does make sanding so much easier.


Thursday 17th of May 2018

I had no idea just how much I needed it till I got it Linda.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.