Friday, 21 November 2014

Our DIY adventure and a retro toy bench

Hubby and I have been searching, and searching, ..... and searching. The object of our desire is a bench for Baby's room, which allows him to sit at his table, and store toys by incorporating a chest underneath the seating area. Ideally it would have arm rests, in an attempt to stop anyone falling off the side. 

We weren't picky about whether it was first- or second-hand, as long as we could either use it straight away or fix it up easily. How hard could it be? Or so we thought....... 

Little did we know that any bench meeting our needs would either seem impossible to find second-hand or so expensive first-hand, it would bust the whole baby room budget. After much, much hunting and no gathering at all, we decided to give our second-hand online market one more try. And lo-and-behold, there was our bench. Finally! 

Second-hand, originally from the 70s or 80s, ready to be picked up in a suburb of Hamburg, with a chest under the seating area, a bit of cushioning on the bench itself, and a frame made of real wood; and arm rests too! All of this for a fantastically reasonable price. 

Off Hubby went to pick it up, while I started planning our little DIY project. For all you DIY fans out there, here is a step-by-step walk through what we did. 

What will you need, apart from a bench? 
  • a screwdriver, either flat or Philips, depending on the screws used on the hinge,
  • sanding paper grade 100,
  • a lacquer suitable for indoor use in childrens' rooms; in most DIY stores you will be able to get it mixed in the exact colour you want; 
  • a brush,
  • a cover to protect the floor,
  • foam to cushion the seat,
  • your choice of fabric, at least 5 inches (about 10 cm) wider than the bench surface on each side,
  • a fabric staple gun. 
First of all, here it is, in its almost-original glory, with the seating cover removed. We stuck the screws for the lid onto the floor of the chest for easy-to-find storage. 

After the lid came off, we started prepping the wood frame of the bench for its new colour coat. The walls of the chest were made of laminated ply-wood, so they did not require any sanding. However, keep in mind that they might need a coat more to be completely covered than the real wood. 

For the sanding we used paper grade 100, which worked well for us. You only need to take off the top layer of lacquer for the new colour coat to stick. On the photo you can see nicely that the arm rest and front edge have not been sanded yet and are still a bit shiny, while the top has been, and is matt. Incidentally, you can also see the screws stored in the chest with sticky tape. 

Once you have finished the sanding, cover the floor area where you intend to do your painting and get your colour and brush ready

This is what the bench looked like after its first coat. We painted the inside of the frame, not of the plywood chest. As you can see, at least another coat was required! 

Each coat needed to dry for 12 hours, so we got busy on the covering in the meantime. 

As some of you may understand, we were not massive fans of the pink felt covering, so that was definitely going to come off. You can even see he very original covering colour scheme on the photo below - pure retro -  and not really our taste! Particularly as the teddy bears on the pattern were also rather scary. 

Next step: cutting the foam to size. The seating area did have a thin layer of foam under the teddy fabric, but we wanted to provide more cushioning for Baby's bum, so we used one-inch-thick foam available in our DIY store.

It doesn't really matter if the foam edging is not completely smooth, as the fabric covering will even that out. We stuck the foam on to the original seating with fabric glue in order to make the next steps easier. 

Next came the, to us, trickiest step. We put the new covering material on a clean, flat surface, placing the seating area on it centrally, foam side facing down. Have your fabric staple gun at the ready!

We purchased out fabric at Frau Tulpe, a local fabric store, which carries a great variety of modern patterns. They also sell online! Our fabric is 100% cotton, for stability and, hopefully, long wear. 

We started stapling on a short side, moving towards one of the corners. We stapled the corners by pulling the corner of the fabric over the corner of the seating, as you can see in the photo below.  

In the next step, we folded the fabric of the next side over the corner and secured it with a central staple. We included lots of pictures. Hope they help demonstrate what we did. 

Once you have gone all the way around, staple the material at the corners again, pulling it in a bit more, in order to make sure the fabric is nice and taught. 

That's the seating done! 

Back to the bench. We applied two more coats in order to achieve the finish we wanted. Another 12 hours drying time after each coat and we were ready to put the seating back in place. 

This proved a little tricky, particularly getting it on straight, as the original holes on the under-side of the seating where no longer visible, but Hubby managed brilliantly, and - TADAAAA - here it is! 

Our little DIY masterpiece! 

PS: Unsere retro Kinderbank, die auch als Truhe dient, die wir in einem DIY Projekt selber renoviert haben. 

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