Farmhouse Style Bench DIY + A Shabby Alpaca Backstory
When Shabby Alpaca was in it’s inception, we had some different ideas about what our business would entail. We knew we would sell alpaca goods, but the name Shabby Alpaca actually came from Chris G. who at the time was refinishing furniture in the shabby chic style.
The idea she brought to the table was that we would sell alpaca clothing as well as updated and refinished shabby furniture with some vintage thrown in. It sounded great, but it did come with some problems that caused us to abandon this aspect of the business pretty early on. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first the backstory….
When Chris joined me in Colorado it was from the East Coast where vintage furniture pieces were a dime a dozen or left by the side of the road for others to collect. She had been living near her sister, Mary, who is a brilliant furniture refinisher. Mary taught my mom how to update dressers, tables and chairs and my mom caught on. I want to give a little aside here and say that these days lots of people fancy themselves furniture refinishers. With the release of many new paint products and online tutorials available there are many people who DIY this and many others who are using it to turn a profit. That is excellent, but the quality is just not always there. My aunt Mary is what I consider a founding member of the farmhouse and shabby furniture revolution and she is excellent at this trade- so Chris came to the table with some mad skills.
Anyway, skills aside, the problems we encountered early on with the “shabby” part of the business are that: 1. vintage furniture is expensive here in Colorado and harder to find. 2. We just didn’t have the space available that is needed to work on this scale. And 3. We found that lugging furniture to shows made us want to stab each other in the eyeballs, so we let the universe guide us we and left the furniture out and just focused on the alpaca product, which has honestly been great! But we were reminded today just how much fun it is to put in a days work at refinishing furniture.
It started with this big move my family is making (and when I say ‘big move’ I mean 7 houses down the street). Anyway, in making this move we are also pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle. I’ve done a lot of ruminating on minimalism and to me it means having fewer things and those things should be things that I love- rather than having many things I tolerate. So I’ve sold lots of stuff and in selling stuff, I’ve also realized that becoming a minimalist also means spending less and using what I have. So, I decided to take some of the furniture that I don’t love and turn it into pieces I love. And in the process, the Shabby Girls have been reminded how much fun it is to work together like this. Not that we’ll be adding furniture back into the mix, but if the universe brings it back around, I guess we’ll be ready, but the universe should plan to send us our own trailer and a man to drive it and move the furniture for us.
So, today! Today we spent the entire day stripping furniture. Certainly not the most glamorous job, but it was fun. We’re redoing my kitchen table and chairs as well as an amazing vintage piece I bought months ago that I will use as our TV stand.
As we worked today, we talked about how important it is to have the right tools for the job. Two of the best tools we have are Black and Decker Mouse Sanders and Purdy paint brushes. Don’t even try to do something like this without good tools! Having good tools can almost make up for what you might lack in skills.
Prior to use beginning these projects, I started last week with this bench. The process for this diy farmhouse style bench was much simpler than what we got into today, so I’ll share that whole project quickly and in a future post, I’ll share the process for today’s project.
The bench is a quality piece that my dad made many years ago and used for his plants in the sun room. I’ve lugged it around for years and honestly, it never really got any use. I don’t love light oak so I wasn’t excited about the bench so much as I am the guy who made it and I knew I would regret ditching it.
So after 15 years of hauling it around, I finally turned it into something I love. Here is the simple process for this Farmhouse Style Bench DIY.
I sanded it down, cleaned up some of the water damage and stained the top of the bench and painted the bottom. I stained the top with an ebony stain from Minwax and my brilliant mom said I should paint the bottom black (I was going to do white, but black was exactly the right answer). The black is called Cracked Pepper from Valspar and it is perfection! After letting all that dry, I put on a few coats of satin poly.
Here are the before photos:
Holy cow, I love this bench so much! Still not as much as the guy who made it, but I love that it is our combined handy work together even though we’ve been separated for many years (my dad died in 2001).
Stay tuned for the completed kitchen table (which will be farmhouse style as well) and the TV stand, which we are just going to paint a fun color!