Some girls dream about diamonds… or flowers… or new shoes. I dream about furniture. And this dream that came true was about a church pew makeover that almost started out as a nightmare. But it does have a happy ending 🙂
When we started our living room makeover, I knew that I’d need a long bench by the front door to fill up the space with purpose. And I dreamt of a church pew. Of course, my original idea was to build one – but my husband found another way.
He scoured local Facebook selling groups to find a vintage pew that would fit the space we needed. And in no time he found one in Franklin. So we took the 1 1/2 hour trek to check out a pew that someone had hidden away in their garage.
I knew immediately that this beauty needed to be brought back to life. This is where I get all sentimental: for years and years, our small town had a church pew factory (which is no longer open), and for some reason I felt like this pew needed to come “home.”
We bought it from the nice lady who had it, then brought it home. The next morning we started working on it, because I knew that it had too much that needed to be repaired to leave it alone.
In my mind, for years upon years, hundreds of people had probably sit in that pew and worshipped. Which made me feel like it needed to be brought back to life. There was a history that I can’t explain – but I knew that it deserved to shine.
So that’s where we start our church pew makeover. And here’s how we did it.
Antique Church Pew Makeover
*affiliate links included for specific products used*
- .31 mil painter’s plastic
- disposable gloves
- chip brushes
- sand paper – both 100 and 220 grit
- plastic paint scraper
This is the first time I’ve used paint stripper to refinish furniture – and I have to admit it couldn’t have been any easier! I chose Citri-Strip because it’s non-toxic and while it does an amazing job at eating through the furniture, it didn’t bother my skin at all where it touched it. Do wear gloves though! (By the end I had it all over me!)
So slather it on pretty thick. Don’t be shy! Work in small areas – about 18 inches square or so, especially if it’s warm. You DO not want it to dry before you get it covered.
Speaking of getting it covered. Cut some squares from the painter’s plastic, so as you get an area covered you can immediately cover it up. You want to smoosh the plastic down so it locks that moisture in. (Smoosh is the technical term, ya know?)
Once you have the entire piece covered with plastic covered Citri-Strip, walk away. SERIOUSLY. Do NOT peek. Let it sit for at least 8 hours… 12 is even better. Just go shopping. Or take a nap. Or read a book. Just DO NOT PEEK.
Then… when you come back, you’ll see all that paint all bubbled up. This is what you’re looking for. If you didn’t get this – then scrape off what came loose and slather it up again.
Use a plastic furniture scraper – not metal – to get off as much as you can. Don’t dig into the wood – just let the Citri-Strip do it’s job.
We actually had to do three different coats on this piece to get off all that paint. There were FIVE layers. I started to wonder if we’d ever make it to raw wood. But eventually, after all the paint layers and at least 2 kinds of lacquer, we finally got it all off.
The wood was rather soft (probably from years of sitting on a porch somewhere). so we sanded it twice – once with 100 grit and then again with 220 grit – making sure to get into every nook and cranny.
We repaired in all the random nail holes with wood filler to help bring it back to life, too.
My husband had to take a piece of scrap wood we had and trace the bottom of the leg to replace the third leg in the center that was missing.
Between the new wood and old, plus all the filler we had to use – paint was really our only option. So we put on a few coats with our secret weapon and let it completely dry before putting it in the perfect spot in our living room.
Now the little church pew that has heard thousands of prayers gets a little spot of honor by our front door. She’s become one of my favorite things about our living room.
And she’ll never have to worry about being sit out on the front porch again. We’ll definitely cherish this piece for years and years to come.