When I blogged about the table I mentioned that I was planning to build a bench and come up with a centerpiece for her...
Here they are!
I've never been a big fan of tables with benches, but this table was begging for one.
I planned to build one from the begining, though after the table was done I got a little nervous and started shopping garage sales for a bench I could refinish, instead of starting from scratch.
I never did find anything, and I'm so happy about that now!
The table came with 6 chairs, 4 of which I refinished with the table. One was in terrible shape - it looked like it had been used as a chew toy for a very large dog. I decided NOT to use it at my table.
Instead, I stole it's two curvy legs and used them for my bench :)
I also bought 2 retangular legs from the Home Depot.
To start, I spray painted the legs and the 2x4s that I planned to use for the base with Heirloom white, to match the table.
I decided I wanted a 2 tone look for the bench, with the base matching the table and the top being real wood. I bought a peice of 1 inch thick butcher block style wood from the Home Depot and had hubby cut it down for me (cutting with the grain, which is called ripping, is too scary for me!) I think the wood was about $20.
My husband makes fun of my wood staining. He says I never can just buy the color of stain I want - I have to mix them to get a custom color so that it can never be matched again.
It's not my plan - it just happens to go that way.
I stained my bench top with a Minwax gel stain in American Walnut. After my two coats had dried the color was really...brown. flat. not as warm as I had wanted.
So I took some Minwax liquid stain in Mahogany and rubbed a couple of coats over the top of the walnut. And it looked exactly like I'd envisioned :)
Once it was dry I applied 2 coats of polyurethane and 2 coats of polyacrylic, just like on the table. I wanted it to have a nice sheen to it, and to be well protected from all the abuse it was going to take from my kids.
I have a really nice bench in my front room that I flipped upside down and used for reference. I looked at it a million times during the process, and I was so glad to have it around!
I built the box for the bench out of 2x4's and attached it to the bench top using Quick Grip, a professional adhesive.
Then I nailed all the legs into the corners and added those angled pieces for support.
I taped off the edges of the bench top, flipped her upside down on the grass and gave the legs and box one last coat of heirloom white to cover the nail heads and black smudges from hammer hands.
(does anyone else leave black smudges from their hands that can't be washed away while using a hammer? Is it just me? Is it my hands? or my hammer?)
Oh, and while I was installing the legs I managed to chip a piece of wood off the edge of the bench. Since I didn't have an easy stain to run on to fix it (damn custom stain!) I used a sharpie to color it in.
And it matched exactly.
So I totally could have saved myself a bunch of time rubbing 2 coats each of 2 different color stains onto the top.
Next time it's sharpie for the whole thing! ;)
Anyway - on to the centerpiece!
Flip through a Pottery Barn catalog and you'll see dozens of vases filled with branches, twigs, leaves and blossoms...centerpieces that are often just for show and can't be purchased. When they are for sale they're a fortune.
DH pruned a tree in our yard a month or so ago while I was out. When I got home and saw it done I said (in a panic) "you didn't throw the branches away, did you?!"
Of course he hadn't. He knows me far better than that. Instead, they were neatly stacked on the front porch.
Easiest centerpeice ever - I just bought a big cylindrical vase and dropped the branches in as artfully as I could. I broke a few off here and there, to make them sit nicely, but that was the extent of the work.
I love the look of it even more now than I did with a chair on each side.
I don't know if it's because I know how much more useful it is (SO WONDERFUL for the kids!) or if it's because the dark wood top sets off the cream of the table, but it's perfection now :)
Done and done!