You’ll Never Guess What We Did With This Old Workbench!

the greatest furniture makeover of my life

Ok, I kind of gave it away there, huh. There are so many titles I could’ve given this post like “how to clean old furniture” or “how to sand vintage wood” or “a guide for husbands: how to deal with a thrift-crazed wife”. Hehe. But those just didn’t convey my excitement and delight!

There’s a local thrift store in Dallas that I love. They post their new items on their Facebook page so you can glance through them and if you see something you love, drop everything and run to the store. A few weekends ago Scott and I were in the car leaving Home Depot (where else?) and I happened to be flipping through the thrift shop’s album on Facebook. At first I was half paying attention to Facebook, and talking to Scott when all of a sudden my eyes focused and widened and I stopped mid sentence. “TURN RIGHT TURN RIGHT” I shrieked. Poor Scott.

As I gave Scott directions to the thrift store I breathlessly explained that this detour was thrifting life or death. I had found a vintage workbench for sale in their album for $50. Scott, being the practical one asked, “What will you do with it?” “Scott,” I said, staring at him in disbelief. “What wouldn’t you do with a vintage workbench? We could put it in the pantry or in the kitchen in the empty corner or in the guest room or when we have kids it could be a changing table or if nothing else, it can be a workbench in the garage, duh!” As I continued to give him driving directions with my eyes fixed on the Facebook I noticed someone had commented saying they were interested and were going to stop by that afternoon. NOOOO.

Luckily we were there within five minutes. The sweet-looking teenager working the counter probably thought I was crazy when I burst in and said between gasps “Workbench?!” She directed me to the back of the store. There it was.

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Scott wasn’t as sure, but he was willing. We paid for it and made arrangements to pick it up later in the week. On our way out, I remembered to take measurements so I could start planning on where to put the new star of our house. I believed in that bench.

A few days later we went back for the bench. We began the long, slow process of carrying it out. Even though I’ve been working out with weights my arm strength is not quite up to par so I had to take lots of breaks. We got it home, then had to carry it to the driveway…but it was there. We made it!

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Have you all ever started a project and at the beginning been like OMG I’M GENIUS and about halfway through you’re like WHY WHY WHY? I have. Lots of times—like this one. My doubt started when we were dusting it off. This thing was really, really vintage. Like lots of spider webs and dirt and dust. It took us a good hour of cleaning to get it up to par.

Then we used sandpaper to smooth out the top and bottom. While I did the sanding, Scott was busy removing all the random pieces attached to it that we didn’t want. Then we had to clean it off again. But check out this gorgeous distressed wood…it got prettier and prettier!

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We were both totally smitten with the awesome vintage clamp so we kept that on.
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Then again, just to be sure. Just keep on sanding, even when it feels like your arms are falling off. :)

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I was set on spray-painting the metal legs. The top and bottom were too beautiful and rustic for that ugly tan color. Luckily I had a can of matte black spray paint  from Rust-Oleum handy and decided to use that for the table legs.

Then the REAL problem began. Spider webs were nothing compared to the planning, time and effort it took to figure out how to protect all the wood pieces from spray paint. That took about two hours of work, but after wrapping and taping and flipping the piece upside down and right-side up, it was spray paint time. YES.

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Luckily, the actual spray painting part itself wasn’t so bad. I ended up giving it about 3 coats of coverage before calling it quits. I waited about 30 minutes and very carefully pulled off all the tape and plastic wrap so I could work on the top and bottom wooden shelf. I used Shellac to coat the top and bottom and did three thin layers on each, giving them about 30 minutes to dry in between coats. Shellac is non-toxic when it’s dry, so I felt much better about it being in our house with a food-safe top.

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We let the shellac dry another couple of hours and then I couldn’t wait any more. It gave it a gorgeous rich, slightly glossy finish that I absolutely love! My first plan had been to put it in the butler’s pantry, but I quickly realized it was far too big for that space. Plan B was to put it in the random empty corner in our kitchen that I can never figure out what to do with.

First we tried it under the shelves we had added a few months ago. It looked good but I was worried it obstructed the walking path too much, and I didn’t like how the clamp was something I would most likely run into a few times a day. 😉

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I crossed my fingers real tight and told Scott I wanted to try it under the window—just to see. And what do you know?

It fit.

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I am SO HAPPY. This is now our new favorite piece of furniture in the house—the wood is so gorgeously distressed and we have found a functional piece to fit our kitchen! We have already used it a ton, for cutting veggies (we still use a cutting board of course!), folding laundry, unloading groceries and as a backdrop for photos. 😉 I’ve even had a few smart Instagram followers notice the wood and wonder what it was. Now you all know.

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I love how the wood and concrete countertops look together…and how perfectly the floors go with the workbench. :)
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Best DIY project ever. Even though I thought I was out of my mind in the middle of it. 😉 Let’s look at one more before-after just for fun!

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Isn’t it pretty? I could stare at it all day. :) Have you all ever started a project and wanted to quit? Did you? I certainly have, but I’m glad I didn’t on this one!


  1. Gorgeous! It looks like it was made for that spot under the window.

  2. Y’all are ridiculous – I wish i had 1% of your craftiness/creativity!!!

    • Tania @ Run To Radiance says:

      You are so sweet! It’s so much fun for me—I guess I’ve found my “thing”.

  3. Oh my goodness! That is perfect! I love how it looks with the concrete countertops, too. And I LOVE that you left the clamp on. It definitely adds a tough of character to your kitchen. Props to your husband for heading straight to the thrift store. For some reason, mine doesn’t hear me when I yell to stop for junk on the side of the road. It’s weird. 😉

    • Tania @ Run To Radiance says:

      Thanks Rachel! I want to do something cool with the clamp—I’ve already used it several times as a cookbook stand and a towel holder. :) Husbands are funny like that right? Selective hearing. Hehe.

  4. Great job. I’m loving it. The gloss is perfect.

  5. Wow! This is fabulous! I love that your husband just went with it. Mine is always “UGH, you want to go to a garage sale, what are you looking for?” umm… it’s not that I’m looking for something particular, something is looking for me. Men.

    • Tania @ Run To Radiance says:

      Haha. I think sometimes guys don’t understand that you don’t have to be looking for something…you just see something amazing and GET IT. :)

  6. Love it!

  7. Love it! Very industrial chic

  8. oh goodness, this makes me impossibly jealous – it looks like some gorgeous find at restoration hardware or pottery barn :)

    • Tania @ Run To Radiance says:

      Thank you so much Jennifer! :) Scott and I were saying it looks very Anthro….maybe we should try to sell it for $1000. Just kidding, I love it too much. :)

  9. Wow…What a transformation!

  10. You did such a great job of this, it looks so prefect for that spot :-)

    • Tania @ Run To Radiance says:

      Thank you Sarah! I am so happy we waited a year to fill that corner…it was meant to be. :)

  11. You guys did such a great job with it…it looks amazing! I love that whole area of your house. Those shelves and everything on them are lovely!

    • Tania @ Run To Radiance says:

      Thank you Jayda! Ironically it used to be my least favorite but slowly we have added items and infused it with character that have made it one of my favorite areas in our home!

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