Upcycled Bed to Bench Tutorial

September 11, 2014Allison Murray
Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench! My Momma and I have very different styles as far as decor goes. I like comfortable contemporary and she likes a classic/classy country type of look. I have black and white photos on my wall, she has Amish paintings. See where I’m going? But just because I don’t share her style doesn’t mean I can’t totally DIY up something fun for her.

And when I saw this headboard and foot board for a cool $10 at my FAVORITE thrift store Sunshine Industries in Ardmore, OK (if you click through you’ll see Tommy who I went to high school with and who flatters me on every single visit :) I had to snap it up. I think we were in my sister’s car, maybe and it was a pain getting it back to her place but we did it. For $10 we were going to get it worked out one way or another even if we each had to  hang onto an end through the window while it rested on the roof. Not really! Maybe… And then I did what I do so well. I asked my dad to basically do all of the work while I took pictures. And once again, just like he always does, he happily obliged. Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench! There’s my dad. Helping. Now this isn’t going to be a cut and dried tutorial because things aren’t going to be exactly the same unless you find the exact same headboard and foot board. And while that can  happen it’s not likely. This sucker is maple and I want to say we found a date from the late 70s on a label on the back. It was the headboard and foot board without the rails but that worked well for this project. Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench! And here’s the headboard. The foot board is the same design, just shorter. And it was already being cut by the time I got my booty out there to take pics so… just use your imagination! Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench! After looking at a regular seat and comparing where we wanted the bench to rest we had to figure out just where to cut. This design features a wavy shape which is way cool, but where it’s cut can make a HUGE difference as to whether or not the project would actually work. The cut pieces of foot board need to be able to sit nice and flush up against the sides of the headboard. If we had cut the foot board where the wave rises, it would have been too tall to connect as needed (it would have needed to be secured on the round spindle part rather than the square area. Just measure twice before you actually cut to be sure it will rest appropriately to be connected.

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

Before attaching your foot board “arms” be sure that you have your pieces level so that your bench doesn’t rock when you sit on it!

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Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench! Connect your cut foot board pieces by first pre-drilling holes through the “legs” of the headboard and into the foot board.

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

Use hex screws of the appropriate length (ours were 4 inch, I believe) to secure from the back. Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench! Cut a sturdy board (2×3 or 2×2 work well) to fit within the footboard panels. You want a nice, snug fit. These will act as the rails for the bench slats. Pre-drill holes and secure your side boards with hex screws(will need to be considerably shorter, I believe these were 2″). Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench! Cut board slats to length to fit in between the foot board purchasing a length that will best fit.  These are 8 inch boards meaning that finished they are a bit smaller, running at 7.25 inches wide.

On a side note, did you know that finished and actual sizes of wood differ? The original piece of wood is the actual size. After it has been smoothed our and made into a uniform, finished board the size left is the finished size. That’s why you buy a board that is a 2×8 but it is only actually 7.25 inches wide. It’s kind of like a quarter pounder… they weigh it BEFORE they cook it which is why it weighs less when you actually get to grubbing on it!

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

Using angle brackets, fit a piece of board in between the slats for the seat and the headboard if there is an ugly gap. Oh, and since hex screws are so cheap get a size or two smaller and larger than you think you’ll need. You can see here the screw is poking out (has since been replaced) but required a 30 minute drive to the hardware store and back for around a buck’s worth of goods!

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

Now here she is ready to get prepped with sandpaper…

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!…primed…

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

…painted…

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

… and the slats stained. This is Kona. I freaking love Rustoleum Kona…

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

And reassembled. Go over with polyurethane in your choice of sheen. I used wipe on poly because I wasn’t about to try and get after those spindles with a brush after having to paint them because it was a major pain.

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

Set your bench up and accessorize accordingly. Here I’m using burlap pillows I also made for my Momma and just for this bench. They are burlap, stenciled with outdoor friendly stuffing. You can see how to make them in my post over at iLoveToCreate.

Turn an unused headboard and foot board into a fabulous front porch bench!

And there she is! Though It’s not my style, I think this bed to bench upcycle is super cute. And it is looking great on my porch until it goes down to Houston to live at their home! All in all, the most time consuming part of this was the sanding, priming, painting and staining. I haven’t had good luck with outdoor items and chalk paint (which eliminates the need to sand) so I went with one of higher Sherwin Williams outdoor latex paints. Hopefully that will keep this guy in tip top shape for years to come!

Comments (3)

  • Midsommarflicka aka. Elena

    September 22, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Oh, I love this bench!
    And it color, combined with the wooden seat! I plan to paint my bench in the kichen since a few weeks and a light gray may be good :)

  • Kathy

    June 27, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    the best bench tutorial I have read/pinned. I have a Lindy full sz rail bed I want to do this with that I got out of the trash.

  • Christina, or as my son calls me “Junk Flipper”

    February 20, 2017 at 10:33 AM

    I have been there/done that with similar projects and the prep and finish are in fact the most difficult partpart of a project. Mainly because once you are finished with the build part of a project you are tired. I have to remind myself of past disasters and force myself to take a break and come back to it refreshed and actually able to focus and make it great… one thing to remember about finish is that with light color paint will yellow after time when you use polyurethane. The best thing for this is to make every single piece of it weatherproof before a paint is applied. Use a mixture of 1/3 Teak Oil 1/3 Japan Drier 1/3 Sparkman Urethane. Spar is what is used on sailboats and the Japan Drier speeds up the dry time and you can put it in your paint as well. Next just give it light sanding between coats all the way till topcoat which is the same bucket that you started with. I use a piece of natural sponge for onlay or spindles. The spar varnish comes in a spray can too… Trust me on this and give it a try next time and I am sure you will be seeking for projects because of how simple yet top notch durability really shows when you maybe see a piece that you gifted years ago and it still look like it is fresh finish… yeah, that’s a good kind of wow moment!

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