How we Turned an Old Waiting Room Bench into a Mid-Century Modern Daybed

written by Kelsey Taber March 28, 2018
How we Turned an Old Waiting Room Bench into a Mid-Century Modern Daybed

I’m always on the hunt for a fun piece of furniture to upgrade into a functional piece for a space in our home. My boyfriend John and I love to peruse local thrift stores in our area to see what new furniture and decor items we can find. We especially keep our eyes peeled for mid-century modern furniture or furniture that could be upgraded to fit that style. That’s why when we found this waiting room bench at a local Volunteers of America, we had to have it!

John spotted this old waiting room bench in the back corner of the otherwise unexciting furniture section of the VOA. Although it looked a little run down, and was essentially covered in cobwebs, it really reminded me of mid-century modern daybeds that I’d seen at some of my favorite retro furniture stores. Once we checked the price tag and saw that it was only $16 we were sold. We decided to try to re-purpose it into a mid-century modern daybed for the entryway of our attic bedroom.

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

The Mid-Century Modern Daybed Transformation

Prepping the Old Waiting Room Bench

Once we maneuvered the bench into our cramped basement, we worked on removing the cushions. Which we realized afterward was a backwards way to start the project, as the cushions once removed made it 10 times lighter. The cushions unscrewed from the base and back really easily and we set them aside to potentially be used for a future project. They were in fairly good condition, and with their funky rust orange color, I just couldn’t get rid of them yet.

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

Choosing cushions for the Mid-Century Modern Daybed

After we prepped the bench we then spent a long time weighing our options on the best and most affordable way to create cushions for the bench. We were initially set on upholstering our own and went to our local Joann Fabric to get an idea about price. As we added up all of the materials we’d need to create the seat and back cushions, we had a little sticker shock. The foam filler alone was going to cost us over $100. Although that was by no means an unaffordable option, one of our goals with this piece was to keep our price at a minimum. We ended up scratching the DIY cushion idea as it was going to end up costing us well over $250 to complete, and for a piece of furniture that originally cost us $16, it kind of felt like that large cushion cost defeated the purpose. We also looked into getting cushions custom made, which was even more expensive than the DIY option, so we finally settled on searching for pre-made cushions.

One place that we remembered seeing a massive array of cushions in their summer seasonal collection was the store At Home, which is essentially the largest Home Goods to ever exist. We took the trip out to the store and found the perfect size cushions to fit our bench turned mid-century modern daybed. As an added bonus they literally came in any color we could think of and a handful of fun prints. Since we knew we were going to incorporate this bench into our bedroom, and we wanted to keep a mid-century modern palette, we opted for a textured teal cushion that we found. This color was really reminiscent of that time period, but also worked really well with the current decor in our bedroom.

Reinforcing the Bench with Dark-Stained Plywood

Once the bench was stripped down and it was just the wood base, we wanted to make sure that the base and back were reinforced to support our new cushions. We took measurements of the base as well as the height and distance of the existing backrest and headed to Home Depot. At Home Depot we found a sturdy piece of plywood for the seat and a piece of pine for the back rest. We got our pieces of lumber cut to the correct size right in the store and brought them home. They fit perfectly on our bench, however looked pretty unfinished without any stain.

To match our bench we opted for a dark stain, called English Chestnut. Although this stain didn’t match the current color of the bench perfectly, it still made the pieces of wood feel more cohesive with the rest of the bench. Once stained we let the pieces of wood dry for 24 hours before securing them to the base.

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

The final Mid-Century Modern Daybed Transformation

Since we opted for pre-made cushions, this DIY project was pretty easy from start to finish. The bench turned mid-century modern daybed looked beautiful with it’s new tweed teal cushions and we opted to put it in our attic bedroom entryway space. Not only did it fit perfectly under the stair half wall, it also worked really well with the existing mid-century modern nesting tables and Steelcase chair that had already been added to the space.

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

Mid-Century Modern Daybed

From start to finish this project cost us around $150 to complete and we love how it looks in our attic bedroom space. we’ve had to learn how to put on our thrift store goggles to see past dirty and old furniture to find pieces just like this that are reasonably priced and just need a little elbow grease to be functional. Now we have a versatile and unique piece of furniture that we can use in a variety of different spaces in the future.

What’s your favorite thrift store furniture find in your house? Let me know in the comments!

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