Friday, 12 July 2013

French Telephone Bench

You know you are old can remember telephone benches,
or so my 18 year old son tells me. 
I actually had to explain to him why they were called that. So for any young people out there, a telephone bench had a table part for the phone to sit on and a bench or seat for you to sit on while you talked on the phone. We didn't have cell phones yet of course, but believe it or not, we also didn't have cordless phones at that time so you couldn't just take it and go sit on the couch to talk.
But these benches can still be quite functional pieces of furniture. 
Here is a picture of the one that I found:
Really not bad looking but the seat had absolutely no padding of any sort. Unless you count three layers of fabric. I could have just re-upholstered the seat but where is the fun in that.
So first I removed the seat and started removing the fabric. First layer is the red you see above,
next came a large floral print
then a not so bad striped fabric. This one was actually the original.
It was no small feat to remove all of the fabric, as they had been fastened not with just with staples but lots of small tacks as well. The tacks had heads that would snap off when you tried to remove them. It took pliers, cutters and a flat head screwdriver to get them out and each layer more than fifty of them. All totalled there were 162 tacks & staples. (Yeah I counted, it gave me a sense of accomplishment.) 
Finally I glued on some 1-1/2" foam, wrapped it with batting and then covered it with a lovely linen blend fabric with the names and pictures of famous Paris landmarks printed on it.
(I used staples..... Just sayin.)
The bench itself I painted with a pale grey latex paint that I had added "Paint Minerals" to. I love this stuff it makes the latex paint just like "Chalk Paint" at a fraction of the cost and in any color I chose.
I distressed it and sealed the paint with "Miss Mustard Seeds" clear wax. Then I antiqued it with "Miss Mustard Seeds-Antiquing Wax". These waxes are my favourite because of the lovely creamy consistency. They are so easy to work with, are all natural and don't smell.
Next I stencilled some French typography onto the table top.
 Distressed it, antiqued it and sealed it as well.
Finally I took a basket that I found at "Homesense" which was almost the same color blue as the print on the seat fabric and I removed the lid and the liner and placed it on the shelf. It fit perfectly. 
This bench sits in our front hallway and still functions as a phone bench. Only now the cordless home phone charger will sit atop the table and the cell phone charger cords will be tucked away in the basket. As for the seat, it's always nice to have somewhere to sit and take your shoes off.
Furniture Feature Fridays


  1. What a transformation. Viva La Paris!!! Beautiful, well done.

  2. I have that exact same bench from my mother's house in Hamilton, Ontario. I have been thinking of painting it white and distressing it. Yours turned out great (your photo against white doesn't show it off to it's potential!)

    1. Thanks. Would love to see how yours turns out. What kind of paint do you use?

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  3. Amazing transformation! what a great job making this beautiful!.
    and good paint tips.thanks for sharing.Buy single or double mattress

  4. Rose I am so happy with both my purchase of this bench and the clock cocktail table. I will be watching for more items as you post them.

    1. Thanks Cindy. So glad that they found a good home. I am taking a week to clean up and re-organize but will post a new project in the next couple of days.

  5. Wow I have this EXACT bench! I also painted it and reupholstered it.