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Antique Empire Chest Upcycled into Bench

Have I ever told you how much I adore empire style furniture? The lines are enough to draw me in every time no matter the state it’s in. You can see my past empire furniture posts HERE. This particular antique empire lady was offered to me by my friend, Mandy.

Antique Empire Chest Before Upcycle by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Could I pass it up? NOPE, nada, not a chance. I will be honest, that after I picked it up, I had a little talk with myself…like..what.are.you.thinking??? My mind instantly flashes back to my Dumpster Diva, BEEP, this upholstered broken settee, and so much more.

DIY TIME

First, let’s take a look at the bad.

Wood Grain Contact Paper on Antique Empire Chest | prodigalpieces.com

Whenever you see contact paper, that’s a red flag. You can see what I found with this antique coffee table. So, I pull it off and see what’s underneath. BINGO.

Damaged Veneer Top of Antique Empire Chest | prodigalpieces.com

Missing Veneer Patch | prodigalpieces.com

While I’m not afraid of damaged veneer, I do not feel this one is a good candidate. Here’s why, aside from the top, the drawers are all broken (2 are missing), more missing veneer, and it can be moved side-to-side at least an inch. Apparently the owners were donating the chest and when going down the highway they lost two top drawers. oops.

Instead of trying to rebuild this antique empire chest, I’m going to un-build it….hopefully. The positive part is that it is good wood that still has oodles of potential.

NEXT STEPS

Next, I start to sketch out what I want the end result to look like. Basically, I plan to cut the top off and create a bench. Yep, I never go little. Are ya with me? In order to do that, I measure to make sure the spots I’m cutting will be level. After that, I cut with my circular saw.

Cut Antique Empire Chest Top | prodigalpieces.com

Then, I bust out the drawer rails and guides to make space for the seat. However, instead of pitching them I use them to make a reinforced seat. I have to use one rail at the back to make a ledge for the rails to attach to. Also, using my pocket hole jig make this assembly go super quick. Here it is in a dry fit stage with missing parts and pieces.

Upcycled Chest of Drawers Bench Dry Fit by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

After building up the seat, I then need to rebuild the back to make it stable and add a top cap ledge. That’s where my stash comes in. I can’t say enough how wonderful it is to have a stash of not only bits and baubles, but wood, fabric, and so much more. I love to create! Thankfully, I was able to get this build done in one day working 7am to 4pm with only stopping for lunch. {{huge sigh}}

BUILDING UP

However, before I can add my finishing touches, I need to make everything uniform. First, I apply a reactive stain to make everything cohesive as a base coat. A reactive stain work with the natural tannins in the wood to create an aged appeal without the blucky chemicals.

Applying Stain to Antique Empire Chest Upcycled | prodigalpieces.com

Then, while that is curing I begin my sewing adventure. I just happened to have two cushions, fabric, and batting to make a tufted French mattress cushion suited for this fun antique empire chest upcycle.  Who doesn’t love a little sewing therapy? You can see my past sewing fun in my project gallery HERE.

Upholstery Cushions and Fabric | prodigalpieces.com

Prodigal Pieces Handmade Tufted French Mattress by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Last, but not least, it’s time for paint. My focus was to not spend outside of my stash for any of this, so I wanted to make use of this gorgeous blue/gray paint I enjoy using on my hutch makeover for our living room.

Painting Antique Empire Chest Bench Blue | prodigalpieces.com

THE REVEAL

Here is my antique empire chest turned upholstered bench.

Repurposed Antique Empire Chest Repurposed into Upholstered Bench by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #diy #upcycled #repurposed #home #homedecor #upholstery #furniture

DIY Tufted French Mattress Sewn by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #sewing #upholstery #furniture

Would you guess it used to be a broken down chest of drawers? This was so fun! And my favorite parts are the curves, the drawer for storage, and the mattress. I’ve only sewn three of these cushions and they’re pretty simple to do. See the massive one I first did here with this upcycled headboard bench.

Open Drawer of Upcycled Antique Empire Chest Bench by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #furniture #diy #home

Tufted French Mattress on Blue Bench Made from Upcycled Antique Empire Chest by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #furniture #home #homedecor #upcycled

Also, what made this such fun is that I used everything I already had on hand. I really try to challenge myself in that respect to encourage you that you don’t need a big budget to create your own home story.

Farmhouse Style Entry Bench with Tufted French Mattress by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #farmhouse #furniture #diy #home

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces Sitting on Her Upcycled Antique Empire Chest Bench | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #furniture #home #homedecor

So, tell me…are you inspired yet? I sure hope so! If you’d like to make this a part of your home, you can find it and more available in my online shop.

  • Handmade Linen Ottoman by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | shop.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #furniture #shopping
    Linen Ottoman ~$75

Rustic Upcycled Farmhouse Style Bench with French Tufted Mattress by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #upcycled #home #homedecor #diy #furniture

Cottage Style Bench from Upcycled Antique Empire Chest of Drawers by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #diy #home #furniture #homedecor

In addition, do pin and share my antique empire chest bench upcycle. I’m sure there are more broken down pieces that just need a new life.

How fun! A dilapidated antique empire chest of drawers is repurposed into an upholstered bench by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | See the DIY at prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #diy #home #furniture #homedecor #handmade #upholstery

Up next, the misfit top and drawers are getting new life. Any guesses?? See Part 2 HERE and Part 3 HERE.

Antique Empire Chest Leftover Parts Before | prodigalpieces.com

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Also, more furniture upcycles like this antique empire chest:

From curbside underbed drawers to a rustic farmhouse workbench for kitchen or console. Larissa of Prodigal Pieces loves taking trash and turning it into #trashure . Come see the DIY details at prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #farmhouse #furniture #homedecor #shoppingHow cute! Larissa of Prodigal Pieces found this child's desk set out for trash and turned it into an upcycled play kitchen with working water sink | Video tutorial at prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #diy #upcycled #kids #play #home #homedecor

Comments

  1. ColleenB.~TX. says

    What an Awesome bench. Just the right color for that bench.

    • Larissa says

      Thanks, Colleen! This was such a fun project for me. Now for the rest! 😀

  2. Kim Banko says

    I love this so much Larissa! I agree, the curves are lovely, and I think the size is so sweet. Love everything about this piece!!

    • Larissa says

      I couldn’t wait to work on it and hopeful it would turn out as I saw it in my head. Thanks, Kim!

  3. Rebecca - NC says

    Love, love, LOVE!!!! My favorite so far!! ❤️😊

  4. Sharon Caulineau says

    Would never have dreamed the beautiful changes you made in this old chest of drawers. Wonderful save! Be Blessed, Sharon

    • Larissa says

      I can’t say enough how fun it is for me to get to do what I do. Blessed, indeed! Thank you, Sharon.

  5. Dawn Ziccardi says

    Wow, That bench turned out awesome! I really love the color. It’s great how you fixed it up with everything you had on hand.

    • Larissa says

      This kind of challenge keeps me busy and from getting cabin fever. woot! Thank you, Dawn.

  6. Mary formerly of the boondocks says

    Larissa that was such an unexpected surprise upcycle. I love what you did with this sweet chest which definitely deserved a new life.

    • Larissa says

      I’m delighted it came out as I’d hopes and rather quickly too. No major problems which is not the norm for me. yahoo!! Thank you, Mary.

  7. Rebecca - Knoxville says

    I think most people would have passed on it with all it’s issues. I’m always impressed with your creativity and this one is absolutely Amazing!

    • Larissa says

      You should have seen my face when the drawers were out and I leaned on it…whoa!!! haha. I was caught off guard and then was like…game on.

  8. Maggie says

    The finished paint color is beautiful!!! But I have a question. Did you apply a stain or dark wax over the blue/gray paint you used? The picture you show painting is much lighter than the finished product. The paint in the picture is a pretty color but very one dimensional. Your finished product has depth, dimension, and a beautiful almost patina to it. What did you use??

    • Larissa says

      Thanks, Maggie! Paint does dry darker and I was taking the pic in a skylight lighting, so the paint is darker than you would think, but also I did do a bit of brown wax on certain edges, etc. The paint was an eggshell, so that allows durability, but also a nice play in the finish.

  9. Marie B. says

    Wow, I did not see that coming! What clever repurpose and gorgeous bench.

    • Larissa says

      I was cold, but I had such fun! Thank you, Marie. Now I need to figure out the rest. tee hee!

  10. Mary says

    LOVE this project Larissa! I so admire your “lets do this” attitude and this is one of my faves of your creations 🙂 Thank you SO much for sharing! Love that you left the drawer too! perfect place for reading materials or small games or knitting or…. Such a yummy piece!

  11. Tammy says

    What a beauty! Only you could come up with something this unique and beautiful.

    • Larissa says

      Tammy, you sure know how to flatter a gal. Thank you for the smile. 😀

  12. Meg says

    Yep knocked it outta the park with this! 🙌🤩

  13. Susan says

    Love your work and ideas Larissa, super job well done.

  14. Michele M. says

    Wow, Larissa! That is absolutely remarkable!

    What a GREAT bench for taking one’s boots/shoes off and the drawer for hats, gloves and scarves.

    I really love it – and the fact you rescued what would’ve def been on its way to a landfill.

    Well done!

    • Larissa says

      I’m just so happy it came together as I’d hoped and I get to share it with you. Thanks!!

  15. Nancy F Lambert says

    Larissa,
    You are one creative woman, it always amazes me what your find turn out to become,
    The bench is adorable.
    Nancy

    • Larissa says

      I hope you can tell how much fun I had recreating this beauty. Thank you for the heart-warming hug, Nancy.

  16. Jennifer says

    I’m constantly amazed by your creative mind! Great job!

    • Larissa says

      I’m so glad you don’t think I’m crazy! haha! Thank you, Jennifer.

  17. Susan says

    This turned out so cute!
    But may I ask why you stained it if you were planning to paint over the top?
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Larissa says

      Thanks! Our base coats or colors are as important as the top. I wanted the paint to look like it’s been there, so I needed to stain the new parts. Also, I planned to distress, so I want that color peeking through.

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2020-03-21T21:34:13-04:00

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