How to Give a Built-in Bench a Swedish Flair

What do you do with a long built-in bench when you can no longer bear it’s sight?  You may wish to embark on a totally different look, unless you are restricted to a color theme that matches the wall or other decorative elements in the room, which was our case.  The bench was in a large pale yellow kitchen cum living room area.  On one side of the room, above emerald green tiles was hung dark olive green stained cabinetry.  On the other side were cherry color and taupe couches.  Introducing an additional color would have been bold, and my client wanted to tie the cabinetry to the bench.  This is why we decided to stay with a much lighter green that would not conflict by the same token with the pale walls.

Dark green built in bench

Dark green built in bench

Painting of first white stripe

Painting of first white stripe

Instead of applying a plain lighter shade over the bench, I sanded the surface to smooth it, to get rid of most of the dark green, and to reveal the previous coats of paint.  Indeed, the under coat was a much lighter green.  I stopped sanding when three quarters of the dark green were removed, exposing the remainder in a lighter background.

Afterwards, I picked two different light greens: one on the yellow side and another on the blue side.  I diluted each color with the same quantity of Floetrol and brushed one color over the entire surface, removing part of it with a rag as I progressed.  I repeated the process with the other color.  Eventually, I obtained a very soft pastel green built up by several shades of green.

Bench with pale green background

Bench with pale green background

The bench still looked monolithic; in order to break its mass, I had to add a geometric, floral, or gingham pattern, for instance.  I decided to go with horizontal stripes, keeping it fresh and simple.  I introduced three stripes.  I again used a diluted mix of vanilla color and applied two coats of it over each stripe.  The vanilla actually looked off white.

Stripes before the design

Stripes before the design

Once the stripes were dry, I sanded them to remove half of the white paint, giving a more distressed appearance to the three bands.

Plain stripes on bench

Plain stripes on bench

At this point, with a fine liner brush, I painted two simple designs inside and on the edges of the stripes in a darker olive color to break their monotony.

Detail of design on bench.

Detail of design on bench.

Again, the color I used was diluted to give a worn-out effect and to soften it.

Finished bench

Finished bench

Finally, I varnished the bench with three coats of satin water based varnish.  The finished piece is reminiscent of Swedish faded pastel furniture, and matches the cabinetry with its dark design accents.

Bench integrated in the kitchen

Bench integrated in the kitchen

It now just awaits cushions and customers.

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One Response to How to Give a Built-in Bench a Swedish Flair

  1. Lisa says:

    Looks like you found the exact right compromise…i bet the client was thrilled!