Telephone Bench

When we got the country house 2 winters ago, we took a bunch of extra furniture from our house and brought it up there, then we filled in the holes with inexpensive antiques (ie nice used furniture!) and flea market finds. We got spectacular school desks to act as nightstands, a vintage green tweed couch, an old stereo credenza that we use as a TV unit…. you get the idea. One of our finds was this telephone bench, which resides on the little wall between the entrance and the kitchen.

Before_1 As you can see, it had seen better days. I liked the lines of it and the pure utility of it. The kids could sit on it to put on their shoes (or rather, to have us put on their boots!) and we could keep a few key items, like the phone book and scotch tape. My original thought had been to strip it and re-stain it or just wax it. But there is plenty of wood in this house already. And I’ve been noticing on lots and lots of design/decorating blogs people painting old furniture in really funky, bright, shiny colors, giving it a completely different look. Not shabby chic with wood showing through, just really bright, almost lacquered paint.

So 2 cans of lime-colored shiny spray paint and a fake-vintage tea towel later, I present the new and MUCH improved telephone bench:

After_1_1 After_2_2_2

Img_2290_1 For some reason, it looks milky in the pictures, but trust me, it’s very, very shiny! It just pops off the blue wall and sets off very nicely against the floor. I was going to use one of my real vintage Vera tea towels, but in the end, I just didn’t have it in me to cut one up. So instead, I grabbed a Sukie tea-towel from the UK, something I used to sell at the store. It’s actually perfect, the green in the background of the beach scene goes very well with the paint and I like that it’s a beach shack in a ski cottage!

I did strip it first, because the finish was so old and uneven, I didn’t want the shiny paint to show to many defects. But one evening of stripping and 2/3 coats of spray paint…. not bad, not bad at all!


  1. Tracie says:

    I love telephone benches! I used to have one and I painted it a very glossy orange. I gave it to my sister (I think) but seeing yours made me miss it. I love the color of yours. Very nice!

  2. ann (fchen) says:

    MM, can you share what type of product you use to strip the wood? is it terribly messy? thanks in advance!! :)

  3. Melissa says:

    Hi, I’d also like to know what you used to strip the wood…I have a bunch of antique spindles/handrail/newell post for my main stairway but am afraid the work to strip them all will be too much and I may be further ahead to buy new ones but I LOVE the old ones!

  4. rachel says:

    Oh, I love it. I’ve always wanted a telephone bench!

  5. Heather Ann says:

    Love this.

  6. Elise says:

    Love the laquered look. It has never occurred to me to use spray pain on wood but it’s such a great idea and sure would have made painting our cabinet doors easier.
    I read your post on wood stripping and am hoping you can give me some specific advice. I have an old oak desk chair that needs refinishing. The current varnish is very worn and you can seen bare wood in some places. Should I try to just sand it or do I really need to strip it with either heat or chemicals? I can send pictures if that will help :)

  7. Michelle says:

    This is a wonderful project! I will be on the look out for a telephone bench now…especially since I don’t have a cell and really could use it for my home phone!

  8. Shannon says:

    This looks really great. I’m going to be looking at old furniture in a whole new light now…

  9. Christine says:

    I love this–well done!

  10. Nevis says:

    That is TOTALLY cool looking! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

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