DIY – Ballard Designs bench

I love Ballard Designs. I get giddy when I open the mailbox and find a clean, crisp Ballard Designs magazine waiting for me. I love the simplicity mixed with some vintage and mixed a little more with modern…unbelievable inspiration is found on every page.

Sweet P loves Ballard Designs too…taking an old magazine and designing a house for her ZhuZhu pets with cut out pictures of tables, chairs, mirrors and accessories. I think we have a budding designer on our hands.

So this bench has been on my radar for years. I love the honeycomb fabric that is all the rage and that was always how I envisioned the bench in my entry. We definitely cannot nor would I ever pay the big price tag for the bench but I really, really wanted it. So I was on a mission and searched the internet for ‘how to’ projects and tutorials but found nothing that looked like the Ballard Designs style bench.

And then my partner in crime, Angie, posted this and changed everything…for the good. I fell in love with that chair!

After looking in a 10 mile radius of my house ended in utter failure, I drove clear across Houston to mother of all fabric stores, Glick’s. I walked in and sweetly asked if they had a ‘large black and white stripe’ fabric. She smiles and says ‘I don’t think so but let’s go look’. My heart sank but I followed her to the back…it was like slow motion in a crazy dream where Javier Bardem is waiting for me in a dark alley. Oh, sorry…did I just say that?

Ok, so I followed her, she points and says ‘something like this?’ I screamed YES! Jumped up and down and I think I might have hugged her too….

$10 bucks later and I walked out with the most perfect black and white stripe fabric ever.

So…my wheels starting turning. I couldn’t find a tutorial on a bench like I wanted…so the next best thing was to make it myself. And I drove to Lowe’s…and this is how it all went down:

72″ MDF, cut down at Lowe’s to 60″: $2.14

4 pine legs, 15″ tall: $6 each on sale

Valspar Black spray paint, satin finish: $3.97

Foam padding from Hobby Lobby: $16 after 25% off coupon

Quilt batting for softness: $4.99 at Hobby Lobby

Fabric: $10

Dowel Screws: $3

My neighbor’s drill because ours was dead: FREE

ballard designs bench

I measured the center of the pre-drilled hole in the table leg and marked the same spot on the corner of the MDF board.

do it yourself bench

I found old spindles in Round Top for $1 each…kept going back and eventually couldn’t figure out what I would do with them so left them behind. Got home the next day and cried a river because I could have used them for my bench legs…live and learn.

Laid the legs in the driveway on painter’s plastic which has been used over…and over…and over….

do it yourself bench legs

This is 1 coat…I eventually used 4 coats of paint…did not take long at all.

do it yourself bench legs black

My thought was to use the below screws, drill them in the board from the top and after the board was covered, screw the legs up into them. That is WRONG! HA! Didn’t work at all….

Another trip to Lowe’s and learned “Dowel Screws” are just what I needed. They are double ended…one end screws up into the board underneath and the legs screw onto the other end. Simple. Who knew?? Now you do too!

dowel screws

Laid the foam on top of the board. It was pretty wide and I was able to cut 3 layers of foam:

do it yourself bench foam

Using my kitchen serrated knife…don’t hate me because I am inventive…or crazy…or weird for using my knife.

Covered the 3 layers with quilt batting to give a more softer look and feel…

Stapled the quilt batting underneath to help stabilize the foam….and you can see one end of the dowel screw underneath.

dowel screw

Tightened it up with pliers…those are pliers, right??

Okay…this is interesting….the fabric I bought was only 54″ wide which is pretty much the standard.

Since I am making a ‘custom’ bench, I had to make custom fabric to fit the 60″ length.

So I laid the fabric on the bench, cut a piece to fit the remaining 12 inches. I choose to match up the black stripe. I flipped it so right sides were facing eachother, and pinned the pieces together…

Borrowed my neighbor’s sewing machine…because mine bit the dust and I haven’t had time to buy another one. But I am completely in love with her machine, which she admits she never uses.

Sewed a straight line…and there you go…62″ fabric created..and no seams Mom!

Laid the new 62″ fabric on the bench (notice my little helper…she keeps me company)

Flipped the entire bench over.

Got out the staple gun which I did NOT borrow….and went to town.

Screwed the legs into the dowel screws once all the fabric was pulled tightly and stapled. I did trim all the fabric underneath too.

There she is…standing on her legs for the first time. I feel so proud…sniff, sniff.

And here she is…her new home in my entry. The pillows are not staying…that is another tutorial coming your way.

black and white stripe bench fabric

Making this bench was my first ever ‘made from scratch’ piece I have ever done. I can paint the heck out of anything but was completely intimidated by drilling, cutting, tools, and stapling.

It was definitely a learning process and had I not made the second trip to Lowe’s for the dowel screws, the entire project probably took less than 2 hours to make.

$599 for a ready made bench OR 2 hours of creating and learning and about $65 of my pennies saved?

I’d do it again in heartbeat and it was so much fun.

Now I don’t know if I would sit on the bench but it sure does look pretty in my house!

Now go build something!