Trestle Bench Transformed

By Kate Riley March 22, 2010

Happy Monday all, hope you had a fantastic weekend !  Last week, you saw the upgrades in the dining room, and one of those changes included this trestle bench that I found on Craigslist a few weeks ago. 

The bench was the perfect size to add seating to our dining space and very sturdy too since it is solid wood.  However, I wasn’t using any maple tones in the room, so I decided to give it a new look.  The bench received a two phase transformation to arrive at two different looks.

Here’s a reminder of the bench ‘Before’:

bench before 2


Here’s the first new look I gave this bench:  

nailhead after


And another different style achieved by adding a washable cotton slipcover:

slipcover square

Both versions work well in our dining space, but I like to use the slipcover for spring because it’s light and bright, and mimics the pleat on the chair slipcovers.  It also makes my life a heck of a lot easier since I’m not so worried about spills.   Stain remover and bleach are two of my very best friends. 

kate dining space 

Here’s the easy peasy lemon squeezy tale of its transformation. 

First, I flipped it upside down and slapped it with a good coat of primer.  My fav, my love, my go to makeup artist, Mr. Zinsser. 

primer on bench

After the primer was dry, I gave it two coats of ‘Heirloom White’ in latex that I had leftover from this cabinet project.  Then I cut 2 inch foam to fit the top and covered it with batting to smooth out the foam’s edges and hold it in place. 

attach batting

Next, I used some leftover suit inspired material from these pillows to cover the bench seat. 

staple fabric

I love the finished look of nailhead trim, so I attached that to the edges with a French Nailhead Trim Kit available at Joann’s Fabrics.  To apply, I always use pliers to hold the nail steady, and a mallet to drive the nail into the wood.

attach nailhead trim 2

The trim gives the bench an updated look . . . 

trestle bench with nailheads 

. . . and adds such a nice finished detail.  

nailhead trim up close


I was terrible not taking pictures of how I made the slipcover, but basically I created the pleats or ruffles out of long strips of fabric and sewed them with my sewing machine.

create pleats

Then I attached the pleats inside out to a long rectangle of cotton I cut for the bench, then hemmed the corners and the bottom.  Again, sorry no photos.  It was late – I was tired.  I plum forgot. 

But here’s the flirty feminine slipcover.  Isn’t she sweet ? 

slipcover square


Extra seating created with a transformed Craigslist bench ! 

add textures


I heart Craigslist, don’t you ? 



  1. That is so gorgeous, and I have a bench that would love to be transformed!! I love all of the white and natural light in your dining room – just gorgeous…

  2. What a beautiful transformation! You have done a beautiful job with your instructions and photographs. Perfect!

  3. I do love a bench. My own dining room sports a deacon’s bench from my grandmother’s church.

    And I do love bleach. Not sure how a mom makes it without bleach. You were so smart to make this slipcover out of a fabric that can be washed! It looks terrific.

  4. I love Craigslist too! I can’t decided which one I like better, they are both amazing! You did a fantastic job!

  5. What an awesome transformation! I love the nailhead trim. Thanks for the resource, I’ve been looking for something like that. And, yes, I do have an addiction to Craigslist. I check the furniture in my area daily!


  6. Fabulous! I love both of the versions. I own a bench similar to this one. It’s in my basement with a bunch of stuff piled on it. I’ve never thought of refinishing it. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. I love both options! I thought when you did nail head trim you had to put in each nail head one by one! I had no idea you could buy in a strip! Amazing. I must find something in my house to add this trim to. I love love love it!

  8. Hello Kate,

    I am Anneli from Sweden. I love your website. I just bought a house here in Sweden, built in 1989. I love what you do to your house and you inspire me to do similar things to my own house which needs some TLC.

    Thank you !!

    Greetings from Sweden.

  9. I love the style with the nail head trim! Classic, beautiful. you are so talented!

    Art by Karena

  10. Yep! I heart Craigslist too! I love the bench both ways. Thanks to one of your earlier posts, I learned to make the pinch pleats you used for the slipcover on the bench, and move a slipcover for an ottoman that no longer matched! Yayyyy!

  11. This is gorgeous!! Slipcover is a great idea. Thanks for inspiring me to crack the whip on myself = )

  12. The bench is wonderful and I love it upholstered and slipcovered. Both look wonderful. Great job and super find. Hugs, Marty

  13. What a great “Before” and “After” story. I feel like you need your own TV show dedicated to this subject…it would be fun to watch. I love the sassy little skirt, and the fact that you can change things up with the nailhead trim look too. Sadly, my CL usually only advertises old lounger chairs for outrageous prices. I need to keep a better eye on it to look for bargains. :)

  14. the CL bench is so charming, I’d love to find one for my dining room it would create so much more seating – both makeovers are perfection!

  15. I recently reupholstered some chairs and I was not able to find nailhead trim kit anywhere. I wanted to finish my project I decided to use gimp thread. I didn’t want to use 100 nail heads for each chair! It still did the job, but quicker!

  16. Oooh! I didn’t realize that it was so cute under that slipcover when you showed it to us before. It’s great! Lisa~

  17. The slipcover is adorable, but I’m so glad you showed off the tailored, nailhead version underneath! It’s super sophisticated. You’re so great at transforming a run of the mill piece into a spectacular item!

  18. Hi Kate, I love the slipcover you made for the bench. I have been wanting to slipcover my dinninf bench for a while now. What type of cotton fabric did you use? Looks heavy and smooth.Great Job!



  20. I heart your bench both with and without the slipcover. Wish you would post a tutorial on how you made the slipcover, expecially the ruffles.

  21. I can’t decide which one I like better. Both of the looks are amazing. The slipcover is so flirty but classic at the same time. I loves it Kate.

  22. LOVE it!!! Nail heads are a favorite of ours! Check out our site – see the gallery and look for the French bathroom. We used moulding to create wall boxes – applied batting and trimmed with nail heads…the possibilities are ENDLESS!

  23. I love both ways! Fun too, because if you need to wash the slipcover, it looks fabulous without it too. I agree, craigslist is amazing.

  24. What a great makeover. I love how cleverly you have made the slipcover to protect it from spills and inventing two different looks for your bench. I do love Craiglist and I scored big on two Dorothy Draper knockoffs last week as I was inspired by your transformation on your Dorothy Draper.

  25. So glad you posted this. I was telling my husband a few wks ago that I wanted to get a bench for extra seating in our casual dining area. Great job. Oh and I heart Craigslist too :)

  26. amazing. you are really amazing. i wish you were my sister and i could pester you on a regular basis to help me during my projects!

  27. Your soooo very brave to have so much white with little ones. I read your blog often and love all the creative things you do.

  28. This is gorgeous! I love, love, love that trim. How fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing this, I’ll be linking.

  29. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your Blog AND all of your ideas! You are one talented girl!!
    Come see my blog….I make up my own sayings…and photographs…sometimes
    they are kind of corny, but I’m having fun.

    Thanks for sharing your talent!

  30. This is a great blog and your dining room is now an inspiration for mine! Quick question for you: did you make the slipcovers for your dining room chairs? Any chance you have a tutorial?
    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  31. Thank you so much for this posting. A month or so ago, I picked up bench from Craigslist too! Let me count the ways I love the “free” column on Craigslist. You would laugh at the many times I have run out the door, minus shoes, racing to the car to get to the latest free listing. Who has time for shoes when a brand new rice cooker goes to “the first person who shows up.” Anyhoo, I still have a bunch of material left over from the makeover of the two dining room chairs and at the moment, that material is nicely folded over the bench. Thanks to this posting, I know exactly what I am going to do — copy your idea completely and without shame. Could you tell me where you bought the trim? I love that finishing touch and want to do the same to my bench. I need another bench for the other side of the table now and wholeheartedly believe that Craigslist will provide.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record on the comment sections of my favorite blogs, I am asking everyone who reads my comment to also go to my latest posting and give me their opinion on a couple of items that are going up for auction on Tuesday. I have really mixed feelings about this couch and would love some comments and ideas. Here’s the link: survey says

  32. Love both looks! I would have trouble figuring out which one I would want to show off more! Great job! Love your blog! I’m your newest follower!!!

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