Antique Church Pew Makeover

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Antique white church pew decorated for Christmas

Have you ever watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas?” Well, if you are familiar with it, you know that part when all the kids are making fun of that twig of a tree and Charlie Brown tells them all that he doesn’t care…that it will be perfect…and besides, that little tree needs him? That, my friends, is how I felt about this antique church pew.

This church pew, which I purchased several weeks ago at Vintage Market Days of St. Louis, is a bit quirky – I’ll get to that in a minute – and wasn’t in great shape, but it had potential and I wanted to turn it into something both beautiful and functional. I’m so excited to finally be able to share with you all!

For quite a while I had been searching for a church pew to put in the bay window of our kitchen. It seemed like everything I would find was either the wrong size, the wrong style, or too expensive. We had thought about a built-in window seat, but decided it against it for several reasons:

  1. The room is already a bit small and a solid seating area might make it feel even tighter.
  2. My husband wanted to be able to see the hardwood floor he laid (I don’t blame him), so we didn’t want to cover it up.
  3. There is an air vent right under the window which we would have to re-route if we did built-ins. It could be done, but would definitely make it more complicated.

And…I like vintage church pews. Kind of fits with the Hymns & Home theme, am I right? 😉

So… it’s quirky! Here’s why: at some point along the way, one side of it was replaced, so the two ends are not the same! The two ends have different curves, differently sized knobs, and one side is plain while the other has a decorative panel.

Does this bother me? Not in the slightest!

When my husband was initially listing all the work this pew was going to need and basically telling me that this thing was a mess, I told him it has character! His reply? “That’s a LOT of character…more like emotional baggage!” Haha. We laughed.

So exactly how much work needed to be done? Well…

  • There was a big gap between the front board and the seat where they were not meeting up (the seat was not being supported well on that end!).
  • The front board was broken on one end.
  • The original side was pulling away from the main body of the pew.
  • There were nails sticking out in places.
  • The person who attached the new side whacked it into place with a hammer, leaving hammer dings all over the end of the pew. Doh!
  • Oh, and the replacement end must have been the wrong height, because someone did some serious retrofitting to attach it!

It was pretty rough, it bowed in the middle when you sat on it, and was a dingy brown color. Even more than making it look pretty, making it safe for our little kids to sit on was our priority.

My handy hero hubby fixed all of those things – filled all the holes and dings, removed and replaced the dangerous nails, reattached the ends, got the seat aligned properly and filled the gap with a new piece of wood. What a guy! Thank you so much, my dear!

I gave the pew 3 coats of Rustoleum Chalked Paint in “Linen White.” This is the second time I’ve used the Rustoleum Chalked line, and I’ve been pleased both times! It’s a very affordable but nice paint. Not as many color options as some other lines, but if they have a color you like, give it a try!

My son (age 2.5) helped paint the back of the pew. It was so much fun – while baby girl was napping, he and I listened to Christmas music down in my husband’s workshop and painted together. He stood on a wooden box, wearing one of my old t-shirts as a smock…it was precious. I just had to remind him a few times to paint the pew and not daddy’s table! Oops.

Now it’s all decked out for Christmas! My son loves sitting on it while eating his afternoon snack, and I can envision my kids hanging out there to read books or do homework in the future, visiting with me as I cook dinner. 🙂

Have you ever saved a piece that “needed” you? I’d love to hear about it!

Please note that this page contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more.

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