This blog post is also the title of one of my favorite songs from the DNC which reminded me to crank up the music and dance a little because I am so happy this project is done!
This project has a long history and it goes back to 2006 when I moved to this town. I was living with my maternal grandparents as their health declined, and spent many evenings working in my room after a long day of work in Sacramento. When I wasn’t freelancing I was managing pills, doctor appointments, shopping lists or pets.
Often my grandparents would turn off the TV (which was always blaring in the living room) and sit on the porch directly outside my room and swing on this modest bench. It was old, creaked and had a few broken boards. But they didn’t mind.
The house faced a busy street in town so they’d watch the cars and people go by, waving at friends and cops, as the sun went down.
It was one of the earliest reminders I had to slow the hell down. When I moved here I was stuck in a SF frame of mind – drive fast, lock your doors, be paranoid, go go GO! One of the lessons my grandparents taught me was to slow down and appreciate things more.
So when they moved into Assisted Living and my family kicked me out of their home (long story) I knew that I wanted the bench. The problem, of course, was that my Mom and her siblings had first dibs on everything which could be sold or put in storage. Luckily, no one else wanted this creaky, old bench and I loaded it in the back of the Jeep and brought it to my new home.
Almost right away I began plans to change it up. The wood which I’d tried to paint white was rotting and needed to be replaced. And if I were taking off all the wood I might as well sand down the frame and give it some paint too.
Did you notice that the frame is constructed out of these hollow tubes? Know what likes to hide in there?
So it took awhile to tear it apart, rinse it off and kill the arachnids.
Some of the bolts were so rusted on that we had to muscle them off. I picked up the wood and handed it off to Dad to cut down to size. He also pre-drilled my holes for the bolts which saved a ton of time later!
By the time the boards came back I had sanded and re-sanded the frame multiple times. I applied Oil Rub Bronze spray paint and loved the effect! Still dark but with flecks of gold and it just shimmers! It’s very hard to describe but in person it’s not flat or dull but very nice. I also painted the plastic end caps for the tubes. And the swirly decorative bits. And the chains. And the brackets.
I even sanded down the bolts and gave them a fresh coat of ORB paint.
The boards took a little longer to prep. They were sanded and sanded again. Then stained thrice. Some were turning out much darker than others but I knew that I couldn’t make them perfect and it would all be okay.
Finally it was time to do the last part to seal the boards from the elements. I did 2 coats on each side of poly for the boards and a good covering of outdoor protector for the frame.
By Monday it was time to reassemble the whole shebang and I wondered if I would recall how it all fit!
First the boards had to be put in the order I wanted them so I laid ’em out on the tables – boards with knots near the middle or gouges were placed by the back because they’d get less direct pressure. On some boards there were stamps on the wood – those were turned facing down. Finally, I was ready to screw it all together.
The middle frame piece went on first, not too tightly because the boards had to align on the frame pieces on either end as well. That’s why it looks so… wonky.
Don’t you just love how the ORB bolts look against the wood? I am so glad I took the time to paint them! There was only 1 too bent to use so I picked up a replacement at ACE and it fit in just fine.
The ORB bolts next to the stained wood is one of my favorite things about this project.
Of course I didn’t have enough acorn nuts for the end of the bolts (many were missing when I moved the bench) so I picked up an even dozen at Ace Hardware to finish up the job.
It was hard to screw in the bolts, especially as the entire frame needed to connect each board at 3 points so if the middle bolts were too tight they wouldn’t align the boards on either end. Once all 39 screws were in the bolts were tightened down.
There was a lot of back and forth but finally the seat portion was ready. Now I just had to hang the whole contraption on the frame. It was surprisingly much easier than I thought and I balanced the entire seat on the tables, attached the chains and then lowered it into place. Final step was to reinstall these little scrolls which also got a scrub and fresh paint and seal job.
And with one of the throw pillows that I got from Home Depot a few years back:
One last comparison. Before…