How to Upcycle an Antique Piano Bench

Let’s take a peek behind the curtain on how to take an old, dark-finished piano bench and refresh it with a new, vibrant finish, upholstery, and flair.


Bench purchased from the ReStore ($25)
Supplies ($25)

Step 1: Keep an eye out for ‘dragon feet’

Choose your item to restyle by the unique ‘feet’-ures. One way of doing so is by identifying the furniture feet, which is fun! Furniture feet can give you clues to the age and quality of a piece.

We chose this Victorian piano bench because of its ‘claw and ball’ feet (a.k.a. dragon feet).

Step 2: Prep your piece

Good news! Stripping paint isn’t always necessary. For this piece we simply cleaned warm dish soap and then alcohol to remove the oil and grime and sanded the body of the bench with #220 sand paper to rough up before painting.

Step 3: Paint

This bench took 3 coats of black paint. We chose the dark color to contrast with the bright upholstery cloth – have fun with your colors!  Be sure to be patient with painting in layers and allowing each layer to fully dry.

Step 4: Upholstery

Furniture upholstery isn’t that complicated, it just takes time and patience.

  • Using the seat as a template cut out a piece of 2” foam to fit the seat’s dimensions. Using the foam as a template cut your fabric 6 – 8” larger than the circle of foam.
  • Lay the fabric with the correct side (outside) down on a table with the foam on top. Then place the piano bench seat upside down on top of the foam.
  • Fold the fabric up over the seat tucking under the raw edges. Keeping the fabric taunt, staple it to the underside of the piano seat. Stapling in four, evenly-spaced points of contact helps secure the fabric more evenly. Go back and staple between your four points to finish the job.
  • Use a hot glue gun to secure the fringe and decoration. Again, patience is key. Go slow and use plenty of glue for good adherence.

Step 5: Clean and finish the feet

The claw and ball feet had several decades of patina and dirt on them! We could have left them that way, they looked old and interesting, but let’s clean them up.

Take your metal polish (we used Brasso) and toothbrush or scrubber to scrub the metal on your dragon feet. Use a cotton cloth to wipe away the grime for the finishing shine.


Thank you to BentWoods Studio professional upcyclers Alice and Jerry Goble for unveiling the creative process of refreshing old furniture into beautiful new pieces.

Feeling inspired? Get started on your own DIY projects by checking out the current furniture selections at our metro Denver ReStore locations!