The last several months, clutter was taking over my front foyer. Because there are no seasons in California, shoes for all types of weather had taken over the entrance of my home. Rainboots, sneakers, sandals. I kept searching for ideas of how to hide all the mess at my front door. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to put there…baskets? A bench? A shoe cabinet of some sort? Anyway, as I was answering a craigslist ad for a free side table (to use for a kids art table), the same individual asked me if I wanted this “coffee table.” I initially said no thanks. It was long with cabriole style legs, not to mention it was covered in scratches. I guess I said no at first because when he mentioned it was a coffee table, my first thought was “no way I can make that work in a living room.” So I happily took the side table I came for and left. About 2 miles later, I turned around because I realized this could be what I needed in my foyer. I wasn’t even sure if it would even fit. But I’m sure glad I turned around! Light bulbs!



(Try to ignore that pink latex glove balloon behind the bench. These are the things I must to do to entertain a toddler while I entertain myself!)


I brought it home and immediately put it in my foyer. I didn’t like it. This piece was screaming ugly! It was the same color as my floors. I knew it needed to be made over but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to keep it or not. I left it there for a few days and then it became clear to me that the functionality of this “coffee table” was actually kind of fabulous! I had used it so much already. All of our shoes were essentially hidden under this table, which I am now calling a bench. It was there for me kick my shoes under,throw my purse down; I could plop my 2 year old on it and help her put on her shoes. It was great.


Now for the makeover. I really wanted it to be blue. There is a lot of blue in my living room so I wanted it to tie into that room, since it is the first room you see upon walking into my home. A few weeks ago, I had picked up a couple of discounted sample size paints at Lowes. I was glad to find some light blue in there. Since, I wasn’t in love with the piece, I figured I would experiment a bit on it to see what I liked.


This was the first time I was working with gel stain too. Since I didn’t spend any money on this bench, I just wanted to see how well it would turn out with paints I wasn’t too familiar with.


Here is what I used:

  • Valspar – Schoolboy Blue
  • Valspar – Deep Twighlight Blue
  • Valspar Signature Antiquing Glaze
  • General Finishes – Java Gel Stain (pictured below)
  • General Finishes – Gel Topcoat


I took this picture after I had used it, and basically destroyed the can!



I chose to use gel stain because the prep work is supposed to be minimal. I did a project a while back where I tried to strip varnish from a buffet table and it went horribly wrong. I didn’t want to do that again. For the gel stain, it called for light sanding. I used heavier grit sandpaper because there was quiet a few scratches on the surface of the bench that I needed to get rid of. Sanding was super quick and easy…but messy! I applied the gel stain using a small paint brush to drop globs in random spots and a foam brush to blend it all together. I did about a quarter of the surface and then used a cloth to wipe the excess off. I didn’t wipe too hard because I wanted to leave some gel on the bench for a darker finish. I repeated this until the bench surface was covered. The gel stain required a 48 hour dry time. I honestly didn’t wait that long…maybe 24 hours. I probably should have waited a bit longer before applying the gel topcoat because some of the stain was rubbing off as I was applying it.


I painted the legs and drawers with the Schoolboy Blue paint. This was quick but I wasn’t too thrilled with the light blueish color because it looked sort of white to me. I had a darker blue paint (Deep Twighlight Blue), so I roughly blended it into the lighter blue paint. I really liked how this looked so I decided to leave it. I used the antique glaze on the legs and drawers too. I quickly brushed it on and wiped it off. It left a nice antique residue, different from the Annie Sloan dark wax look. But I was pleased with it!


Here’s the final product.



Here is it in the foyer. And look – shoes hidden under it!




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