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Antique Church Pew Makeover

Today, I am excited to share a quick makeover of an antique church pew that will maintain the beauty of the aged pine. Let’s jump into this makeover!

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strange color

This piece had some kind of strange, orange-toned stain applied to it years ago and was just, well, just plain ugly! I mean look at this thing!

I knew this color would not go over well with my clients so it had to come off. Honestly, with many pieces that we reinvent, I can just sand off the old finish pretty quickly. So I gathered up tools and supplies from my workbench:

sanding and sanding

Remember I said I can do this step fairly quickly? Not with this piece! I used 4-5 pieces of 80 grit sanding discs on my orbital sander plus another 4-5 of 150 grit sanding discs! For the final sanding, I used 220 grit sand paper. This give a nice smooth feel to the church pew.

The orange toned, stain (or whatever it was) had a waxy consistency to it. I am not sure what product was used and even after years of re-doing pieces, my hubby and I were stumped as to what the original finish was!

By the way, my Craftsman multi tool is a great tool to have in your workbench arsenal! It has several attachments including this triangular shaped sanding pad. It makes getting into corners a breeze!

PRO TIP: Use leftover, used sanding pads from your orbital sander instead of new triangle shaped pads which are pricey. Just attach the velcro side to the multi-tool and cut to fit the triangular shape!

The sanding ended up taking me about 2 hours! Getting through the strange orangey toned stuff was a real challenge! But with some patience and lots of sanding pads, it was removed completely!

Here is a quick peak at the before and after of the lengthy sanding process. The old pine on this antique church pew is one of my favorite type of wood. Especially when it has as many years of use as this church pew has!

cleaning and enhancing

Next up was a good cleaning. Sanding removes any dirt and grime that was on the antique church pew so a good once over with the shop vac removed most of the sanding dust. I wiped the whole piece down with a very damp micro fiber cloth. These cloths are great for removing dust. They are also great for general cleaning of any piece.

I chose to use Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil on this antique church pew. Hemp Oil is a great way to enhance the natural beauty of the wood.

Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil is so easy to apply! Pour a small amount in a dish ( I use an Antique Candle Co jar after I have burned the delicious smelling candles!) . Using a small chip brush, I brush on the hemp oil. Usually, I will cover a whole section like the seat of this church pew. Then wipe it off with a disposable lint free shop towel.

The hemp oil soaked in overnight and then I applied a second coat. I allowed to soak in and dry for several days – actually I think it was a full week — before taking these images. Be careful to allow plenty of time for the oil to soak in and dry before placing any fabric items on your piece like this quilt.

many uses

This antique church pew is small in size, measuring 44″ wide, 15″ deep and 36″ tall so it can fit in just about any home. Here are a few uses:

  • at the back entrance for a place to sit and put on shoes – add a couple of large picnic baskets to hold gloves and such
  • in the foyer with a large basket of florals that can be changed out seasonally
  • as an accent piece in a dining room like I have it staged here

talk about character!

I love all of the character that years and years of use can bring to a piece!

And how about this little initial carving? Isn’t that the cutest? The parent of the child might not have thought it was so cute at the time it was carved!

“Now, now little Johnny, we mustn’t carve our initials into the pew while at church!”

Can I just mention the width of the boards! The back of the pew measures 18″ wide! Wow, that was some pine tree!

Look at all of the character of this antique church pew….

…and the gorgeous wood grain of the pine!

Just think about how many people found peace while sitting on this church pew.

How many prayers were prayed?
How many songs were sung?
How many tears of joy were shed?
How many hearts were changed?

I’m such a sentimental old fart! Makes me want to tear up just thinking about the memories this church pew has experienced!

This antique church pew is such a simple piece of furniture yet has so much beauty to it! It’s the simple things in life that ground us.

antique church pew makeover

Thanks so much for stopping by for this easy antique church pew makeover! Be sure and pin this image on Pinterest for future reference!

We love re-loving vintage pieces around here! You can follow along our reinventing journey on Instagram and Facebook. Join our mailing list for all the latest blog posts! Joining is easy – sign up in the side bar. We promise not to sell your email! And we also don’t want you to miss a project!

Let me know in the comments where you would use this church pew in your home! I would love to know your ideas!

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  1. Simple, rustic chic. I love the grain and aged character of the pine. Nice that you enhanced it with just hemp oil. Another inspiring project. Thanks Cindy!

  2. I love this. Such a beautiful piece. I think they might have used orange shellac on the pew. My father used to use it when he built things, like the bookcase he built.

    1. Thanks for the info about the orange shellac. This church pew was covered in the finish! It was a bear to remove!? Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi Cindy!
    Your church pew is so pretty! I recently acquired one from a local shop. It has had many coats of paint over the years. I have no clue what kind of wood it is, but I hope to find out. I plan on stripping it and restoring it back to a wood finish. It’s a heavy piece, so I’m curious as to what kind of wood I’ll find.

    >>> Kim

    1. Isnt’ it so pretty? I wish I could direct you to a place to purchase but one of my daughters made this wreath from her own magnolia tree! Thanks for stopping by!

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