Furniture goes out of style all of the time, especially bedroom pieces. Gone are the days of clunky, heavy décor. These days most people are going for simpler, sleeker looks. Of course, this does lead all of us to a bit of problem—just what do we do with all of our unwanted furniture? Sometimes we hate to give up our beautiful antiques simply because they aren’t “in” anymore. Fortunately, there are great ways to repurpose our pieces and make them useful once again. Today we will be learning how to transform a sleigh bed into a rustic bench.

The whizzes over at Shabby DIY have created a brilliant tutorial to help you with this project.


  1. Start by removing damaged wood from the headboard. This constitutes any part that is too splintered to sand down.
  2. Use an electric sander to sand down the entire bed frame.
  3. Choose a textured wood paneling like beadboard and cut it to the desired length. It should cover the front facing headboard.
  4. Apply a layer of adhesive to the back of the paneling
  5. Press the beadboard into place. Sometimes adhesive isn’t quite enough to hold the paneling into place, so it is recommended that you add some nails to the sides for proper reinforcement. 
    person attaching beadboard on headboardShabby DIY
  6. Cut several inches off the legs of the headboard. This will need to be done with a portable electric hand saw.
  7. Next, move on to the footboard. Just as you did with the headboard, take off at least several inches, so that all four sides are flush.
  8. Cut the left and right sides of the footboard and remove the bottom panels.
  9. Take small notches from the cut headboard. These are the pieces that will become the armrests for the bench. The notches will line up with the front facing end of the headboard. 
    arm rest notches for sleigh bedShabby DIY
  10. Install screws to mount the arm rest to the headboard. As an additional step, you may need to use caulk to hide staining or imperfections along the edges.
  11. Apply a coat of primer over the entire bench with a roller. If you have trouble getting into the tight areas, use a foam brush.
  12. Now it’s time to add your paint—two coats will do the job! Shabby DIY used a colonial red, but feel free to choose your favorite shade.
  13. Cut three 2-by-6 pieces of wood to size, then add a coat of polyurethane. Install these on the front and back of the bench to add strength to the design. 
    painting polyurethane on 4x6sShabby DIY
  14. Cut smaller blocks of wood and apply a coat of polyurethane. These will rest on the 2-by-6 cleats, and act as the seating area. 
    person installing blocks on benchShabby DIY


And, take a look at the charming end result! This project takes a bit of time and skill, but the finished product can be a great addition to your home. Check out the video to see the exciting process.

Are you a DIY master? What was your favorite item that you repurposed? We’d love to hear your stories! Tell us all about them in the comments below.