How I Turned Two French Provincial Footboards Into An 11 Foot Long Bench For My Deck

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

Vintage French Provincial is so versatile that you can pick up almost anything in this style and make it as beautiful as the French pieces that cost several hundred dollars new today.  Dressers can be re-painted, or stripped down to their original wood, dining room sets can be stained or pickled white, and sofas can be re-upholstered in heavy duck fabric and made over to look new.

These feminine pieces of furniture are so popular today, and if you have a chance to score a vintate French Provincial piece, this style can be an affordable way of getting the French or Swedish look for less money.

When I came across a craigslist posting for a set of provincial beds back in Virginia, I had to have them.  I didn’t know what I was going to do with them, so I hung on to the set for several years.

After pairing together the two headboards to create a day bed for my daughters room last summer, I was left with two foot boards, and I had no clue what to make out of them.  I loved the design of the feet, however the decorative posts didn’t seem to work with any design that I had in mind.


My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

The bed set up with the two foot boards, right side up.  Very pretty, don’t you think?

After looking at the foot boards with our good friend Cecil, we decided to flip the foot boards upside down, and use the decorative posts as legs, and cut the actual legs off.  Cecil had table saw which was connected to a large table, which allowed the boards to slide through nicely without catching.

By turning them over, it gave me a straight edge to work with, which allowed me to then place a sheet of plywood as it’s base.  When the foot board sat right side up, (see in the picture above)  the design had a curve in the frame, which wouldn’t allow for a straight seam to work with.

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

Once my foot boards were cut, I took three 16 feet 2 x 4’s and paired them up with the frame, cutting smaller boards which created support for the base.  Once the boards were assembled and screwed into place, I laid two pieces of plywood cut to the size of the frame.  While the frame was laying on the floor, the base was painted a light gray.

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

Here you can see the bench frame assembled

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

The bench is then flipped over

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

Wood feet were added to the bottom side of the bench in the middle section.  Although the bench was quite sturdy, I didn’t want to take any chances.  I took a heavy duty screw and screwed the metal plate into the wood foot, which was then screwed into the 2 x 4’s.  These feet are actually re-purposed posts from a queen bed we own. 

Once it was flipped over, I had to figure out how to assemble the back.

I had a couple regrets at this point with the project.

This whole project was sort of made up as I went along.  With a small baby, I had to work in 15 minute intervals, which is rather frustrating.  The timing was the length our daughter was satisfied with her pacifier, or she got tired of playing with her toys.  My husband took over the baby duty for the day I did most of my cutting.

Because my project couldn’t sit for weeks, and I didn’t want to spend more $$$ in wood, I used some left over wood which was left by the previous house owners to create the back of the frame.

They were roughly about the same size in length, however some pieces were thicker than others, so instead of buying new wood, I just worked with what I had on hand.  Looking back, I would have liked to buy wood that was the same width….

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

Here you see the wood is too long, which was later cut down.

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

I would have liked to leave the slats without wood sandwiched on either side, however, I couldn’t find a way to anchor it down, so it was sturdy enough to lean against. 

This project was in no way perfect.  Using thinner sanded strips of wood, I used my compressor to nail on these wood strips to the frame to give it a cleaner appearance and hide all the holes from the screws.

Wider wood was added to the top, which finished off the bench.

Before I started, the length of the bench was made according to some cushions that I made for some other benches that didn’t work out.  I think ideally, they could be stuffed more, which I could do at a later date.

The bench turned out fantastic.  With more pillows, it will be very comfortable to spend the weekends lounging in, with some magazines, or a couple movies on the deck.  I wanted to keep the original width of the French provincial frame intact, which could still function as a bed if we need to use it some day for extra company.

Over all, I really love the way it turned out.  I could also possibly create a slipcover for the back and sides if I wanted to change things up.

My French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite BlogMy French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite BlogMy French Twin Footboard 11 Foot Long Bench Hersite Blog

Here are some suggestions if you wanted to create one of these for yourself…….

– Keep your eye open for a pair of provincial beds, if you like the ornate decorative feet.  A set of two twin beds would worked nicely for me.

– Use Torx Screws, which has the appearance of star for your wood projects.  In this picture you can see a comparison of the Phillips which has always been popular, and the Torx screws.  After using these screws I will never go back to Phillips screws again.

– Check Your Lumber Before Leaving The Hardware Store.  After driving home with 16 foot lumber, I discovered that one side of the lumber was really messed up once I arrived home.  It was my own fault for not checking.  When good conversations get rolling, and laughs get exchanged, your mind can be else where.  I couldn’t use the one side, and certainly didn’t want to drive all the way back to exchange it.  Such common sense advice….., but very practical as well.

– Cutting Wood On A Table Saw Gives You Straighter Lines…. Well, reading this post, you can obviously tell, I am not a seasoned carpenter, when my advice is to use a table saw.  Laughs aside, even though my projects are not perfect, I don’t let that scare me away from attempting projects. If you are like me, don’t be afraid of using these tools, 0r venturing out on re-purposing something for your home, even though you have no experience.  My projects are far from perfect, I don’t let that get me down.  My husband bought me a table saw and it sat in the garage for a couple of years until this summer.  I have used a circular saw for years with a piece of wood screwed in for a straight edge to follow.  Even with a wood guide, the circular saw still wouldn’t cut a straight piece of wood.  After using the table saw this summer, I can see the difference a beautiful crisp line can make.  A table saw is a great investment, as you can cut down pieces of wood into smaller strips, create thinner veneer, ……. the ideas are endless.  I would suggest to have a spotter there to assist you, and wearing good clear eye protection, such as these for $2 dollars is essential.

– Cushions Are Costly!  If anything the costs of the wood for this project, and vintage furniture wasn’t the most expensive part of this project.  The wood was about $2- $ 5 dollars a board.  The beds I bought for next to nothing, but the cushions and the fabric were costly, and time consuming.  If you go to your local JoAnnes, Michaels, or Hancock Fabrics, look at the price of cushions the next time you are in the store.  I bought my cushions last year for another project that didn’t turn out so swell, so I needed to use them for one of my projects because they were so expensive.  Though, if I were to do this again, I would lay the cushions down on a piece of plywood, and staple the fabric to the back of the frame.  By doing this, I could have saved a lot of fabric and the time it made to sew the cushion covers.  Below I linked to a dining chair transformation.  If you want to skip the expense of fabric and cushions, work with wood slat boards for your base.  It looks just as nice.

– Outdoor Fabric Can Be Difficult To Work With– The fabric I purchased was umbrella fabric, which is stiffer than most fabrics, and harder to sew.  I purchased it because it was great to upholster with, and worked with the paint color of the deck.  Though sewing cushions with really stiff fabric is a heck of a lot different, then using regular fabric that bends and moves naturally.   Zippers, cording…  it was a lot to take on in the heavier weight fabric.  On the plus side, I can use the hose to wash off any of the furniture outside with this fabric.  It is water repellant.

Last but not least, have a husband that can look after the kids for you for a couple of Sundays.  I owe a lot to my darling for taking care of our little one even though he had work of his own to complete.

What do you think?  Would you place this on your patio?

More Inspiration:

If you like French or Swedish style, please get some great ideas from our French Provincial site, and Swedish Furniture site.  If you adore this style, then these sites are for you.