Introduction: Upcycle a Dresser Into a Bench
Turn your old dresser into a cute bench that still provides storage while also offering a comfortable place to sit. This whole project cost me $6! I bought the old dresser from a thrift store for $3 and the rest of the supplies added up to another $3.
Disclaimer: This project takes a day or two complete. The more time spent working on the bench the more quality and “like new” outcome you will achieve. The use of power tools to cut and screw the bench together will be required and paint skills are a plus. This is not too difficult of a project but will require patience, basic knowledge and experience with wood and access to construction tools.
- Old wood dresser/nightstand with three drawers
- Nails and screws
- Tape measurer
- Old large pillow
- Fabric (enough to create bench cushion)
- Drawer handle
- Staple gun
Step 1: Remove All Three Drawers to Make the Next Few Steps Easier
Step 2: Remove the Top Part Off the Dresser
My particular dresser had screws on the inside that I took out first with a screwdriver. Then I used a hammer and a chisel to separate the top from the base. I also hit the bottom of the drawer top with a hammer to pop it off. This is one of the more difficult steps, so take your time to ensure you don't damage the wood since you will need the piece for later.
Step 3: Remove the Back of the Dresser
This is an easy step because you do not need to be delicate with this piece of wood. I used pliers and my hand to remove the nails from the wood and pulled it off. You do not need to use this piece later in creating the bench, so do not worry about breaking it.
Optional: If the back of the dresser is too hard to take off, or if the wood is very thick, you can leave the back on and keep it as a backrest/extra support for the bench.
Step 4: Next Step Is to Measure the Width of the Dresser
You need to measure the inside width of the dresser to know how much you will need to cut off of the top piece of wood that you removed in step 2. Measure from right to the left on the inward facing sides of the wood panels.
Step 5: Cut the Top Part Down to the Correct/collected Dimensions
Draw a line, with a pencil, onto the piece of wood to create a guideline to cut along.Then use a saw to cut along the line. The cut piece of wood should be able to fit (not snug) inside the dresser and will rest on top of the second drawer. (see diagram)
Step 6: Paint the Base and Drawers
Use whatever color/type of paint you prefer to paint the base frame and drawers of the unit. Before painting, it may be useful to quickly sand down the entire unit to create a smoother base to paint onto.
Step 7: Creating the Seat Base
Re-insert the second drawer back into the base and lay the whole structure down on its back. Nail in the second drawer so it is secured on the base and cannot be pulled open. This will serve two purposes. One is to give stability and strength to the bench, so people can sit on it. The other is to be used as reach-in storage when you lift up the piece of wood that you sit on.
Step 8: Finish the Seat
Now that you have cut down the top piece of wood to be able to fit inside the bench, you need to decide how you want it to look. You can sand down the wood so it’s soft and natural to keep it simple. You can paint it the same color as the rest of the bench or even an accent color. I chose to make it into a cushion and upholster it. I used a large pillow and old fabric that I bought at the thrift store for a total of three dollars. (The pictures above are a visual step-by-step of how I upholstered the bench.)
Step 9: Finishing Touches
I recommend giving the bench a second, third, and maybe even a fourth coat of paint for a smooth finish. Reinsert the bottom drawer and the bench seat. If desired, install the new drawer handle and place a decorative pillow on top to complete the look. And now you are done!
Side note: After completing the bench I noticed my cat really enjoyed the piece. You can make it into a cat bench and use the bottom drawer as a place to hold a litter box, which can be closed when you have company over. You can put cat toys and food inside the lift up compartment and the top part will be the cat’s bed. You can also attach a scratching post to one of the sides to make it the ultimate cat friendly piece of furniture.