Restoring an Antique Church Pew

Happpppppppy Labor Day guys and cheers to the long weekend! I sure hope you are taking it slow today and getting lots of down time in–possibly with a giant cup of coffee and some kind of delicious treat like a donut. Or cookies. Or brownies. Maybe even cake. Who knows, the possibilities are endless. And calories don’t count on holidays so you are in the clear. So go ahead and grab a snack, put on your coziest stretchy pants and get comfy, because today’s post is a fun one–I’m sharing how I restored an antique single altar church pew that used to belong to my sweet Granny. Unfortunately she’s no longer with us, but the story is that she got this pew from an old church near our hometown. She kept it in her living room for years and years, then it was passed on to my mom and now to me. This guy has been around for a loooong time and it definitely shows. When I got it the wood was faded and super dry, there was some water damage and overall it was just a bit dull looking. Of course I thought about painting it, but that just didn’t feel right for this piece. Instead I decided to restore it to it’s original finish and bring some life back to this little church pew. It was actually a pretty simple process, so today I’m going to show you guys how I did it. OK, here’s how it looked when I got started:

Restoring an Antique Church Pew Restoring an Antique Church Pew

You can see the wood was super dry and awfully dull looking. It definitely had lost its shine and luster over the years.

Restoring an Antique Church Pew

There was even a bit of water damage on the legs of the pew and a little on the sides too. No good.

Restoring an Antique Church Pew

The first step was to start by wiping it down and cleaning it up to remove any dirt and dust. I just did this with a damp rag–easy peasy.

Restoring an Antique Church Pew

Next we grabbed some boiled linseed oil. This stuff is great to revitalize old wood and bring it back to life. And an added bonus is that it also protects the wood from any further damage, so it was a really great option for this project. It’s actually very easy to apply–we just poured a little into an old rag and wiped down one section at a time. Then went over it with a clean rag to remove any excess.

Restoring an Antique Church Pew

You can see here the difference the BLO made on the wood here–the left side of the pew has one coat and the right side has nothing. Quite the difference, huh?! We ended up doing two coats, making sure to let it dry completely between each one and sanding it down gently with steel wool. Then we allowed it to cure for about 48 hours. Here’s how it looks now:

Restoring an Antique Church Pew. Farmhouse style entryway with old church pew. Restoring an Antique Church Pew. Farmhouse style entryway with old church pew. Restoring an Antique Church Pew. Farmhouse style entryway with old church pew.

Ta-da! I can’t believe how much better it looks now. That little bit of work totally revitalized the wood and brought this old church pew back to life. And lucky for me it fits perfectly in our entryway.

Restoring an Old Church Pew

Restoring an Antique Church Pew. Farmhouse style entryway with old church pew.

Restoring an Antique Church Pew. Farmhouse style entryway with old church pew.

Restoring this old church pew was actually a pretty simple process thanks to that boiled linseed oil–that stuff works like magic. And I’m so glad I went this route and didn’t paint it. Sometimes it’s best to just put the paint brush down and back away, you know? It doesn’t happen very often around here, but every now and then I have to remind myself that not everything needs to be painted white. Especially when it comes to a piece of furniture like this antique church pew. There’s just so much history and character here with the natural wood and it would have been a shame to cover that up. I think it’s actually pretty unique too–I did a bit of Googling and I couldn’t find any other single altar pews quite like this one. Plus the fact that it was in my Granny’s living room for so long makes it extra special. I’m just thrilled it fits so perfectly in our little entryway.

Thanks so much for dropping by the blog today–I hope you all have a fantastic week full of happy things!

Other fun posts you might enjoy: 

Farmhouse Style Front Room Makeover

Easy DIY Fireplace Cover

DIY Milk & Cream Sign

Leave a Comment

25 Comments

  1. The little church pew looks great. I can’t believe the difference the boiled linseed oil made. I will have to try some on some of our cabinets that look dry and dull. Then maybe I won’t need to Paint them.

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks Linda, that BLO really does work wonders!

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  2. Lorri Rauscher wrote:

    Sarah..You r so lucky to be given this church pew. First all that history and free to boot. Yes sometimes you want to paint but I really think u made the right decision. It looks lovely there. I have used BLO as well. It makes the piece so amazing.Cant wait to see yr next project..

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thank you Lorri, I am so lucky my Granny and my mother loved antiques so much. I’ve definitely been blessed with lots of free goodies like this church pew. Hope you’re enjoying the day!

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  3. Rhonda S. wrote:

    I just love where you placed that little church pew, Sarah, right under the sign that says, simplify. Perfect! That piece is special and has some history to it. I had never heard of the oil you put on the pew but that was exactly what it needed ~ it felt right! Have a great day with your little family!

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thank you so much Rhonda. And I agree, the church pew is a perfect fit with that simplify sign! Hope you’re having a great day.

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  4. Beth Levenstein wrote:

    Great job on the little church pew. I agree sometimes you have to put the paint brush down hard as it may seem. I think you may the right decision and it looks beautiful in your entryway. Enjoy!

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks Beth! It’s not easy for me to put the paint brush down. But I’m so glad I did for this one!

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  5. Lorraine wrote:

    The cute little pew looks fresh. I noticed your hardwoods in the picture. We just bought a home in Idaho and are going to redo the flooring throughout. I want to do hardwood in the living (entry/dining room), kitchen and dining (laundry area/back door area). It looks like you have tile at your doorway. Did you choose that to avoid wear?

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Hi Lorraine! The flooring was already done like that when we moved in, but I do like having the tile at the door. Especially in the winter with lots of wet boots!

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  6. Deedra wrote:

    That is the cutest little church pew and it fits that space perfectly! You really did give it new life and I love the way that whole space is decorated. Just cozy!

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks Deedra! I still can’t believe how well it fits here, this is such a small entryway.

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  7. Jesica wrote:

    Love how you incorporated the church pew into this space! You are so creative be!

    I just love the little white stool…where would you recommend looking for a piece like this?

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      I found that little stool at a yard sale for $5 actually! Then I painted it white, of course. I always keep my eyes open for stools like this, they’re so handy to have around the house.

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  8. How special! It looks perfect in the entryway along with the pillows and other accents. I just re-did a small telephone desk that was my grandmothers, check it out on my blog if you get a chance.

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Oh that’s so cool Brenda, I will hope over there and check it out!

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  9. Sharon wrote:

    Great job!! Love it!! Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  10. Susan wrote:

    I agree with Deedra! Everything fits together so well! Awesome transformation on the little church pew! That is a truly special gift!

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks so much Susan, I love how it turned out!!

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  11. Kim wrote:

    It is the sweetest little church pew! Really brought it back to life! Looks so pretty in the entry! Kim

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  12. Sandee wrote:

    Omg. I’ve been looking for the right thing to use on an antique desk phone. It’s a beautiful piece. Belonged to my husbands grandmother. It’s got a nice finish on it just need a good wood conditioner. Where can I find it?

    Posted 9.4.17 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      OH that sounds so cool Sandee. I got my boiled linseed oil at Home Depot! You can also order it on Amazon.

      Posted 9.4.17 Reply
  13. I have a similar bench here which was just taking space, I didn’t really know what to do with it, but I really like what you did with yours. I think I’ll do something similar. Thank you for sharing!!

    Posted 9.5.17 Reply
  14. How cute is that adorable little antique church pew!! I’ve always wanted one of these for my house, but I’ve only seen bigger style church pews and this one is just perfect. I love that you used Linseed Oil. That is one of my favorite tricks of wood projects. It’s so easy and I’ve always had great results.

    Posted 9.5.17 Reply
  15. Love it , looks great Sarah

    Posted 9.5.17 Reply

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