One Gal’s Junk is Another Gal’s Tea Party

By Kate Riley April 24, 2009

My little five year old girl loves to throw tea parties for her friends. Mind you, her friends are furry and have names like “Muffin” and “Candy” but I still let them play together.

tp final

Last weekend, I was making the rounds at the local thrift store, and also happened to just pop in to this garage sale in the neighborhood. At each stop, I found a little vanity bench and paid $4 for each of them, with the intention of turning them into tea party perches for those furry friends she likes to party with.

Here’s the “Junk” Before, and the After:

tp Before and After

The thrift store bench was a raw natural wood color, which I had to stain to match the legs of the other bench. I’m a Minwax girl, so I used the Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut I had previously purchased to redo my staircase, and I turned the legs to a darker wood tone. One coat and 30 minutes later, the bench was transformed.

minwax stain

minwax mom

Next, I added medium density foam to cushion the seat. You can use scissors to trim your foam, but truth is, the best way to cut it is with an old serrated knife. (I’ve seen others use an electric carving knife as well.)

knife to foam

Cover the foam with batting like I did with this chair. Then staple your new fabric of choice to the seat cushion.

staple gun seat cushion

Add decorative trim with hot glue:

hot glue

Voila! Two coordinated benches! Total cost for both vanity benches, including fabric, foam and trim, was around $25.

benches after

Compare to the plain and inexpensive at Target for $38:

shabby chic bench

And compare to the ridiculously expensive at Frontgate for **choke**  $699:

katherine vanity frontgate $699

One interesting note was that I found out the garage sale vanity bench was a Mersman brand original piece of furniture from the Depression and it had a separate date signature from 1929. A little research online revealed it’s probably worth between $50 to $75. So there’s proof that you can find real treasures at a garage sale !

mersman stamp initials

I purchased the little green table at Joanne’s Fabrics on sale for $12, but I didn’t like the sunflower picture on the top, so I made the tablecloth from scrap fabric by: A) setting tabletop on fabric, and marking fabric with pencil, B) Sewing a hem along the bottom, C) gathering the fabric, and D) attaching the gathered fabric to the circular piece. This simple sew mini tablecloth took about 45 minutes.


So the question I have for you is…

tp final end

Would you like one lump, or two?


  1. Wow! That is amazing. I love the fabric on the benches, and the tablecloth is a adorable. Your daughter is very lucky. Great job!

  2. I love these benches! I can’t wait to do something similar once my daughter is of “tea party” age (she turns 1 in a week). You are so crafty, I’m so impressed by all of your projects – I used to be creative, but I think law school completely sucked the creative juices right out of me!!

  3. love it!!!!! i am still working on finding a chair to recover on craigs list after your other posts…now i have to find a bench too. this is getting crazy. :)

  4. Great job! I love the things you can find at thrift shops and garage sales.

  5. You are ADORABLE. What a sweet and thoughtful thing to do for your girl. And my god, what vision you have! And you make it look so easy.


    stripper names, lol

  6. What a fantastic makeover! It makes me want a little girl so that I can paint some more things pink!

    I don’t know how it is possible that I haven’t seen your blog before. It’s fantastic! I think I’m in love.


  7. Adorable!! You are a girl after my own heart! I’m so glad you found me, love your site!

  8. You are FAMOUSLY frugal and wildly wonderful! You don’t ever stop WOWING your fans! LOVE THIS!

  9. [email protected] says:

    So cute and I love the tea party picture! I’ll be linking.

  10. There are definitely two lumps of sweetness here! Just love what you did with those two benches….the pom pom trim is fab! And that little flower pillow in the background is such a sweet little accent to an already super sweet vignette! :>.

  11. Karen

    That little green pillow was on clearance from Pier One for $7, and I hot glued a peony flower to the top of it. So fab for so cheap !


  12. So thrilled Kimba linked to you. A girl after my own heart with trash to treasure. LOVE THEM!

  13. This is so darn cute! And I lol’d at your daughter’s stuffed animals having stripper names! Hilarious (and so true)!

  14. love it…I’m so trying to cultivate my ability to see the potential of ugly garage sale finds…

    Those are just too cute!!

  15. Wait the chair from 1929 was one of the ones you made over?…interesting.

  16. Those are absolutely adorable! So much cuter than the pricey ones from the stores. Love how you added the fringe around the edge!

  17. TRICIA [email protected] says:

    Those benches are fantastic!
    I am kicking myself right now for the little footstool I passed up today at a barn sale because I was being cheap. Darn’t!
    Great Inspiration!

  18. Darling! I love that you made these things especially for your little girl to play with. You have inspired me to do just this for my daughter. Thanks.

  19. So cute. I found you via Google image search for Mersman. lol. I found a side table at Goodwill for $7. Score. I was just trying to find out when it was made. No luck. Very cute. I have a little girl…almost 1, so it’ll be a bit before she wants to play tea party. Great idea though!
    I don’t know how mine will look just yet, once I’m finished with her.

  20. Hi, I really enjoy your site. It is the first time that I am seeing it. The only problem that I have is when I look at the projects I do not get the picture. I only get a black square with a white triangle. I tried to click on it but nothing happens. Is there something that I can do to see the picture? Please let me know. Thanks so much.

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