How to Jazz Up an Old Piano Bench

Recently I've made an addition to the house---I've brought in my childhood piano (my sister claims it's in fact hers, but possession is nine tenths of the law, and so it's mine now).  That in and of itself was an adventure, and after my mover that I had carefully lined up in advance neglected to turn up or return my calls and texts, it was only with the brute strength of Thomas's cousin that we were able to hoist it out of the van and up the stoop.  However, it is in place, and I'm seriously considering painting it (the wood veneer and finish are not of fine quailty), probably off-white, but I'm not quite ready to commit to that yet.  However, I did want to make it look better, and decided that covering the bench with fabric to look like an upholstered ottoman would be a quick, easy, inexpensive way to jazz up the piano itself, and the fabric helps tone down the look of that much wood.

I used a trendy chevron pattern for the bench, a gift from Valorie, Visual Vamp.  I liked the way the pattern blended with the cream slipcovers in the room, but gave a hint of movement.  Chevron patterns are all over the place, and I do think that projects like this are the best way to inject trends into your decor--high impact, but low cost and effort.  In a couple of years (who am i kidding---based on my decor ADD, I'll be recovering it by this summer), I can switch out this trendy pattern for the next hot look.  Luckily, it only takes two yards of fabric and no sewing---thank you, Stitch Witch.

First, select the right fabric.  It needs to be sturdy enough to not need lining---adding lining is possible of course, but makes the whole process much more difficult, and would necessitate sewing, but not so thick that stapling multiple layers is a problem.  I find that cotton and cotton blend upholstery weight fabrics work the best.  Here, I did a similar project using cotton canvas in a solid color:

Solid colors are easiest, because you don't have to worry about matching stripes and prints, but a busy print does have the advantage of hiding flaws.  This pattern meant I had to be careful about matching, but it has enough movement that it wasn't too hard to make sure the different sides matched.  I didn't have quite enough fabric to make sure the top matched exactly, but looks good enough for me (luckily, I do not have the perfection gene).


Measure your bench for the sides and corners, making sure to add enough inches to fold over for hems.  You do not need side hems for the corners (the part that make it look like inverted pleats);  in fact, they would cause unwanted bulk and the sides are invisible after assembly


Iron the fabric carefully.  Do not launder before hand unless you need to to match washed slipcovers.  The sizing that the fabric comes with helps it remain crisp and wrinkle free.  Then iron under the hems.  After they are ironed in place, use the hem tape to glue them down.  You could use fabric glue, but I never have so I can't say how well it works.  If you don't mind sewing, you could use a hem stitch to tack the hem in place.


Remove top.  My bench has a lift off top, so it can off easily.  Some tops, however may be screwed on.  Staple the fabric pieces in place, starting with the corners.  I like to do corners, then sides, then front and back.  Most importantly (and what I need to fix after viewing the afters), make sure the bottom of all pieces are flush and that patterns line up.


Cover top, just as you would a chair seat.  Now if you want to, for a more finished look you could add premade cording to the edge of the top.  I didn't because I wanted to still be able to remove the top and I was afraid that cording would make it too thick and bulky to set flush inside the hole.  If that is not an issue for you, I would recommend the cording...it makes it look more finished.
Here is a simliar project I did in a solid neutral with cording.  Post is HERE.

There it is.  A quick, easy way to jazz up an old bench and add some pattern to your decor.

Why yes, that IS a Christmas decoration on top of the piano.  Why yes, I realize that Christmas is over.  Why did you ask?

Cleopatra Schwartz approves this project.

Submitted to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and Mod Monday Mix and Mod Vintage life.


Vickie H. said...

Love the chevron pattern on the bench. And I think you need to be careful about painting the piano...I am pretty sure I read somewhere that it will change the way it sounds when playing it afterward...but if you don't plan to play it and it is only for decoration then paint away! Happy New Year, Mitchell! Hope you are able to blog more in 2012....I always look forward to every new post of yours!

h. m. settoon said...

Vickie, I'll do some research on the sound, but quite frankly, this was never a super-high quality instrument to begin with. It hasn't been tuned in over 20 years and sounds like a honky-tonk piano, which I guess is perfect for new orleans! I plan to look into to tuning it, but right now am not anxious to spend any extra cash

white painted furniture said...

I really loved the chevron pattern and the dog made the place more cute. I love painting furniture but never tried for piano. I would love to try for piano as well.