a work bench & office light

Marian ParsonsMy House39 Comments

I mentioned a couple of days ago that Jeff and I worked on getting the basement cleaned up to make it more functional.  That involved bringing in some more wire shelving and moving things around.  We’ve had a workbench that was left by the previous owners in the basement when we bought the house.  It had an ugly remnant counter on it, but it was a useful piece, so we kept it.  Now that we were bringing in more functional shelving, the workbench needed to find a new home.

I just wasn’t ready to let it go.  There was something about it.  We removed the counter and saw the original workbench, probably original to the 1940’s house.


The patina of the wood was the something I saw in it.



And the bead board shelf…


…and the wooden pegs holding the boards in place.


Sure, there’s a big honking hole where the vice was…


…and the back was a snack for a few termites…


…but there’s still something about it.  So, I cleaned it up with mineral spirits, which brought out a bunch of paint splatters along with the richness in the old wood.  My plan is to sand it down and refinish the top and paint the base.


We’ll see how it turns out and if others (ahem, Jeff) will be able to see the something in it, too.


I’ve been itching to replace the light in our home office.  When we first moved in, it was a 1940’s glass fixture with a wheat design on it.  It was a cheap light fixture in the 1940’s and it still looked cheap 70 years later.  We replaced it with a free fixture and it’s stayed that way until I could find a good replacement.  Something that’s a bit more me.  It’s a bit of a challenge, because the ceilings aren’t very high and it’s a passthrough, so I need to make sure 6’+ guys aren’t going to nail their head on the fixture.



I found this guy at a yard sale for $10 a few months ago and I think it’s perfect for the space…


…or it will be with some new bulbs and a little “mustardization.”  Yes.  I made up a word.  Anyway, it’s going to look great.  Not too feminine.  Not too big.  Just right.  And it’s even better that it was only $10.00!

a work bench & office light

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39 Comments on “a work bench & office light”

  1. Hi Marian! Absolutely enjoy reading about your latest creations! Love the color of the wall, what color is it? And any chance I can find it in Canada? Thanks:)

  2. Workbench. Awesome! I have admired and longed after several just like that at antique shows recently. They just draw me in for some reason.

  3. Just a note…I’m a tour guide by trade; if you EVER sell that “tourist” sign, please let me have right of first refusal, please. I’d love it for my home office!


    Mz V

  4. Good morning! I have a question about cleaning furniture with mineral spirits: do you use a cloth and wipe it down or fine steel wool? My Mom is giving me an old farm table that she believes was made by har grandfather. It is filthy… I can’t wait to clean it up 🙂

  5. I am madly in love with that work bench! I envy (bad!) I kept seeing all these little old “tool” benches that people repurposed…then I remembered that I actually have my dad’s that he built and used for as long as I can remember. I just brought it home from storage this week and I plan to strip it and oil it…treasures!!!!
    Carolyn, if the “gunk” on the table is bad, use steel wool if needed but make sure you stay with the grain! Start with 0000 and work your way up to a courser grit ONLY if you need to! I would recommend an old toothbrush to get into cracks and crannies! Also, try the Formby’s stripper if you just can’t get it all off with mineral spirits! That stuff is awesome and not as “harsh” as some chemical removers! Then wash with mineral spirits!

  6. I love it! We have monthly antique shows in our town and one vendor finds these old work benches, old counters, etc., and refinishes with darker stain and poly and sells them for pretty pricey amounts and they are gorgeous. Marian, if you were buying new appliances, would you purchase stainless or stick with tried and true white? Do you think stainless will age a room in time or are they timeless? Thoughts please! Sara

  7. back in the old days, every house had a workbench because the father actually knew how to fix and make things (instead of hiring out and buying things) so these are ubiquitous. I love them and will treasure my own father’s one. Their scrappiness is the best part of the whole thing; if a person wanted something perfect, tell them to go to pottery barn or wherever and buy something completely new…I think those new things have no soul. Every ding and paint splatter and gouge attests to the effort and abilities of the worker who poured his heart into creating a better life for his family by not squandering hard earned $ on engaging outside services to do what he learned how to do from his own father!! Fathers are important in so many ways…they give us the ‘tools’ to carry on into the future, providing for our families in many many ways.
    end of sermon.

    1. Just accidently found this site…actually I believe the Universe sent me here. None the less, the workbench for sure warmed my heart. I kept thinking about it and realized I have one in my garage from my dear father in law…I cannot wait to clean it up and see what shines. Elderly items are so tender and have so much spirit. Thanks K

  8. Love the workbench…the wooden pegs really date the phenomenal piece. I have 3 light fixtures that I picked up at yard sales…waiting to install. Life is so hectic but we will get it done.

    Question>>.love your walnut/rustic hardwoods with the beautious red oriental rug. What is the name/color of the floors? We are beginning to make the transformation to hardwoods. I keep delaying cause we will need to do the install and time is tight. Of course for us, price is the biggest issue right now but I am drawn to the darker walnut rustic look. And, your house is so bright and airy can clean with the wood effects. Did you make the transition from wall to wall carpets to hardwood? I guess since we’ve always had wall to wall (in 22+ years of marriage and various houses) that I am curious as to how it will FEEL! Haha…I sound like such a rookie being so cautious to Make the Jump! Your home definitely has that cozy warm feeling. It’s just hard to imagine my own home with such a transformation…so different from what it looks like now!

  9. Love the light and the new word ;).

    I can see the potential in the bench. It is like character waiting to shine.

    What color will you paint it? I think Boxwood would be charming 🙂

    Enjoy the day!

  10. I have the same light fixture in my kitchen!! My son rewired it and hung it. I have loved it for ages. If you ever change your mind about yours I would love the chance to buy it. I have been searching for another one for the other side of the kitchen FOREVER. I think you will be happy with it.

  11. OMG – I would NEVER get rid of that workbench. Where can you find a hunk of wood like that, FOR NOTHNG?! Can’t wait to see how you paint and finish it up. I could see it as your shipping center… supplies on the bottom shelf and wrapping on the top.
    And light fixture – love the one you have hanging now. I have three of them that I bought from a light fixture company, and after 20 years I still love them. But I can see why you want to make a change for the chandelier – it is so cute.

    Would you paint the metal with the milk paint? I’ve been wondering about that as I have some metal pieces that I would love to paint and not sure if the milk paint would work. Maybe a blog post or tut one day? Thanx!

  12. okay – i have the same problem with light fixtures in my house. The ceilings are not that tall and the light fixtures must clear the heads… I did a post a while back that included the “world’s ugliest light fixture” which I replaced with one that looks like what you’ve currently got in your home office. It’s fine right? Pretty much nothing to it – but it would be so nice to have something I love instead….
    Well on the first floor, I replaced several old ugly ones with some inexpensive ones from Home Depot that look kind of like the one you got at the garage sale…
    can’t wait to see how you mustardize them!
    I may have to follow suit!

  13. Love the workbench! Just a little TLC and some paint and it would make the perfect vintage kitchen island. I’ve been looking around at island since I need one in my kitchen and I’ve seen lots of vintage islands made from old tables and even antique doors… this would be perfect.

  14. That work bench would be in my kitchen with a pot rack over it. Love it. My dining room table was a cutting table/ work bench from the cafeteria of and old school that was torn. It still had the holes from the big can opener that was attached. It is like a 6 ft long chopping block. The Mr. was going to use it for a work bench and I begged for him to give it up. I used it in its natural state for years but now it is shabby white. Sure been thinking of a coat of MMS on it.

  15. Puh-Leeeezzzz show us your stairs. We only get a tiny peek here and there when you post other things!
    oh…the work bench is amazing!

  16. Love that workbench!!! I found one at a yard sale with the vice attached. It’s in my garage and I use it a ton!! Love it!! You’ll miss it if it goes away.

  17. I vote that it stays! I love it. It’s begging to be ‘babied’ with some Mustardization! Please make sure to show us how it turns out.

  18. Will be watching to see the amazing transformation! Since you are a furniture rescuer, I think you are actually Marian-aiding that workbench. We had one like that with the vice still intact in our house of 32 years. I am sorry that we left it when we moved. I thought about moving it, but moving is so much work and we had so much stuff! Don’t you love this new treasure! Practical too.

  19. I love the workbench. You might be able to remove the front ‘apron’ piece, split it in half lengthwise and replace the damaged vice piece in back. It looks wide enough to cover both sides if you want to pretty it up.

  20. As it happens, I have a workbench just like it in my basement – and I’m sure it’s a 1959 original which was when the house was built. I’ve hung onto it all these years, because I thought it would earn its keep down the line and now I’m inspired to make it a bright spot in the space! Now I have to find the sander :-).

  21. oh. my. gosh. First of all, I’ve been looking for a table like that to replace a cheap new TV console we bought 5 years ago. Dang. You got what I was looking for. Second, I bought a pair of light fixtures almost identical three weeks ago. I’m selling mine, but I did your glue gun light stick drips on it and it was fun. I kinda wish I could make a career over being a candle drip maker artist. Anyway, nice finds. (P.S. I got my pair for $10!) 😉

  22. Aw, i just love the work bench – brings back great memories of my grand father. He was always outside working in the garage that he converted to his work area. He used to make all kinds of things. I even remember him making a little monkey out of a peach pit. I still have it in my jewelry box.

  23. I love all your posts but the one today regarding the work bench hit me in a very personal way. My dad died in 2009 and since that awful day, I have been slowly bringing home some of his tools and things he made with his HANDS. Something about seeing things dad held in his own two hands just brings me to tears….my husband Alvin and I have hung them on the wall over our workbench that Alvin handmade so that when we r working in our shop we can see them and somehow I feel inspired with them there. Most of them are wooden handled and when i hold them i can almost FEEL dadddys hands.
    This past Christmas i finally got strong enough to bring the workbench home. IT LOOKS EXACTLY like the one u are going to be working on. PLEASE MAKE SURE i don’t miss the reveal…..i so want to spruce daddy’s up but don’t want to ruin it. Our goal is to preserve and use it. I AM ANXIOUSLY WAITING TOO SEE WHAT TO DO.
    . I am a newbie and just will not tackle it without expert instruction…..thats where you come in….
    Thank u so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us

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