Sentimental Wooden Tete-A-Tete Bench Transformation

I'm going to take you on a full-circle journey of a thirty-plus-year-old sentimental wooden tete-a-tete bench transformation. It went from aged and weathered, to brand new, and back to aged and weathered again.



You may be wondering why on earth would we do that? Well, we wanted the look of an old piece of weathered outdoor furniture without the rotting wood. So we made brand new spruce wood look like it's been out in the elements for years. And we did it within an hour!



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

Outdoor Tete-A-Tete Bench Makeover

This ole tete-a-tete has sentimental value because my father (who is no longer with us) built it and it sat on the deck of our family cabin for well over 30 years. There were two and I was thrilled to be gifted one of them.



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.



Several years ago I decided that the wooden bench for two needed some color. So I painted it in the color New Life and that was exactly my intention, to give the tete-a-tete a new life. The paint is Americana Decor Chalky Finish, and the color is one of over 20 vintage inter-mixable colors.



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

Then we made the mistake of not covering it through a few brutal Canadian winters. We stored it behind our repurposed louvered door fence and forgot about it.



Early this spring we decided to clean up the disaster zone behind the fence and unearthed our poor tete-a-tete. I asked our daughter if she'd like it for her deck and without hesitation, she said yes.



The paint was peeling and it looked terrible but I figured I could easily remove the peeling paint with our power washer. Then I'd give it a sanding and stain it back to its original glory before taking it to her house.



Boy was I wrong!



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

What we discovered after removing most of the peeling paint was that two of the wooden legs had rotted, same with some of the uprights, and some of the bolts were rusted and stripped.



But I promised the bench to our daughter.



I figured we could replace those rotting boards and the old bolts and it would be good as new after a fresh coat of paint. Then I came outside and found this.



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

The verdict? Mr. Frugalista declared the tete-a-tete too far gone to simply replace a few boards. So now what?



Our daughter was thrilled to be getting her grandfather's handmade bench.



We had a lot of scrap pieces of spruce lumber from previous projects in our shed. Mr. Frugalista figured he could use the old tete-a-tete pieces as a template for building a brand new one. All it would cost is the price of some new carriage bolts.



I'm not going to lie, I was a bit nervous about the success of this build until I came outside and saw this.



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

I was so impressed with what a great job he did replicating the old bench, my eyes filled with 🤑. I figured maybe we...ahem...He could make more to sell. But I got the evil eye.



I did some research anyway to see what wooden tete-a-tete benches retail for. They start at $250 and for something with the equivalent quality they average $400-$600. My 👀 saw more💰💰



So our daughter got a brand new tete-a-tete and we got to practice building one at a fraction of what they cost retail. We decided that next year we're going to modify the original design and build two more for our deck!



We'll keep the original dismantled tete-a-tete to use as a template for the new design. And when we're done we'll dismantle the original sections and salvage the useable wood to build matching footstools.



What You'll Need To Build The Tete-A-Tete

If you are an experienced woodworker or DIYer, you may be able to figure out how the tete-a-tete is constructed from the photo below. If so, I've included what lumber you'll need to make it.



Stay tuned for proper building plans and a tutorial of our new design next summer. We'd make them this summer but the price of lumber is way too high, especially considering we plan to use cedar.



Supply List

4 each 2 x 4 (seat frame, legs, arms, side supports)
3 each 2 x 2 (arms, seat, back, and table supports)
1 each 2 x 3 (anchors for back and table)
6 each 1 x 3 (seat, back, table slats)
16 3 1/2" long x 3/8 carriage bolts, nuts, and washers



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

This is the part where we made it look like it has been weathering outside in the elements for a few decades. Crazy, I know! But our daughter wanted that old rustic tete-a-tete.



Okay, maybe it was us who wanted her to have a rustic tete-a-tete so we could play with this new to us product.



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

With our well-used paint sprayer, we applied the brown Varathane Aged Wood Accelerator. I have my sights on the new paint sprayer model. The wood accelerator comes in weathered gray and charred black as well.



It takes thirty minutes to one hour for the acceleration process to finish. First, we sprayed the underside of the bench and watched the magic happen.



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

Then we flipped it over and sprayed the top side of the bench and watched the magic happen for another thirty minutes. Only one coat is all you need to get the rustic patina.



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

It is recommended it dry for at least two hours before applying a clear topcoat.



I know this rustic patina isn't for everyone but if you want new wood to look old, it's amazing!



A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again.

Will we use this same finish on the new tete-a-tete benches we build for our deck? Probably not. Nor will I be painting them.



If we don't use cedar they'll probably get stained the same color as our Adirondack furniture that used to be on our deck and now seating for our DIY backyard fire pit. If we do use cedar, they'll probably just get a topcoat.



So what is the takeaway from this full circle tete-a-tete transformation? I guess a few things.


  1. Something doesn't have to be old to look old.
  2. You can save yourself a lot of money by making it yourself.
  3. Instead of the landfill, salvage what you can and recycle it into something else. Kind of like what we did with our old 80s wall unit and our old china cabinet.
  4. Instead of trashing it and replacing it with something brand new, use it as a template and build one.
  5. Or this takeaway that I took for myself. Don't leave your dang outdoor wood furniture unprotected from the elements to get ruined. 😒


Thanks for stopping by the Interior Frugalista today! I hope you were inspired by the evolution of our sentimental wooden tete-a-tete bench.



Almost all of our DIY ideas have step-by-step tutorials so why not get your budget DIY on and subscribe. You can also find us on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.



If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below or the Contact Me tab at the top to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!



If you enjoyed our attempt at salvaging our wooden tete-a-tete, I'd be so thankful if you shared it with a friend and pinned it to your DIY Outdoor Furniture or Outdoor Bench Ideas board on Pinterest.




A full-circle journey of a sentimental 30 year old damaged wooden tete-a-tete bench and how we made it look brand new, then old and weathered again. #teteateteseatingoutdoor #diyoutdoorfurniture #diyoutdoorbench

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Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Awe, thanks Kim, we try! Truthfully, Mr. Frugalista cringes when he hears me say, I've got an idea. Thankfully for the most part he'll come on board and we get er done. I can't wait for the two we'll be building for our own deck.

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  2. My goodness, Marie! This has got to be the best garden bench I have ever seen! I just sent this to my hubs, saying he's got to make me one just like this, because, WOW! It is gorgeous!!! I can imagine it being placed in front of my hydrangeas bushes!!!

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    1. Thank you for putting a huge smile on my space this morning, Maya! So glad you like our tete-a-tete and thrilled to hear you might be getting one too! How wonderful to have a bench by your hydrangeas, it'll be so pretty. I'm keeping my finger's crossed that the price of lumber continues to go down so we can make two more for our deck before the end of summer.

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  3. Wow..know one would know the new one was new. It looks vintage.

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    1. Music to my ears, I'm so glad you think so because that sure was our intention!

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  4. Looks great Marie, it's so great that your husband is handy and could take the old wood and use it as a pattern. I love how the new one looks now with that weathered wood look! I'm going to have to try that stuff out!

    Tania

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    Replies
    1. You definitely should, Tania, that stuff is so much fun. I'm thinking of trying the charred black color next on something. I was floored that hubby was able to replicate the old bench from the pieces and super excited knowing we'll get brand new tete-a-tetes for our deck now too. Have fun aging some new wood!

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  5. Mr. Frugalista did an amazing job! And you gave me a laugh my friend. I thought you were going to have a tear to your eye emoji but then I saw the $$$ signs LOL! You could SO sell these. Gorgeous! Have a super weekend. XOXO

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    1. He sure impressed the heck out of me, Denise! I'm still trying to convince him to make them to sell...after he makes two for us...because I'm still seeing those $$$ signs. LOL Have a wonderful Sunday my friend! Hugs from out west 🤗

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  6. It turned our awesome and you saved some bucks~!

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    1. Thanks Christina, I'm thrilled with how he successfully replicated the old tete-a-tete bench and boy did we have fun with the weathered stain. Now I want to weather all.the.things! LOL

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  7. I LOVE it! Ironically, the old green you took off is the green I painted my 20-year-old slider this summer. I love keeping the old and refurbishing it. No need to waste money buying things we already have when a good fix-up will do.

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    1. I completely agree, Cate, and chances are what we already have is much better quality too.

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  8. What a sweet garden bench, Marie! Love that you kept your father's bench as a template and put so much time and effort into recreating it for your daughter. Perhaps, she will pass it down to her kids one day and the back story that goes with it. All my best, Suzanne.

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    1. You know, I hadn't thought of that Suzanne, but wouldn't that be wonderful!

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  9. Oh my word I pinned this. Your hubby did a great job and could make money. I have gotten the eye look at times.

    Your daughter will love it ! Beautiful!

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    1. Thank you so much Cindy for your sweet comments and the pin! Thank goodness my daughter and son-in-law loved it. Now, two more for us.

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  10. What a fantastic story of love, Marie. It's gorgeous! Plus, you know I love my tannin stains too.

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    1. Thank you so much Larissa! I'm so glad we were able to give our daughter the bench we promised her after all. It may not be her grandfather's creation but it's her Dad's, inspired by her grandfather, to pass down to our grandchildren.

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  11. Great job you guys. You can give me old weathered wood anytime, but it does have it's downsides. Giving new wood a weathered look definitely solves that problem

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Michelle! We had so much fun with the weathering stain that I want to weather all.the.things now. LOL

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