Reviving an Outdated Hall Tree Bench

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

Hi guys! It’s Jamie from Southern Revivals here today to bring you an updated hall tree bench revival! Painted furniture is not only all the rage but painting furniture is a great (and much cheaper alternative) to starting over from scratch. And if you’re anything like me you’ve been given, or found, some great pieces but they were just too outdated to work for your space.

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

Take this old hall tree bench for instance. It has great bones, great potential but it’s previous owner told me “just come get this hideous thing out of my way!”. Bet you a hundred dollars she asks for it back after this!

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Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

Any time I am working with wood that has a great grain or detail that I don’t want to completely cover up, I use one of my favorite paints – Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. It does a great job of giving you complete color coverage without covering up a beautiful grain or architectural pieces like the wooden appliques on this piece.

I chose to use the color Trophy for this piece. I was torn between this gorgeous gray and a deep navy blue but in the end I opted for the lighter color. I thought with this piece being as big and heavy as it is, lightening it up would help to give it more of modern vibe than a darker color. And that’s exactly what I was going for.

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

In addition to needing something to fill that gaping whole under the mirror, I felt like the piece needed a bit of a pick-me-up. Something more than just paint. If paint is the foundation then this piece needed some lipstick, too! I filled the hole with a thin piece of plywood painted with chalkboard paint. {When working with chalkboard paint, always remember to give it a full 24hrs to cure and don’t forget to prime it by rubbing it with a stick of chalk turned on its side before using it. Otherwise you’ll have a permanent message etched into your hard work!}

Something was still missing.


So I decided to use a royal blue and white Ikat design wrapping paper that I got from TJ Maxx to cover the seat back section. I hardly ever buy wrapping paper just for presents. It’s too cute not to use everywhere! I simply cut a section slightly larger than the area I wanted to decoupage. Then I placed the uncut straight edge into the top of the area I was covering. From there I ran my finger around all the other edges to create a crease. Then I removed the paper, cut the creased lines and placed it back into the back panel section to check it. Luckily it was just right. If not, I would keep trimming until it was a perfect fit. Then I placed a layer of decoupage onto the back panel, placed the paper in and smoothed out the bubbles. Once that was dry I sealed it all in with another layer of decoupage. It’s a simple and easy trick that really makes an amazing statement.

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

Another quick and easy way to update a piece is to change out the hardware. These had to go because, as beautiful as they are in their own right, they really dated the piece.

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

This doesn’t need to be a major extra expense. I got these simple nickle finish hooks from a local craft supply store for just over $5 each. The effect they have in modernizing the piece is well worth it.

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

This is what I mean when I say that, even when you want to paint a piece of furniture, you don’t necessarily want to cover up all the details!

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

The milk paint does an amazing job of adding color coverage but leaving you the same effect as a stain. You get a new and updated color without having to sacrifice the beauty in the wood grain or the wooden appliques. And once the furniture wax is applied you are awarded with a super rich finish that looks like a million bucks – but you rest easy knowing you spent much, much less!

Southern Revivals | Vintage Halltree Makeover on Remodelaholic

So now, it retains some of the simple beauty of its past while having some fun and modern flair that’s probably far more likely to fit into your decor!

As with all of my furniture makeovers, I always make sure to rid each piece of any oil or other surface debris that might interfere with paint adhesion. For this piece, I used a mixture of water and white vinegar to wipe it down before painting. I also did a light sanding all over beforehand and then wiped away any dust with a damp cloth prior to painting. I opted to use the bonding agent with the milk paint for this piece since it did have a bit of shine and I was going for more of full finish as opposed to a distressed one.


  • Piece of your choice
  • Paint/sealer of your choice – I used milk paint and furniture wax
  • Sand paper
  • Quality paint brushes
  • Quality wax brush or cotton cloth



  • 100 – 200 depending on cost of your piece
  • My piece – 50
  • Milk paint supplies: paint, wax and bonding agent (and you’ll have plenty leftover for more projects) – 60
  • Wrapping paper – 2.99

Most other supplies, like sandpaper and paint brushes I already had on hand. You can control the cost of your hardware either by painting or leaving the existing hardware or searching out your local craft supply store. If you choose to use chalkboard paint like I did here, you can find that at your local craft store, too from $4 – 10 depending on the size you purchase.

So what do you think? Are you ready to try your first furniture makeover or to try something new with your next one?

If you’d like to see more of my furniture makeovers using milk paint, be sure to check out my Anthropologie Inspired Typography Chest of Drawers Makeover, my Mustard Seed Yellow Dresser Revival or my Vintage Chest with Pallet Top for a look at a chippy milk paint furniture makeover.



Love this makeover! If you can’t find an existing hall tree to make over, see how to make one from an old dresser

Reviews and tips for using Old Fashioned Milk Paint and The Real Milk Paint Company

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