skinny seating for a skinny home.

one of the more milder projects we have embarked on is to start to make the dining room look as sophisticated as our kitchen . . .

last spring, i started looking into alternatives to the standard dining room table with the goal of making it more comfortable, someplace we all wanted to hang out, and ultimately, somewhere our son would be eager to do homework (ha – who am i kidding. what kid wants to do homework.)

as i scoured local shops and internet sites looking for a banquette of some sort (essentially a small, upholstered couch typically found as a built-in for dining rooms), the only ones i could find were fairly pricey, not quite sized appropriately for a 13 foot wide row home, or the style was bleh.

not super sold on having a custom couch made for the space (toddlers are not known for their tidiness and i was having visions of spaghetti noodle parties),  i resourced my mother about other possible solutions. she immediately asked to if we had considered a church pew. she assumed that because baltimore had so many churches in the city that perhaps finding an old pew may not be that difficult.

well? she was right.

and since both my husband and i love reclaiming old furniture, materials, thingamabobs, we were excited about the possibility of owning something that predated us and came from our current hometown. so we started looking into what we could find at local shops and through online searches.

thank you google.

i was lucky to find a company, ecm antique flooring and architecturals, who happened to recently rescue church pews from a decommissioned church in fells point, maryland. emc works at preserving old wood, and managed to get these pews from st. michael’s roman catholic church, a church that dated back to 1857. all the pews were a varnished walnut and absolutely gorgeous.

so we contacted the company and went to check them out in person to make sure it was something we could use/fit into our ever-so-narrow home.

church pew endslucky for us, the pews came in 6 and 9 foot sections and we were able to find a 6 foot section that was in great shape. everything had been taken apart in the church to help preserve the pews during transport. we were able to pick through the palettes for two ends, a seat, a back and cap, none of which were part of the same pew. and, as a bonus, we were even given the original hardware to fastened the bench together.

bench pieces

so, ecstatic over our new find, we took our parts home and started the assembly process – me watching and my husband doing.

since none of the individual pieces were from the same original pew, minor cuts needed to be made to make everything the same length. new support cleats for the bench seat were constructed from a cutoff that emc gave us for this purpose. once the back and the seat were fastened together, then the end-caps were reattached from the outside with the antique hardware. lastly, the cap was attached to the top of the back rest with countersunk finish nails.

bench pieces 3

overall, a very easy process (at least from my observation, my husband might think differently) and the finished product is beautiful. the fact that we own something that predates our home is impressive and all-the-more-so because it fits into our little 13-foot wide slice.


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