If your entryway storage bench is looking a bit worn and tired perhaps it's time to give it a new life with a new look. This is an easy to complete project that will be very satisfying. There are several ways you can do this.
Step 1: Preparation
If possible, move your bench outside. If this isn't possible, sit it on a drop cloth or newspapers. Start by washing it thoroughly with soap and water and allow it to dry. If you want to just restore its wood look then skip the next steps.
If you are going to paint the bench, first sand it all over with fine sandpaper. You don't need to remove all of the varnish and stain, just rough up the surface a bit so paint will adhere properly. Wipe all the sanding dust away with a rag.
If you want to restain the bench, perhaps a different color, then you will need to sand the entire surface until all varnish and stain are gone. It may be better to use an electric sander for this amount of sanding. Another option is to use liquid stain and varnish remover per the manufacturer's instructions. All of these projects are best done outdoors if at all possible.
Step 2: New Finish
If you just want to brighten up the existing finish do this with a rag and a wood restore product. You will be amazed at how this process can make a tired, worn wood surface look new. Apply it to small areas and then buff. Repeat this until the entire surface has been coated and you have achieved the desired look.
If you are painting the bench, start on the inside first and work outward. Then paint the outside. If you decide the piece needs two coats, let the paint rest at least 24 hours then rub gently with sandpaper to remove any brush marks. Apply a second coat.
To restain the bench, brush on stain with the grain of the wood. Let the stain sit for a few minutes then wipe away the excess. You can repeat this step if the wood isn't dark enough. When the piece is completely dry, put on at least two coats of varnish.
Step3: New Look
If you want your bench to take on a totally new look, try putting a cushion on top of it for seating. Choose a bright floral or coordinating plaid or dot for a cheerful look. If the bench gets a lot of wear, you may want to use a dark, solid color that won't show dirt. Be sure the cover of the cushion can be removed for laundering.
For additional storage you may want to purchase baskets that fit into the cubbies of the bench, or use the baskets to create hidden storage for a neater look. Perhaps assign a basket to each person in the family or a basket for each garment or maybe for car keys, garage opener and other items you may misplace or forget.