before and after

before & after: martina’s bench + kelly’s dining room

by Grace Bonney

i love this creative before & after re-use project from designer martina ahlbrandt. martina’s husband found three of these black office chairs in a dumpster and decided that they had potential. so with only some silver spray paint and a few 1×4 boards, martina and her husband turned them into an outdoor bench! i don’t think i ever could have imagined something so cute from a few sad office chairs- great work guys!


CLICK HERE for kelly’s dining room makeover after the jump!

next up is atlanta photographer kelly blakmon, whose dining room is a great example of the power of paint. kelly decided to change the color of her dining room walls, paint a vintage table she found a few years back and create custom diy silhouette art for the space to give the room an update. i loved the room before as well, but sometimes you just need a change. thanks for sharing, kelly!

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? just shoot me an email right here with your pictures]


Suggested For You


  • The office chair bench is amazing!
    Any chance of a tutorial? I know nothing about drilling wood into metal tubes, but I adore the bench!

    The wood floor on Kelly’s dining room is so full of character, what a beautiful space.

  • Both are beautiful, but I agree with Val about the table. It was interesting as it was. Instead, I would have changed out the curtains for something in a bright solid color, or a large-scale pattern in neutral shades.

  • I think the bench turned out great, but that room re-do? It was so nice before and the after photo just makes it a bit boring and unoriginal.

  • I like the before dining room so much better than the after! The bench, however, is awesome, and would look great on my deck.

  • I really liked looking at these…but are my partial feeds in my reader the future of d*s? I’m disappointed.

    • malorie

      we’re working on it- my image hosting bill for june was $975 dollars- mostly because the rss is draining the server. oy. trying to figure out a solution.


  • I have to say Martina’s bench is the most innovative before and after I’ve seen in a long time on d*s! It is fabulous! So much more creative than the other pieces featured which are generally reupholstered, wallpaper or painted and don’t require too much thought. That bench required some actual thinking! I love it! Keep showing seriously inspiring before and afters like that!

  • I’ve already been to the thrift store once today. Now I’ve got to go back to find office chairs. I’m in love with that bench

  • I think it takes courage to put your work out there for everyone to see. It will never be everyone’s cup of tea, but what ever happened to “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything al all.” I’ll be combing garage sales and trash for chairs like those so I can make that bench, it was an inspiration! I think the dining room is lovely in both it’s iterations.

  • The bench is fantastic! I was skeptical when I saw the first image of the chairs– sorry, but I was expecting a paint job on the tubes and some mod fabric over the cushions– when I saw the amazing bench those chairs had become, I was awe-struck! Great Job!!!!

  • i have to come to the defense of that poor table! i love that it was painted white. it was an interesting table before, but now it’s just so clean and crisp … every beautiful line of that table is now so clearly defined. if natural wood is your thing (and sometimes it’s my thing), that’s cool, but i love how a coat of paint can totally transform an object.

    and that bench is flawless! i have my creative moments, but if my mind only worked like that!! amazing job.

  • Love the new wall colour Kelly, along with the silhouettes – really nice.

    Also love the bench – hmm, wonder what other kinds of chairs might work?

  • I love running into brilliant ideas from super creative folks. I live for inspiration.
    This bench is simply brilliant.

  • I love the painted table. I have one much like it but the top is ravaged from 50 years of use. As pretty as the wood is natural, the crisp look of fresh paint does wonders. I’m thinking of doing my table in bunny gray from Ben Moore.

  • I love the bench!! I have 4 chairs in my garage i was going to throw away….but not any more. Also I like both rooms, they both have different looks :)

  • I love both bench and table.
    The interesting detail under the table now stands out much more.
    I love to do this…. my hubbie is a violinist and loves wood… don’t touch the wood is his mantra LOL so I love to see this…… the bench is super !!! What an excellent idea.

    I salute you both for your creativity.

    Great taste and so elegant !

  • I’d love to see more pictures of the bench, in particular of the back and underneath the seat so I can see how the wood was fastened to the chair frames. Or a tutorial like Jessica suggested would be great. Super idea!

  • that chair bench is genius and perfect for what i need. i so did not expect them to be turned into a bench. now i must find 2 equally as perfect chairs!

  • Thank you for all the wonderful compliments on the bench! Jason had intended to just make 3 patio chairs by replacing the worn out cushions with wood but once we were at the hardware store the bench idea struck me. The chair tubes already had holes drilled for the original cushions so no drilling was required, just a couple of scrapes of wood to brace the bottom pieces together.

  • The bench is fantastic! I needed 2 breuer seats to fix some broken barstools, but wasn’t sure what to do with the chair frames, I have been dying to use them outside. I am doing this ASAP! Thank you Martina!
    The white table is beautiful, and I suppose could always be stripped in future, but it did bring a tear to my eye to see that wood covered up!

  • I’m impressed with your effort.
    The ‘after’ turned something ugly into that cool bench.

  • Au contraire mes amis. Love, love, love the crisp white dining set. Great job. The Gerberas just add the perfect touch.