How to Make a Memory Bench

Happy New Year, At the Picket Fence friends, from!

It’s brutally cold up here in the “mitten state” (Michigan), but I’m making the best of it by keeping busy indoors which can be nice and cozy with a hot cup of tea.

However, on the other hand, we traveled through Canada to Western New York last weekend and I captured this unique photo on the New York State Thruway, that I thought would be fun to share with you. My husband was driving and I saw the sign approaching quickly, so I grabbed my phone and got it just in the nick of time. I’ve lived up here most of my life, except for a 6 year transfer to Jacksonville, Florida. I must admit that I have never seen a neon “LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING” sign ever in my 46 years.

lake effect snow

No worries though, the four of us made it home safe and sound.

Now that I’ve made you shiver in your accent chair, lets move indoors for some warm decorating. This fun project is perfect for this time of year because you can create it right in your home with a drop cloth. Our “Doodled Memory Bench” has become a family heirloom, and I am so happy I took the time (and the risk) to make it.

Let’s see if you can find Aunt Loretta’s meatballs…

DIY Doodled Memory Bench

Here’s another angle facing our fireplace in the kitchen. Besides the obvious sentimental reasons for loving this bench, I also love that it adds a rustic, country feel to our kitchen. It lightens everything up, and basically says, “Have a seat. You are welcome here.” It’s also a wonderful conversation piece and everyone feels special when they see their name.

Doodled Memory Bench

The “Doodled Memory Bench” gets moved around a lot. Sometimes, I add it to the foot of our bed in our master bedroom so we can throw our laundry there sit down and put our shoes on with ease.

I have also used it under our coat rack as a back pack shelf, and we’ve even taken it outdoors on our deck on a few occasions. This baby gets around (I added felt pads to the bottom legs so it slides with ease).

Wood Planked Ceiling Master Bedroom

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So, if you’re interested in creating one of your own, maybe for your home, for a wedding keepsake, with your own memories, names, or theme, this is how I made mine.

The bench I used came with a dining room table that I now use as a desk. It’s been about 12 years since I purchased it. If you happen to have a bench or even a chair that you can use, that is great. If not, thrift stores may be the place to look, or I located a farm house version for you on line that is a little different, but very affordable and super cute. You can view that bench here.


Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to sand mine before I started painting because it was pretty dried out. If your bench has a thick coat of paint or varnish on it, sanding it a little won’t hurt. Any grit sand paper will due. Don’t forget to add a drop cloth under the bench, and wear a mask when sanding. Wipe off any dust that is left over with cheese cloth or a damp rag.

I painted my bench right in our kitchen and I used white paint with the primer in it. To be exact, I used Behr Ultra in eggshell sheen, and the color is Swiss Coffee. My entire home is painted in this paint. It’s very high quality, and has no odor. You can find it at Home Depot. I also used a very high quality paint brush and a paint roller for the top seat. I applied 3 coats and let them dry in between. After it was completely dry, I roughed up the edges with sand paper and a switch blade so it would have a rustic look.

Painted Bench

Then the fun part came. The doodling. I call it doodling because it’s my hand writing, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. You know how when your on the phone and you doodle on the side of a napkin? Same idea, except you are “present” in your doodling. You can choose a theme like I did such as my favorite food memories, or pick your own. I used Sharpie Paint Markers, and did not do it in pencil first. I just started in the upper left corner and did the larger words first. Then I filled in the rest trying not to leave anyone out. When I made a mistake I went with it and filled it in the best I could. I also used the paint like I would use “white out” on paper to fix really large mistakes. Either way, the idea here, is not to be perfect. Have fun with it, and remember how special your own handwriting can be. Invite family members to write, too.


I hope you try it!

~Julie XO

DIY Doodled Memory Bench

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  1. Peggy from PA says

    What a great idea. I’m sure when you have company they all look for their names. And it’s repurposing at its best. Super creative.

  2. Barbara says

    Love this project! My husband and I are buying a little fixer upper in Northern Michigan, and this is perfect for our new home!

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