Finally the weekend came around when I was going to finish the bench. Or so I thought. My friend came over to help and we decided to try sanding first. I had my heart set on a removing the paint and restoring the wood finish on the legs. Well the paint was really thick. So we quickly abandoned sanding and went to the store to get a paint stripper.
Conclusion: the bench is a little low for this space or the mirror is hung too high. But for now, I love it. Second, I have much to learn about furniture. But this process was a great learning experience. I did end up buying lots of stuff- tools, equipment, materials, etc. However, I have faith they will all be used again and thus are not a waste. I have a really great fiance. He never once made fun of me for my struggles along the way or questioned my process. He encouraged me and let me take over the bathroom for sanding and staining. He ignored the disaster zone that was the hallway for weeks. And now he likes my final product :). Most importantly, I LOVE my bench. I'm so excited it turned out the way it did. I think I'll have it for years to come and I'm so pleased I did it myself, rather than buying something!