So, I’ve been a bit crazy for chairs this year…
First, I picked up this beauty at the antiques fair on New Year’s Day.
Then, I refinished these free Queen Anne chairs found through Craigslist…
And I went on to paint and reupholster our dining chairs…
Along the way, I could not resist these traditional Chinese chairs, also a deal on Craigslist.
Suddenly, I had too many chairs… and I still wanted a bench for our front hallway. Do you sense a solution here? I did!
While you could certainly get clever with carpentry and join chairs together in a number of creative ways (side by side in a row; on either end with a board in between; with two chair backs turned 90 degrees to make the ends of the bench, etc..), I didn’t want to permanently alter these chairs, since they are well-made and beautiful and might move on to a new purpose some day.
Instead, I chose to strap the chairs together and use cushions to give the feel of a single piece of furniture.
Strapping the chairs together
To make the chairs work together as a bench, I started by strapping them together. I used felt strips that were 2″ wide and long enough to wrap around two chair legs with 2″ overlap. I put straps at the back of the chairs, at the top and bottom of each leg. Measure the top and bottom of the legs separately, since they might not be the same width.
In the picture below,
- Because my felt was thin, I started by sewing two layers of fabric together. (top left)
- Then, I sewed velcro onto each end of the strip, as shown: the hook side on one end, and the loop side on the back side of the other end. You could use 2″ wide velcro, but I just used the narrower strips I already had and put two strips side by side. (top right)
- This is how the finished straps look with the ends joined. (bottom left)
- Here’s how they work on the chairs. These simple straps held the chairs in line pretty securely. (bottom right)
I took off the three separate chair cushions and added a single big one. After going around and around with all the options for fabric, I chose this textured fabric that has shades of blue, green, and grey in it. It ties together a lot of elements in the foyer and living room and doesn’t compete with the design of the chairs.
I added two bolster cushions in this really fun print: Barber in powder blue by Premier Prints. The technique for making the bolsters was detailed in the tutorial on sewing pillows. I used two, rather than three, to take attention away from the three separate chairs. I’m thinking of ways to use some more of this fabric on the living room that is right off the foyer.
Finally, I tucked these faux leather storage crates under the chairs for the boys to keep their school bags and library books, so these things don’t get lost.
Our new entry bench and storage system is working very well, and I like how it looks, too.
With a little bit of creativity, this “bench” has turned out to be a useful and attractive addition to our front hall. Now back to some other chairs I picked up for free on the side of the road…
such a great idea for a bench, i may have to borrow it. silly question, maybe, but what kind of sandpaper do you use before painting the chairs? a fine one? i’m so inspired!
Thanks, and by all means, go ahead and try it! If you do it this way, you don’t have to alter the chairs permanently. This project only happened, because I am chair-crazy, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I didn’t paint these chairs, but on the other painted chair projects, I used a fine sandpaper (150 or 220 grit), which seems to be enough to roughen up the surface without making it feel bumpy or gouged. Good luck!
Wow, what a great idea. Love the way you lined up the birds in the pillows too.
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