Bench Made From Chairs

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.

Living room vignette with vintage chair, painted chest, and new cushions.  From Jewels at Home.

Living room vignette with vintage chair, painted chest, and new cushions.

Then, I refinished these free Queen Anne chairs found through Craigslist…

Queen Anne chair makeover by Jewels at Home

Free Queen Anne chairs found through Craigslist: from worn and boring to fresh and elegant!

And I went on to paint and reupholster our dining chairs

Ikea dining chair makeover by Jewels at Home

Another step in the evolution of our old Ikea chairs. This new fabric gives them an elegant yet whimsical feel that fits in with the Chinoiserie/ Regency look I am working on in our living-dining room.

Along the way, I could not resist these traditional Chinese chairs, also a deal on Craigslist.

Solid wood traditional Chinese chairs.

Solid wood traditional Chinese chairs.

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)
Sew straps to link chairs together into a bench.  Jewels at Home.

Sew straps to link chairs together into a bench.

Cushions

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.

Storage baskets
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.

Finished “Bench”

Our new entry bench and storage system is working very well, and I like how it looks, too.

Ideas for joining chairs into a bench.  From Jewels at Home.

Ideas for joining chairs into a bench.  From Jewels at Home.

Ideas for joining chairs into a bench.  From Jewels at Home.

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…

“Jewels”

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Perfectly-Mixed (not Matched!) Contemporary Dining Spaces

A matched dining set is just fine. But sometimes, your chairs wear out, you come across the perfect table at a thrift store, you move house and your old things don’t fit… or you just want to create a fresh and creative look in your dining area. If you’re feeling inspired, look at these examples of mixed chairs and tables to see how you can create a space that is unique and beautiful!

You can make a big statement by using a furniture piece of a completely different style from the rest of the room, but usually, it works best to balance contrast and connection. That is, the contrast of different materials, colors, and forms creates visual interest, but connections, or common elements between pieces in the room will pull the look together.

Here are some examples that blend modern style with a comfortable, homey look. I look at more traditional spaces in a companion post.

Hanna’s Room

This is a fresh and airy dining area from Hanna’s Room.

Contrast:

  • The natural wood of the table stands out in a space that is otherwise all white.
  • Its simple straight lines form a backdrop for the curvy chairs.
  • The bare bulb pendants and modern white chairs feel crisp against the other soft, worn surfaces in the room.

Connection:

  • White is the obvious theme in this room, found in the walls, floor, curtains, chairs, and other accessories.
  • The wood table is simple enough that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the room, and the material ties into the wooden floor planks.
rustic table with modern chairs

This wooden table works perfectly in a clean white space by providing a contrasting material and color. Its clean lines fit with the modern design, and the wood relates back the painted wood floor. From Hanna’s Room blog.

Go to Hanna’s Room

Quiest-Brooke

Here’s another example of a mixed dining set using mid-century modern elements. The photo is from Quiest-Brooke

Contrast:

  • The warm red of the chairs contrasts against the distinctive white tulip table.
  • Both the red and white provide interest against the wooden floor and wooden sideboard.

Connection:

  • All the furnishings in this room have a mid-century style.
  • The round back and mid-century style of the chairs works perfectly with the tulip table and warms it up considerably from the cool space-age look of a complete tulip dining set.
  • The red color is echoed in the pot and vase, and the white blends with the white walls and ceiling.
tulip table with red chairs

This distinctive white tulip table was paired with red wooden chairs. The circular back of the chairs and the mid-century aesthetic tie them together. The chairs are a beautiful accent in this room. From Quiest-Brooke.

Go to Quiest-Brooke

Dad’s beach house:

The two rooms above were part of my inspiration in creating the dining space in my dad’s beach house. This home is built with modern straight lines, but with an emphasis on natural materials, like the mahogany trim. As a coastal vacation home, it should be warm and inviting, too. There are many wonderful sources for rustic wooden tables – flea markets, Craigslist, thrift stores, or furniture manufacturers that make tables from reclaimed wood. I ended up buying a new table that still has that aged look. It’s the Antique Honey Verona table from Cost Plus World Market. I like the trestle style for its looks and for easy of seating (no bumping up against the legs of the table!). You can see in the picture below that Cost Plus paired chairs with a bench, which is another great way to add interest to your dining set. It’s still a lot of wood in the same color, though, and the look is too heavy and rustic for our space.

Cost Plus World Market Verona dining set

Cost Plus World Market Verona dining set

I chose to pair this rustic table with Jake chairs from Room and Board. These are very similar to the ones in picture from Hanna’s Room. I’ve seen the same style for literally ten times as much money from other sources, but I couldn’t tell you why. I was inspired to add some color after seeing the red chairs in the picture from Quiest-Brooke, so I got the Jake chairs in coastal-inspired white and blue, with two orange chairs for a fun accent at the head of the table. I still haven’t decided of three different chai colors is too much, so I took some pictures with and without the blue chairs. I could spray those white. What do you think?

Jake Chair from Room and Board

Jake Chair from Room and Board

Here is the dining space in my dad’s beach house. I feel like it succeeded in blending modern features with a comfortable, coastal style. The chandelier is from West Elm. I don’t think the room needs anything more, though I might find or make a piece of art for the wall.

Contrast:

  • The antiqued wooden table adds a rustic touch to the new and modern space.
  • the orange chairs at the head of the table add interest next to the white chairs.
  • The modern lacquered chairs contrast with natural materials in the table, chandelier, and window trim.

Connection:

  • The wood table echoes the wood in the trim.
  • The chairs are all the same style, although they have different colors, and those colors are found in other parts of the room as well.
  • The chairs, table, and chandelier all refer to the ocean in the material, color, or form.

Eclectic coastal dining room by Jewels at Home

Eclectic coastal dining room by Jewels at Home

20120529-152145.jpgEclectic coastal dining room by Jewels at Home

Jewels’ house:

Although the style is completely different, I also have a mixed dining set at our house, where I painted and reupholstered our Ikea chairs. I talk about examples from that room and other more traditional spaces in the companion post: Perfectly-Mixed Traditional Dining Rooms.

I hope you feel inspired and emboldened to create your own unique and exciting mixed dining set. As long as some elements – shape, material, color – tie into your space, you’ll end up with a look that’s striking and cohesive.

“Jewels”

Upholstered Chairs: Beautiful from the Back

I love such a love for beautiful fabrics! And why use just one fabric to upholster a chair, when you can use two?! The back of a chair is a great place to use a more delicate, expensive, or ornate fabric that might not be ideal for the seat, and the contrast between the two materials adds a lot of interest. I’ve seen great examples of this from some of my favorite designers:

Candice Olsen dining chairs

Candice Olsen used a contrasting fabric on the outside of these beautiful dining chairs. The blue ties the seat and outside together.

Candice Olsen Design

Sarah Richardson chairs

Sarah Richardson strikes a great playful note with these chairs upholstered in multiple fabrics. Again, the color theme - in this case, red - tie them together.

Sarah Richardson Design

So, I was looking around my house for a way to try this, when my eyes landed on a pair of green side chairs that we’ve had for many years as extra seating in our living room. They were originally dining chairs that worked well for saving space, and I cut down the legs to make them more comfy for lounging. Our new house can get dark, so I’ve been trying to lighten up our furniture, and I just happened to have recently bought this gorgeous floral fabric. I didn’t even have a specific plan for it, but I knew that I had to have it (did I mention, I have a weakness for beautiful fabrics?!) I spotted it on Fabricguru.com, which is my favorite online fabric store. They have great prices on remnants and an easy-to-browse interface. The downside is that a lot of the fabrics are discontinued or almost so, so if you need more down the road, it may be hard to find.

Floral Noir

Robert Allen Waldemere Contemporary Floral Printed Cotton Drapery Fabric in Noir

Here’s what happened when the old chairs met my new fabric:

floral fabric on green chairs

Waldemere floral fabric on the outside of green velvet chairs.

To apply the fabric, I experimented with our staple gun, but in the end, it worked best to apply the fabric with just a regular craft glue gun. I folded about a half inch “seam” around the edge and just glued it on. I was prepared to cover the edges – or staples, had I used them – with some piping, but I lucked out, and the panels had piping already, so it looked very finished with very few steps. I think you could retrofit a variety of existing chairs with some creativity and minimal upholstery skills.

For some more inspiration, check out these beautiful examples found by other bloggers:

Saks chair

Spotted by Caitlin Wilson at Saks.

Caitlin Wilson Design

K-desgn chairs

Chairs by K-design, spotted by Decorati.

Decorati Interior Design Blog

Go give it a try! It might take some adaptation to work on your particular chairs, but keep in mind using nailhead trim, piping, or decorative braid to hide staples and seams, creating a transition as you turn your chairs into eye-pleasing conversation pieces!

“Jewels”

This project is shared at:
handmade projects