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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Tutorial: Sewing Decorative Pillows for the Living Room

Well, I started gathering inspiration for decorative cushions a while ago and got the nudge – or was that a kick in the pants? – to finish them in preparation for holding my friend’s baby shower at our house. I’m so happy they’re done. It’s amazing how accessories can really complete a room.

Pillow Forms
At our house, the insides of our cushions come from all over the place: old cushions I wanted to recover, ready-made pillow forms, and pillow forms I made myself.

It goes without saying that you could make pillow forms by sewing a fabric pouch and stuffing it. Here are a couple of other things I’ve done.

  • I made some pillow forms from inexpensive sleeping pillows (look at Target or discount stores) cut in half and sewn closed. These turn out to be slightly rectangular, rather than square, but I think that adds some interest and variety.
Cut an inexpensive pillow in half and sew closed for economical pillow forms.

Cut an inexpensive sleeping pillow in half and sew closed for economical pillow forms.

  • For bolster pillows, I use a piece of foam in the center and wrap it in a few layers of batting, before covering it in a plain fabric. This makes a more solid form that will, you know, bolster.
Make a firm bolster pillow form with foam wrapped in batting. Cover the whole thing with plain cotton.

Make a firm bolster pillow form with foam wrapped in batting. Cover the whole thing with plain cotton.

Basic pillow cover
If you have a fabric that makes a statement on its own, a basic pillow is perfect for letting the pattern shine, without making your pillow too busy. That’s what I did with some of this Robert Allen Lake Paradise print that I had left over from reupholstering our dining chairs. This pillow ended up in our foyer and was a great opportunity to tie the entry into the adjacent living-dining room. Here are the instructions for a simple cushion cover.

  • Cut the front piece of the cushion about a half inch bigger than your pillow form. You don’t need to allow for the depth of the pillow – it will squeeze in there and give some fullness.
  • The back of the pillow is two pieces, each 2″ wider than half the width of your pillow, for example, this pillow is 19″ wide. 19 divided by two is 9.5. 9.5 plus 2 is 11.5, so each half of the back will be 11.5 inches wide
Tutorial for sewing a simple cushion cover.  From Jewels at Home.

Cut one piece for the front of your pillow and two pieces for the back.

  • Finish the center edge of the back pieces by folding under a hem and sewing it down.
  • Attach Velcro to the center of each of the back pieces, on the front of one piece and the back of the other, as shown.
Tutorial for simple decorative pillows.  From Jewels at Home.

Sew a hem on each of the back pieces and attach Velcro to the center.

  • Close the Velcro and treat back as one piece.
  • Lay the back piece on top of the front piece, with the right sides facing each other.
  • Sew around all four sides of the pillow with a half inch seam.
  • Clip the corners at a 45 degree angle, as shown, to reduce bulk.
  • Finish the edges with a zig-zag stitch or serger.
Tutorial for sewing a basic cushion cover.  From Jewels at Home.

Tutorial for sewing a basic cushion cover.

Bolster Pillow Covers

I made these the same way, but I placed the opening towards one end, so it is easier to get the pillow in, especially since these have a foam center and are stiffer than the other throw pillows.

Tutorial for sewing a simple bolster pillow.  From Jewels at Home.

Tutorial for sewing a simple bolster pillow. Place the opening at one end, so it’s easier to stuff.

Contrasting back pillow covers
I made these the same way as the basic pillow, but it has a whole new look when you use two different fabrics. Did this deserve its own section heading? I’m not sure.

Add interest to your pillows with a contrasting fabric on the back.  Tutorial for sewing simple cushion covers.  From Jewels at Home.

Add interest to your pillows with a contrasting fabric on the back.

Room View of New Living Room Pillows

Tutorial on sewing decorative cushions.  From Jewels at Home.

Living room with DIY pillow forms and cushion covers.  Tutorial from Jewels at Home.

New living room cushions with sewing tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

New living room cushions with sewing tutorial.  From Jewels at Home.

The living room is almost complete.  I’m considering adding a ribbon border to these turquoise bolsters.  Are they too plain?  Or would a ribbon border be too busy?

Tutorial for sewing pillow forms and cushion covers.  From Jewels at Home.

I’m considering adding a ribbon border to these bolsters.

That’s it for now. I wanted to use more of the creative ideas I had collected, but I still plan to sew some pillows for our guest room-craft studio, so you’ll see more pillows in a post coming up soon.

Hope you’re inspired to do this easy project that adds so much personality and comfort to your room.

“Jewels”