I am a total sucker for old wooden chairs. When I saw six of them on the curb waiting for trash pick-up I knew I couldn't let these 1950s-era beauties go to waste. Never mind that my house is already overflowing with chairs, and I was pretty sure my husband would not be as excited about my new chair collection as I was. The key to appeasing the hubster is to simultaneously present my curbside finds along with a spirited description of my upcycling plans.
While I didn't need a bunch of chairs, I did need a a comfy place for people to sit if they were visiting my studio (a converted shed). The space is so small that the piece of furniture needed to be an odd size and visually lightweight. These chairs seemed like a great foundation for creating a seat to meet the needs for my studio. Hubs was pleased. The scrap wood pile was plentiful that day. My other projects had reached a bit of a pause. It was sunny outside. Work began.
Making a couch, sofa, settee, bench, loveseat, or whatever you want to call it using two old chairs is really easy. The tutorial is specific to the chairs I had--with a bit of tweaking, this DIY can be applied to pretty much any two chairs (even if they don't match).
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Sander with sandpaper
Two old chairs, preferably with arms (only need one chair needs to have arms)
1/2 yard fabric
High-density foam large enough to make seat
Scrap wood large enough to make seat
Step 2: Remove Seat and Arms
Remove the seats of both chairs by locating the screws underneath the seats. I've noticed that most old, solid-wood chairs use flathead screws rather than phillips-head. Keep the screws handy--we will use them to attach the seat later.
After getting the seats taken off, remove the opposite arm of each chair so that if they are placed next to each other there are only arms on the outsides of the chairs . My chairs had arms that were simply screwed onto the chair seats and backs, so removing them was a breeze.
If you have one chair with arms and one without, remove an arm and attach it to the outside of your previously armless chair to create the same functionality.
Step 3: Strip and Finish
Once your chairs are down to lovely, lovely wood, you can apply a finish. I chose to just rub in wood block oil so that I could keep all the stains and character that had sunk into the wood over the years (plus I had some laying around, so, you know, that made the decision really easy). Apply using a clean cloth and always rub in the direction of the wood grain.
Step 4: Make the Seat
Grab the seat cushion you removed from the chairs. Aligning the seat with your measurements, trace the outside edge of the seat onto your wood with sharpie. Repeat for the other side. Use a jigsaw to cut out the wood for the seat.
After cutting the wood, make sure it fits snugly into the base of the chairs.
Step 5: Cushion, Cushion, Cushion
The foam can be pretty expensive--I got it at Joann's and used a 40%-off coupon (which you can always find in their app or online).
Spread out the fabric face-down on the floor and stack your cushion and wooden seat on top. You could iron it if you want to--clearly I didn't bother because I am sort of lazy, and stretching the fabric around the foam seems to take care of the wrinkles.
Fold the fabric over the foam and wood, stapling along the edges. Don't pull the fabric super tight--just enough to squish things together and keep everything in place. Trim off excess fabric.
If your fabric has a pattern with lines like mine does, focus on keeping things straight as you upholster the cushion.
Once the whole seat is covered, flip it over and admire your work. Imagine how lovely you will feel sitting on this soon-to-be-completed bench, sipping some tea and reading on your kindle! Ah, how welcoming this seat will be to your studio guests! Think of all the crap you will inevitably pile onto the spacious seat!