Introduction: The Unbelievable Chair

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)

Paint any type of seating you can imagine into reality with The Unbelievable Chair!

Part painting, part real-life furniture, this chair will impress your friends and steal the show!

It's truly unbelievable! (Until you see it in person, of course.)

Let's begin...

(This project was inspired by "CANVAS Seating" by YOY.)


The supplies you will need are:

  • 5 - 5 foot 3/4" PVC pipes (or metal pipes for regular chair usage)
  • 4 - 3/4" 90 degree elbow PVC fittings
  • 2 - 3/4" 90 degree side outlet elbow PVC fittings
  • 10 - 3/4" tee-slide PVC fittings
  • 2 - 2 x 2 x 8 lumber
  • A pre-cut 2 x 4 piece of plywood--any thickness (I got a thin piece from Lowe's)
  • 2 yards of White Duck Canvas Fabric
  • Jigsaw (with "metal-medium" and "wood-clean" blades)
  • Circular Saw
  • Drill (with 9/64 and 3/16 drill bits, also a Phillips-head screwdriver bit)
  • #8 screws (2 1/2" and 1 1/2" construction or wood screws)
  • Stapler
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Straight edge
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil/pen
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrushes (I actually used a 1/2" painter's brush, and a fine tip painter's brush the most)
  • Painting supplies (painter's palette, water, rag to wipe off paintbrush on, etc)
  • Acrylic paint (matte finish)
  • 4 - 6" to 12" long zip ties
  • Sealer
  • OPTIONAL: permanent fabric glue (I didn't use this)
  • OPTIONAL: sandpaper (I didn't use this)

Step 1: Cut the PVC Pipes

My pipe cuts will be slightly different than yours because I had to experiment to get everything correct. Then I simplified it into easier steps for you.

Please watch the wording in each step to see what changes were made to the pictures.

The cuts I suggest you use are as follows:

Pipe 1 (60"): 31 3/4", 18", and 11" cuts

Pipe 2 (60"): 31 3/4", 17", and 11" cuts

Pipe 3 (60"): 18", 18", 12", 6", 6" cuts

Pipe 4 (60"): 17", 17", 10 1/2", 10 1/2", 5" cuts

Pipe 5 (60"): 17", 5", 6", 6", 6", 6" cuts

  1. Measure and mark the cut lines on each pipe.
  2. Clamp down the pipe to be cut.
  3. Using a "metal-medium" blade in your jigsaw (because fine toothed blades are needed for PVC cutting), cut each of your marks. Optionally, you can use a PVC cutting tool or other tool you have on hand to cut the pipes. PVC is easy to cut (even string can do it!).

OPTIONAL:For added weight support (especially with regular chair usage), you can use metal piping instead of PVC pipes.

Step 2: Label the Pipes

I found it easiest to label each cut pipe with it's length (to quickly find it later when assembling).

Step 3: Lay Out Your Pieces

Lay out your cut pieces to look like the pictures here.

The first picture shows how to lay out the main frame.

The second picture shows how to lay out the seat frame.

The main frame pieces you should have in order from top to bottom is:

  • Top horizontal piece = 31 3/4"
  • 2 elbows on either side of the top horizontal piece
  • 2 vertical pieces = 17" each
  • 2 tees under each 17" piece
  • Middle horizontal piece = 31 3/4"
  • 2 vertical pieces under the tees = 11" each
  • 2 tees under each 11" piece
  • For horizontal row 3 use a 10 1/2" piece, a tee, a 5" piece, a tee, a 6" piece, a tee, and a 6" piece
  • 2 vertical pieces under the 3rd row = 17" each
  • 1 vertical piece between the 2 vertical pieces = 17"
  • For the final row from left to right: elbow, a 10 1/2" piece, a tee, a 5" piece, a tee, a 6" piece, a tee, and a 6" piece, then an elbow

The seat frame is:

  • 2 - 6" pieces
  • 2 - 90 degree side outlet elbows
  • 2 - 18" pieces
  • 1 horizontal 12" piece

Step 4: Assemble the Seat

The seat is super simple. Use the pictures as a guide of how to assemble it.

  1. The 12" piece goes into the two 90 degree side outlet elbows.
  2. Attach the 18" legs to the other end of the 90 degree side outlet elbows.
  3. insert the two 6" pieces into the top part of the 90 degree side outlet elbows.

OPTIONAL: You can add feet pieces to the bottoms of the 18" legs if desired.

Step 5: Assemble the Main Frame

Use the pictures to help guide you.

  1. Insert the 31 3/4" piece into the two elbows at the top of the frame.
  2. Insert the two 17" pieces into the other end of the two elbows.
  3. Attach a tee on each side, and insert the second 31 3/4" piece into the tees.
  4. Insert the two 11" pieces into the tees as shown.
  5. Attach tees to the bottoms of the 11" pieces.
  6. Assemble the 3rd row: a 10 1/2" piece, a tee, a 5" piece, a tee, a 6" piece, a tee, and a 6" piece
  7. Insert this row into the tees.
  8. Add the three 17" pieces vertically into the open tees.
  9. Assemble the 4th and final row with a 10 1/2" piece, a tee, a 5" piece, a tee, a 6" piece, a tee, and a 6" piece
  10. Attach the last row into the final two elbows and attach this to the bottoms of the 17" pieces.

You can gently hammer or mallet these pieces into each other to give it a tight seal.

NOTE: Make sure to turn the tees in the 3rd and 4th rows in the SAME direction (toward the back of the frame). I fixed this in the 4th row in my pictures later.

OPTIONAL ADDITION: Optionally, if you can find one in a store near you (there weren't any in my hardware stores), you could replace the middle tee off the 3rd row with a "side outlet tee" (see last picture of this step for an example of it) and add an additional pipe across from the 3rd row to the back of the seat. This would add stability perpendicularly as well (so the majority of the weight doesn't sit on the 3rd row's pipe alone).

Step 6: Attach the Seat

Attach the seat frame to the main frame by means of the 6" pieces being inserted into the open tees of the 3rd row.

Note the correction of the 4th row tees here.

OPTION 1: You can, additionally, spray paint the PVC piping a pretty color if you don't want it to be plain. However, you cannot see it when the chair is in use.

OPTION 2: You can also build a decorative backing to fully enclose the framework if you want to put this chair out in the open and not against a wall.

Step 7: Cut the Wood Frame Pieces

Using a "Wood-Clean" blade in your jigsaw, cut each piece into a 37 3/4" and a 53 3/4" piece.

That will give you two 37 3/4" pieces and two 53 3/4" pieces when finished.

Step 8: Assemble the Wood Frame

  1. Lay out the wood so the two 53 3/4" pieces sit outside of the two 37 3/4" pieces.
  2. Pre-drill two holes in the corner joint with a 9/64 drill bit.
  3. Apply wood glue.
  4. Screw these two pieces together with #8 - 2 1/2" construction or wood screws.
  5. Continue this process on all corners.

Step 9: Check the Fit

The PVC framing should fit into the wood framing with room to spare.

For a snugger fit, make the two 37 3/4" pieces each 34 3/4".

Step 10: Mark the Plywood for Cutting

Measure the wooden framing's width (from the outside of one vertical piece to the outside of the other).

Mine measured 40 5/8".

Transfer this measurement to the plywood.

With the 2 x 4 piece of plywood sitting horizontally, I measured the 40 5/8" measurement vertically to make the piece this short (instead of the original 4 foot length).

Also, add the straight edge markings for the circular saw (usually the straight edge line will be 1 1/2" away from the cut line).

Step 11: Cut the Plywood

Line up your straight edge on the line created.

Clamp down the plywood and straight edge.

Cut the plywood down to 40 5/8" in length

Then rip the plywood in half lengthwise (cut it at 12" lengthwise).

This will give you two 12" x 40 5/8" plywood pieces.

OPTIONAL: You can add additional plywood pieces to the front of the framing so the PVC pieces don't bump into the canvas.

Step 12: Attach the Plywood

Pre-drill holes through the plywood into the wood framing (3 - 4 holes per side per piece) with a 9/64 drill bit.

Be sure not to drill into the screws from the prior step.

Using #8 - 1 1/2" screws, screw the plywood down to the wood framing.

Step 13: Add Zip Ties

  1. Stand the two frames up, with the front facing you.
  2. Using a 3/16 drill bit (or one that matches the width of your zip ties), drill holes on either side of the pipes to attach the pipes to the plywood for stability.
  3. Add the zip ties with the teeth facing inwards.
  4. Zip tie down the pipe to the plywood.
  5. Do this two times on the top sheet of the plywood, and two times on the bottom sheet of plywood.

Step 14: Cut and Turn In

Cut the zip ties using the cutter in a needle-nosed pliers, or whatever cutting device you want.

Turn the tied/cut edges of the zip ties inward so they won't be seen through the canvas.

Step 15: Iron the Canvas

You're done with the framing! It's time to move on to the painting!

First, iron out the canvas fabric to get rid of as many deep creases as you can.

OPTIONAL: You can use a canvas fabric that has more elasticity to it and isn't 100% pure cotton if you prefer. I used Duck because of its strength.

Step 16: Add the Canvas to the Frame

Drape the canvas over the frame, making sure there is enough canvas on every side to attach to the wood framing on the back.

Then, lay the framing down on to the canvas to be stretched.

OPTIONALLY: you can sew in an indented "seat" into the canvas before continuing with this step.

Step 17: Add Starter Staples

To start, staple in a starter staple into the top-center of the frame.

Next, stretch the fabric as tightly as you can and put a staple in the bottom-center of the frame.

Now stretch the fabric towards you to add a staple in the left-center of the frame.

Finally, stretch the fabric towards you to add a staple in the right-center of the frame.

NOTE: the fabric will naturally indent when sat upon, therefore it needs to be pulled tight so it doesn't have excess sagging. The weight of a person (hundreds of pounds of weight) will make this indentation on its own. You can optionally sew a permanent seat into the canvas before attaching it (as aforementioned).

Step 18: Add Stabilizing Staples

Add a few stabilizing staples into the top (while stretching the canvas towards you). Then repeat that on the bottom. Then to one side. Then to the other side.

Keep building up staples working your way around the frame from opposite end to opposite end, and making sure to pull the canvas nice and tight.

Step 19: The Corners

Use the pictures to help you figure out how to do the corners.

  1. Fan the corner fabric and staple it down.
  2. Pull the side fabric over the stapled fabric so it is tight and looks flat on either side of the corner, then staple this down.

Step 20: Staple Away!

I went overkill with the staples all the way around the framing since this fabric will be holding weight.

Step 21: Trim Away the Excess

Trim away the excess fabric and staple down any loose fabric.

Step 22: Find Your Inspiration!

This is the fun part!

You can literally have any piece of furniture you want! Want that $1,000,000 couch you'd never afford? Just paint it and make it yours! :D

I used the Picket House Furnishings Reese Button Tufted Accent Chair as my inspiration.

Step 23: Choose Your Method

There are many different methods for painting your masterpiece (both for pro painters and those who can't paint to save their lives).

Optional methods include:

  • Free hand (this is the method I chose)
  • Printing the exact picture out on the canvas directly
  • Build a DIY projector and project a picture from your phone or a picture onto the canvas to trace
  • For an artsy, less-realistic look, draw an outline on the canvas and decoupage different fabrics inside the outline using Mod Podge
  • Put an inspiration picture into a grid and transfer the grid to the canvas to draw it (I used a grid only to have a better idea of scale for free-handing)
  • + a DIY projector onto your canvas is a FREE online source to turn ANY picture into a paint-by-number. This is great for those who can't really draw or paint well but want to do this project. I will show you how this works in the next step.

Step 24:

  1. Save your inspiration image
  2. Go to and click "browse"
  3. Insert your picture (you will never "upload" any pictures anywhere)
  4. Select the color palette by clicking on different colors/shades in the furniture...DO NOT forget to click the white background as a color in the palette or it will color in the background a weird color.
  5. When the color palette is selected, click the blue box that says "PBNify"
  6. It will smooth edges, identify color regions, and then show you a painted-by-number sample of the picture you used.
  7. At the top, you will now see blue boxes attached to green boxes saying "filled/save", "outline/save", and "save palette." Click on each of these to print out or view the outline, filled-in version, and color palette for your new paint-by-number.
  8. Print the outline (with the numbers on it) on a transparent, printable sheet (like used for projectors in schools)
  9. Build a basic DIY projector out of a box, a light, and some plastic (Google has many versions)
  10. Put your clear printed sheet into the DIY box and project this onto your canvas.
  11. Use this projection to draw the outline and numbers in for your extra large paint-by-number
  12. Then paint it in according to the color palette print out you chose

Step 25: Create an Outline

If you are free-handing like I did, create the outline onto your canvas.

I printed out the picture with a grid over it to give me a basic idea of scale when free-handing the outline on to the canvas.

Step 26: Gather the Paint Supplies

Here are the supplies I used exactly for my project.

Apple Barrel matte acrylic paint colors (from Walmart):

  • 20503E White
  • 20521E Nutmeg Brown
  • 21490E Pavement
  • 20760E Kings Gold
  • 21484E Admiral Blue

I also used 1/2" and fine tip paintbrushes, a ceramic palette to mix paint on, water for rinsing the paintbrushes, a rag to wipe them off on, and my phone with a picture pulled up of my inspiration image (to get the shading, etc right).

Step 27: Paint!

Enjoy the process of painting your masterpiece!

NOTE: You don't have to do could paint scenes where you sit inside of the scene. And, you can paint as realistically or creatively as you want! :D

Step 28: Seal It!

Here are some options (a non-exhaustive list for sure) for sealing your masterpiece:

  • A matte, crystal clear spray sealer (such as the one pictured)
  • Polycrylic (not polyurethane because polyurethane turns yellow over time)
  • Mod Podge
  • My husband suggested Scotch Guard (give it a try if you want)
  • Hairspray (some artist's swear by hairspray as the perfect sealer)

NOTE: When using a solidifying sealer (such as polycrylic), be sure to sit in your seat a few times first to develop an indentation before permanently solidifying it.

Step 29: Glamour Shots!

Enjoy your new furniture!

And the next time your friends come over and need a place to sit, invite them to pop a squat on your painting!

NOTE: If you're wondering what the back of the painting looks like when you sit in it, see the last picture.

Furniture Contest

Participated in the
Furniture Contest