DIY Wooden Chair Rehab

How to Repurpose, Recycle, and Reuse Old Wooden Chairs

If you have a collection of old wooden chairs lying around, there are plenty of ways to make them look new again. However, if they’re a bit banged up, you may consider throwing in the towel and letting the garbage men take them away. But don’t give up hope just yet! At the very least, wait until you’ve seen the following ideas for repurposing old wooden chairs.

Convert Your Old Wooden Chairs Into Other Kinds of Furniture

Put Together Several Chairs to Form a Bench

If you have several identical chairs at your disposal, you could always turn them into a quaint yard bench. Of course, if you don’t have a yard, you could also keep your bench at the bottom of your bed!

Now, there are many ways to go about making one of these charming seats. For example, you could put two chairs side by side and eliminate the parts that won’t fit into a bench. If you have three, just remove the armrests from the middle one as was done in this build.

Of course, putting the chairs next to each other isn’t the only way to do this project. As an alternative, you could have your two chairs facing each other. You’d have to remove their front legs and replace those side planks with longer ones to make a real bench. Then, you’d have to create a solid seat and slap on a pillow (or create an upholstered seat). The result should look something like this unless you decide to give the bench a back side as well.

Cut Off the Legs and Make It a Swing

If you have a chair with damaged legs, you could simply lop them off and make it into a swing. Best of all, this project should work with different types of chairs — rocking chairs, dining room chairs. So whether your old chair has a banister-style back or a bow-shaped one, you should be able to get this done.

In this example from Shelterness, you can see that whoever made the swing simply cut the legs off a rocking chair and screwed two planks into the bottom. Then, they connected the swing ropes to those planks.

However, you might want to run that rope through or around the armrests. Attaching it to the planks directly may cause the chair to slip if you swing too aggressively. This dining room chair swing appears to be much more stable in that regard.

Keep the Legs and the Seat and Make an End Table

If the bottom half of your old chair is still intact and the legs are far too pretty to toss, you could convert it into an end table. You could even put two chairs together to make a rectangular coffee table. In either case, start by sawing off the top part of your chair (or chairs) with an oscillating saw. Make sure the seat is flat by sanding it down or get a piece of hardwood to replace the top surface.

If the chair you’re using is upholstered, remove the seat and trace the chair on the hardwood. Alternatively, if you’re open to thinking outside the box, you could top your table off with some planks and a window panel, as Melissa of Shabby Love did. When you’re done making your franken-table, you could prime and paint the whole thing or leave it as is for a more rustic look.

Split the Chair Down the Middle to Get Matching Shelves

While you’re at it, you could always reuse your old wooden chairs as shelves. You could even get two matching shelves out of one chair by cutting it in half so you have a front and back part. However, the chair you’re using would either have to have a flat seat or you’d have to make a new top before hanging up the chair.

If you use the front part of the chair, you can leave the legs facing out and add another shelf lower between them, like Gail from My Repurposed Life did. After cutting and gluing the shelves to the part of the chair, paint the whole thing, and attach two or three D-rings in the back.

If you want to use the back half of the chair too, start by sawing the legs off. If the back has a pretty design, you could leave it intact. Attach a new piece of wood in the front and top of the shelf, then paint the whole thing and hang it up as you did with the front half.

Make a Towel Rack from the Back of the Chair

Depending on its design, the back of your old wooden chair could be repurposed as a rustic-looking towel rack. Ideally, it should have several horizontal bars or vertical spindles (in that case, hang it sideways). However, if it doesn’t have enough of those planks, you could always add them to the project later.

To get the part you need, just disassemble the chair, removing everything but the part of the chair that touches your back. Sand and clean the wood, add extra planks if you need to, and paint everything with a waterproof stain. You could also combine this tip with the previous one to create a shelf/towel rack hybrid.

Don’t Just Sit On Them! Other Ideas for Repurposing Old Wooden Chairs

Hang in There — Repurpose the Old Wooden Chairs as Closet Hangers

Most people like to leave their blazers, hoodies, and other kinds of clothes on the back of their chairs. Well, this idea allows you to fully embrace that. If the chair you want to recycle is in poor condition, but the top rail is still intact, use it as a clothes hanger.

You’ll just need to break off the bits you don’t need and paint the part you’ll use. At that point, you can take the metal hook from one of your store-bought hangers and screw it into your DIY alternative.

Add Hooks to a Chair Back and Use It to Display Jewelry

Another way to use the back of your chair would be to convert it to a jewelry display. This project can be a good companion piece if you decide to make a deeper shelf out of the front section of your chair. After separating the back, you’ll clean and patch it, then paint it to match your decor (or stand out).

Chairs with woven backs are great for this purpose since you can hook your earrings in the texture. However, you could also attach hooks to a more basic part to make the final product functional for storing necklaces. Alternatively, if you want to spice up the design, you could use interesting cabinet knobs instead.

Repurpose the Chair as a Unique Drink Stand or Plant Holder

If you want to upcycle a broken down wooden chair, why not repurpose it as a drink stand or a plant holder? Both ideas start the same. You’d just need to cut a round hole in the seat of the chair.

If you want it to be a drink stand, you’ll need to find a metal bucket and measure the hole you want to make according to its dimensions. Measure the diameter of the bucket a third of the way from the top, and cut out a circle of that size. Then, fill the bucket with ice and your favorite beverages!

The same goes for if you want to convert the chair into a planter. Find the pot you want to use and make the hole according to those dimensions. You could also paint or distress the chair before you cut into it, but that’s not a necessity.

Make the Chair Into a Bed for a Cat, Small Dog, or Doll

If you’re the kind of person who loves to shower their pets with gifts, there are two projects you could do. The first one will involve making a bed for your cat or dog — though it would only be able to accommodate small breeds. And, as mentioned above, you could also use the tiny bed for your kid’s dolls.

In any case, you’ll want to start by disassembling the chair. In all likelihood, you’ll just need the back of it for the headboard and parts of the legs for the bed’s front feet.

As for the bed frame itself, you’ll probably have to construct that out of other parts of the chair. Alternatively, get some wood at your local hardware supply store. Finally, you’ll need a pillow — or a teeny mattress — to place in it when you finish making the bed.

Create a Dog Feeding Station

The second pet-related idea is for all the big dog owners out there. If you want your gentle giant to have a special feeding station, you don’t have to build it from scratch!

Instead, use your jigsaw to open perfectly round holes in two chairs. Their diameter should be slightly smaller than your pup’s feeding bowls, so only the rim shows above the chair. If your dog can’t quite reach the bowls, trim the legs of the chair until your pet can comfortably eat. Hopefully, the chairs won’t budge when your dog comes in for a meal. However, if they do, just stick on some non-slip pads.

As a final touch, you could write something cute on the top rails of the chairs. Jacque of the DIY Village chose to put the words “drink” and “eat” on his dog’s chairs. So what would you write?

Turn the Chair Into an IKEA-Style Toy Kitchen

If you have a little tyke in the house, you could turn your old wooden chair into something they’ll appreciate. You could follow Kata’s example and turn it into an IKEA-style toy kitchen! After sanding and cleaning your chair, paint it white — or whichever color your child prefers.

Attach wooden shelves to both sides of the chair and replace the seat with the same material. In the example above, you can see a bowl and walking stick on the left side of the counter. Those will be your child’s sink and tap!

Glue a square of fabric to the middle of the “counter” and paint on four black circles for the stove. Another piece of fabric will serve as the oven door after you attach it to the front of the chair. You could also build a small shelf on the back of the chair and fill it with plastic dishes. Add hooks for cooking utensils and there you have it — a fantastic kitchen for your little chef in training!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to repurpose your old wooden chairs. Whether they’re in decent condition or standing on their last legs, you could always turn them into something new. Isn’t it amazing what a saw and some paint can do?

DIY Herringbone Chair

You guys, it’s just about a miracle- I actually have a project to share with you today. I know, I know, it’s been a while. Let’s just go ahead and blame summertime for that and not my laziness.

Anyways- on with the show! I’ve got a sweet chair to show you.

The night of my bachlorette party we passed a busted up old chair on the sidewalk while we were walking to the train station. So obviously I grabbed it and put it in my trunk. I have a chair hoarding problem.

before collage

The chair was a hot mess- dinged, scratched, a little broken, and it stunk like cigarettes. But I loved the style of the seat. I had to have it. When I got home I sanded it like crazy then wiped it down with white vinegar (usually I use a cloth dampened with water, but white vinegar will get rid of the smoke smell and dry odorless). Once it was dry I repaired the broken seat slat with gorilla glue.

The seat wasn’t actually even attached to the base of the chair, which made things a bit easier for me. I placed the seat and the base next to each other and sprayed them both with two coats of Rustoleum spray primer, then I painted the base with 2 coats of City Nights by Clark + Kensington (Ace brand, leftover from the basement redo).

Then I took the seat inside to work some magic.

green white color

I didn’t measure out the herringbone pattern, I just eyeballed it. Basically I ripped strips of frog tape and reverse zig zagged them on the seat, using a letter opener to squish the tape into the spaces between the slats. This took patience. Once when it was all on there I used my finger to press down the tape strips one more time, just to make sure it was on good.

Once it was all taped up, I gave the chair 2 coats of City Nights and immediately removed the tape, again using the letter opener. When it was dry I did a little touch up work with an artist brush and some white paint- frog tape is awesome and usually doesn’t bleed, but there was just so much tape here I missed a few spots when I went over it with my finger.

diy herringbone chair

I am so pleased with how this chair turned out! As soon as all the paint was dry I sprayed it with 3 coats of acrylic sealer (ModPodge brand). I may still do a coat of polycrylic on the seat, just to make sure it’s protected.

blue white color

The home for this chair doesn’t exist yet, but it will! I’ve got big plans for the guest room and one day I’ll execute them… maybe sometime in the next year. haha!

herringbone chair

What do you think? Do you have any cool patterned chairs or painted furniture? Are you shocked I have, once again, not painted a piece of furniture white?

Paint Dipped High Chair

About a month or so ago my friends moved,

and in doing so cleaned house, so we took (among other things) a wooden high chair off their hands. It was super cute, but had a few dings and chips so it needed to be redone. And, hold on to your pants, I painted it a color other then white. I KNOW!

I love that it was blue, and I love the paint dipped look it already had, but it needed a little sprucing up.
I love that it was blue, and I love the paint dipped look it already had, but it needed a little sprucing up.

If I was a better DIY’er I totally would have stripped this down before painting it again, because it already had at least 4 layers of paint on it. But I’m not… so I just sanded the crap out of it. And I mean I sanded the crap out of it. I wanted it to be as smooth as possible. Then I wiped it down with a damp rag to get all the nonsense off.

When Ace Hardware was running it’s free paint Saturday promotion I picked up a quart of their paint + primer Clark + Kensington in “City Night.” I’ve never used a paint/primer before but it worked fantastic- two coats was perfect and we love the color.

If you follow me on Instagram, you already got a sneak peak or two:

paint and primer color sample

Here we are at my work station… which is the kitchen table with a big ol’ piece of plastic on it… I gave this baby two coats. I painted the coats on separate days, but the first coat was dry after a few hours.

gray coated chair

Then I used my Frog Tape to tape off under the second highest rung at the bottom and gave the bottom three coats of “Cantelope” by Behr (leftover from the guest room).


It’s new home is in the guest room, where the walls are also Behr Cantelope colored. I figure for the majority of the time, when my nephew is not here to use it, it can sort of serve as a mock end table for one side of the bed.

Once the weather get’s nicer (it is going to get nicer, right?) I’m going to give it a coat of spray sealer, but until then it’s not used much so it’ll be just fine as is.

A Pair of Captains Chairs & Spray Paint

I went with idea #214- Paint Almost Any Piece of Furniture. If you’re a regular around here you know furniture painting is my thing (my accent table, bureau, and chair are just a few of my favs).  So when I saw these two beauties for *free* on the side of the road I knew I had to make them mine:

before photo
A nearby high school was getting rid of a lot of old furniture, including these two captain’s chairs. They had pen and marker stains, chips, dents, and bruises… swoon.
I hand painted 2 coats of primer on each chair (and they probably could have used a 3rd too) with leftover primer from when we first moved in.
Once the primer was dry I sprayed them with Rustoleum spray paint in pure white with a satin finish- I had it leftover from when I redid another chair.
I gave the spray paint two-three days to cure up before taping off the rungs because I was nervous it would peel. Taping off the rungs was by far the most time consuming part of this project- about 45 minutes per chair. Once it was taped I added two coats of Behr Wheat Bread paint (which is the same color as my living room, so that was leftover as well). I added it with a regular paint brush, then once I removed the tape I went in with an art brush for touch ups.
After painting the rungs I gave it another 2 days to cure up before adding two coats of polycrylic to each chair (which was the only things I purchased for this project). Then I let THAT cure up for another few days before using the chairs. I was super nervous about knicks and scratches and peels which is why I overdid it on the drying time for each step.
What a difference a few coats of paint and some patience makes!
before and after
Ta da!

And just one more snap of the chairs in the room:


So there you go- an under $20 makeover that makes a huge impact! I encourage you when you’re painting to not just go with the obvious, add a little tweak to it (in my case, different colored rungs). I also encourage you to embrace the funk of DIY work- the chairs still have dents and bruises but that’s what gives them character and personality. I didn’t sand them perfectly smooth or stress that one has a front bar and the other doesn’t…I let them be in fit in with everything else in my home that’s been upcycled.

$25 Fabric Cushioned Rehab

Whew! Let’s get to the before and afters:

chair before

I bought this chair at the Habitat for Humanity Restore and it clearly needed a new seat cover, but was otherwise awesome. I Gorilla Glued the brace in the front because it was a little loose, wood puttied some knicks, sanded it down, then spray painted it to awesomeness.

Once it was sanded I lightly wiped it off with a damp cloth, spray two coats of Kilz spray primer, then lightly sanded and wiped again, then sprayed two coats of Rustoleum white spray paint (satin finish) and one heavy coat of Mod Podge acrylic sealer. Originally I was going to polycrylic the whole thing to protect it, but it’s not going to be in a high traffic area so the sealer should be fine.

chair now

In between coats, I redid the seat cover by cutting off the fabric  and first layer of cushion. I replaced the layer of cushion with quilt batting I had left over from my kitchen wall art, then reupholstered with my trusty staple gun. The fabric I got was super discounted- it’s outdoor fabric so it was 40% off because it is out of season, and there were only two yards left and since I bought both I got 50% off the second yard because it was the end of the roll. Both yards added up to just $9, and originally it would have been about $25.

Because this fabric has a distinct and straight pattern, before I went nuts with the staples I put one staple on each of the four sides and flipped it over to make sure it was lined up. To get the corners, I just folded it like a Christmas gift and kept it tight-tight-tight while I was stapling.

Let’s see a side by side:

chair before and after
I still maybe add a little something-something to the back, but for now I’m going to leave it sweet and simple.
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