Tree Bench Made From Kitchen Chairs

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I have been admiring, from afar, those tree benches for a long, long time. (You know, the bench that goes around an entire tree? Yeah…that’s the one!) I’ve always wanted one but knew it was a little out of our price range. Those suckers can cost anywhere from $250-$2,990.

retail-tree-bench
http://www.goldenteak.com/pc/TREEB/Benches-6ft/Teak-Bench–Tree-Bench-Hexagon–6-Sides-.html

One night, as I was trying to fall back to sleep, my mind started racing. I started thinking about those benches and wondered how I could make one-BUT, it needed to be fairly cheap and easy. (Where have I heard that before?) You see, I’m still pretty new to  woodworking and power tools. Then it hit me (“it” being inspiration), why couldn’t I just use kitchen chairs for this? After I had this thought, I was up for the rest of the night because I was so excited. I guess you could say I was ‘too inspired to sleep’. For the next few months, I was on the hunt for reasonably priced kitchen chairs (at least six of them). My goal was $50 and under because I figured they didn’t have to be in the greatest of shape since they were going to be exposed to the elements and I didn’t know if this was even going to work.

I finally found the chairs (plus a table) on an online auction site. I gave $75 for the set. A little more than I wanted to pay, but I WAS PUMPED! (Heck, I got a free table out of the deal.)

chairs

As I was removing the cushions, I found the tag that dated these back to 1991.

Nov-26-1991
I might have removed the cushions from the chairs but I did NOT remove the tag. (I’m not about to go to jail over that!)

I’m pretty sure they hadn’t been cleaned since then either.

dirty-chairs

After removing the cushions and hardware, the first order of business was to clean the chairs with TSP.  In case you didn’t know, TSP is an all purpose heavy duty cleaner you use before painting. It gets rid of all the oils so that the paint will adhere better. After they were cleaned, I painted the chairs. When they dried, I pulled my braniac husband in to help.  I wasn’t for sure what angles to cut the wood so he gave me a crash course in geometry. (This project made me realize that I should have listened more in Mr. Heflin’s class.) He said that since we were making something circular,  the angles would have to equal 360 degrees. (Okay, I already knew that much.) Then he asked how many chairs I had. “I have six.” So he asked how many times six would go into 360. “I know! I know! Pick me! The answer is 60. The wood needs to be cut in sixty degree angles. Do I get a gold star?” (Side note: I was nominated for Biggest Brown Noser, Class of ’93.)

straightening-chairs
After he measured and straightened and moved and measured again, we had the chairs where they needed to be.

Now this is where the magic begins… he measures, I cut. And measures and cuts and measures and cuts and…I’m sure you get the idea. After we would get a row done, then he would nail it down.

1

23456

After we finished with that part, we took a step back to admire our handiwork.  So far, we were pleased.

finished-with-wood

Next, we made braces that would connect the chairs to each other.

braces
To clear up any confusion, the braces are to go underneath the chair. It was sitting on top so I could take a photo.

We didn’t put them on just yet. First I needed to paint everything. Keep in mind that we did all of this in one weekend. You know, the hottest weekend of the year. Where the air temperature was 95 degrees and the Kentucky humidity made it feel like 110. No joke. With that being said, I might have been slightly delirious from heat exhaustion, but after I painted them, I thought they looked like little angels sitting out in our driveway.

chairs-painted

Yeah. Pretty sure it was the heat.

angel-chair

I already had a tree outback that I had deemed “the bench tree.”  When I got the chairs over there to it,  I found I hadn’t taken the roots into consideration with my measurements. So, I looked. And looked. And looked some more. I had to find an established tree that didn’t have roots coming out of the ground, in close proximity to the house and was thin enough to be encompassed by the bench.  For the record, we live on 80 acres; three of which are densely populated with trees. That’s where our house sits. Right smack dab in the middle of about 300 trees.

I found the tree.

It’s basically the first one you come to when you pull up to our house. I was really wanting it to be located more in the back in case it turned out to be an eye-sore. Oh, well.

So, I raked around the tree and tried to level up the ground. I didn’t do a very good job. (Did I mention it was 95 degrees outside?) I placed the chairs around the tree. Since the ground was uneven, I had to cram mulch under some of the chair legs so that it would be level enough to attach to the other chairs. Then, we got the braces and screwed all of the chairs together until it was one unit. Lastly, we put mulch underneath all of it.

dottie-close

finished

across-driveway

Overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome. (It ended up costing around $100.) The only thing I don’t like is the fact that when you’re pulling up the driveway, it looks like I have six kitchen chairs just sitting around a tree. It isn’t until you get right up on it that it occurs to you, “Oh. Look. That’s a bench!”

I just want to say how much I appreciate my husband’s help. He doesn’t have to help me (Lord knows how many irons he has in the fire at any given moment) but he does it anyway. No one has to tell me – I know how lucky I am. Back off ladies…he’s mine. 😛

I’d love to hear some feedback from my peeps. What do you guys think?

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86 Comments Add yours

  1. Lis says:

    What an amazing repurpose job – I just love it. I have a tree right in my front yard that I have been dreaming about having a circular bench around but like you found out – way too expensive. I am so pinning this and will start looking for chairs right away! Thanks so very much for sharing with us.
    PS – I really enjoyed reading your tutorial with all the little comments in it.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks, Lis! I’m notorious for being cheap. If I see something that I like, I will try to come up with a way to do it cheaper. Also, I’m so glad you get my sense of humor. I’m always afraid of how’s I’m perceived because, as you know, sarcasm doesn’t translate well on a computer. 😛

  2. Cindy says:

    I think you did a fantastic job. Keep up your inspirations.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you. Like I said, I couldn’t have done this without my hubby’s help. He helps bring my (sometimes crazy) inspirations to fruition.

  3. Susan says:

    This is ingenious!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks! I’ve wanted to do this for some time now. I just never was able to get all of my ducks…er…chairs in a row.

  4. Patti says:

    What a great idea! You were truly inspired! (and I think it looks wonderful, and just like what it is!)

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you. I’m always my toughest critic. After I get done (with anything) I’m ALWAYS finding ways to improve on it. I’m so glad you like it.

  5. Maggie Kimble says:

    Love! Continue the slats horizontally down the front of the chairs to the ground to lose the kitchen chairs around a tree vibe.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks! That’s a good idea about the slats. I’m also thinking about sitting flowers around the seat area to show that it goes all the way around it.

    2. Alison says:

      I was thinking lattice to go all the way around the legs…

      1. tooinspired says:

        Thanks for the idea!

  6. Barbarajo shevlin says:

    I love it!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you!

  7. Kim says:

    What is actually bracing the area where the longer length of boards come together? What is someone sites on this area, wouldn’t it be weak from no underneath support. Just curious. Love it, and good work!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you. We made braces out of two pieces of wood we screwed together. Hard to believe but it’s sturdy enough to sit on.

  8. jodie lumley says:

    I think you did a fabulous job! SO WHAT if it looks like kitchen chairs from a distance, you have a beautiful tree bench that cost a fraction of the price . Think of it this way, ANYONE can BUY a tree bench, but a chair bench took some imagination, elbow grease and a wonderful hubby!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you so much. I really need to stop caring about what others think of my creations. They don’t matter. It’s just hard sometimes.

      Honestly, I can’t say enough about my hubby. I know he has to think I’ve completely gone crazy when I tell him about a new project I’ve thought of. (Every time I tell people that, I immediately think of my birdcage lamp idea. Check it out–I’ve put it on here.) Never did he doubt me. He just went with it. He’s so very supportive of me. I’m a lucky girl.

  9. Kathy says:

    Wow, you guys did a great job! And saved a bundle while you were at it. I’m always trying to think of ways to make things I want when I see them in catalogs or ads. Great job!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks. You and I must be kindred spirits! That is exactly what I do. I like making things myself…I’ve even I end up spending more on something I’ve made than it would have cost just to buy it. I like adding my personal touch.

  10. Cricket Jones says:

    I love it! I wouldn’t use it for a bench, though. I can see it with a bunch of colorful pots of flowers sitting all around on it. It would be such a cheerful sight to see as you pull in to your driveway. I like your enthusiasm and creativity, not to mention that you saved a BUNCH of bucks! Good job!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you! I had already decided that I was going to set some of my flowers on it. I had even considered having a few shepherd’s hooks coming out from the center, with hanging baskets. I’ll post pics if I do that.

  11. D says:

    Hi . Love your idea. You say you don’t like it when you first see them. Can you not add some slats to the backs, similar to the seats, so they don’t look like 6 dining chairs around your tree.

    1. tooinspired says:

      That’s a very good idea, you have. I may look into that more. Thanks for the tip!

  12. Nadine Gurto says:

    What an awesome project! I’m wishing I had a tree to do the same thing with.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks, Nadine. I lived in a treeless subdivision for 16 years. I never had the opportunity to do anything with trees. Now living on 80 acres, I’m going to seize every opportunity I can with the them. I love it out here in God’s country!

  13. Dee says:

    I think if you painted your chairs a darker color, they would look more like a tree bench. AND I simply LOVE your idea and your work…:–)

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you so much. The chairs started off a dark wood but I thought, in the end, the bench wouldn’t be seen very easily against the backdrop of the trees. That’s why I decided to paint it white. In fact, I’d never seen a white one before, so I didn’t really know how it would have looked. They had all been made out of dark wood; the ones made of teak were the expensive ones.

  14. Jerri says:

    You did an amazing job I love it and I think you will get a lot of use out of your seat for reading , meditating, keeping cool under the tree and relaxing and enjoying your repurposing creation it great. I would love having one.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you so much. And what’s this “relaxing” thing you speak of? I’ve heard of it before but I’ve never really experienced it. 😛

  15. Pam says:

    I think it was a perfect idea at a perfect price. Looks great! The only thing to consider to make it look more “bench like” would be to trim the tops of the chairs to be straight tops and look less like chairs since many of the expensive benches I’ve seen have more square tops. If you want to circle a tree with roots, could you use 8 chairs to get farther out from the trunk? The only problem would be finding 8 alike.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks. I told somebody else that I have considered adding an additional leg to the part we extended (where the chairs meet). I think that might give it less of a kitchen-chairs-sitting-around-a-tree look. My original idea was to get six DIFFERENT chairs but I thought it would be more cohesive if they were all the same.

  16. Pam says:

    That is such a nice bench. You both did a great job.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you! I want to say that I couldn’t have done this without his help. Plus, it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. 😉

  17. Elwanna says:

    Pretty pissy this was on Hometalk with no way to save to Hometalk boards.

    1. tooinspired says:

      I’m sorry. Do you not have Pinterest? You could pin it there. Either way, I can post it on my Hometalk page for you. It’ll be under Heather McKinney”.

  18. You are Brilliant! This is stunning! What an amazing creative mind you have! I love, love, love your work! Thank you for sharing!

    1. tooinspired says:

      What an absolutely sweet message. You’ve made my day! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂

  19. W.S. says:

    Genius! I think it looks lovely as it is but if you think it looks a little like ‘kitchen chairs around a tree’ as you come up the drive, how about continuing the batons down the front of the chairs to the ground?

    1. tooinspired says:

      I had someone else suggest that too. I had even thought about sticking a “leg” to the part we extended (where the chairs meet). Therefore, instead of having 24 chair legs, we would have 30. (Does that make sense? I’m not really good at explaining things.)

  20. Bridget says:

    Great idea, who cares if it looks like chairs when you pull up. You saved a ton!!Good imagination and very thrifty!!! I have a place I have wanted one of these benches and do not wish to spend that type of money either, so, now I have a plan!!!
    Thanks

    1. tooinspired says:

      I know…I really shouldn’t care what anybody else thinks. Hey, if you end up doing this, you’re going to have to post a pic of the end product!

  21. Sandi says:

    That is such a great idea. It looks wonderful.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks, Sandi. Even in the horrible heat and humidity, it was so very worth it.

  22. Cheryl DeMars says:

    This is fantastic! I love the way you put these together. Now, I must plant a tree to use this idea.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks!You sound like you live in a place similar to where we had lived for 16 years. There were NO trees in our subdivision. I’m in hog-heaven with all of these trees around us now!

  23. Rose says:

    They look so awesome.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you very much, Rose!

  24. Pamela Tyler-Kroon says:

    I love it! A very clever alternative to a ridiculously expensive piece of lawn furniture! You did well!

    1. tooinspired says:

      I’m so glad you like it.

      “Ridiculously expensive” is right! Even after making this, I can seem to figure out why they cost so much. I do understand the ones made with teak will last a long time but, geez. You would think the teak would be dipped in gold for that price!

  25. IFortuna says:

    Great project!
    I am concerned about the wood coming in contact with the ground. There is a possibility of rot or mold. Is there a way there could be a platform under the chair legs to prevent this?

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks! I was sure to seal the bottom of the chair legs with an oil-based paint. Honestly, I think I will tire of my creation before it succumbs to the elements.:-P

  26. Patti says:

    I love it!!!!!!
    Fantastic job of repurposing!!!!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you! I was a full-time repurposer until I got a job last month. Now I’m only able to on the weekends. Maybe if my new blog takes off I can quit my job and go back to repurposing!

  27. Catherine J says:

    Wow I think your tree bench is fabulous! Personally, I would love that people knew I made it out of chairs..How ingenious! I would be proud to have it in my front yard, but alas, even if I could find 6 matching chairs, I don’t have the husband to do the handywork! I just had a cool boho idea; non-matching chairs!!! Anyway I love your bench…

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you so much….yes, I had that same “boho” thought! In fact, I had considered painting each of them a different color. That would have been perfect for my garden area which is where I had originally planned it to go. Now I’m glad I painted it all white since it’s out front. Otherwise, it would look out of place. Great minds think alike!

  28. Marie says:

    Nuce.
    You could always add some sort of skirting around them so they don’t just look like chairs

    1. tooinspired says:

      I have considered adding an additional leg to the part we extended (where the chairs meet). I think that might give it less of a kitchen-chairs-sitting-around-a-tree look.

  29. Cherie says:

    What a great idea! To make it look less like six chairs from a distance, you might try weaving some sort of leather or plastic type of straps through the tops of the chairs to tie them all together. You can use the stuff they use for lawn chairs and even add a little color if you like! Great idea!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks! That’s a really good idea you have and I’ll look into that.

  30. Molly says:

    This is nothing short of BRILLIANT! We all want one, and few can afford the high price. Just love this, like I said, brilliant!

    1. tooinspired says:

      Brilliant…I like the sound of that! Hahah! Thank you so much. The ONLY reason I came up with this is because I’m the cheapest person you’ll ever meet. True story.

  31. J. A. Corran says:

    It might last for about 15 yrs before tree diameter and shifting roots and soil. Upend everything, and twist it out of shape?

    1. tooinspired says:

      Fifteen years? I’ll be tired of it way before then. Plus, I will have moved on to bigger and better things. Thanks for the positive feedback.

  32. Gail says:

    Wow! That is a beautiful bench around your tree made from old chairs. Very clever and creative of you. Thanks for sharing with me.

    Gail

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks, Gail. I enjoy looking at all your projects. You are so very talented!

  33. LINDA J says:

    WELL !! I had to chuckle!!! I too get too inspired to be tired in the middle of the night!!! I do my best thinking then!! This is a GRRRREATTT! job!! very clever, fun and useful!!! I’m in Arkansas and I have the same sort of “yard” …lots-o-trees!! I gotta do this!!! And fortunately I too have a handy dandy hubby!! Guess we’ll be on a mission for 6 chairs!!! Only I won’t be sitting out there til November or December!! The heat is killing me!!! Thanks for sharing!! Wonderful job!! you two!!!

    1. tooinspired says:

      We sound like we might be twins separated at birth! Shutting down my brain before bed is hard but shutting it down after I wake up in the middle of the night is impossible! THAT is when I do my best thinking. (Well, that and when I’m on the mower.) If you end up doing this, you’ve just have to let me see!

  34. Alice Rose Robertdon says:

    Love it!!!! And so does mama Lynn

    1. tooinspired says:

      Well there you have it! My job’s complete as long as Mama Lynn loves it. I’m so glad you both like it. Thank you so much.

  35. Lyn Bennetts says:

    That is an awesome little project you two love birds have created and it looks fabulous, 5 Gold Stars for originality and the hubby of which l have one too?, we are so very lucky.
    I do agree it does look a bit like kitchen chairs from a distance but serves the purpose well.
    I also agree with your other admirers to continue the battons down the front and to add the additional legs for strength, the skirt of battons will hide the legs and l think it will improve not only the look but also stability for the long haul.
    All in all it looks perfect the way it is but if you are weighing up the options of additions then l say go for it.
    You have inspired your readers well done.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thank you, Lyn. (I’m Heather Lyn, by the way.) If I have inspired anyone, then I feel I have achieved what I set out to do.

  36. Lyn Bennetts says:

    Lovely to meet you Heather and l am inspired by your masterpiece.
    By the way l love the chair backs which l think really set it off as tree bench so l wouldn’t do anything to them.
    I am very much like you and love giving useful items a new lease on life, having complety renovated our first home and finishing off our second one; l really hear you on the 3.30am inspiration sleep breaks lol?, but wouldn’t do any of it without my husband of 29 years, we just click like two peas in a pod and isn’t it rewarding finishing a project together?

    I look forward to seeing many more of your inspired projects Heather; so keep them coming my new friend.
    I live in Australia so anything you create will cost double Down Under.

    1. tooinspired says:

      Thanks so much for featuring my project on your site! I’m honored. 🙂

    1. tooinspired says:

      I appreciate the pingback SO MUCH….but is there any way you could move the link to my blog post a little higher in the article? Maybe something like,”This idea is the result of creative limitation of DIY-er Heather, from http://www.tooinspiredtosleep.com...”

      I hope I don’t sound ungrateful–I’m just trying to get some traffic to my site.

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