Upcycling an old ‘chair’

There’s a programme on the BBC called Money for Nothing. It’s about saving items that are about to be thrown away and enlisting some of the UK’s finest craftspeople to turn the said items into something beautiful, functional and profitable. I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at recycling, but since I started watching the programme I’ve really thought differently about what items I throw away and what items I might be able to repurpose. Perhaps it just satisfies my inherited desire to hoard things because ‘they may come in handy one day’.

Terracotta pots

We’ve had some beautiful weather in the UK this summer and during one such spell, I set to work clearing an area at the bottom of the garden, which had become a bit of a dumping ground for anything and everything. How I wish I’d taken some ‘before’ photographs so you could see what it was like. There were lots of terracotta and plastic plant pots, a dismantled concrete coal bunker, two old plastic dustbins, lots and lots of different types of stones, plants that had long since died and an old wooden, ahem, ‘chair’ that was covered in bin bags.

The said chair was actually my grandmother’s commode. Hmm, yes, I know. I’m pleased to say that it has never been used in my lifetime and if you forget its former purpose, it’s actually quite a sweet, little, wooden chair. While I was tidying the garden I put some plants on the chair to keep them out of the way, and well, it all just looked very pleasing. I decided that I’d try and clean it up and use it as a display stand.

Recycled chair - before

I started off by lightly sanding and brushing the chair, which was a very mucky job as it was covered in cobwebs (and spiders). While sorting through the shed in the summer I had found a partially used tin of wood stain. It must have been there for well over five years so I was expecting it to be congealed and unusable but I was delighted when I opened it and it looked ok – good old Ronseal! Having said that I was still unsure how it would look when applied because the colour on the tin was nothing like the colour in the tin, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

While I loved the original worn look of the chair, I’m really pleased with how dramatic it looked with the wood stain.

Recycled chair with wood stain

I gave it a couple of coats of wood stain, put the chamber pot back in the seat, and covered the seat with black plastic to prevent water getting in.

Recycled chair with protective plastic

When I first thought about upcycling the chair, I knew that I wanted a natural looking seat cover and while I wasn’t quite sure how I would make it, this twine was exactly what I was after.

Sisal twine

I searched for some inspiration online but soon returned to my default craft – crochet. I hadn’t crocheted with twine before, how hard could it be? Well, quite hard it turns out. It’s not impossible, but it’s quite hard on the hands and arms as, unsurprisingly, there’s no ‘give’ in it, and it was quite an effort to get the hook through stitches that had pulled tight. It’s also very messy. Whenever I got up to walk across the room, I left a trail of twine dust behind me! I sensibly finished crocheting the seat outside the next day. I have to say though, I am delighted with how it turned out – it’s exactly what I had in mind at the start of the project. While I won’t be hurrying to crochet with twine again anytime soon, I haven’t been put off using it as I really love the effect.

Sisal twine seat cover

I nailed the cover to the chair and ta-dah…

Finished up cycled chair

I am so pleased with it and it’s going to look lovely with some pretty plants on it next spring.

Close up of recycled chair

As for the other items I found at the bottom of the garden… The concrete slabs have been turned into a paved area, which is edged with some of the stones. The two old dustbins will be used for making compost. I’ve kept most of the terracotta plant pots as I plan to do something with them next year. I was able to donate the majority of the plastic ones to a local community garden, which in turn is going to use them to re-pot some aloe vera plants, which will be given away to anyone in the neighbourhood who wants one. So that’s quite a lot of things saved from going to landfill.

I wonder what I’ll upcycle next?




3 thoughts on “Upcycling an old ‘chair’

  1. Pingback: The Doughnuts of Oz | White Hill Crafts

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