Monday, January 28, 2013

upcycled padded bench seat cabinet

I don't know if this is an up-recycle or a re-upcycle, but whichever it is, this is it. When I was first married I inherited a table setting from my husband's grandparents. It had seats for four, but leaves to extend it to a table for six. Naturally I took the opportunity to make a bench.
The existing four chairs looked like this. The picture above is a bar stool with sawed off legs; size of a chair, swivel of a stool. We acquired three, two of which I dismantled to make the bench seats. I tried to keep the swivels to make an enormous game spinner, but we moved three times after that and in one of the moves they had been moved too many times and were recycled.

The bench body is a set of cabinets, probably the type found over the stove or fridge, (not very deep, not very tall) that I bought from a thrift store. It was an older cabinet, which has the redeeming quality of being constructed of plywood rather than particle board; better for solid construction.

The legs might have been nicer had they been sculpted, rounded, etc, but I sometimes chunky and geometric is nice too. I made them from scrap 2"x2" lumber and mounted them to the cupboard by screwing them to the sides and making the top of the leg even with the top of the cabinet.

Then I bought a solid sheet of pine for the seat portion and attached the seats of the chairs to the seat. The bench, with the seats, was attached the the legged cabinet and the entire ensemble painted black before attaching the silver handles.

It worked well for us for many years, but three years ago we purchased a new dining room set which made the bench seat less necessary, so it was retired to the basement, where it has been acquiring dust and cobwebs ever since.

We painted the living room this past month and decided to update the decor some. We went to a furniture store, because that is a good place to dream even if you can't afford to buy. We saw a padded bench seat and that was where the dream began.

I came home and dismantled the seat. It is here I must interrupt to talk about a couple of mistakes. The first is I counter sank the screws and then filled them before painting. This made it much more difficult to take the seat apart. The second issue is the seats were screwed to the pine plank. The pine plank was screwed into the cabinet, which left the screws into the seats inaccessible. It was difficult to dismantle, but eventually, through great perseverance, it happened. 

Using the pine plank, I was ready to upholster a padded seat. I bought a 3" thick pad and had the store cut it to the size I needed. While you can cut it yourself (using an electric knife), I don't own one, so I had the store cut it to two inches larger than the pine plank. By having the foam larger, it allows for a plush and overstuffed look rather than emaciated and dilapidated. (Think about how you look trying to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans 1 month post-partum. Plush? Overstuffed?)

The next step was to make a cover to go between the foam and the upholstery fabric. This layer serves to keep your fabric from sticking to the foam. The liner has three layers quilted together. The top is nylon, or some other slick and slide fabric, the middle-a thin layer of batting, and the bottom is interfacing. The interfacing sticks to the foam while the nylon allows for sliding of the upholstery. I traced the perimeter of the pine plank (the black line), and then measured out the distance of the thickness of the foam plus the pine plank (In this case 3 1/2 inches) all around (marked in red). I then cut along the red lines to create the foam covering layer of the upholstered bench seat.

The next step is to sew the edges to make the corners. Essentially you are taking a flat, two dimensional layer of fabric and making it into a three dimensional shape. My math skills are not stellar, so I imagine explaining said use of mathematics might not be so superb either.

You want to make a 90 degree angle to fit over the foam and pine plank seat. 45+45=90.

If you take the top and fold it to the side edge, it will create triangle. That is where you stitch. As you can see (barely) it is stitched from the black line indicating the size of the pine plank along the red line which is indicative of the 3 1/2 inches measured to create the necessary depth.

If you 've done it correctly it will create a fabric box, much like you can see in the picture.

Repeat that step for all four corners. The same process should be followed for the upholstery fabric, only now you have measurements and I would recommend using marking pens or something washable rather than permanent ink because if it bleeds through, it will ruin your finished seat. Also, you will likely want to allow even more fabric so that the wood is not visible beneath the seat. In this instance I did 5/12 inches total so that it allowed for two inches of overlap.

Once you have finished both the liner and the upholstery, it is a matter of stuffing the foam in, placing the wood on top, and stapling it down. I marked the wood 2" in so I could get a straight line. I would recommend that so that the pull is even and you don't have a lumpy finish because the fabric is stretched tighter in some areas than in others. Additionally, although it is not strictly necessary, I finished the edges of the upholstery fabric because it had a tendency to shed. . . like a long haired cat. . . going through chemotherapy. . . in the spring.

Once it is stapled all around, you'll have a beautiful seat. The final step is to reattach (or attach if you are building this from scratch) the seat to the bench. Turn over the seat so it is wood side up and center the seat on it. Then use screws of the right thickness (3/4 in this case) to attache the seat. Too short and the set falls of, too long and you run the risk of impaling unsuspecting guests.  I don't know that there is an exact formula for the ratio of screws to the size of the project, but I used 10 because that is how many there were in a package. Six probably would have been sufficient.
And there you have it. I should say that this is centered only side to side. The back is flush so that it can sit against the wall. It provides extra seating and storage for blankets or CD's or movies or small children; whatever I decide to keep in there. (Yes, the small children have all tried it out). I like it for blankets because they are out of sight, yet easily accessed for movie night.
No further explanation, just wanted to show it in its natural settings with the lamp and the mirror. Doesn't that look inviting? Like you wished you lived with me? I'm glad you don't. I'm not very hospitable and I already struggle with patience and kindness for the number of people already residing there.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha, you're so funny. I think you are completely hospitable. You've never been mean to me when I was there, at least not to my face :) You're my kinda gal!