A Lapse in Judgment Becomes Garden Art

In a recent post, An Old Stereo Cabinet is Transformed, I picked on my long-suffering husband, Chris, because he brought home an abandoned piece of furniture that didn’t seem to be worth the trouble of rehabbing.  But what I didn’t mention is that, around the same time, I did the exact same thing.

Only what I brought home was too icky to even bring into the house.

On the Curb for a Reason

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know that I have a hard time ignoring any piece of interesting furniture that has been kicked to the curb, like this dresser.

One of my hard-learned lessons is that I really should ignore any discarded piece of furniture that has upholstery, cushions, foam – in short, soft surfaces that more often than not harbor bad smells, mold, and even cooties.

But this chair.  Sure it had upholstery and foam, but it also had fun lines.  At one time, I reasoned, this chair must have really been something.  And I could bring it back to its former glory.

Chair as found on curb

My inner voice was screaming “You idiot!” as I packed it into my car.

When I got it home, Chris’s only comment was, “Looks like it’s been sitting outside for a while.”

I was already planning to replace every soft surface, but now the wood was also in question.  What kind of wood-eating insects were living in there?

I was tempted to take it back to the curb where I found it, but it was too late now, and someone might see me.

But no way was this cootie-laden white elephant coming into the house.  I would have to turn it into garden art.

Garden Art and Spider’s Nests

The seat of the chair would become a shallow planter, and the chair would be placed in the shade garden.

Preparing for Paint

I started by removing the upholstery and foam padding.  The chair had been poorly reupholstered with a lavender-colored faux-leather fabric fastened by a million tiny exposed staples.

Removing all the staples was time consuming but it gave me a chance to obsess over my poor judgment.

Allsop Home & Garden

I uncovered a sturdy set of metal springs in the seat.  They were fastened so well that I decided not to remove them.  I had already been through enough.

I scrubbed the chair clean – what was left of it.  All I had at this point was the wooden frame and an interesting set of seat springs.  Kind of cool!

Choosing the Paint

The lines of the chair would really pop with the right color.  But this chair was large.  If I painted it a bright color, it would look gaudy – like a clown throne at a circus.

So I needed a strong yet quiet color – something that would look nice in the shade garden.  I decided on a satin Valspar outdoor paint in “Oceanic” – a dignified shade of blue.

I masked off the seat springs before painting.

Garden art: Chair ready for paint

When I turned the chair upside down to paint the underside, I discovered a spider’s nest.  Since I was leaving the chair outside, I just left the nest and avoided spray painting it.  Let the little guys hatch.

Creating a Planting Area

The frame of the seat was about four inches deep, so Chris built a bottom for the frame out of plywood and drilled in a few drain holes.

Now the seat was a shallow planter with a set of springs at the top for interest.

Garden art: chair converted to planter

Planting the Seat

I filled the seat/planting area with good soil and planted a common ground cover – golden creeping Jenny – between the seat springs.   The plants could wind around the springs to create a fun look.

Garden art: Chair with creeping jenny winding around metal springs

Garden art: chair with creeping Jenny winding around springs

In the Shade Garden

My garden is very colorful, especially my back patio.  So I would probably have done this chair differently if it was going to be somewhere other than the shade garden.

But the shade garden is where I can rest my eyes.  It’s filled mostly with greens, whites, and blues – cool colors.  I didn’t want an accent piece that interrupted that quietness.

The chair, large as it is, is understated enough to fit in, yet it still catches the eye.

Garden art: chair converted to planter

Chair as garden art - arm detail

Chair as garden art

The golden creeping Jenny, recently planted, is just starting to spill over the sides of the frame.

I always have a lot to do in the garden, so I wanted a plant for this chair that would be low maintenance.  The creeping Jenny fits the bill.  I just need to cut it back once a year.  And once trimmed back, the metal springs can take over with their structural interest until the plants emerge again.

I played with the idea of fastening chicken wire to the back of the chair so that vines could creep up the back.  But the chair has such fun lines that I didn’t want it to be overpowered by plants.

So the back of the chair is left open to “frame” the ferns behind it.

Garden art - back of chair as frame

Baby Spiders

A few days ago, I was weeding around the chair.  And when I bumped it, dozens of tiny baby spiders cascaded from the arm on a delicate web chain.  The nest had hatched – luckily outside!

Want some fresh ideas for your outdoor space?  Visit my new 2016 Summer Style Boards page.

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25 Replies to “A Lapse in Judgment Becomes Garden Art”

    1. Debbie, I think the creeping jenny is fun too. The golden plants are prettier, I think, than the green ones, and not quite as “prolific.” I’ve never seen the golden ones bloom though. It will be interesting to find out if they do.

  1. Beautiful! I have seen chairs out in the garden before, but never one like that. I will have to be on the lookout for a chair with those type of springs!

    1. Yes, Christopher, I think my chair is larger than most garden art chairs. I love the springs, I think they really make it fun.

  2. I love your chair!! The lines, the color, where you put it and the plant in it. The best part is the story behind it. I did the same thing and just put my curbside chair in the garden. The seat opening is ginormous so I had to put a galvanized bucket in it to fill it. That’s okay because my elephant ears will grow nicely there.

    1. Thanks AnneMarie, your chair sounds very interesting. I’m sure elephant ears will look great. Thanks for stopping by today!

  3. Well, Heidi, I didn’t have much hope for this one — but you pulled through! One of your most enjoyable posts!

  4. What an ingenious idea Heidi. The chair not only adds visual interest to the garden, but I like that you’ve been able to re-purpose a piece of furniture that may have otherwise been discarded. Now I’m thinking about all those chairs I didn’t consider because they were too far gone for inside my home!
    Thanks for sharing this project at Shabbilicious Friday this week. I’m delighted to be featuring it at tomorrow’s party.

    1. Kerryanne, so glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks so much for hosting Shabbilicious Friday and for featuring this project!

    1. How fun, Sharon, thanks for the feature! I always enjoy visiting your website and your link party, Vintage Charm.

  5. Hi Heidi, love that golden creeping jenny. It’s such an eye catcher in the garden. I have it in a few of my planters. The chair turned out wonderful! Love the color you painted it. Thanks for sharing with SYC. I will befeaturing you this week.

  6. This was such a great way to still be able to use this piece after all! You left a comment on my blog so I came over for a visit and have truly enjoyed your blog! From the details of your greenhouse (convinced I need one now) to the beautiful update to the exterior of your Mom’s house…I just wanted to keep reading.

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