When my husband (my fiancé at the time) and I got our first jobs in Germany, we were young, handsome, in love and broke. For our first apartment, we had to buy cheap, easy-to-move and practical furniture. Of course, we turned to IKEA.
For our small dining area in the middle of the one and only room of our home, we bought the JOKKMOKK set of four chairs and a table and then used it for four years before moving with it to France.
A few years after, we welcomed twins, had a little more money and changed the chairs. Then the table. Then the house. Two of the JOKKMOKK chairs went to the waste recycling center because they were broken but the other two remained in our garage for months. We thought they will stay there forever, as some sort of sweet reminder.
But, thankfully for them, it appears a few weeks ago that we lacked an outdoor bench to watch the children when they play outside. We thus decided to turn our two remaining JOKKMOKK chairs into a lovely bench for outdoor use.
One wood plank slightly bigger or longer than the 2 chairs (when the chairs are placed side by side). Get a thick plank (that is at least the same thickness as the JOKKMOKK seats)
Paint and stain – according to how you would like to finish the outdoor bench. Choose wood paint/ stain for outdoor use. (It’s “lasure” in French, maybe wood stain? It should protect your wood from the elements). We chose to paint the chairs with “Nuance Xtrem bois rouge basque satin” and to let the plank natural, but we stained it for outside using “Nuance lasure haute protection” colorless.
Paint material – this could mean brushes, paint roller, an old shirt to put over your pretty clothes. Sandpaper: choose a rough grid if you want to give your bench a vintage look and a fine one to have it smooth.
An Allen key (for IKEA furniture) or a screwdriver
Time: we needed about 3 hours. My husband and I, on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden. Add, according to your wood treatment, 24 to 48 hours to allow each layer of paint to dry.
Steps to hack your dining chairs into an outdoor bench
Preparing the chair frames
1. Clean your chairs
2. Unscrew the seat of each chair. Keep the screws, because you will need them later to screw the wood plank onto the chair frame.
3. Use sandpaper and scrub gently the chair frame to remove the varnish. Do the same for your plank if needed.
4. Clean the chairs and the plank with a dry and clean rag to remove the sawdust. Now, you are ready to paint.
5. Paint the two chairs frames entirely, including the sections underneath (as they might be seen from a distance).
6. Allow the paint to dry. If necessary, repeat with a second coat.
Making the bench seat
7. Next is to decide how you want to place your chairs to make the bench. You can either have your chairs directly next to each other to make a short bench. Or place them apart to allow a third person to sit in between. (Be careful! If the chairs are too far apart, the unsupported middle section of the plank might arch). Once you have decided on your formation, put the wood plank on the frames of the chairs. Using a pencil, make a mark of both chair frames on the plank. The marks are where you’ll saw through the plank and allow it to fit exactly onto the chair frames.
8. After marking the plank saw it. You can choose to give the seats the shape of the JOKKMOKK chairs or a different one. We decided to stick with the original shape of the seats and my husband sawed following the red lines on the picture above.
9. Scrub the edge of the plank with sandpaper.
10. Treat or paint your wood plank. Allow it to dry. Go for a second layer if you need one. Allow it to dry.
You are almost done
11. When the paint on the chair frames and the plank are dry, position the plank cautiously on the painted seat frames. Remember to put the chairs next to each other or aside, as you chose before.
12. Screw the plank in from underneath, using the original screw holes from Ikea and the original screws you kept.
Your outdoor bench is finished! Add matching cushions to complete the look and enjoy!
Our lovely JOKKMOKK outdoor bench is located next to our front door, under a small roof protecting it from bad weather. Our children like taking off their shoes on it. I like to read my book on my IKEA-hacked bench and watch the kids play in the alley. My husband like that we did this (the bench and the kids ;-)) together. Hope you will like it too.