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Chairs get old. It’s just a thing that happens, a part of life, even for inanimate objects. They get sat on one too many times. The children climb on them. Uncle So-and-so (let’s blame him) leans back in his chair every time he visits until… snap. Now, what are we supposed to do?

An old chair can mean many things. Some are still sturdy, bastions of the booty and prepared for continued service. Some have wobbly legs, in need of minor surgery just to do a lesser job of their previous version. Others, as can happen to even the best of us as we age, get wobbly all over and lose control. Again, that’s life, and the life of a chair.

The great thing about aging chairs is that they often have so much character, a lifetime of memories and marks. They might have ornate legs or unique backs or special wood. That’s why when it comes to old chairs, perhaps with decades of service behind them, it’s important to let them ease into the twilight years with grace.

Old wooden chair

Source: inspector_81/Creative Commons

Whole Chairs

Sometimes old chairs are still viable sitting instruments. Maybe all of their friends (those matching mates from around the dining table) have passed on. On the other hand, perhaps all the parts are there but not quite as stoutly as they used to be. There are still purposeful options for such chairs.

  • A display piece: What decorator isn’t looking for an attractive stand on which to display a meaningful photo or bowl of knickknacks. An old chair that’s past its prime can likely still managed to hold home décor even if it can no longer regularly hold a person.
  • A bench: Perhaps one chair has broken from a set of four, so aesthetic sensibility requires buying a new set, leaving the three survivors wayward. Instead of them drifting around aimlessly, link them together and cover them with single cushion to make nifty bench.
  • A chalkboard: Old folding chairs, particularly the wooden ones, make cool chalkboards. Just paint the bottom of the seat with chalkboard paint and start writing messages. These are good for parties, small business, or children’s rooms.
  • A bird bath: Those beautiful metal garden chairs often get replaced with other outdoor furniture. Topped with a drip tray (as in under a plant pot), they make really nice birdbaths in the actual garden. The chairbacks provide perfect places for the birds to perch between dips.
  • A donation: Rather than throwing a perfectly good chair in the dump, donate it to a charity with a thrift store. Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Hospice, and Disabled Veterans are good options, and Goodwill and the Salvation Army work too. Maybe someone else will find the old chair useful.
Chair in a garden

Source: LouiseLePierres/Creative Commons

Broken Chairs

More than likely, when we are left scratching our heads as to what to do with an old chair, it has broken. Chairs have a rough deal, scraped across the floor, supporting undue weight time and again, being moved around. It’s no wonder some of them wear out a little sooner than we’d like. It’s almost as if we owe to them to let them retire in dignity.

  • A dog bed: Dogs love to jump into chairs anyways, so why not use that chair with a broken leg to make a dog bed? Cut the legs off or short,, add a nice cushion, and that’s a dog bed. A chair with arms works particularly well in this case because the arms make a nice chin rest.
  • A picture frame: Some chairs have lovely, ornate backs with carefully crafted carvings or features. These backs can be salvaged to make very attractive picture frames, either hollowing out the backrest and putting picture in its place, behind the framing, or putting a clip on the backrest to hang the picture out front.
  • A hanging rack: Whether it’s for hanging coats or keys or book bags or all of these things, a few hooks can instantly convert a chair back into an exception hanging rack. This makes coming home all the more welcoming. Plus, if the bottom of the chair is in decent shape, it can be used as a little stool for taking off shoes as well.
  • Repurposed legs: Sometimes it’s chair backs that go out, or the seats get cracked. But, the legs remain in good nick. For crafty people, these legs are amazing resources because they can be repurposed for homemade furniture projects. Nothing stands the test of time like a good, sturdy leg.
  • A planter: Chairs with questionable seats (or on their last legs, so to speak) make pretty nifty planters. Just cut out a circle sized to hold a plant pot. Slide the plant pot into the circle, a plant into the pot, and put it all out in the garden.

In short, there are plenty of interesting things to do with chairs, much more so than piling them amongst a bunch of garbage. Instead of letting them waste away in a landfill, it’s worth considering the more exciting options.

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