How to make a storage chair

How to make a storage chair

Posted 24th February

Keep crafty clutter at bay with this hidden storage chair

We bought this lone dining chair at a second-hand shop many years ago with the view of re-upholstering it – it had been covered several times and had layers of fabric tacked on over the years. With a little woodworking, some new fabric and a coat of paint we were able to transform the chair and add hidden under-seat storage – perfect for stowing away on-the-go projects.

You will need
dining chair
sand paper
damp cloth
PST 18 LI jigsaw, Bosch
tape measure
PSB 18 LI-2 Ergonomic drill, Bosch
Painter’s Touch spray paint in dark grey, Rust-Oleum
corner braces, B&Q
upholstery foam
1m wadding
staple gun
1m yellow cotton fabric
1m grey upholstery fabric
sewing machine and thread
hot glue gun
dark brown assembly joints, Screwfix



1 Begin by stripping the chair back. Ours had been recovered several times so there were various layers of fabric and padding to remove, each secured in place with nails, upholstery tacks and staples. We used a screwdriver and hammer to carefully remove all of these until just the wooden frame was left, without a seat base. Sand the chair all over then wipe with a damp cloth.

2 Make a template of the seat. To do this, first lay a large sheet of paper onto your work bench, then turn the chair upside down and place it on top, with the seat sat on the paper. Draw around the seat, then remove the chair. Cut out the shape – this is your template. Lay the template onto a sheet of MDF and draw around it twice. Use a jigsaw to cut the pieces out. These are the seat base, and seat cover – place the seat cover to one side.

Step 2

3 You will now need to decide how big you want the opening in your seat base to be (to access the storage box beneath) – ours was 21cm x 24cm; ensure that it will fit comfortably between the legs of your chair. Draw the shape out onto the middle of your seat base, and cut it out – drill holes at each corner, then use a jigsaw to cut between each hole. Sand all over to smooth the edges.

4 Make your storage box. Using the hole you cut in the seat base as a size guide, cut a piece of MDF to create the base of your box – ours measured 22cm x 25cm, as we wanted the inside edge of the box to fit flush with the hole in the seat base. Cut four rectangles of MDF to form the sides of your box – ours were 15cm wide x the length of each side, which gave us a box 14cm deep. Screw the four sides together, then screw the base into position to form the box. Sand all over.

5 Apply three coats of dark grey spray paint to all of the MDF pieces and the chair. Once dry, turn your seat base upside down. Place the box upside down onto it, aligning the edges of the top of the box with the hole in the seat base. Use corner braces to attach the two together.

Step 5

6 Turn the seat base (complete with box) right side up, and place it into position on the frame of the chair. The seat base should sit comfortably on the frame with the edges aligned. Use a drill to work pilot holes in each corner, then screw the seat base onto the frame to secure it.

Step 6

7 Make the seat cover. Use the template to cut one seat shape from upholstery foam, then place it on top of the seat cover. Lay out your wadding, then place the seat cover and foam onto it, foam-side-down. Cut the wadding around the seat, leaving a 3” border, then wrap it tightly around the two and staple into position to cover them. Repeat to wrap the seat cover with yellow fabric. Use the template to cut one final seat shape from MDF, and spray paint it grey. Once dry, screw it to the underside of the seat cover, to conceal the raw edges of the fabric.

Step 7

8 Make a pleated skirt. Measure the chair all around, and multiply it by three – this is how long your strip of fabric will need to be. Cut a strip, making it as wide as you like – we cut ours to around one third of the length of the chair leg, just enough to cover the box. Hem each edge using a sewing machine, then fold, pin and press a box pleat along the entire length of the strip. Stitch the pleats into position, then fix the strip around the chair, just below the seat – you can do this with a hot glue gun as we did, or with upholstery tacks.

Top tip
Screw assembly joints to the underside of your seat cover to keep it in place – if positioned correctly, they will sit down inside the edge of the hole and keep it anchored.

Sewing chair

Feature Sophie Holt
Photos Lizzie Orme

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Background image: Hammonds