Swanky Leather Belt Lounge Chair

Written by  Rachael Ranney Wed Nov 02 2011 Last modified on Mon Jul 01 2013

Find out, step-by-step, how to make an old chair new again with a small investment in second-hand leather belts in this DIY project that anyone can do.

A sturdy old chair, $70 worth of thrift store belts, and a little upcycling resulted in this lounger, a truly unique eye-catching piece that looks good from any angle. Rachael Ranney, the host of {Re}habitat on the Go Green channel, shows how she gave an abandoned chair an entirely new lease on life.

Project Steps and Details

Here’s the breakdown of this leather belt chair project in seven easy steps.
  1. Sand and refinish. Remove rough spots and any preexisting paint or finish from your chair. Although you can use a chemical stripper, sandpaper will do this job and prepare the wood to take whatever stain, paint, lacquer, or finish you've chosen.

  2. Condition the belts. Old leather can get brittle, cracked, and stiff. You want supple.

  3. Disassemble the chair.  Depending on the type of chair you have, you may get to skip this step. Many instances of this project use simple armless dining chairs and only require a woven leather belt seat.

  4. Attach the belts. After you lay out the belts in the arrangement in which you will attach them from side to side, staple them to the underside of the frame of your chair. Each belt should wrap around the frame on both sides and be attached underneath. This will make the seat stronger and the staples will be hidden.

  5. Weave the belts. Attach a belt to the front of the chair as in Step 4 and weave it to the back. A simple over–under process, weaving creates a strong, comfortable seat. Pull the belts tightly as you go, keep the spacing uniform, and avoid gaps.

  6. Trim the excess leather. This chair will look good from any angle if you make clean uniform cuts with your utility knife. You can also use an extra belt or two as a band stapled to the frame to hide the ends of the attached belts.

  7. Reassemble. If you never had to disassemble your chair, you can skip this step as well. However, if you opted to remove the arms and legs to facilitate your work, put on your arms and legs and take a seat.

This repurposing project was so fun and easy – and had such fantastic results – that I decided to make an entire collection of leather belt chairs. Leave a comment to let me know what repurposing project you want to see next.

Rachael Ranney

Rachael Ranney

Rachael Ranney is the host and one of the creative forces behind the sustainable design and home décor series {Re}habitat on Buildipedia.com. This environmentally friendly how-to series focuses on repurposing salvaged, vintage, and recycled furniture and house wares in your home and garden.

As a lifetime treasure hunter, Rachael grew up scouring Midwest flea markets and thrift shops for unique and beautiful pieces. Raised among tinkerers and artists to value sustainable design, she is constantly pushing herself to see the beauty and possibilities within forgotten things.

Constantly inspired by the online green design and DIY communities, Rachael never stops searching for new projects and materials, discovering how to apply green practices everyday to her home and life.