DIY: Woven Leather Bench
Design Editor Lauren Petroff shares how to give a luxe look to an affordable bench with woven leather strips.
A bench is the perfect addition to a foyer, serving as both a practical and decorative piece. For this project, I elevated Ikea’s good-looking yet simple Norråker bench, embellishing the seat with woven strips of leather for style and texture. I love the combination of natural wood with cognac-toned leather, though you can paint or stain the legs if your bench is made of untreated wood.
Use a store-bought bench with a removable seat and budget for at least double the amount of leather than the surface area of the seat. For the best results, be sure to regularly sharpen the blade on your utility knife — the leather will cut far more easily.
You’ll need a store-bought bench (with removable seat), piece of leather, cutting mat, utility knife, metal ruler, staple gun and a drill (for bench assembly).
Detach the bench’s seat from its base. Measure the length of the seat, then add 10″ to the measurement (to ensure the strips can cover the top of the seat and wrap around the underside). Cut strips to this length, with a 1 1⁄2″ thickness, using a utility knife and ruler. Next, measure the seat’s depth and add 6″ (again, so the strips can wrap under the seat). Cut strips to this length, with a 1 1⁄2″ width, until you have enough to cover the seat.
The seat’s corners won’t be covered with weaving, so cut four butterfly-shaped patches out of the remaining leather, as shown, to conceal them (the patches should be long enough to be stapled 1 1⁄2″–2″ in from each corner). Attach the patches by overlapping the “wings” so that they form a triangle, as shown, then staple them to the top and underside of the bench seat.
Staple the end of a longer strip to the underside of the seat, a few inches in from one of the shorter edges, as shown (ensure the strip is facing the right way up). Pull the strip taut so it runs across the length of the seat to the opposite edge. Staple the end to the underside, as before. Repeat using all the long strips, leaving no gaps between them.
Weave the first shorter strip through the longer strips, leaving an even amount of excess length on each side. Alternate the weave of the next short strip for a basket- weave effect. Continue until the seat is covered.
Ensure that all the short strips are straight, then flip over the seat and staple them to the underside, pulling the strips taut without stretching the leather. (For added stability, I stapled my longer strips to the top of the seat, hiding the staples with my shorter strips as I went along.)
Adjust the strips as needed to close any gaps. Once your woven leather seat is complete, reattach the bench’s base as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions.