What To Do When You've Got Great Legs

Photographed within the studio of artist Danielle Nelson Mourning

From personal experience we’ve learned that great legs can really make a statement. Let us be clear…we’re talking about furniture legs. Like humans, even if things are rather hum-drum on top, one can still command attention with shapely legs. Thankfully, with furniture legs, whatever sits on top is easy to transform. Got a gorgeous set of legs but not sure how to use them? Below we've divulged our top tips for effortlessly transforming your pair into an awe-worthy upholstered piece. 

When it comes to legs, size matters. Here is a simple guide to which heights are the best fit for which pieces.

The versatility of a set of legs is vast - mainly (but not always) limited by their height. A set of legs can be effortlessly transformed into a footstool, ottoman, bench, coffee table, side table or even dining table. In this post we focus on using great legs to create upholstered pieces...rest assured, a forthcoming post will be on transforming legs and bases into tables!

Leg heights of 3”-6” are perfect for footstools and low profile ottomans or swapped onto another sofa or chair. 

Leg heights of 6” - 12” can be made into ottomans or low profile benches. 

Leg heights of 12” - 16” are ideal for standard height benches

Leg heights above 17" will most likely be from dining tables and range from 27" - 30" tall. These taller legs can be trimmed if they (a) are wood or another easy-to-cut material and (b) have a simple or repetitive design to allow for an natural cutting point.

Standard height legs for furniture upholstery and restoration

Another benefit of designing furniture around a set of legs is that they’re generally REALLY inexpensive. Take this set of gilded legs found at a vintage store in Los Angeles for $40!  Their ornateness combined with the subtle patina of the gilded finish gives them great character. The height (16") and corner-bracket design made them excellent candidates to support a bench. Plus, as discussed here in a previous post, one can never have too many benches in her life. 

Antique gilded furniture legs
Timorous Beasties Ex Libris velvet upholstery fabric

As with any revitalization project, there are infinite design directions one can pursue. With this bench, the client wanted to make a bold design statement with a slight nod to the legs’ royal feel. We landed on a most exquisite and utterly unique fabric from Timorous Beasties — “Ex Libris" velvet in brick color way. To accommodate this fabric's very, very large pattern (nearly 5’ x 2’) we created as long a bench as physics would allow without adding a fifth leg for support. Because these legs were designed with a recessed groove on the top (like an end cap) they had to be affixed at the four corners. 

photographed within the studio of artist danielle nelson mourning

photographed within the studio of artist danielle nelson mourning

A set of great legs is truly a blank canvas. It's a snap to transform them into a unique piece that perfectly fits both your personal style and your physical space. One small note: when determining how to use your great legs please remember to respect the laws of physics. For example, a delicate pair of legs will not suffice for the foundation of a heavy-use ottoman. Legs that attach at the corners (versus under the seat) don't work well for extra long benches.

Want a totally one-of-a-kind ottoman or bench for your home? Think legs! Here is a sampling of unique legs we found doing a quick search on Etsy (search term "furniture legs"). Already have fabulous legs? Get in touch here to transform them into a functional piece.