most asked-about: the wave hill chair

I’M ASKED QUITE OFTEN about the sets of painted wooden chairs in my garden–one red, one chartreuse, one lavender–and where I got them. Saturday’s Open Day in the garden was no exception: lots of chair questions! They are an adaptation of the Wave Hill chair, named for the public garden in New York City, and you can order a plan inexpensively and DIY, or get someone to help (as I did). The details:

You can order the plan, a pdf, from Wave Hill’s shop. My pairs were adapted from there–made in cedar, not pine; the arms slightly longer; the wood slightly thicker and so on–and a savvy carpenter can adjust the angle of the seat and back before screwing everything together, to be more upright or less so. Follow the plans to the letter…or have some fun with them. Order the Wave Hill chair plan by calling the Wave Hill Shop at 718.549.3200 x 249, or email jenahb at wavehill dot org.

Want them painted? My expert woodworking neighbor recommends using Benjamin Moore Aura exterior on top of an oil-based primer to help stop any tannin bleed (assuming that the material is cedar, which is the best choice if you plant for long life of the chairs, or to leave them outdoors in winter). If there are knots, use oil-based Binz primer on the knots only.

You may recall my recent interview with Dan Benarcik of the amazing Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and his take on the chairs–and how other gardeners have adapted them. If not, it’s here.


  1. Maureen says:

    I visited Wave Hill this summer (which I highly recommend) and before I left I had to order two chairs, picked them up two weeks later and absolutely love them and love the soft grey color that Wave Hill paints them. Thanks Margaret because without your website I wouldn’t have known about them

  2. AC says:

    Aren’t you afraid to leave them out in the winter? I was considering recycled plastic ones just to keep them from rotting or splitting when I move them to mow.

  3. michele says:

    I am going to look into ordering the plans. I am on the West Coast in Mountain of Oregon. Have not seen theme here. Love yours. I would leave them out all year to enjoy. Even in the snow. I would never do plastic anything in my yard. I like your sugestion on protecting them with a good paint finish. Thank you for the link. Enjoy!

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Michele. They are truly great chairs. You won’t be sorry — and as I say, play with the design a bit here and there to suit your comfort. I did.

      Nice to see you, The Devoted Classicist. They are such fun to love around to give a colorful “lift” here and there as needed in the garden. See you both soon again, I hope.

  4. TerryK says:

    I ordered the plans from Wave Hill but have not had them made yet. I sat in ones at Innisfree Gardens that I think are similar and they are so comforatable.

  5. naomi d. says:

    I got similar ones in white cedar at a big store here in New Orleans, painted the parts and put them together. I leave them outside all year, which has caused two of four to rot after three years. I noticed the wood seemed inferior on those. If quality wood is bought by those using the plans, I figure leaving them out year round further north would not be half the problem it is here.

  6. mel says:

    aw, man… you had an open garden day? I wish I lived closer… : (

    we moved mid-June and have not had time or energy to address a garden, b/c the old house we bought sat empty for years and BOY is it telling us about its aches and pains from disuse… even if we had time and energy, we’d be out of money to do a proper and lovely job at the garden. it’s about to kill my hubby, who had built an enviable and wondrous garden at the last house. alas, in time. maybe next season. sigh.

  7. mary brighthaupt says:

    People respond to the brightly colored sculpture of the chair, too. I’ve seen it with Adirondacks. I think it is interesting: the different opinions about garden furniture punctuating a design or disappearing into the design. Chair as blossom.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Mary. Chair as blossom is well-put. It helps to enliven tired areas of the garden. I think, to have some moveable color. I am not much for “outdoor decorating” in a loud way, but a few chairs seems just right.

  8. Wave Hill Wedding says:

    Hi Margaret,

    I came across your post while searching online for the Wave Hill chairs. My fiancee and I are getting married at Wave Hill this fall, and I was hoping to buy her a pair of the chairs either as a birthday present (in two months) or as a wedding gift.

    The options appear to be three: (1) order the chairs directly from Wave Hill, (2) order them from Dan Benarcik, or (3) order the plan/materials and construct them ourselves. I love the idea of (3), so if that is the route I choose, do you suggest ordering the full kit of materials from Dan (he has that option on his site as well), or ordering just the plan from Wave Hill and then, as you seem to have done, finding the materials separately? Was the latter a hassle?

    Many thanks so much in advance for your help and for your incredibly helpful post in the first place.

    Hope all is well,


      1. Elizabeth Roche says:

        Hi Margaret,

        Could you please explain to me the difference between the Wave Hill original chair plans and the plans from Dave Benarcik? I am looking to build the chairs myself from some salvaged lumber from my (recently renovated) 1922 Craftsman Bungalow. I would prefer to support Wave Hill unless Dave’s adapted plans are more comfortable, or more easily constructed, …or something else I haven’t considered. (?) Thanks for your feedback. And also for your lovely books which have really inspired me.

  9. Cindy says:

    I have always admired your garden chairs. My husband ordered the plans and built them. He is ready to paint the chairs. May I have the name/number of the paint color that you used?

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