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All Decked Out!

by - Monday, August 04, 2008

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench

HandyMan and I have been dreaming of renovating the deck all summer. Maybe it was romantic visions of making french toast topped with strawberries in our new kitchen and enjoying it out on our deck that got us eager to jump on this one. Funny, but with the kitchen reno lingering, and the days of summer dwindling, I never really thought we'd get started on the deck anytime soon. But soon enough, we were working on our first piece of DIY furniture: a bench seat with storage.




It all started with a little plan to take our deck from drab to fab. We knew we wanted to build a bench seat with storage for the deck. A few quick measurements and a rough drawing later, we had the dimensions to build an L-shaped banquette:
  • It would be 24 inches deep, 16 inches high (without the cushions), with one side 8 feet long, and the other 40 inches. 
  • We'd put a piano hinge on the top so (theoretically) we could use the benches for storage.
Wouldn't you know it, Home Depot was open late so we made the trip and came home with a truckload of wood. On a side note, did you know that Home Depot has a free Pick Up In Store service? You can order what you need online, no need to manoeuvre a cumbersome cart around, and pick up at your convenience.

We wanted to build this outdoor bench on a budget so we needed to maximize our materials. I'll admit - figuring out how many sheets of plywood or planks or 2x4s was totally HandyMan's domain. A few of his handy tips:
  • Make the long bench 8' so you can use 2x4x8 pieces of lumber for framing the longest side
  • Make the bench 16" high so you can face it in plywood (which conveniently is 4'x8' and can be cut into 16" strips). 
Generally, sizing any sort of DIY project to fit dimensional lumber will save you on cost and wastage. Yeah, I sooo didn't think of any of that!

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench


Here's the general steps on how to build a bench seat with storage on a deck:
  1. Construct the rough framing for the boxes out of 2x4's
  2. Affix 1/4" plywood to the face of the boxes
  3. Optional: Apply 4" wide wood strips (made from a 1x4x8 cut to size) around the perimeter of the front and side faces. We did this to tie in the look of the benches with the shaker cabinets in the adjacent kitchen. 
  4. Finally, we made the tops out of two 1x12x8 planks, hinges, lots of construction glue, and myriad calculations for the overhang. HandyMan also thought of the smaller details, like leaving room beneath the overhang for decorative trim, and rounding all the edges with a sander. 
Turns out, we needed to brace the top more than we thought (see the three support beams) so while we can still use the bench for storage, it is a little awkward getting long cushions inside. Were we to do this project again, we might have done the top as shown in this video, with a drop-in structure instead of a hinged top.

Nonetheless, eight hours later, we have the sweet beginnings of our outdoor deck bench seating.

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench

how to make an outdoor bench seat, bench with storage, outdoor l-shaped bench


Now we just have to figure what to do with the rest of the deck. These plastic chairs and planter on a scrap piece of carpet are not cutting it! We still have to do the major demo (removing the existing slats and latticework) and rework (straightening and fattening the posts, changing the railing, installing beadboard ceiling, painting the floors, railings, ceiling, and benches), but it's a start. Not bad for our first piece of DIY furniture ever. Hopefully, we'll get it all done before the summer end :o)

***

Interested in more outdoor and DIY build projects? Check out:



A Back Porch Makeover

Build A Walkway With Pavers

Build & Customize Storage Shed

Plywood Imagination Station

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14 comments

  1. Those look fabulous! I hope you'll get to use them for storage but even without that feature, they are lovely. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Thanks mrs.l! It was a bit of trial and error but they came out just like we wanted them. I can't wait to finish them up and throw a party out on the deck :)

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  3. You have a handyman alright. He's genius and he has done such a great job, WOW! You guys work together so well and the job is rewarding I'm sure. I'll be checking in to see the cushions and the very best to you getting them wrapped up before summer's end.

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  4. Oh this is great. I'm sure you'll storage all types of things there. As we're just renting currently, we don't want to build anything so we have a lovely (eyesore) of a huge Rubbermaid tote holding our gardening tools, bbq tools, etc.

    Also, I may have to knock this idea off, when I get the bf to build a window seat. I'll link the post if we ever get around to building it. :)

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  5. I am so envious of all that storage! So impressed and can't wait to see the cushion. The black and white really pops against the yellow, love it.

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  6. This is AMAZING!!!! It's unbelievable how you can transform the deck over just a couple of days!!

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  7. Looks wonderful! I would enjoying visiting on your deck. I love all your accessories...rug, garden stools (where from?), chairs, pillows, and lanterns.

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  8. this is very impressive! and the accessories are great, too!

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  9. debbie - thanks! HandyMan and I do work well together... as long I stay out of the architect-ing and he stays out of the design-ing ;)

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  10. 20SS - would love to see your window seat! We're planning on building two of them for the guest bedroom. This banquette was sort of a test. We'll just have to figure out something better for the seat support next time... the braces really impede the storage.

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  11. Thanks megan! I just threw all those accessories together, not sure what will stay outside yet. I got the garden stools at Home Outfitters here in Toronto which I'm guessing is like a Home Goods or TJMaxx Home store in the States? I've seen different varieties online too.

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  12. Freckles chick & Jennifer - it'll be fun accessorizing the space. I'm planning on adding some stripped curtains too :)

    Wen - you're welcome on the deck anytime ;)

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  13. Love those benches... Great job!

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  14. I could use those for my upper porch and maybe I can make mine deeper for napping , oh you have me thinking.
    Chris

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