Have you spent all summer looking for garden furniture to no avail? Try making your own outdoor seating to fit your garden perfectly.
Welcome to The Curiosity Academy, Stylist’s new learning hub where you can access workshops, how-to guides, new research and learn the most up-to-date skills from the UK’s most in-the-know people.
Those of us who are lucky enough to have a garden have appreciated them more than ever over the past 18 months, and a lot of people have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how they can maximise their outdoor space. We’ve realised that cosy nights spent in beer gardens can be easily replicated at home and, with an outdoor heater and a few blankets, our gardens are perfect for entertaining all year round.
Many people had this realisation earlier this year, which led to a huge shortage in garden furniture, with retailers including IKEA facing shortages of outdoor furniture.
These shortages led Alicia Murphy, a DIY and interiors blogger based in Liverpool, to make her own custom-built garden furniture with storage that fits perfectly into her small yard. “So much was sold out and everything we could find was too big for our garden,” Alicia says. “Building our own furniture meant that we could fit it perfectly to our space. We even based the size of the seating on the cushions we wanted so we had our first choice option when it came to choosing colours and patterns for the cushion.”
Alicia was also able to create seating that incorporated built-in storage, where they can store everything they might need in their garden, including seasonal items like blankets and deck chairs. Anyone with a small space will know that storage can be hard to come by but making your own outdoor furniture that fits your needs is the perfect way to combat this, especially if you have spent the best part of summer sitting on make-do deck chairs or old, uncomfortable benches.
Alicia discovered a love for DIY in September 2018 when she bought her first house and, with no prior experience, has been able to renovate most of her home by herself. This is Alicia’s guide to building your own garden seating as a complete beginner, including the equipment you will need and a full tutorial.
What you will need to make custom storage seating
- 2x4 wood for frame
- 2x1 wood for covering frame
- Decking boards for top
- Mitre saw
- Carpenters square
- Tape measure
- Wood screws
How to create custom storage seating
- Use the mitre saw and cut down the 2x4 wood to create the legs of your bench. Cut them to the height you want your bench to be. You might need up to 6 legs if the bench is particularly long to make sure it is strong.
- Use the mitre saw and 2x4 wood to create the top and bottom frame of your seating For each frame, you should cut two pieces of 2x4 to the size of the length of the bench you want.
- Cut three 2x4 wood slats using the mitre saw to connect the two pieces of 2x4 wood. Use the carpenter square to ensure all corners are right angled. Insert galvanised wood screws using a drill to secure.
- Connect the legs to the frame using a drill and the galvanised wood screws. You can either connect the legs on the outside of your frame or inside, depending on how you want the bench to look.
- Measure the front and sides of your bench and cut the 2x1 wood with the mitre saw to size, so you have something to cover the front and sides of your bench. Secure with galvanised screws using a drill.
- For the top, cut your decking board to the length of your bench using the mitre saw.
- Cut slats of 2x1 and secure to the underside of your decking boards to fit them together. Make sure you cut the 2x1 to the correct size so it fits snugly inside your frame. Use galvanised wood screws to secure to the decking board using a drill and make sure you secure from through both the bottom and the top of the decking board to prevent them pulling away when the wood expands and shrinks in the weather.
- Secure the top of your bench to the frame using the hinges and galvanised screws.
Alicia’s tips for building your own outdoor storage
Measure twice, cut once
The whole point of making your own outdoor furniture is that it’s custom, so make sure you’re careful with your measurements so it fits perfectly. “We measured out so many times before making any purchases or cutting into the wood,” Alicia says. Measure your space and then mark your measurements with a pencil on your wood before cutting.
Paint will go a long way
You can absolutely leave your wooden seating as it is. However, Alicia suggests adding paint to brighten up your space and create a colour theme in your garden. Alicia painted the wall behind her seating white to contrast the light wood she chose for her seating.
Accessorise with indoor homeware
“You don’t need to buy furniture or accessories specifically designed for the outdoors,” Alicia says. For her seating, she bought cushions and cushion covers that were designed for indoor usage which works really well so long as you remember to move them indoors when it rains. “It means you have more options to pick from,” Alicia adds. You can do the same when adding accessories to the rest of your garden.
You can find more tutorials and expert tips on The Curiosity Academy’s Instagram page.
Alicia Murphy, DIY and interiors blogger
Images: Alicia Murphy