How to make your own custom outdoor seating (with built-in storage)

Are you looking for ways to maximise your outdoor space? Try making your own outdoor seating to fit your garden perfectly.

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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.

So many people had this realisation earlier this year, which led to a huge shortage in garden furniture, with retailers including IKEA facing stock problems when it came to products designed for the outdoors. 

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These shortages led Alicia Murphy, a DIY and interiors blogger based in Liverpool, to make their own garden furniture, custom-built to her small yard with storage. “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.

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

  • 2×4 wood for frame
  • 2×1 wood for covering frame
  • Decking boards for top
  • Mitre saw
  • Carpenters square
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • Wood screws
  • Hinges

How to create custom storage seating

  1. Use the mitre saw and cut down the 2×4 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. 
  2. Use the mitre saw and 2×4 wood to create the top and bottom frame of your seating For each frame, you should cut two pieces of 2×4 to the size of the length of the bench you want. 
  3. Cut three 2×4 wood slats using the mitre saw to connect the two pieces of 2×4 wood. Use the carpenter square to ensure all corners are right angled. Insert galvanised wood screws using a drill to secure.
  4. 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.
  5. Measure the front and sides of your bench and cut the 2×1 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.
  6. For the top, cut your decking board to the length of your bench using the mitre saw. 
  7. Cut slats of 2×1 and secure to the underside of your decking boards to fit them together. Make sure you cut the 2×1 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.
  8. 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.

Alicia has created a relaxing, outdoor space in her yard, The seating provides a storage space too

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

    Alicia designed and built her own custom garden seating.

    Alicia is a blogger based in Liverpool. Since purchasing her 100+ year old property in September 2018, she has been renovating it and documenting the process on her Instagram page and blog. 

Images: Alicia Murphy

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