A place to sit is what turns your garden into a destination, a place to linger, a respite from the daily grind. Seating transforms your yard into a parklike oasis where you can soak in the beauty of what you’ve labored to create.
It also allows you to seat your family and friends in comfort while you bore them with the minute details of the six varieties of tomatoes and nine kinds of lettuce you’ve planted.
Or maybe that’s just me.
The problem with garden seating, though, is the expense! Any step above plastic stackables and folding lawn chairs starts to get scary, especially if you want something with a little more character.
Enter the bed-into-bench. When I saw this idea for the first time I was smitten and had to make one of my own. The beauty of this project is its economy, its simplicity, and its endless variation. No two are alike.
Start with an old bed, headboard and footboard, rails optional. Start checking garage sales and thrift stores, or your own attic. Full or twin-sized beds work best. You’re probably going to be painting it, so surface condition is immaterial.
The headboard will form the back of the bench.
The footboard will become the sides of the bench.
A box is framed for the seat, and the seat is added. That’s it!
Here are some tips:
Place the footboard perpendicular to the headboard and eyeball it to help decide how deep you want the bench to be. Mark your cutting line accordingly and saw the footboard into two equal pieces.
You may need to alter the height of either the headboard or the footboard pieces to create a better bench. For my bench, I cut down the legs of the headboard a few inches so the arms would intersect the back at a better place.
Once the sides are connected, build the frame that will support the seat:
Pre-drill all holes to avoid splitting the wood. Use heavy duty construction lag screws for stability. These have star drive holes in the heads so you can drive them in flush with the surface of the boards.
L-brackets may be useful in some situations to improve the strength of the joints.
Use heavy-duty exterior glue.
Finish the bench to suit your style with exterior grade paint if the bench will be exposed to the elements. Try bright colors, an antiqued finish, stenciling, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Enjoy your one-of-a-kind creation!
P.S. If this looks and sounds familiar, you may have seen my article in Birds & Blooms magazine.