Build a Garden Bench from a Bed

by Daisy

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.

Because each bed is distinct, the construction techniques will vary for each project, but the basic principles are the same.

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.

Take advantage of the bed rails if you have them.  I used the bed rails to form part of the seat and the front apron of the bench.  I used scrap lumber to form the seat supports and part of the seat.

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. 

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.
Sharon August 26, 2011 at 4:48 am

I love this idea! How cleaver and creative! Thanks for sharing!

Missy August 26, 2011 at 5:46 am

Love it ?

Missy August 26, 2011 at 5:47 am

? not ?

Jeff August 26, 2011 at 6:14 am

Where’s the cup holder?

Tomato Lady August 26, 2011 at 6:18 am

Jeff–Aren’t you supposed to be painting or something?

Jeannie August 26, 2011 at 6:19 am

I saw this in Birds & Bloom & loved it. I looked it up, but couldn’t find it. Now I have it!!!! Thanks!!!!

Barbara Bradford August 26, 2011 at 6:30 am

This is a terrific idea, I love it!! Thanks for the share…..

Sondra August 26, 2011 at 7:26 am

So pretty!! Love it! I wish now I wouldn’t have passed up that old twin bed frame that I didn’t have a use for at the time.

JavaLady62 August 26, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Faaaabulous Daawling !!

wendy September 5, 2011 at 9:46 am

Thank you for the explicit, well illustrated instructions. I bought what turned out to be 3/4 bed and have been saving it to make a bench from it.

Lee October 5, 2011 at 9:29 am

How did you connect the sides to the back? Nails, screws, woodglue or slots?

Tomato Lady October 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

Lee–I used something called, I believe, “construction lag screws.” They’re heavy duty lag screws, but they have a star drive head so you can use a driver to screw it in flush with the surface (rather than having to use a wrench which would mean part of it still sticking out). Slots would be good too, but I don’t have a set up for that. It’s really up to each builder, but I found these lag screws to be a big help.

Natalie Meester October 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm

oh i luv it so much! Great idea! I am thinking of where I could place one in my home. The white would fit perfectly with my decor…lol!


ronda February 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm

T his looks like a way cool bench i had to buy a complete bed to get 2 matching rails for an antique tiger oak sleigh bed that was missing 1 rail so i’m using the x-ra rail on this project any tips would be great from one project to another !!! thanks Ronda

ronda February 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm

looks very nice any pointers thanks !!

Tomato Lady February 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

ronda–Just use good, heavy duty fasteners. If you come across any questions as you build, let me know!

ronda February 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thank you so much Tomato Lady . I appreciate your input What did you use for fasteners from headboard to foot board and how deep did you make your ) ( seat part ) of benches what size boards for the top ? Thanks again Ronda

Tomato Lady February 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm

ronda–I used heavy duty construction lag screws–ask at the home center. They are like big bolts but you can drive them in with a screwdriver. I don’t remember the exact measurements, but what I did was to find a comfortable chair and measure the seat depth of it. The seat boards were 1″ thick (actual planed thickness 3/4″). Hope I’ve answered your questions. Thank you, Ronda.

ronda February 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Yes you answered all my questions thanks so much if i need anything i will be contacting you have a great week Ronda

Holly October 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Saw this on Pinterest and fell in love with it. Unbelievably, my next door neighbor had the perfect head and footboards at their garage sale this morning for $5! Can’t wait to get my bench started! Thanks for the instructions!

Patricia de Oliveira Lemes May 11, 2013 at 8:39 am

Olá!!! Amei a sua ideia!!! Será que posso fazer igual com um berço velho que tenho aqui em casa??

Daisy May 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Patricia–Muito obrigado! Eu acho que você pode fazer.

Holly Day September 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Oh my, I followed a FB link not really sure what I would find and end up on a how to tutorial I should have known earlier: I just got rid of an old bed as I didn’t know what to do with it nor how to recycle it. Makes me want to go to the public container to see if it’s still there… At least I could make a cute garden bench with it 🙁

Edna Maria Calera Okumura October 6, 2013 at 4:59 am

Linda, muito bom a reutilizacão de móveis.

Daisy October 6, 2013 at 6:00 am


Margo January 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Thank you for sharing how to make a bed into a bench. I’ve always wanted to do this but didn’t know where to begin. The ones you have made are beautiful!

fatti March 5, 2014 at 11:02 am


Melissa February 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

I have the perfect bed for this. I can’t wait to get started! Thanks for sharing this great idea!

Donna July 26, 2015 at 10:08 am

I have a vintage full size headboard and footboard I’ve been wanting to repurpose into a day bed – thanks for the photos. Although I read you used construction lag screws to attach the sides to the back, I am thinking the footboard isn’t wide enough to accept the screw. Did you actually screw from the back of the headboard into the footboard?

Daisy July 26, 2015 at 10:23 am

Donna–It’s been a long time, and I no longer have the bench, but I believe so. However, each headboard is different and you can modify your construction techniques accordingly. Bolts would also make a good choice for joints, and consider L-braces for added stability as well.

Niki November 18, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Genius. Super simple construction, easy to follow instructions and exactly what l was looking for. Thanks very much for sharing.

Daisy November 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Thanks, Niki, hope you enjoy building one (or three!)

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