#212 & 213. Make an Awesome Outdoor Bench for $80.

By the look on her face, Patsy was not impressed. But my friends on Instagram sure loved the heck out of this stupidly easy DIY project. 

By the look on her face, Patsy was not impressed. But my friends on Instagram sure loved the heck out of this stupidly easy DIY project. 

Last weekend, the beyonce hit up NOLA for his bachelor party. Three full days devoted to ugly-crying-missing-him. JK (sorry, beyonce)! Instead, I took the opportunity to cross on big to-do off my lift: Pimp out our porch. 

Prior to this makeover, we had a 12-year-old brown grody couch from Ikea that was literally covered in dust and pet hair. I was way too embarrassed to let anyone sit out there, even myself.

Change was necessary.

My first stop was Cost Plus World Market. I like to think of it as Anthropologie's cheaper cousin-- cute home furnishings, textiles and baskets... at a third of the price. I found this almost perfect option at CPWM: A deep bench with a sort of comfortable cushion (sold separately). I'd need to also buy a cover for the cushion (sold separately) and probably some pillows (sold separately). All in, I'd be looking at about $500. Ouch. I asked a sales associate about the bench and she said, "Lemme check to see if we even have that in stock." Five minutes later, she returned, stating that they "unfortunately were out of that bench, but could order one for me for an additional $90 (!) shipping fee." She said the bench could arrive in anywhere from three days to three weeks. 

Nope.

I reassessed my options. My friend Liz had shown me this bench she stumbled upon on Pinterest.

My inspiration.Hope I can replicate it! Photo by Lena Sekine.

My inspiration.Hope I can replicate it! Photo by Lena Sekine.

It was pretty cute! Of course, it required a little elbow grease from yours truly, something that always makes me apprehensive. I have a lot of anxiety about DIY projects-- that they'll look dumb or I will mess them up or burn down my house in the process. However, I had access to the beyonce's pickup truck, and this project required zero screws, nails or power tools (it's like the no-bake bars equivalent to carpentry!). I figured, what the hell. I'd give 'er a shot. Patsy (my doggie) and I measured out the space (the max width of the bench was 6' 10"), then we hit up the Home Depot together because they ALLOW DOGS!

MATERIALS:

12 cinder blocks (16 in. x 8 in. x 8 in.)
4 4x4, 8 ft. pressure-treated timber, cut to your specified length. 
2 cans of spray paint

Yep, THREE ingredients. So awesome.

We arrived at HD around 8:30am with this shopping list. The first sales guys I encountered lead me to these green-treated 4x4s, which I thought were super ugly. 

Quit showin' me that nasty wood. <<< probably sounds weird out of context.

Quit showin' me that nasty wood. <<< probably sounds weird out of context.

When I mentioned that I liked this much nicer looking cedar option, he said, "Well, that's gonna cost you extra." How much? "Fifty cents a board." Okay, well I am only buying four... so I think we're good. 

I picked four of these 4x4s, then had them cut down to 6'10". Way better!

Here's the cedar-treated wood. Now we're talking. 

Here's the cedar-treated wood. Now we're talking. 

If you've ever gone to Home Depot as a solo female, you're often treated like a total princess. Agree or disagree? I've found that the [mostly] male sales team tends to put on their kid gloves whenever I'm there (they won't let me load anything into my cart, they ask me questions in a way that makes me feel like a dum-dum). While I'd like to say this really bothers me (it does!) and leave it at that, I must admit that I did really appreciate not having to load 500 pounds of cinder blocks and 4x4s onto my cart.  

In total, I spent about $80 on materials. 

Patsy looks concerned. Don't worry, girl. I saw this on Pinterest. 

Patsy looks concerned. Don't worry, girl. I saw this on Pinterest. 

And here was the first hurdle with Project No-Bake Bench: cinder blocks weigh a ton. A guy at Home Depot helped me load them into my truck, but when I got home, it was all me baby. I'd guess each of them weigh about 40 pounds a pop, and they are just awkward enough that I had to move them one at a time. Oh, and the closest parking spot to my house was across the street and about 100 feet down. Workout!

For spray painting purposes, I set up the cinder blocks on my lawn in the configuration I'd planned for the porch. Then, I sprayed the crap outta them.

When in doubt, buy an extra can of spray paint.... I only bought one, then had to run to Ace Hardware. D'oh! 

When in doubt, buy an extra can of spray paint.... I only bought one, then had to run to Ace Hardware. D'oh! 

Paleo waffles. 

Paleo waffles. 

I'd invested a mere two hours into the project at this point, and was forced to take a break because I'd signed up for a CrossFit class. Not the best idea, considering my arms and legs were already gassed from carrying cinder blocks... and I still needed to haul them up a flight of stairs and out to my porch. Luckily, after class, I asked my CrossFit friend Emily if she'd help me haul everything upstairs and on to the porch. Asking for help (#213), which almost always makes me uncomfortable, made such a huge and helpful difference! 

Disclaimer: We know we look sweaty. Deal with it/Emily actually looks pretty great.

Disclaimer: We know we look sweaty. Deal with it/Emily actually looks pretty great.

Next step: set up blocks and thread the 4x4s through the top four squares. The porch is only about six inches wider than the boards, so there was a little sketchiness in trying to get them in place... especially when you are working solo. I almost dropped a cinder block on my foot once, but didn't! This job would've been easier with two people, but doable with just one.

Starting to look like something!

Starting to look like something!

Instead of forking over $200 for a cushion and cover from CPWM, I decided to wedge the cushions from my grody IKEA couch onto the bench. I ended up moving the cinder blocks further apart to accommodate the cushions & eventually, they fit! (and were FREE!)

Free cushions. Clearly. 

Free cushions. Clearly. 

Then, I tucked in a tapestry the beyonce and I bought while we were in Tanzania in 2012. We bought it, declaring, "We're going to make pillows out of these!" Still haven't... but now we have an awesome cover for our bench. You could use a cool flat sheet or find a cheapie piece of fabric... or you could go to Tanzania and pick one of these up for yourself. Up to you!

Been meaning to find a use for this gorgeous tapestry.

Been meaning to find a use for this gorgeous tapestry.

At this point, I headed back to CPWM and purchased an outdoor rug ($40) and five pillows ($120). The beyonce made the table a few years ago (well, he found the base in a dumpster and made a top for it... that's my bey!). I moved a pot of flowers, a succulent and some candles to jazz up the space. The multi-colored chair came from CB2 (a splurge at $199). So-what-who-cares-I-love-it!

OMG, it's like I live at a fancy hotel or something!

OMG, it's like I live at a fancy hotel or something!

In total, I spent about four hours on this project. And while the accessories brought up the price quite a bit, I still spent less than I would've on ONE bench with a fancy cushion. 

And look how pretty it is:

The rug really ties the room together.

The rug really ties the room together.

My own little peeping tom. 

My own little peeping tom. 

The beyonce was completely surprised (and hungover) when he returned from NOLA. We've sat out here every single day since... sometimes twice... or thrice. This is huge, especially considering we hardly ever sat on our porch when there was only a grody couch. It's like a whole new room. 

Have you guys ever brought a Pinterest pic to life? Did it work? PS here is another idiot-proof DIY project I did. Dining room chairs for next to nothin'!