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Pretty Handy Girl: Turning a Craig's List Bed Frame into a Garden Bench

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Turning a Craig's List Bed Frame into a Garden Bench

While visiting one of Raleigh's local shabby chic boutiques, I fell in love with a sweet bench made from an old bed frame. But, the $350 price tag meant that our relationship was not meant to be. So, I began scouring Craig's List for the perfect bed frame to make into a bench in our front yard. Finally, I found a full sized cannonball bed frame that looked very similar to this one:

The bed was in good shape. It was made from real wood and it had wooden side rails. Best of all, the price was $40 (and I didn't have to drive more than 3 miles to buy it!)

After researching the web for ideas on how I wanted my bench to look, I found this site: http://www.robomargo.com/bench.html which has many photos of bed frames turned into benches.

Then I stumbled across Karla's bed over at: http://itsthelittlethingsthatmakeahouseahome.blogspot.com

Her husband had declared the bed frame a piece of junk when she asked him to turn it into a bench. I can't help giggling now that I've seen the finished project:


Isn't this bench A-DOR-ABLE!

Update: My middle Pretty Handy Sister (Yes, I actually have 2 Pretty Handy Sisters) just informed me that she had made these garden benches in the past: http://www.alanamous.com/v/Projects_001/GardenAccessories

So, here is my best effort at directing you through the transformation from a bed to bench (I neglected to photograph the process on this project since it was a pre-blog project.

Begin with the headboard and footboard, and set the side rails aside for now.

I pre-measured another bench and determined that I preferred a 18" seat height. Luckily the footboard worked perfectly in my plans. But, I needed to trim 3" off the bottom of my headboard legs.


Then determine the depth of your bench. I wanted mine to be 18". (This is a little deeper than a chair (15 - 16"), but it allowed for pillows behind our backs and a more substantial size.

Your footboard needs to be cut in half so it can become your arm rests. You might have to trim more from the center as I did to achieve your desired bed depth.



What you are left with is two sides for your bench:
Now you need to grab one of your side rails and cut it down to size for the front skirt of your bench. Simply measure the distance of your headboard from post to post:
Then cut your side rail to this exact width. (Or if your bed frame came with metal sides, you can use a 1" x 6" x 8' pine board instead.)



Now you will need to build a frame of 2" x 4" boards for stability. This frame needs to be able to fit between the front skirt piece (side rail cut to size) and the back of your bench (the headboard).

This is a picture of my bench tipped over so you can see the base support structure built of 2 x 4's (in red).


Now you have all the components to construct your bench frame.

Attach the arm rest to the back of your bench (used to be the headboard) by pre-drilling holes through the bedposts and then screwing in 3" long wood screws through the post and into the arm rest. Be sure that the arm rests are securely attached.

Here is a picture showing the screws from the back of my bench. and how the arm rest looks when attached.



Next you will attach your 2" x 4" frame to the back and sides of your bench. You can use screws, nails, and/or L-brackets to attach it.


Then, you can attach the front skirt piece (cut down side rail of bed) to the 2" x 4" support base using small nails or brads.


You are almost done with the construction! Time to cut some wood for the seat of your bench. I used two 1" x 10" boards cut down to size. Then cut out notches to fit around the corners of the bed posts.



Then use small nails or brads to nail your seat to the bench 2" x 4" frame.

After assembling my bench, I added wood putty to fill my nail holes and then caulked all the seams to keep water out of them.

I finished off my bench with one coat of spray primer and 2 coats of Rustoleum French Lilac spray paint (the color my boys picked out!)

Unfortunately, I neglected to coat my bench with polyurethane, so you will notice that the paint has chipped in places. After a few rain storms, I realized that my bed frame was made from several layers of wood that was glued together. So, you will also see some gaps in the wood. I plan to add a few more screws and a few coats of polyurethane to my bench to help stop any more weathering.


But, in the meantime, won't you come join me for some cool lemonade in the shade?


Step right this way.

Did you spot the blooming hostas and hellebores?

 Oh, you were too busy staring at this lavender beauty?

Won't you sit down in the cool shade...

...and sip some nice cold lemonade with me?

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to comment, especially if you have any questions.

Want to see more outdoor decor ideas? Head over to TheCSIProject.com for their outdoor challenge this week!
Visit thecsiproject.com



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59 Comments:

At July 6, 2010 at 9:03 AM , Anonymous Mom said...

I love the projects you have chosen. This bench does look inviting and the colors bring cool into a very hot July. I would like my non Facebook friends to see your projects. How do I direct them?

 
At July 6, 2010 at 9:11 AM , Blogger - Brittany said...

Thanks Mom!

You can send them an email with the blog address for this post (copy from the address window above). Then simply email them and paste the address into your email. If they like the blog, they can subscribe to it via email (see the enter your email box on the right side bar.)

 
At July 6, 2010 at 9:54 AM , Blogger Alanamous said...

I used an old garden gate as the back for my garden bench and a wooden picket fence for my neighbor's. For the seat, I cut 1x4 slats to match the pickets and built the frame out of 4x4's to mimic fence posts. http://www.alanamous.com/v/Projects_001/GardenAccessories

Mom - the website isn't a Facebook page, anybody can see it. :)

 
At July 6, 2010 at 10:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it! You have inspired me to find a bed and replace the bench on my porch (that is on it's way out anyway) :)! Rebecca

 
At July 6, 2010 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Suzanne said...

This is such a fabulous project. Seriously gorgeous! I've seen these before and thought they looked pretty difficult to make, so I appreciate your tutorial so much!

Thanks also for stopping by my blog today and leaving such a sweet comment! Your kind words meant so much!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 1:09 PM , Blogger Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

This is so great! I love the whimsy to it!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 2:07 PM , Blogger ★All Thingz Related★ said...

I love it so much!
{Rebekah}

 
At July 6, 2010 at 2:26 PM , Blogger Kristy said...

I've seen this idea before, but I love that you've included so much how-to detail! I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open for a headboard and footboard to use for a similar project!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 2:32 PM , Blogger Megan said...

so adorable and looks so cute in your garden! I love this idea! great tutorial, thanks for sharing!!!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 3:31 PM , Blogger Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

I am loving the color your boys picked out! It really pops in the garden. Great job, it looks great!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 3:39 PM , Blogger Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

She's very cute! Love that your boys picked purple!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 4:36 PM , Blogger Amanda@The Hand Me Down House said...

What a cute bench! I love that you could see it in a bed frame - you are SO creative! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and your really sweet comments!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 4:54 PM , Blogger Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

that is sooo cute! i love the color you chose for it. it's perfect!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 5:09 PM , Anonymous Diann @ The Thrifty Groove said...

Very nice and I love the color! Job well done!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 5:25 PM , Blogger Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

It looks awesome!! Love the color you chose. :) Good tutorial! I'm visiting from The CSI Project today. :)

 
At July 6, 2010 at 7:14 PM , Blogger Kelli @ RTSM said...

I really like this! And the color you used is amazing! Thanks for the step by step instructions! I'm stopping by from the CSI project:)

 
At July 6, 2010 at 7:26 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

So unique and the color is just wonderful!

 
At July 6, 2010 at 11:01 PM , Blogger KatrinkaJane said...

I only clicked on this project so I could find out the shade of paint you used! LOL Pretty pretty please tell me the brand and shade. :) ((fellow CSI crafter))

 
At July 6, 2010 at 11:31 PM , Anonymous Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) said...

KatrinkaJane - I used Rustoleum satin spray paint in French Lilac.

 
At July 7, 2010 at 12:57 AM , Blogger Caitlin Campbell said...

This cheerful bench certainly makes me want to grab a glass of lemonade and my favorite Diane Chamberlain book so I can spend a few quiet moments to myself in your little getaway spot. What about adding a Sunbrella bench cushion?

 
At July 7, 2010 at 3:09 AM , Blogger savvy stitch said...

You MADE this? I love it!!!

 
At July 7, 2010 at 1:18 PM , Blogger Aly said...

amazing! some day I'll be handy with something other than material. for now, I'll drool over what you make.

 
At July 7, 2010 at 7:53 PM , Anonymous Brooke said...

This is so awesome!! I love how it turned out, now I want to make something like this. :) Found you at Blue Cricket Design! Have a lovely day.

 
At July 7, 2010 at 11:02 PM , Blogger The Pennington Point said...

I have one of these and I love it. I added a skirt and cushion to mine and put it in the house. Great job! Lisa~

 
At July 8, 2010 at 7:00 PM , Blogger Tammy at Tattered and Timeless said...

It is simply gorgeous..I'll take a tall lemonade with my visit to your bench please.
tammy

 
At July 9, 2010 at 4:40 AM , Blogger Anji* said...

What a lovely bench! I love that you made it from a bed.. Great tutorial too, especially considering you didn't have photos of the whole process!

 
At July 9, 2010 at 10:23 AM , Blogger Ann Marie @ Twice Lovely said...

I love yours too!! Great color, and the posts really make it. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

 
At July 9, 2010 at 10:49 AM , Blogger Kristen said...

I absolutely love this idea! I am searching Craigslist now for the perfect bed! Yours looks so pretty and inviting!!

 
At July 9, 2010 at 11:01 AM , Blogger Vanessa said...

What an awesome idea and good use of old furniture!

 
At July 9, 2010 at 11:56 AM , Blogger Michele said...

I love your bench. Thanks so much for the detailed instructions, too.

 
At July 9, 2010 at 12:49 PM , Blogger Lori @ Projects Plenty said...

I saw this on the CSI Project and had to visit. What a great project... the piece is gorgeous. Thanks for the tutorial, too.

 
At July 9, 2010 at 1:45 PM , Blogger Patti said...

Amazing bench and I have three sets of head and footboards. I want to make a bench in the worst way but just a little afraid. Now with this tutorial I can try it. Thanks!

 
At July 9, 2010 at 3:47 PM , Blogger Michella said...

~ Love it!! You ARE a pretty handy girl :)) Awesome tutorial, very concise and easy to follow!! I bookmarked your page and will be trying this myself :)) Thank you so much for sharing!! Come and visit if you have a chance!!
http://michellamarie.blogspot.com/
Have a wonderful day!!
~ Michella ~
~ ~ xo ~ ~

 
At July 9, 2010 at 5:11 PM , Blogger Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Whoa... that looks amazing! I want to make one! I'll have to add bed frame to my thrifting/ yard sale wish list. Thanks so much for the how-to, I'll be linking.

 
At July 9, 2010 at 8:18 PM , Blogger Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

Congrats making the top 10!!
Have a fabulous weekend!
Londen

 
At July 9, 2010 at 10:01 PM , Blogger Amy @MaisonDecor said...

I am so going to make one for myself! I loooove this bench!~I love the color too. Thanks for showing the step by step on how to do this. It was great. Pat yourself on the back for this project. It looks so professional! I am going to follow you..keep inspiring me!

 
At July 10, 2010 at 12:51 AM , Blogger Maryann @ Domestically-Speaking said...

Wow... beautifully done & great directions too. I need to keep my eyes open for some headboard/footboards. Thanks for sharing at the PoPP.

 
At July 10, 2010 at 2:15 AM , Blogger Stephanie Cameron said...

Thanks for the great tutorial and links!! This is just what I needed for the courage to start my own. Thanks sooooo much!! It is soooo cute and I love the color. And your garden looks amazing!! Great work!

 
At July 10, 2010 at 7:25 AM , Blogger Kelly @ Lucy's Daughter said...

I've seen others like this and yours is my favorite! I'm not normally a purple-y person, but this is adorable and the color is perfect!

 
At July 10, 2010 at 10:54 AM , Blogger gail@myrepurposedlife.net said...

super tute! I love these, have made many.
Yours turned out very cute! great job.
gail

 
At July 10, 2010 at 10:20 PM , Blogger Sheri@childmade.com said...

LOVE the purple!! I would never have been that daring, but I LOVE it! Thanks for sharing ... I've posted a link.

 
At July 11, 2010 at 11:30 AM , Blogger idesign said...

i'm LOVING the end result! great job!!

-Jackie
http://jaclyndesigns.blogspot.com/

 
At July 11, 2010 at 3:48 PM , Blogger muralimanohar said...

That is BRILLIANT!! :D I am always seeing forlorn headboards or frames, and wish I knew what to do with them..now I know! :p (The other idea I just got recently...a friend of mine is doing square foot gardening, in raised beds, and used a toddler bed frame as the bed, with a bottom added!!! It is SO CUTE! lol)

 
At July 12, 2010 at 1:40 AM , Anonymous creativejewishmom/Sara said...

I love it and your tutorial is perfect! Could you stop by my blog linking party and link up? That would be great, my readers would just love to meet you! all the best and hope to see you there!

 
At July 12, 2010 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous Toni said...

What an awesome bench! Now I'll be on the lookout for a good bed frame!

 
At July 12, 2010 at 12:37 PM , Blogger Karla said...

I love, LOVE how your bench turned out!! The style and the color are absolutely perfect! Love it! :)

~Karla @ It's The Little Things...

 
At July 12, 2010 at 12:48 PM , Blogger Maria said...

Wow! This is so ingenious. Nice floral pattern on your blog too.

 
At July 12, 2010 at 1:42 PM , Blogger Brittney said...

WOW!! SO cute! I have seen some of these around and just LOVE them! You may have inspired me to get my husband busy on one of these! Now just to find the bed frame will be part of the fun! Like your name too! :)

 
At July 12, 2010 at 2:08 PM , Blogger Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

Love your bench and garden... especially the color.

 
At July 12, 2010 at 4:12 PM , Blogger Sweeter Hours said...

This is wonderful! I will be featuring it on my blog this week :)
LOVE this.

 
At July 12, 2010 at 7:23 PM , Blogger ★All Thingz Related★ said...

Thanks for joining us for Anything Related #14! ~Bridgette

 
At July 14, 2010 at 11:06 AM , Blogger Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

This project intimidates me but I want to try it with a head/footboard I got for a $1 at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Thanks for the great tutorial. I saved it for my future to do's. How do you keep it outside in the elements without the wood warping?

 
At July 14, 2010 at 12:35 PM , Blogger Jen said...

Love the bench! I've been wanting to try this for awhile..I gotta find the headboard first!
I'm a new follower!

 
At July 15, 2010 at 9:14 AM , Blogger One Crafty Chick's Creations said...

I love love love this idea! I have been scouring the thrift stores in search of the perfect bed so that I can make one for my porch!

 
At July 15, 2010 at 10:44 AM , Blogger jodi @ back40life said...

I'm officially addicted - such a perfect idea! We are turning our back deck into a screened in porch and some of these benches would be perfect! yea!!

 
At July 26, 2010 at 8:19 PM , Blogger  Tatum said...

This bench is amazing!! It is so beautiful. I stumbled upon your site but now I'm a follower! I'm new to blogging and I only hope to be as creative as you. Check me out if you get some time: manymomentsofme.blogspot.com.

Take care

 
At August 16, 2010 at 10:44 AM , Blogger CustomMade.com said...

Great project!

 
At August 20, 2010 at 1:11 AM , Blogger Holly Kennedy said...

Love your bench too...the color is great & FUN!

 
At December 11, 2010 at 12:58 AM , Blogger Melissa said...

Thia project is so brilliant! I will keep this in mind when I grow up, something my husband and I can do together. :)

 

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