If I had to pick the project that really made me turn the corner on DIY and even got me thinking about a blog, it would be this project. Up until these couches, everything I had done consisted of improving on something somebody else had done. I'd never actually made anything. In fact, I didn't own a drill (or a saw, or screws, or any of it). When my bf and I talked about our dream home, I had two requests; a working fireplace, and a big yard, other than that I was open to anything. Having spent the past decade in tiny apartments with very little outdoor space, I was excited by the idea of having a space for al fresco dining and late night fires. When he brought up the idea of buying his grandfather's house to me, with it's nice sized yard and two fireplaces, I was sold. It was a fixer upper and We bought our house late in the summer, and set to work on the inside and all the fun that stripping 50 years of wallpaper entails. Which is to say, we didn't get to enjoy the yard those first few months in the house. Last Spring, I woke up one morning, and it was finally warm enough to start to work on the yard, it was time to transform the space!
Now unfortunately for me, I always seem to find inspiration in expensive places, and this time it was Pottery Barn. I had poured over their summer outdoor spaces catalogue, and fell in love with a vignette that had two couches and just seemed so inviting. I knew it was where I would spend my summer days lounging and reading, and my summer nights cozied up by a fire pit. The only problem was that these couches started at $700...each.
So, I looked at them for a while and decided, "I can make that." Which frankly was silly of me because I had never made anything resembling furniture...ever. I'm not sure who I thought I was, but something just told me it could be done. After scouring Pinterest for hours, I discovered the DIY furniture goddess herself, Ana White. Low and behold Ana had plans for outdoor sofas made entirely of 2 x4's. I read the plans several times over and over until I finally decided that I was ready to attempt it.
Plans in hand, I headed to Lowes, where an extremely nice man who worked in the lumber section helped me to find everything that I needed for the project. As I mentioned, I had never attempted anything like this. You can actually have Lowe's cut the wood for you if you don't own a saw (or are too nervous to use it) which is super helpful. Honestly though, sawing things is fun!
I'm not going to go step by step since you're much better off following Ana's actual plans. Essentially you make the "seat" area by attaching cross boards to the long boards. This ensures the couch has plenty of support. Then you make the arms and connect it together.
That first part was easy, honestly attaching the top rail was really difficult by myself. If you have a second hand around, it can be helpful for this part. Bf wasn't home and I wanted to get these done, so a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! Oh, see the ladder ball set? I used that to help prop things up so I could screw them in, kinda like a saw horse! (If I had a laughing face emoji, it would totally go right here). I don't recommend that you do that.
The only part that gave me trouble was the back because I didn't have a pocket hole drill at the time. Now I do, but I just modified by attaching an extra board to the back to screw the backrest into.
Making the first couch was so easy, that I went back the next day and got more supplies to make the second one. This one came together no problem. I used a deck stain on them to help seal them from the elements.
The couches only cost me $45 each to make. What did cost a bit was the cushions. I searched high and low. I didn't want thin cushions. I wanted deep seat, Pottery Barn-esque cushions. I ended up finding them at big lots. They were $25 each, which isn't bad, but since I had two couches it ended up costing $300. I actually had a $150 visa gift card that I had been saving to buy patio decor, so I rationalized $150 wasn't too bad for something we would use a lot. I don't know if they'll have them again this year, but here are similar cushions. You could definitely find more affordable options, or even make them yourself!
It total, the couches with cushions (if I didn't have a gift card) cost $390. That's not bad for two couches, considering the one's I was looking at were upwards of $700 for one! You could also do them much cheaper with different cushions. I actually had enough wood left over to build a small table that I put in between the couches to hold an outdoor lamp and our drinks.
The rest of the decor came from Christmas Tree Shop. I got the rug, outdoor pillows and lanterns there. The rug was $30, the pillows were between $7 and $14 and the lanterns were $3 each. We got the table at Lowe's the week after we moved into the house and just stored it. It was a floor model and they were switching their seasonal stuff so we got it for $100! The chairs and umbrella we had from another set. We got the portable heater of Amazon and I LOVE it. We use it on our deck and patio from early Spring all through the winter. I love having my coffee outside in April! We added a fire pit after these photos were taken which I'll blog on a later post!
All in all, I was thrilled with how the space turned out, and I can honestly say we used it almost every day during the summer. Whether it was a nice glass of wine after work, or hosting friends and family for fires on the weekend, this space was worth every penny (and didn't even cost a lot of them). For two afternoons of work with zero experience, we got a comfortable and welcoming outdoor space!
Do you have outdoor space? How do you utilize it?