small rustic outdoor diy bench

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Spruce up your outdoor space with this easy-to-build modern yet rustic cedar bench! See the step by step tutorial and source list.

This summer, there are going to be a lot of outdoor projects. Call me a glutton for hot Georgia weather or just plain crazy, but for the last six years, I’ve been daydreaming hardcore about having an outdoor space to entertain in. Currently, my patio is simply too dinky to accommodate those wishes:

patio before and after
Related: How to make an old patio look new for less than $100

I’ve made some progress in both the front and back yards, such as adding my raised garden beds along the fence line. And, there are other projects, such as:

…and so on. But honestly, those will probably all pale in comparison to the sheer volume of what I want to do this year. I’ll get to the details in a separate future post (it might even involve some BIG machinery), but for today, I wanted to share something on the smaller side.

Even though I have future plans to build out even more of an outdoor seating area later this year, Katie’s #greatoutdoorschallenge was hard to pass up. In fact, I love these challenges (like I’ve shared here, herehere, and here) because even though I’m usually slammed for time, they always give me the motivation I need to finish something that’s been on my to do list for so long that I nearly forgot it was there. So, I set out this week that in addition to my usual crazy schedule of this crazy month, I would tack on a simple goal to add a few more seats to the current (small and unimpressive) patio. I bought my supplies, made some cuts, analyzed stain choices, and…

greatoudoorschallenge Great Outdoors Challenge

Well, look-at-that: I’m not quite finished yet (cue sad trombone). In fact (UPDATED), I’m still probably going to be working in various time blocks over the weekend to get it all done, but since these challenge-y things are coordinated with multiple bloggers across multiple sites, my unending time optimism would mean that these other folks would have a dead link on their post while they waited on mine (in blogspeak, that’s just not a super desirable thing). So instead, I’m going to just share with you the progress I managed to make in the 24 hours I gave myself to actually have this project completed. And, here you go:

cedar outdoor benches

small rustic diy bench outdoor in progress

small rustic outdoor diy bench

Okay, so it’s not entirely done yet. But, taking my time isn’t exactly going against the grain per my usual style, anyway. I’m not sure I’m totally in love with the stain color yet (and it definitely looks uneven in the below as it begins to dry), but it seems to mellow as it soaks in, so I’m waiting things out before I chuck it in the trash — which, so I’ve heard, is not an uncommon temptation when stain goes awry… but there is hope! (and also, the little dividers are a smidge too high, but I have a nifty tool that should help that… more on that later if it actually all works out; again, I’m optimistic here!)

small rustic outdoor bench 1

My inspiration for this project came mostly from herehere and here, save for a little tweaking on the overall length and whether or not I worked gaps in between each 2×4. While I didn’t have time to cut things down on a table saw to get perfectly smooth edges like some of the other tutorials suggest, skipping the step doesn’t look half bad either. Especially since I’m working with cedar that’s a little rough, the rustic thing seems to work. I think if I were to have done the project where there were no gaps on the top bench pieces, the look of the sides would have been more crucial to get them all perfectly flat with no curved 2×4 sides. But, I guess I like the rustic look, so yay for me that it means less overall effort!

Products Used:

This post contains affiliate links — for the full disclosure policy, click here.

The plus side of these DIY outdoor benches (provided that I actually 1) resist the urge to quit and 2) finish them both and 3) still like the stain enough for 1 & 2) is that they will have multiple personalities; they can just as easily function as future side tables, be placed side-by-side as a coffee table, etc. The flexibility of modular-ish pieces can really be handy when the size of the crowd fluctuates, so even though I designed these to be sat on as small benches and bear the weight of my derrière, the possibilities are there in case people need a spot to put a drink down or put their feet up, too. Plus, they will be able to scale up with a larger seating area once I (hopefully) build it this summer.

I’ll save you from the cut list for now, because I’m still actually working on the overall idea as I move on to the second bench and I’ll have final measurements when they are both done. For now, however, I’ve got to put my stinky, sweaty self into the shower and run off to a dinner where I’m celebrating turning another year older with (most of) my sanity still intact. Like I said, it’s been a crazy month. Have a happy weekend, folks!

Don’t forget, there are other bloggers participating in the challenge, and you can link up too! Check out their awesome projects by clicking on the links below:

Great Outdoors Challenge

Addicted 2 DIY

Ugly Duckling House (you’re HERE)

Pneumatic Addict

That’s My Letter

My Repurposed Life

My Love 2 Create

Her Tool Belt

You can also upload your own outdoor projects on the blog hop below if you want to participate yourself (that’s kind of half the fun). I know lots of you are probably going to be working on a few projects this summer, so here’s a great chance to fill that to do list or that Pinterest board we all know you have at least the intent to start on — you know I’m in no position to judge! If you can’t see it in your email or reader, click over to my post and link up there.

Want another option? I later created a bunch of these for my firepit after I built my floating deck:

diy scrap wood outdoor bench seat - garden bench plans - deck boards and scrap 2x4s

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  1. Painting concrete really does make a difference. I cannot wait to see your other projects and I also have a long list of summer projects! I am linking up my patio makeover today .

  2. You’re just awesome. I can’t believe you are a one woman show! What product did you use on your patio?

    1. Head over to the post and there are more details about it, but it was a resurfacer product from Olympic. I was actually pretty scared to take the plunge on that one (SURE it would be ruined), but it’s held up REALLY well and I need to re-review it so people can see that it was really worth the effort! Here’s the link if you don’t want to go find it in the post (I wouldn’t, so I don’t expect you to!).

  3. I’m loving this little bench! I’ve seen the longer ones and always liked them, but a little single seat bench is perfect to move it around wherever you like. It would be a great end table too!

  4. I LOVE the slats in your bench! They are good for a sweaty bum in this GA heat. Sharing! And thanks for the linkback!

  5. I love your DIY projects! I’m excited to try this stool over the holiday weekend. Thanks for the post!