Introduction: DIY Outdoor Storage Bench

About: Part MacGyver, part Martha, creator, host and producer of Engineer Your Space, an award winning DIY home design show dedicated to clever, affordable and stylish solutions for common challenges faced by renters…

I’m very lucky to have a balcony and since I live in sunny California, I definitely wanted to make my balcony feel like an extension of my indoor space where I could eat and lounge to take in the sun. The challenge was to fit all of that into a 3.5 ft wide x 10 ft long space.

I just couldn’t find any furniture that would work so I designed and built my own DIY outdoor storage bench to fit perfectly on one end of my balcony. I built the entire structure using 2"x3", 1" x 6" and 1"x2" boards and I made a video of the building process for the bench but I'll outline the main steps here as well.

Step 1: Build the Base

I had all my lumber cut at the hardware store to make things easier - you need to have 2"x3" boards cut to make 2 frames for the sides and 3 frames for the middle, front and back. The measurements I've shown are for my bench, which is 39" x 39" and 17" high (minus the feet and cushion).

First I built the individual frames (5 total: front, back, middle and two sides), using a corner clamp to hold the boards together to drill pilot holes and put in the screws. A speed square helps to make sure that the middle board is at a 90 degree angle.

Step 2: Put the Base Together

I used clamps to hold the frames together to drill pilot holes and put in the screws. You want to put the screws near the outside edge and high enough to avoid the existing screws.

Step 3: Stain the Wood

I stained the frame, the boards with a solid white weather proofing stain

Step 4: Add Feet

I added feet made from 1'x2" redwood boards to elevate the bench to facilitate water drainage.

Step 5: Attach the 1"x6" Boards to the Frame

Place the first board flush with the bottom of the base and overhanging it to cover the side boards, drilling pilot holes before putting in the decking screws (1 1/4" long). I used a 1/4" thick plywood spacer in between the boards so that the sides would go up past the frame to cover the top boards and to keep the cushion in place.

Step 6: Build the Top

I attached two 1"x6" boards at the back and 1 at the front of the frame. Then I built a panel with 1"x6" boards attached to furring strips (1" x 2"), without leaving any gap in between the boards and making sure that the furring strips are inside enough so they don't hit the frame of the bench when the panel is down. I made a simple handle by drilling holes and knotting a string and attached the the panel to the back board with hinges. You need to leave some space between the front board and the panel to give it enough room to open easily.

I use the storage space for my gardening supplies and wood scraps but you could use plastic bins or large zip lock bags to store cushions or other things that need to stay dry.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Bench!

The bench has worked out perfectly and I get so much use out of it, it was well worth the effort to make it! It was only one of many projects that I did to transform my balcony from drab and boring to cozy and inviting.

You can see the beginning of the balcony makeover in the attached video, which includes how I gave the walls a makeover and made privacy panels, all easy to install and remove when I move out since I'm currently renting the apartment.

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