The Porch Couch




About: I build, I teach, I learn. Happiest when covered in saw dust, sweat and machine grease. Visit for more projects and info.

Years ago, when I was living in India, my dear friends Riddhi and Peter, brought me to a restaurant called Shisha Cafe. That place made a serious impression on me, and I've been daydreaming about it ever since. It was raining outside that day, but the cafe has clear plastic ceilings, and plants all around, and it felt like no indoor place I had ever been before. We sat on a deep couch (maybe its a day bed) ate delicious food, and drank tea and beer for hours. There are many parts of that place that I will not be able to replicate here in Massachusetts, but the couch I can do. I pitched the idea to the other members of my Co-op house and they were all on board, so it was time to build.

Step 1: CAD

As with most builds these days, I started in Fusion 360. The model is uploaded on this step. The model is based on the dimensions of my porch, but unless I made a mistake, you should be able to update the dimensions in the early sketches to update the size of to fit a different sized space.

Step 2: Materials

I was lucky enough to find a mill building not far from where I live that was being refurbished (or maybe torn down, I actually don't know). They crew in charge of the demolition was kind enough to let me drag a way a truck-load of old floor boards. It was a bit of a scary ride in my small truck, but thankfully I made it back all in one piece.

Step 3: Parts Fab

I apologize in advance for the scarcity of photos for this part. I forgot to take more. The second photo also shows parts for a few non-instructables projects.

Honestly, most of the parts for this project were just rectangles. The pieces used for the seat have a couple half-lap joints in them that I cut with a cross cut saw. The only pieces that were at all complex are the uprights, each of those has an angle for the back and a cut-out for the seat assembly to fit in. I made one of these by hand with a band saw and belt sander, and then used it as a template to flush-rout the other 6 to match.

Step 4: Base Construction

Once all the pieces were cut, I glued the base assembly together. Turns out I was about 1/16 off on my half-lap joints so I shimmed them with pieces of veneer. Ooops.

Step 5: Installation

In the first picture for this step you can see how the vertical supports hold up the base and also act as structure for the back support. I designed this piece for easy assembly on-site, because I knew transport would have been impossible otherwise.

Step 6: Cussions

I pondered buying weatherproof fabric and stuffing and making my own cushions until I realized that getting pre-made cushions would be much much less expensive. I got six outdoor lounge chair cushions from Walmart and did some simple modifications so they would fit better in the couch. I cut two and sewed them at an angle for the sides. I another into three equal pieces and extended the bottom side of the middle three cushions. In the end six stock cushions fit the porch couch perfectly as five modified cushions. The photo with the Zazu dog shows the cushions before extension.

Sorry not sorry for all the foot selfies....

Step 7: Roof

Our porch couch is installed on a first floor porch directly under a second floor porch, so unfortunately water drips through when it rains. The couch and cushions are made from materials that should hold up to rain, but we wanted to be able to enjoy the space even in less than perfect weather, so it was time to install a second ceiling. Turns out corrugated plastic sheet is pretty inexpensive and easy to install. We also got some handy pre-cut wooden pieces that fit in the grooves of the plastic and make for easier mounting. We decided to paint these pieces purple. Because, why not?

Step 8: Enjoy

No outdoor relaxation space is complete without a Thoreau Pillow or three (contact me for details on the pillow).



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    9 Discussions


    19 days ago

    What did you use for boards in the center of the bottom of the couch? How are they attached?
    Great build!

    1 reply

    Reply 19 days ago

    Thanks for the comment. Glad you like it. Sorry I didn't share more about that part. The slats in the middle of the seat are sitting on a 1 inch by 1 inch rabbet and attatched with screws.


    Reply 26 days ago

    Thanks Audrey. It certainly feels like an oasis. You're welcome to come chill any time you are on the east coast.


    Reply 26 days ago

    We've got a pizza oven too. I'll make you a pizza.


    Reply 26 days ago

    Any time, Mike. I'll cook you a pizza in the brick oven too.