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.


  1. 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?

  2. - Brittany says:

    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.)

  3. Alanamous says:

    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 1×4 slats to match the pickets and built the frame out of 4×4'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. :)

  4. Anonymous says:

    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

  5. Suzanne says:

    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!

  6. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

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

  7. ★All Thingz Related★ says:

    I love it so much!

  8. 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!

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

  10. Sixty-Fifth Avenue says:

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

  11. Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek says:

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

  12. Amanda@The Hand Me Down House says:

    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!

  13. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper says:

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

  14. Diann @ The Thrifty Groove says:

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

  15. Amanda @ Serenity Now says:

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

  16. Kelli @ RTSM says:

    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:)

  17. Barbara says:

    So unique and the color is just wonderful!

  18. KatrinkaJane says:

    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))

  19. Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

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

  20. Caitlin Campbell says:

    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?

  21. savvy stitch says:

    You MADE this? I love it!!!

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

  23. 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.

  24. The Pennington Point says:

    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~

  25. Tammy at Tattered and Timeless says:

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

  26. 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!

  27. Ann Marie @ Twice Lovely says:

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

  28. Kristen says:

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

  29. Vanessa says:

    What an awesome idea and good use of old furniture!

  30. Michele says:

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

  31. Lori @ Projects Plenty says:

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

  32. 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!

  33. Michella says:

    ~ 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!!
    Have a wonderful day!!
    ~ Michella ~
    ~ ~ xo ~ ~

  34. Rachel@oneprettything.com says:

    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.

  35. Sixty-Fifth Avenue says:

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

  36. Amy @MaisonDecor says:

    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!

  37. Maryann @ Domestically-Speaking says:

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

  38. Stephanie Cameron says:

    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!

  39. Kelly @ Lucy's Daughter says:

    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!

  40. gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

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

  41. Sheri@childmade.com says:

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

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


  43. muralimanohar says:

    That is BRILLIANT!! 😀 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)

  44. creativejewishmom/Sara says:

    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!

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

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

    ~Karla @ It's The Little Things…

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

  48. Brittney says:

    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! :)

  49. Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking says:

    Love your bench and garden… especially the color.

  50. Sweeter Hours says:

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

  51. ★All Thingz Related★ says:

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

  52. Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys says:

    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?

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

  54. One Crafty Chick's Creations says:

    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!

  55. jodi @ back40life says:

    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!!

  56.  Tatum says:

    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

  57. CustomMade.com says:

    Great project!

  58. Holly Kennedy says:

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

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

  60. judy ratliff says:

    I love your bench,would you know of anybody that
    makes swing beds out of bed frames, I seen it
    once, but for the life of me I can’t remember where.
    Have a nice day, Judy

  61. Mary Fran says:

    This is a great, clear tutorial. I have the all-maple double bed I used as a kid, and have wanted to convert it to a bench for ages. Thanks for the tutorial and follow-up! You’ve renewed my hopes for success!


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