Everything old is new again

Seeking an "outdoor living room" on a shoestring budget, Sandra gets on a DIY kick — and saves money, big time.

A coat of outdoor paint and a clearance cushion (slightly altered by Sandra) has made an old garden bench new again.

My husband dreams of lazy weekend afternoons in our backyard, of falling asleep in the sun and waking up to man the barbecue for family and friends who’ve stopped by to visit.

In theory, all of those things have been possible on any number of the warm-weather weekends we’ve had in this house, which we bought three-and-a-half years ago. Except for the fact that we haven’t had any comfortable backyard furniture. We’ve been working with an inexpensive wooden outdoor dining set with two benches — which seemed like a good idea when we bought it at our old house (“You can fit more people on benches than on individual chairs!”), but quickly became awkward whenever anyone needed to sit down at or get up from the table. Over the years, the table panels warped to the point where it was dangerous (from a spills perspective) to serve dinner on it. So we retired it to the garage and decided to do a little rearranging.

Matt moved the barbecue off the deck and, voila!: Instantly bigger deck! We decided that guests can eat “buffet style,” so we aren’t looking to replace the table.

But the benches. Those benches! So weather-worn and un-cushioned, but still in reasonable shape. “What if we painted them, and got some inexpensive cushions?” I suggested. We had just repainted the deck, a job that took us a few hours on a Sunday with the girls’ help.

The painting was no problem, but the cushions were tricker. Individual seat cushions cost $20 apiece and up; and, furthermore, they didn’t quite fit three across, and two across would be too stingy. Not to mention: two cushions per bench, times two benches is $80 plus tax. Not exactly the cheap refresh I had in mind.

Then, last weekend, when we were in Ikea to get something for Bronwyn’s room, I spied the solution — in the “As-Is” section. It was a discontinued cushion set for a discontinued indoor lounge chair. I measured: The dimensions were perfect for our benches! All I’d have to do is detach the back cushion from the seat and leg cushion to get two same-size rectangles — a quick job with a pair of sewing scissors or a seam ripper.

Here’s what my rejuvenated bench looks like, post-paint job and cushion application. What do you think is it worthy of an afternoon nap?

FILED UNDER: