DIY Outdoor Furniture

Written by katherine harder
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DIY Outdoor Furniture
Transform a discarded cable spool into an upholstered outdoor ottoman. (empty electrical spool image by jimcox40 from

No matter your budget, you can create a usable outdoor living and lounging area. Creatively re-imagine construction site materials and inexpensive items into a full set of patio and garden furniture. Using repurposed materials doesn't only save you money, but is also eco-friendly, making your garden and patio "green" in more ways than one. Items such as shipping pallets and cable spools are normally headed for the dump, but find new life under a coat of bright paint in your newly furnished backyard.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Antique door (second door optional)
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk
  • Four ceramic pots
  • Sandpaper
  • Exterior paint
  • Paint brush and tray
  • Four shipping pallets
  • Wood glue
  • Two patio bench cushions
  • Decorative exterior pillows
  • Cable spool
  • Exterior fabric
  • Fabric scissors
  • Upholstery foam
  • Garbage bag
  • Serrated knife
  • Upholstery stapler
  • Upholstery staples

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  1. 1

    Sand and paint the door and paint the pots to match each other and allow the paint to dry before you proceed; this step is optional.

  2. 2

    Measure the door for height and width. Draw a chalk rectangle matching these dimensions on your patio over the area where you want to place the table.

  3. 3

    Place the four ceramic pots open side down inside the chalk box, setting one just inside each corner. Wash away the chalk with a hose or a bucket of water.

  4. 4

    Place the door over the pots, using the pots as legs, to complete the table.

  1. 1

    Sand your pallets thoroughly, removing any splintered or rough edges. Paint your pallets, if you want to change their colour, matching them to the other furniture, if you want your outdoor furniture to match.

  2. 2

    Arrange two of your pallets into an "L" formation. Cover the top of the pallets with a liberal amount of wood glue. Place the remaining two pallets directly on top of the other pallets, matching all edges, to add height to the sectional.

  3. 3

    Add patio bench cushions and decorative exterior pillows to the top of the pallet sectional to add comfort to your outdoor seating. Add a door lengthwise behind one of the pallets to act as a decorative back, if you've placed the pallet against a wall or other tall, firm structure.

  1. 1

    Sand and paint the cable spool, matching it to the other furniture if matching is desired.

  2. 2

    Measure the diameter of one of the spool's circular ends. Cut out a piece of foam which matches the end of the spool's diameter, using the serrated knife. Wrap the foam in a garbage bag so it will be impervious to moisture.

  3. 3

    Add a few inches to the diameter measurement you just used, and then cut out a circle from the exterior fabric using that diameter. Set the circular piece of fabric good side down on the ground, and then set the foam piece in its centre; finally, set a circular end of the cable spool directly on top of that.

  4. 4

    Pull the edge of the fabric over to the underside of the spool's lip and staple it down. Pull an edge of fabric from the opposite side and staple that down. Staple around the entire circumference of the underside of the spool's lip, always stapling on the opposite side of your last staple.

  5. 5

    Turn the spool over to reveal its upholstered seat.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a mask when sanding. Paint in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.

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