DIY outdoor furniture ideas: 10 unique designs to try

These DIY outdoor furniture ideas deliver on style as well as substance. You'll wonder why you ever spent money on patio furniture before

DIY outdoor furniture ideas including a cable drum table
(Image credit: Sussie Bell / Future)

DIY outdoor furniture ideas can be a great way to save money on styling up your patio. And there are many materials and items which can be used to create such unique pieces. Once you've seen some of them, we guarantee you'll never look at a broken chair, or an old paint can the same way again.

These days we're expecting more from our garden furniture. Many of us want it to be a reflection of our personal style, and deliver on beauty as well as practicality. DIY outdoor furniture should be no different. Just because something is homemade it doesn't need to look thrown together in a jumble (unless of course, that is the look you're going for!).

These DIY patio furniture ideas may be makeshift by name, but they'll enhance your outdoor space hugely, by offering extra seating or dining spaces, as well as looking fresh out of the style pages of a magazine.

Save money with these DIY outdoor furniture ideas

There are a few valuable resources to tap into if you're looking to create your own outdoor furniture. First, salvage yards, for things like pallets, as well as other waste materials like wooden spools and oil drums.

If salvage yards are proving fruitless, websites like Ebay will be a treasure trove of second hand goodies, which may have been passed over because of their style, but with the right eye could provide a valuable base for some fantastic DIY outdoor furniture ideas.

Flea markets are similar to Ebay in what you'll be able to find and may also be worth a visit as a starting point for your cheap garden ideas. Also keep an eye out for neighbors who are having a clear out. The most important thing is to keep an open mind, and to view items for their unique potential to be transformed into the best garden furniture, not as they are in their current form.

1. Turn oil drums into stylish stools

Garden stools made from oil drums with colorful seat pads

Create colorful custom seat pads for comfort

(Image credit: Future)

When friends and family convene for a seasonal get-together, there’s always the chance you will run out of chairs to go with your garden table ideas. Improvize extra seating using old oil drums, large logs or even a stack of old tires.

Oil drums are ideal because the smaller sizes are good for stools whereas full sized ones could make a great bar-style table to place high stools around. And if you have small children, you could make mini seats out of used paint cans. 

Just be sure to pretty them up with paint and cushions. Sewing skills can come into good effect when it comes to adding cushions in fun and vibrant prints to upcycled furniture.

2. Make a DIY swing seat from old chairs

Outdoor swing made from dining chairs hanging from a tree

Chair frames painted in Gentle Blue, Cloudy Day and Fern Canopy Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin paint

(Image credit: Sandtex)

This novel idea is easier to put together than you might think. And what's more, it can be created using existing furniture. You'll need two sturdy planks of wood to act as the base of the seat, and a drill with a thick drill bit to create holes in the four corners for a sturdy rope to be threaded through and knotted.

Three unwanted chairs sit on top of the planks. Saw the legs off and firmly screw them in place. Then all that's left to do is get creative with some garden furniture paint ideas. You could decorate them all in the same color, or opt for a mix of exterior wood paint and create a multi-colored seating option. 

The swing seat can be hung from a strong tree branch. You'll need someone to help you with this to foot a ladder and make sure that the swing is straight.

3. Use a cable reel as an outdoor table

A garden table made from a cable drum

A cable reel makes a rustic yet stylish garden table

(Image credit: Sussie Bell / Future)

Whether you salvage them for free or  buy wooden cable reels at Ebay, these practical items can make wonderful DIY outdoor furniture ideas. Depending on the size they could be used for dining tables or side tables.

This family made use of a cable reel that they'd been given and turned it into one of their best wooden garden furniture pieces. It was in keeping with the industrial style of their garden furniture. 'We dressed it up with emerald green textiles, gold plates and cutlery, and clashing oversized candlesticks – perfect for sunset cocktails alfresco,' says owner Beth. 'The simple addition of cushions to our old white metal chairs bought comfort and color to our newly refurbished space.'

4. Turn an old coffee table frame into a woven bench seat

A woven seat which uses the legs of an old coffee table as a frame

Woven seating is comfortable as well as cheap to create

(Image credit: Future)

Are you adept at yarn crafts? If so you might find that skills like weaving could prove extremely useful when you're thinking about DIY outdoor furniture ideas. In this example, a low woven seat, which wouldn't look out of place in a boutique home store, has been simply created using coffee table legs as a frame.

The surface of the table has been detached from the lower frame and the seat has been created with a sturdy rope material. Strands of the rope have been wrapped around from side to side, top to bottom and then woven in an over-under formation to fill the area. It's a great way to add lots of character to your space, rather than simply opting for one of the best garden benches from your local store. 

You Tube will have tutorials on how to do simple weaving, alternatively you could ask a crafty friend or relative to help you out. Just bear in mind that you will need a lot of rope, and it needs to be flexible enough to weave with.

5. Stack wooden pallets to create inexpensive seating

A sturdy outdoor sofa for the garden

Pallets are ideal materials for DIY outdoor furniture ideas

(Image credit: Future)

Perhaps the simplest of all DIY outdoor furniture ideas is a stacked pallet sofa. It's also a great beginner project as it requires little or no assembling. Pallets can be picked up in so many places and for free. Depending on your job, you could start by asking at your place of work. Next try your luck at local businesses. 

Simply stack your pallets to the desired height and cover with cushions. To take your pallet furniture ideas to the next level you may wish to add wheels to the base for easy movement, or even attach a back rest for added comfort.

Want to learn how to make a pallet bench instead? Our dedicated guide is the best place to start. 

6. Build extra seating around a tree trunk

A wooden seat around the base of a tree trunk

Accessories from a collection at Norsu Interiors

(Image credit: Norsu)

Make an intimate seating space in an unused area by wrapping wooden seating around the base of a tree. You can put this together using planks of timber to form a box around the edge of the trunk and nail the pieces together.

Custom bought tree seats are usually delivered in at least two separate pieces to allow you to assemble them around the tree. So if you're attempting DIY garden furniture ideas like this then remember to build around the tree as you go.

7. Construct a wooden outdoor bar

Outdoor bar made of pallet wood with a low table and cushion seating

Treat your DIY bar and table using Sadolin varnish

(Image credit: Sadolin)

Chipboard is an inexpensive material and it's very easy to work with. If you're making DIY outdoor furniture ideas out of pallets then chipboard can be a great way to give a smoother finish and also to make the structure more sound.

This uncomplicated outdoor bar idea uses three pallets. One is used for the front of the bar and then one each go on either side. This simple, open-rectangle shape should be able to balance on its own, but keep children supervized at all times, as any free standing lightweight furniture may be a hazard.

Chipboard is attached to create the bar's surface and the front of the structure to finish off what would be a brilliant addition to your deck furniture ideas

8. Use a specialist chair and table kit

A wooden outdoor table and bench seating in a walled garden

(Image credit: WoodBlocX)

If you're new to DIY, you might want to go for a furniture kit so that you can build yourself some outdoor seating ideas without getting into a pickle. It's a little bit different to a conventional DIY project as all of the pieces are pre-cut and you just need to build it following the step-by-step instructions.

WoodBlocX is a modular system that it a little bit like giant Lego for the garden; the lightweight wooden blocks are held together using strong dowels. The finished structures are strong, study and will stand up to outdoor weather.

9. Use a vintage chest as a coffee table

A large vintage trunk used as a coffee table

(Image credit: David Woolley / Future )

As part of her garden makeover, florist Deborah used her creativity when it came to furnishing her backyard. She found a vintage suitcase at a local flea market and decided to use it as an outdoor coffee table. 

Special items like this are usually not suitable for leaving outside in all weathers, particularly if you're unsure how to clean outdoor furniture when it's made from unusual materials. So this is a good DIY furniture idea if you have a place that you can store it when it's not in use. 

But consider the fact that the trunk itself will make a good item of garden storage too. You could use it to pack throws and cushions into when the weather turns.

10. Carve a seat from a log

Solid wood chair made out of a tree trunk

(Image credit: Stihl)

If using felled wood for your DIY outdoor furniture ideas you should ensure that it's completely dry, which can take several years, but this can be sped up in a carpenter's drying chamber.

For a seat like this, the experts at Stihl recommend using a piece of wood nearer to the base of a tree trunk where the wood is thicker. 

You'll need one of the best chainsaws as your main tool for this job and the most important thing is to make sure you're dressed for safety. This includes goggles, gloves, a helmet, safety boots and protective trousers. It's important that you are confident with how to use a chainsaw before embarking on this project. 

To create the above chair, you'll need a piece of wood measuring about a foot across and two foot in height. Mark the area for the backrest and seat out with a pencil before you saw it off. Then do the same for the base. The optimum seat height for a chair is around 1.5ft.

What materials are best for DIY outdoor furniture?

There's a wide range of materials that can be put to good use when creating outdoor furniture. Unwanted timber is an obvious starting point, but look out for more unusual items too that can be used for some truly unique free garden ideas. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Wooden pallets
  • Oil drums
  • Paint cans
  • Tires
  • Treated timber
  • Unwanted indoor furniture
  • Cable drums
  • Wooden spools
  • Wooden crates
  • Logs
  • Chipboard

Teresa has worked as an Editor on a number of gardening magazines for three years now. As well as holding editorship of Easy Gardens magazine and Woman's Weekly gardening she has worked as the gardening specialist on a number of home magazines including Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors, Ideal Home, Living etc and Style At Home, so she is lucky enough to see and write about gardening across all sizes, budgets and abilities.

These years in the industry have meant that she has developed close working relationships with top garden designers and landscape architects having access to their projects and and expertise. Attending industry events such as Chelsea Flower Show and other garden openings and launches. Last year she was on the judging panel for the Society of Garden Designers awards and she continues to be this year too.

She recently moved into her first home and the garden is a real project! Currently she is relishing planning her own design and planting schemes. What she is most passionate about when it comes to gardening are the positive effects it has on our mental health to grow and care for plants. Keeping our patches alive with greenery is great for the environment too and help provide food and shelter for wildlife.