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diy rustic modern bench

So to start off project 715 (named because we're a family of 4, soon to be 5) living in a 715 sq ft, two bedroom house in Los Angeles I thought I would share little insights on how to make a small space work. It may seem like tight quarters but we love it and love the challenge of utilizing every nook and cranny. Living in a small space is all about using the space very wisely so there's room to play and move around.

Also if you're anything like me storage and use of square footage has to be practical. I'm not one that's going to fold my bed so it can turn into a desk, too much work and let's face it I love to lounge and might be a tad bit lazy.

This tutorial is for an indoor/outdoor cheap bench that doubles as a planter. We put it in the 'entry' of our bedroom and use it more often than we thought. We were inspired by this bench by Tao Concrete but just don't have the funds to purchase it.

Mission: Modern Indoor/Outdoor Bench (plus planter)
Duration: 2 hrs
Ninja Level: 1 (beginner)
Estimated Cost: $15-20
Weapons Needed: 
  • 2-3 boards of: 6ft-8ft long 2x2 lumber (we found our in the garden section of Home Depot)
  • Wood screws
  • 3 cinder blocks
  • Can of Wax Paste
  • Spray paint clear sealer 
  • Plant
  • Extra planting soil (optional)
  • Garden rocks (optional)
  • Saw
  • Screwdriver

1) Measure out the space that you're putting the bench, ours happened to be a sung 45.5". To measure out the length of the boards we put the cinder blocks in the space that we were going to put the bench. We've found that laying two blocks horizontal and one vertical makes for great beach height. We want the wood to cover over the first hole on the horizontal block and to extend a tad bit over the vertical block, measuring it out left us with 34" for the wood length.

2) Cutting your boards, because we choose 2x2 boards we needed to cut 6 boards at 34". Depending on the look you're going for these don't have to be exact. We like the rustic look and marked and cut without precision. 

3) After all 6 pieces has been cut lay them side by side and arrange them to the desired look that you're going after. I know I mentioned it in the Mission Statement but we happened to find the perfect weathered wood we're looking for in the outdoor garden department of Home Depot. The wood outdoors might be a California thing but the aging is the exact look we're trying to achieve. 

After laying them out measure the width of the boards, ours was 10 3/4". Cut two board this length and lay them perpendicular to the boards. We want the bottom board that is closest to the plant pot to be inward enough so that they'll lay on the inside of the blocks. The other side we want on the outside of the block (to prevent slippage). Screw in each board to the bottom board one by one.

4) Now its time to seal your wooden top of the bench and cinder blocks. We went with Minwax, Paste Finishing Wax for the wood and Rust-oleum clear gloss cover for the block. We decided on sealing the blocks because we intended to put a plant in them.

To wax just take a cloth, scrape out some wax and coat, repeat a few more times after first coat is dried.

5) Time to assemble! Move your cinder blocks into the designated spot. Start with the two horizontal ones, place the first one with the holes facing parapell to the ground and stack the next one with it facing up. 

Put your plant into the hole that your wooden bench top isn't covering and fill with soil and rocks. Place the other cinder block vertical at the distance you measured out. Then set the board across and you're all done!

Hope this cinder block planter/bench finds it's way into your home! Here's where we put in our home (see full layout here)

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  1. I found your blog through a link from ManMade DIY, and I'm in love with your site! Quick question, how tall is the finished bench? I can only find 10" cinder blocks, which seems so short for seating!

    1. Thank you so much! our finished bench is 17" high, average chair height is between 17"-18.5". Regular cinder blocks (at least out this way) is 10" x7.5". The wood we used was an inch thick giving it the extra it needed to be 'at height'. Hope this helps