DIY Outdoor Bench with Soft Cushion Back

Make a Comfy DIY Outdoor Bench

This bench was made to fit into a small front porch.  It needed to be small enough to leave room for safe entry, large enough to sit on, and comfortable.  Our neighbourhood has several Moms who sit out in their front yards visiting while the community children play.  I am hopeful that I will find some time to sit out front and join in.

A pretty diy turqoise bench on a front porch. porch, small front porch ideas, porch ideas, front porch ideas, front porch, front porch decorating ideas 

Hubs and I made this bench from Ana White’s Rugged Bench Tutorial.  We cut the 12″ board for the seat to 36″, the rest of the tutorial we followed exactly.  I love this bench because it’s different, its made from solid wood, it will take the punishment of being outdoors and it costs about $20 to put together.  The paint is a Tiffany Blue Sherwin Williams Exterior paint I had made at Lowes.

The bench is comfortable; the wrought iron railings not so much.  I originally thought of tying on two cushions but changed my mind.  Instead, I made one large cushion 16″ by 36″.

Here is the tutorial on how to make your own cushion back.

Pillow Insert

I wanted a very particular sized cushion to match the width of the bench and the height of the rod iron railing.  Instead of trying to find a pillow form it’s much easier and quicker to make your own.

Cut two pieces of muslin 18 by 38 inches

Iron and then place good sides facing each other.

Sew around three seams, for the final seam leave a 6-inch gap open for stuffing.  Turn the fabric right side out and iron.

Add the fiberfill stuffing (I reused some from old cushions) and then sew the opening closed.  It’s not a glamour photo but here is how the insert looks finished.

A custom DIY pillow insert for a soft cushion back and bench set for outdoor.

Make the Cushion Cover

Cut two pieces of the cushion material 18″ by 38″.

Cut 8 strips, 4″ by 15″ long.

Fold the strips over and run a narrow seam around 3 sides, leaving one narrow end open.

To make the tie ons, turn the strips right side out by working the fabric up through the open end.  Iron well.

Create the Coffee and Flowers Stencil

When stenciling onto fabric I prefer to use freezer paper, unfortunately, I had run out.   I have vinyl and stenciling material in my stash but it’s not worth using such a simple stencil. My stash has a whole stack of inexpensive plain white cardstock paper so I used that instead.  Doing it with cardstock is about $10 cheaper.

Using 3 pieces of 8″ by 11″ cardstock make a stencil.  My stencil was made using Honeyscript font and the pixel size is 480.

To hold the centers of the o,f,e etc. I taped them into place on one side.  I will remove the tape while painting.

A stencil used for painting a DIY soft backed cushion and bench for a pretty outdoor living area. DIY Stencil, DIY bench cushion, DIY outside cushion, DIY outside bench

Tape the stencil to the fabric making sure it is square and centered.

Filling in the Letters with Paint

This is really easy to do and I love the watercolour look.  Take 1 tbsp of grey chalk paint, add 1 tbsp of water and mixed them together.  If you don’t have chalk paint you can use regular acrylic paint and fabric medium.

Load the brush and remove most of the paint on the side of the container before applying the paint to the fabric.  Carefully brush onto your stencil starting on the paper and working towards the center.  Never paint from the center to the outside.  This reduces the chances of leakage and uneven letter edges.

Make sure to do the parts of the centers (o,f,e) that you can, keeping the tape in place.   At this stage the letters do not have to be filled completely, the goal is to make the outline legible.

A stencil used for painting a DIY soft backed cushion and bench for a pretty outdoor living area. DIY Stencil, DIY bench cushion, DIY outside cushion, DIY outside bench

Hold the letter centers in place (I pushed on mine with a large needle) remove the tape.  Apply paint where the tape had been.

Remove the stencil.  With a dry brush carefully spread the paint around to fill in the letters. Apply more paint if needed, but you will likely be able to use the paint already on the material.  Let it dry thoroughly. Once dry set the paint by sealing it with a hot iron.

Assembling the Cushion

To attach the tie ons. Take the non stenciled piece of material.

Directions on how to pin and sew a DIY soft backed cushion and bench for a pretty outdoor living area. DIY Stencil, DIY bench cushion, DIY outside cushion, DIY outside bench

Pin two tie ons open edge to the seam and tails towards the center.  For the top of the
cushion place the ties on four inches in from the edge and one in the middle.

For the bottom of the cushion place two strips in the center of the cushion.  Sew them into place and place back on your table.

To add the stenciled cushion front.

A stencil used for painting a DIY soft backed cushion and bench for a pretty outdoor living area. DIY Stencil, DIY bench cushion, DIY outside cushion, DIY outside bench

Take the painted front of the cushion and place face down on the top of the letters towards the top of the cushion where the three tie ons are.  Make sure to keep all of the tie ins facing the center of the cushion, pin.  Sew three seams, both longs side, and one short side.

Insert the large cushion.   The final seam can be turned in and fastened with microfleece or snaps.

Water Proofing

As this is going outside I Scotch Guarded this cushion.   I am going to test the Rust-Oleum NeverWet Outdoor Fabric Sealer.   But I haven’t purchased or applied it yet.  If any of you have used it, please let me know your thoughts.

This bench is part of my Small Front Porch Ideas for Summer days post.

The time it took to make this project is so worth it.  It’s wonderful to just sit outside enjoy our all too short summers, unplug from the internet for a bit and enjoy the neighbourhood.

A stencil used for painting a DIY soft backed cushion and bench for a pretty outdoor living area. DIY Stencil, DIY bench cushion, DIY outside cushion, DIY outside bench

If you like this post I think you will enjoy seeing how I coordinated all my outdoor spaces in our tiny urban yard.

Hope you love this little porch as much as I do.  h

A bench and cushion for a small outdoor space.


  1. The bench and pillow turned out perfect. I love the color you chose for the bench and the pillow is a lovely accent. Thank you for sharing your lovely porch with us at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty! Shared on social media!

  2. I love this project to bits! The cushion is such a fabulous idea and I love the stencil that you used! Perfect combination I say!

  3. Leanna I really like that you added the cushion on the back like that. I know at the end of the day when I sit down I want to lean back and relax into a soft cushion not a hard surface. You have done a great job!

  4. I really loved this little bench when I saw it last week Leanna. It’s the perfect color and fit for your tiny porch. The way you’ve made and hung the pillow at the back is pure genius too.

  5. Love your stencilled cushion back. I’d also look forward to see how you get on with the scotch guard waterproofing.

  6. I love this! I wish I could hang out here with you & brainstorm!! The people idea is so creative!

  7. This is beautiful Leanna! I love the pillow too! What a great idea for anywhere outside your home. You did a wonderful job!

  8. This is so beautiful Leanna, I absolutely love this colour and the sweet cushion for the back is a great idea! Wishing you a fun summer time, enjoy your pretty porch!!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Katrin: Thank you. Pup and I sit out there for short periods, we both love watching whats going on. Its so nice to be outdoors in the sun again.

      As always your feedback is valued and appreciated.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Cristina. Thanks for commenting. The idea came from problem solving, a small sitting area is much cheaper than a bigger deck lol.

  9. Oh this is gorgeous!! I would love to have this on my front porch. And that color- as a side note, I’ve been going crazy looking at paint samples for my kitchen (as an accent color), and I am TOTALLY going to get a sample of this Tiffany Blue! Thanks so much for the recommendation, I think you just helped me solve my problem LOL.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Randi I asked the people at lowes to match a piece of tiffany blue that I had. If you want let me know know and I will take a picture of the top of the can if it helps.

  10. I love this project since you can customize it to fit the dimensions of the space. If you have a special idea or an odd size it is easier and less stressful to make it yourself.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Absolutely Debra. You the original Ana White Bench was shorter than ours, but to lengthen it all you had to do was cut the 12″ board longer. Same for the cushion and it really is super simple to sew.

      Thanks for the feedback, it is much appreciated.

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