An outdoor divider bench (coined by me as a "fence bench") is a fairly easy project if you're looking for some separation between two spaces. For us, our back patio is right next to the driveway, and cars are always parked back there. After several years of saying we'd get one, we finally decided 2020 was going to be the year that we'd put in an above-ground swimming pool. We've been using temporary Intex pools for years and have grown tired of having to take them down each year. Not to mention, we have to replace them every two or three years due to rips or tears.
And then COVID-19 hit the USA in March and that quickly turned into not being able to get a pool. Pool companies are not able to get them, folks are doing more outdoors than ever before so swingsets, RVs and other outdoor recreational items are super hard to come by. So... no pool for us this year. We learned about stock tanks being used as make-shift pools. Little did we know that that these galvanized metal bathtub-looking tanks were all over Pinterest! And some are painted and decorated to look so sweet in a beautiful backyard. Here are just a couple I found on Pinterest.
Let's save the water issues for another post...
So, the beautiful blue water lasted all of two days before it turned green. From there it just went downhill. From shock to chorine to CLR to baking soda to draining and refilling and so on. Our well water is just not jamming with the galvanized metal and we knew not what we were getting into. So, let's just say, Mr. Home Matters is not amused. Disgusted is more like it. But we're still trying to get to the bottom of it. So, once we have that under control, we'll let you know how we remedied that situation! Here's a peek at what we're dealing with. My husband had brought up some trees (convenient for a nursery owner's wife, right?) that we tried using first as a divider. Definitely better. But I wasn't convinced this was the official answer.
In the meantime...
Sometimes one project leads you to discover other projects, right? I decided that I was tired of seeing the cars, the shed, and my FIL's motor home that somehow ended up having to be parked in our driveway. I wanted some kind of divider that wasn't permanent. We also thought it might be nice to have a way to just sit with our feet in the stock tank water (once it's clear, that is). I was torn on the bench versus a planter. But, regardless, I knew I wanted a "fence" of sorts attached to whatever this ended up being.
Within a couple of days, I had a design in mind and Mr. Home Matters (let's say MHM) agreed that I go ahead and get the lumber. We completed this much in about 5-6 hours. I'll take you on a quick little tour of the steps to get us to where we are as of now with this fence bench!
We set up my miter saw from the lower garage right in the upper driveway and I went to town cutting the pieces. In only a few minutes, I managed to have the pieces for the front, back, and sides of the bench cut. Two 4x4's also were needed for the back "fence" supports. These also made up the inside corners of the bench. MHM took over assembling the base for the most part.
I didn't get quite enough wood...
My designs did not cover the fence bench seat because we were still unsure about going the planter route or the bench route. On top of that, we hadn't thought of the fact that putting the back slats on the front side of the 4x4s meant that the backside of them would look a little funky. After a family discussion (seriously, everyone managed to put their two cents in on this very unimportant topic), we decided the slats would have to go on both sides of the tall 4x4's. It just wouldn't look right otherwise. Overall, I did pretty well with the wood I did buy! We only had two boards leftover.
A hinged top and a slated back...
Once the decision was made to make this a bench rather than a planter, we then had to figure out a way to hinge the top so that we could store equipment for the stock tank inside. Again, this meant I needed a wider board than any that I had purchased already. So, we moved onto the back slats. I laid the pieces out on the floor using a cut piece of dowel rod measuring 3/8". We used this as a spacer.
My husband and I worked together to put the spacers up as we rested each board on them and I screwed one screw into each board until we got to the top. We had enough space for one more board. BUT, I think I want to get the post caps that have a light in them for the tops of these two posts. Maybe. Possibly. So for now we left that last board off until we make that call. It was getting late at this point and we had had it. It was hot and we were tired.
Where we are as of now...
We are ready for the bench as soon as one of us has time to run for lumber for the seat and for the slats to go on the back of the 4x4s. In the meantime, we got this heavy fence bench, bad boy, over to where it would reside to see how it felt. Thankfully, it's just what I imagined! I was even able to still use the trees further down behind the chairs. So, now this patio feels like it's own space rather than just an extension of the driveway. I mean I know it's nice pavers and the driveway is gravel but it still needed a separation of sorts.
The plan for Phase II...
Obviously, we'll finish the seat and the back. But the details are what I obsess over! I imagine a couple of towel hooks hung on the back. We have two lanterns that would look nice hung off of plant hooks on each of the 4x4 posts for some ambiance. How about some string lights draped across the back? Ummm... no brainer. Just for fun, maybe I'll even add some cute pillows to soften the hardness of this piece. I'm not sure yet if I'll apply some type of stain/paint treatment as I don't work with treated wood very often so I need to do my research first.
We've actually spent more time on this patio this summer than inside our screen porch!
I hope you'll keep reading each week and look for the phase two fence bench outcome! I'm anxious to see what that looks like myself! In the meantime, I've got plenty of other projects in the works starting with our front porch floor and I still have to finish our "water closet" after finishing the main part of the master bathroom refresh
! Stay tuned!