Simple White Outdoor Sofa

Submitted by Ana White on Mon, 06/06/2011 - 00:00
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An outdoor sofa DIY plan inspired by Restoration Hardware Nantucket collection. Features relaxed seats with modern styling and deep cushions. This simple free easy step by step plan is an affordable alternative to designer furniture.

Thank you thank you thank you for this sofa!

You see, I've dreamed of having a beautiful outdoor sofa set for years now, specifically Restoration Hardware's Nantucket set.  But we are just an average family on an average budget, and I'm just an average mom who always knows there's somewhere better to spend money than on dream patio furniture.  So this sofa (and the pieces that will follow) have been a distant dream for me for a long long time.  
Now you are probably thinking that Ana, you build furniture for a fraction of retail cost, that IS what you do.  So what's the prob?

You see, I've been building furniture for quite some time.  But a few years ago, I would not have had the confidence to tackle such a project.  I would not have had the experience with Google Sketchup.  And I would not have the excuse to build yet another piece of furniture  :)

I can promise you, if not for this blog, and for you reading this blog, I would not have this sofa.  Thank you so much for challenging me and enabling me to better my own home.
And the best part is I hope some of you have an opportunity to build this outdoor sofa as well.  
The Ram and I worked on this project together.  Anyone else love working on projects with their DH?  I was just thinking how different our relationship might be if we didn't spend so much time together working on projects.  Although this was really a quick afternoon project.  Truly just a few hours.
And the frame itself was rather inexpensive to build - I'd say around $30 in lumber.  But those cushions . . . I purchased the cushions from Restoration Hardware for $189 with free shipping . . . and they've since marked the price up quite a bit . . . 
If you can sew, you can either purchase custom sized cushions (even darcon wrapped!) or you can purchase 24" widths of foam, in three 48" long sections.  
My cushions measure as follows:
Seat: 24" x 26 1/2" x 6"
Back 24" x 18" x 6"
From each of the 48" lengths, cut one seat and one back cushion.  
And here are a few sewing tutorials for box cushions that  I thought you might find useful
Good luck to you whichever route you take . . . and thanks again for helping me get my new sofa!  Love love it!


Shopping List

3 - 2x6 @ 8 feet or stud length
2 - 2x4 @ 8 feet or stud length
3 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long
3 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
1 - 1x6 @ 6 feet long
1 - 1x4 @ 6 feet long
8 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long

Common Materials
2 1/2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

4 - 2x2 @ 22" (Legs)
2 - 2x2 @ 34" (Arm Tops)
2 - 2x6 @ 31" (Side Aprons)
2 - 2x6 @ 72" (Front/Back Aprons)
2 - 2x4 @ 72" (Back Support/Seat Support)
2 - 1x2 @ 31" (Side Apron Top Trim)
2 - 1x2 @ 72" (Front/Back Apron Top Trim)
1 - 2x2 @ 72" (Front Cleat)
16 - 1x3 @ 25" (Seat Slats)
2 - 1x2 @ 16 1/4" (Back Slats - Ends)
12 - 1x3 @ 16 1/4" (Back Slats - Center)
1 - 1x6 @ 72"
1 - 1x4 @ 72"

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

You will need to build two arms. I used the Kreg Jig with pocket holes set for 1 1/2" stock and 2 1/2" pocket hole screws and glue.

Step 2

Once the two arms are built, attach front and back aprons, and backrest support. I again used the Kreg Jig and 2 1/2" pocket hole screws and glue. Adjust for square.

Step 3

You can click any image for a larger view. The front cleat is a 2x2 and needs to sit 1/4" down from the top of the front apron. The back cleat is a 2x3, and sits flush to the bottom.

Side note - if you would like to increase the weight capacity of this sofa, simply add 2x4 "legs" to the 2x4 seat support, they would be about 9" long, and would just be screwed to the side of the 2x4 seat support, and act as hidden legs right where you might need them.

Step 4

The trim just makes things prettier. I used a nailer and glue.

Step 5

Step 6

Begin by marking the location of your slats and predrilling pocket holes set for 3/4" stock. Join using 1 1/4" pocket hole screws and wood glue. If you wish (we choose not to) you can round the top edge of the back with a jigsaw. Sand until smooth.

Step 7

Now the fun part! Slide the back in place, and then screw to the two 2x4s as shown above in the diagram. Make sure you use a countersink bit.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. 

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.


Lindsay (not verified)

Mon, 09/05/2011 - 19:54

Hi Ana, I just finished building this and i'll put a brag post once it's painted, but I think I found an error - in the instructions you refer to the back seat support as a 2x3, but everywhere else it's a 2x4.

Other than that it was a cinch to build, thanks for the great plans!!

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 09/12/2011 - 12:17

Hello Ana,

I am new to carpentry and I am having a hard time picking out wood types for outdoor projects. What type of wood did you use for this project? And does the type you choose vary depending on whether you are just staining or sealing it versus painting it in a solid color as you did here?



Sarahsdawn (not verified)

Sun, 10/16/2011 - 05:31

Just got finished building your classic bunk kids LOVE them! We built and added a slide, which they love even more!
Just you think you might be able to put up plans for an "L" shaped sofa? I'm planning on building this, as INSIDE furniture! I just adore the way it looks, I can sew the cushions easily, and I'd love to have a big L couch in my formal living room, so that all of our friends and family have a place to sit.
Thanks so much! I love your site, and all you do!

Peridot (not verified)

Tue, 10/25/2011 - 05:46

These plans look interesting; I was going to purchase an outdoor sofa for my deck from Pottery Barn, but they want a fortune.
I plan on doing a variation on this and using your plans as a basic template and combining it with the style of the one from Pottery Barn: will use pressure treated lumber as I live in Florida & plan on using it nearly year round..I also already have a Kreg jig, skilsaw, table saw, chop saw and many tools.

Hope to spend many hours entertaining and sleeping on it.

Thanks for sharing it with all of us.


Thu, 03/08/2012 - 09:54

Hello, I want to build this sofa but I do not have kreg jig. I was thinking of taking the back from the simple outdoor chair plan and using it for this plan. Obviously I have to make a few adjustments but I was wondering if you think this would work?
By the way I love your website! You are awesome Ana!


Thu, 03/08/2012 - 10:38

You can pick up a doweling jig very inexpensively from any hardware store, and use that instead of a kreg jig to make dowel tenons. They're very strong and the tools are inexpensive.

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 03/12/2012 - 13:13

Can this unit be built without the arms and yet remain stable? I really love the overall design, but am looking for an "open ended" couch and chairs. I can see from the plans how I would modify the ends to exclude the arms, but will the unit remain stable without them?

Thanks and keep up the GREAT work!

Barbara Richard (not verified)

Tue, 04/24/2012 - 07:03

Hi Anna, Love all that you have done and we are hoping to try a few of your plans in the coming months.
I noticed another person asked this earlier, but didn't get an answer. Did you just use regular pine for this outdoor sofa? wouldn't this deteriorate soon since it's outdoors? I have looked online for suggestions using regular pine for outdoor furniture and it seems everyone says that even with stain and or paint it isn't a good idea. I was wondering if you (or anyone else out there) had some way of preserving it to make it last. (I would cover it in the winter months) It would make this much more affordable to make... Not sure if sitting on pressure treated wood is a good idea, so we'd have to find redwood or cedar which could get pricey... Thank you....


Tue, 05/29/2012 - 20:19

Thanks for the great plans.  My wife and I built this sofa over the weekend.  We used Pine Boards and then stained it with Behr Weatherproof Bordeaux color.  Overall very easy to follow plans.  I do believe wood is much more expensive here in Texas because our total cost for wood was around $115.

We also added 4 support "feet" using leftover 2x4s. 

The only issue we ran into was during the last step (attaching the back rest to the overall sofa).  It wasn't clear on how high or low rest should be installed.  Also, definitely screw in the bottom part of the back rest first!  It was pretty difficult to get to this area with a drill as well haha.

Also, I believe on future projects like this, I'll sand /stain before assembly then do touch gets old quick trying to paint/stain in between all of those slats!

Here is a pic of the finished product:

We still have to find some cushions for it though.  We will be moving on to the outdoor coffee table next to match the sofa. 

Again, thanks for the plans and they worked out great!  The Kreg jig is my new favorite tool.