When last we met I told you I was going to have a video for you that showed how I was putting together my version of the Restoration Hardware Aspen collection.  The outdoor furniture would have cost me $20,000 if I’d bought it from Restoration Hardware.  Which I wouldn’t have, because I spent my last $20,000 on a tiara.  Damnit.

Building it myself is still going to cost $1,500 (mainly because of the cushions) but that’s what a cheap store bought outdoor set would have cost me and I wouldn’t have liked it as much.  Besides.  This set will match my tiara.

Here’s a reminder of what the Restoration Hardware set looks like.




To copy this I had 6″ thick cushions custom made for  in weather resistant/fade resistant fabric.  Then I bought several rough posts of untreated Ash from a sawmill. I cut the posts into shorter lengths of 29″.  I needed 16 of them to make the arms with a few left over for support under the sectional and to make a coffee table with.

Restoration Hardware has used wood posts that are 8″ high, but I went with 6″ so it wouldn’t look quite so massive in my backyard.  To get the same height on the arms that meant I had to stack 4, 6″ posts instead of the 3 posts Restoration Hardware has used for their arms.

After cutting them all to 29″ long, I beveled all the edges with a belt sander (there are 12 edges on each post).


Then I stacked 4 of them on top of each other until I was satisfied with how they looked, and then started securing them using lag bolts.



Obviously I didn’t want any of the bolts to show so I flipped the posts over and worked from the underside of them.  You’ll see what I mean in the video.  Once 4 posts were bolted together, I had an arm.  Then I sanded the sides and one arm was complete.

Like so.


My Uncle was here visiting the other week and he asked me if I got everything done I had set out to do this summer.  Um. No.  No I did not.  The chicken coop still needs a new roof, my house isn’t painted yet (although some of it is), and my front yard isn’t quite looking right yet.  BUT I’M BUILDING MY OWN OUTDOOR FURNITURE!  Like a fool.  So it’s not like I didn’t get the other stuff done because I was busy shining my tiara.  I just needed a place to sit more than the chickens needed a dry coop.  Just kidding. I got rid of the chickens.  They don’t match my tiara.  Just kidding.   I threw a tarp over their roof.  They’re dry.

Once my arms are done (I have one more set to assemble), I have to hack them all up so they look like they’ve lived a little and then put together the supports for the seats and back.  Which in my head seems like a quick and easy job.

In fact, in my head, building this entire set was only going to take about half a day.  I have NO idea why I ever would have thought anything so ridiculous. Actually, I’m pretty sure I can chalk it up to my tiara being too tight.

Shouldda laid out the extra $5,000 for the adjustable one.


  1. bill keiser says:

    I’ve already started planning my set. I’ve already started pricing locally(central Florida) milled cypress($6 for 6×6 and and $11 for 8×8, per linear foot.)
    Some opinionated observations:
    – To finish corners, it will be faster if you use a router with a large corner round bit. Or set a circular saw to cut a 45 degree angle before sanding. A wire wheel on an angle grinder might do a better job of smoothing the surface. It will remove splinters and sharp edges but leave better texture. The sander will flatten the surface unnaturally and ruin the rough look. The wheel will even restore texture by eroding softer fibers of the grain faster than the harder ones.
    – Instead of lag bolts, I will use threaded rod through all the beams at once. Be careful to drill straight holes though. A drill press would help. Also oversize the hole a bit to allow for that. (It’s really hard to drill straight down!) This will leave holes in the top surface that will need some kind of plug to hide the rod and nut. I might counter bore the bottom hole and use wingnuts so it can be disassembled for storage or moving.
    – If you do use lag screws, you can drill the counterbore deeper if you find your screws are too short, or just want to use shorter screws. This will require a ratchet extension. It will also shave off several grams of weight!
    – If I go with 8x8s, I can replace the center one with blocks at the ends leaving open space and making it a bit lighter.
    – To mount the seat, it can be screwed right down to the top of the bottom plank. Pretty easy with an open design above. If you use full length beams, the second one can be routed to let the seat be sandwiched in between them. The easiest solution is screwing in brackets on the seat bottom and screw to the side of the beams.
    Rough drawing attached.
    Fortunately I have good tools, but I learned a lot of workarounds before I could afford them! Can’t wait to see the rest of your project.

    • Karen says:

      Hey Bill! All good advice, but I didn’t want to buy more tools to do the job. 1. I don’t have a router (I probably would have gone with an electric planer to do the corners actually if I were to buy or borrow a tool). 2. Either way, whether it’s drilling a bigger counterbore or ratcheting in the lag bolt, It’s still work. :) 3. Good thinking with the angle grinder, but the fella got the angle grinder when he ran away, lol. 4. Great idea with the leaving the inside hollow. I prefer the look of having the seat a bit more invisible so I’ll be using either L brackets or just a length of wood to rest the support on. If you want a more contemporary look, this is the way to go. If you want a bit more rustic, park bench feel, having the wood travel through like it does in your photo is the way to go. SO glad you used the attach photo feature! :) ~ karen!

  2. Monique says:

    You’re simply amazing:) Gold medalist:)Canada has another one:)

  3. Michelle says:

    Love the music. What is it? Watched on Safari
    Played perfectly.

    • Karen says:

      Hey Michelle! It’s a song that I Shazammed years ago from the show Silicon Valley. I’m not even sure they’re a real band or not because there’s very little information on them on the web. They’re Pueblo Cafe and the song is Toda Mi Vida. ~ karen!

  4. Kim says:

    Great work and thanx for the inspiration! I have no use for such a set in my yard, I am going to modify what you’re doing to build myself a garden bench. Love the rustic look of the stacked posts as the arms. I will definitely be looking forward to the next steps

  5. Mo says:

    Karen! You are amazeballs and such an inspiration! The suspense is killing me. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  6. Diane R. says:

    Video was great, no problems on my Mac desktop/Safari. You are amazing…I know you hear that quite often, but it’s the truth!

    • Karen says:

      I only hear it in typing, never in real life, lol. My family usually just rolls their eyes. Sometimes they say Wow and shake their heads. ~ karen!

  7. Susan says:

    Let me get this straight. You bought a tiara but you’re building a thousand pound chair. Hmmph. You are one interesting woman.

  8. Alice says:

    Such an exciting project! I can’t wait for the next installment…sorta like a great TV series. You’ve given me all sorts of ideas. But, I need to build my pizza oven first…oh, maybe I need to build my patio first…no, the pizza oven so I can feed my friends I will lure in to help me with the patio!

  9. A guy says:

    Nice gams and arms.

    How about some dimensions?

  10. Debbie D says:

    How heavy are those arm and the rest of the chair/sofa going to be? Are you building them in place or are you going to put some heavy duty casters on them? Is it actually lighter than it looks? Inquiring minds want to know. BTW, your arms look great. Got to use my sander an drill more often. Might help my arms look like yours. Gardening doesn’t seem to be cutting it.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Debbie D re: the arms, :) I’m just going to leave it in place. There shouldn’t be any reason to move it. I had thought about casters but decided against them because they’d detract from the look. Each arm weighs approximately 150 lbs. ~ karen!

  11. Ronda says:

    played OK on my ipad with Safari too. great work on the arms Karen! in what … 38 degree heat? or was that only in MY backyard this summer!?

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, no, lol. That was here too. I think I’ve become acclimatized because today it’s only about 27 and I’m a bit chilly. ~ karen!

  12. Tiff says:

    I’ve got a Samsung 6+ & I can’t even get the link to pretend to open at all. Oddly enough, I can open your “how to hack up the wood to look aged” video just fine. Technology is great- when it works!

  13. Grammy says:

    You’ve got to stop sleeping in your tiara — that’s what’s causing the problem.

    The video played fine in Firefox on a MacbookPro, if you’re interested. I’m glad, because it’s really exciting to see how good the arms of your furniture look. It’s going to be so beautiful.

  14. MrsChris SA says:

    Hurry up now, I want to see the finished product!! ;-) (I am rather impatient!!).

    Looking good!

  15. Gayle'' says:

    When I read the next to the last sentence, I thought exactly what you wrote in the last sentence. ‘Cept for the $5000 part. (There was an ad before the last sentence, so there was a break in the flow. Surprised me myself when I read it .) And I didn’t really know your budget deficit spending limit. lol

    Love reading all your posts, even though “no farm animals are permitted south of M-21 and east of the river.” That includes chickens. But,like you, I seem to find too many things to do besides what I have already started.

  16. gigi says:

    Oh my goshness. I can watch this video over and over. Such efficient production and looking great to boot. You’re rockin the kerchief, your pixie boots,bad boy sander, and that drill! Poetry in motion
    Awesome backyard oasis. Lovin the Kong Coleus peeking out of the planter also.

  17. Kathleen says:

    Rocking the power tools, Girl! :) Am so looking forward to seeing the finished product, next year maybe? *ducks and runs*

  18. Karin says:

    Question 1. What is the spray can for? Canned air to blow the sawdust out?
    Question 2. What is the music? Because it’s awesomeness must be known.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karin! It’s indeed canned air to spray out sawdust. You can also use a compressor but that’s just another big tool I’d have to drag out of the basement so I just bought a can of air. The band is Pueblo Cafe and I’m not even sure they’re a real band, lol. I Shazammed the song a couple of years ago from an episode of Silicon Valley. The song is Toda Mi Vida ~ karen!

  19. Barbie says:

    Oh MY! Hang in there! Once it is done you will be SO HAPPY with it! I can’t wait to see it. Also, it’s good exercise! LOL I love to beat the prices for stuff like this! What’s a few weeks of work during the hottest time of year??? Every single time you sit on it you will think “I am so glad I did this” “OMG….I am SO glad I did this”!!!

  20. Melissa says:

    Rockin’ the Bogs and gettin’ it done! (Nice choice on the music, too.)

  21. karen tomlinson says:

    Damn you’re good!

  22. Melissa says:

    Ohhh, I covet the Restoration Hardware furniture…
    I’m on pins and needles waiting on your reveal!!

  23. robert says:

    You mean you didn’t bought a custom made tiara? The horror!!?
    I still cannot believe I also keep getting into projects been certain that it’ll only take a few hours and sometimes end up taking years. I wonder how common is that for the rest of your readers

    • Karen says:

      Ha. :) Probably VERY common. Were you able to watch the video Robert? And if so on what browser? I’m having issues with it coming up for me and don’t know if everyone else is having issues with it as well. ~ karen!

      • Mayo says:

        I watched it on my iPhone just now and it played perfectly!

      • robert says:

        Plays well on chrome both in my phone and laptop. Why does the ad for the summer of doing stuff in the home page says July and not August?

      • Karen says:

        Because I need an assistant, lol. ;) ~ karen!

      • Teri Shaw says:

        Just watched on Safari (iPad). Came through loud and clear.
        I love lag bolts, I’m pretty sure they are earthquake proof.

      • Maggie Pitts says:

        For me didn’t work using Chrome on my desktop, but is a-ok on iPhone Safari.

      • Maggie Pitts says:

        PS If you could come up with the perfect DIY bonfire chairs/benches, I’ve been mulling over that one for ages.

      • Eileen says:

        Mac desktop with Firefox and it played fine. I had to laugh because when I read “I have to build my arms” I thought you meant: your arms. But they’re already “built!”

      • Heather says:

        Very common – at least in my world. The joke in our house is I am always certain that any project, no matter the size, will take roughly half a day. This summer we have put a fence around our yard and are in the middle of digging and laying a flagstone patio and I am SHOCKED at how long it is taking.

      • Christina says:

        I can’t seem to get the video to work, tried Chrome and Firefox. :(

  24. Michelle says:

    Love restoration hardware. Loved it more years ago when it was less modern. Your set will be amazing when done. I am banned from the store because we have one 20 minutes away and we are not wealthy. Your half day estimate made me snort yup like my year estimate for full house renovation. Umm 1 yr 8 months later I expect another year! All my projects seem simple but go a little south on me. I say it is the journey… Right? You will love relaxing so much more when your gorgeously set is complete.

  25. Paula says:

    Nice! You go girl. Sure looks heavy.

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