Bench 101

A bench can make a handy addition to any home. This piece of furniture, used both for relaxation and get-togethers, can also serve as a storage solution. In the vestibule, it not only allows you to easily put on your shoes, but also to put them away. In the dining room, it stands out as a pleasant, convenient alternative, encouraging more guests to sit at the table — without taking up too much space.

Adding a bench to some of my recent designs seemed like the right thing to do. When renovating a home, I noticed a very beautiful area near a bay window in the dining room. It was the perfect place for a bench: attracted to the daylight, people would spontaneously sit on the windowsill. In the kitchen, right next door, storage was limited, so a bench could be used to put away large kitchen appliances, like a crock pot or cake caddy, providing a place to rest and enjoy a book or drink. I also love changing bench cushions, depending on the season or my perspective as a decorator. Often, cushion covers are a fast and affordable way to transform a bench! You can also use a custom padded cover to add more style and comfort to your bench.

Building a bench will cost you practically nothing. Just build a structure with 2" x 4" planks and finish the lid with MDF or plywood panels you can paint or stain afterward. You should also give some thought to the hinge and latch for the lid. It should be safe and suitable for children's small hands, if necessary, to prevent the lid from falling down and smashing their fingers. You can find many models at any hardware store.

If the idea of adding a bench to your home is already stuck in your head, it's time to get started: I'm convinced that a bench will make a useful addition to your space — and you'll reap all the aesthetic and functional rewards that come with it!