Benches are a fantastic way to add more storage or seating space to a room without obstructing the view of any existing furniture. They work well in entryways, children's playrooms, master bedrooms, and anywhere else that needs an extra place to sit.
Benches are available in a variety of sizes, with or without storage features. They use a number of different materials and fabrics, so you can find one to match any décor. Here are the most important features to look for when shopping for a bench.
How large should a bench be?
Both storage benches and standard benches are usually around 18" deep, 18" - 20" tall, and 42" - 48" long. This allows ample room for storage or for two people to sit. Benches smaller than 40" long might not be comfortable for two adults to sit on. Some dining benches are longer than 48" to allow three or more people to sit comfortably.
Benches with overhead storage typically have hooks or shelves around 48" off the ground to keep items accessible for both adults and children. However, this can vary widely depending on who the bench is designed for. Look closely at the product description and choose** benches with lower shelves 36" - 44" off the ground for easier access for children**.
What materials are best for benches?
Stainless steel is frequently used forbench frames and legs. This often allows the bench to have a high weight limit, which is especially helpful for storage benches.
Aluminum is lighter than steel but isn't as strong. It's an excellent choice for benches that don't need high weight capacity or need to be moved frequently.
Manufactured wood is common for frames, legs, and seats. It is made from glued and layered wood, which makes it more affordable than solid wood. It is moderately strong and can last for years if protected from the elements with a weatherproof coating.
Solid wood is an excellent choice for heirloom pieces. It is heavy but often has a high weight limit.
Resin is uncommon in indoor benches but may be used in benches that are also rated for outdoor use as it is water-resistant, durable, and easy to clean.
Wicker does not support very much weight but can be a great choice if it is reinforced with metal or wood. Plastic or resin imitation wicker is more durable and requires less maintenance. Check the weight limit on wicker benches closely before buying.
Which fabrics are best for benches?
Not all benches are upholstered, but both standard and storage benches are available in upholstered varieties. Make sure to look for fabrics that are treated with stain repellents. Though some fabrics naturally keep most stains away, stain repellent treatments are an excellent way to protect your investment.
Tweed makes an excellent fabric because it is durable and moisture resistant. However, it can be uncomfortable for prolonged sitting as it has a rough quality.
Velvet provides a good balance of style, softness, and durability. It is an excellent choice for master bedrooms.
Polyester is durable, stain-resistant, and easy to spot clean. It is available in a variety of colors, so it's an excellent choice for children's bedrooms and playrooms.
Linen can be soft but is not as naturally hard-wearing and stain resistant as polyester. Sometimes it is blended with polyester for a better balance of durability and softness.
What color bench should I choose?
Entryways and mudrooms should feature a bench in a darker color that helps hide any dirt that gets tracked in. This is particularly true for benches with shoe cubbies, as these will gather grime quickly.
Wicker in natural colors works great in sunrooms with wood walls and lots of windows showing off the backyard. Pair it with other wicker or wood furniture in a similar tone to complete the look.
White, gray, or dark neutrals work well in master and guest bedrooms. Any wood or metal legs on the bench should coordinate with the legs or frames of other furniture in the room.
Choose a colorful bench for a child's playroom. If stains or dirt are a concern, pick a fabric that's easy to spot-clean or is a deeper color like navy blue or forest green. Jewel tones age well with the child, so they may be a better choice than pastels.
What storage features should I look for in a bench?
Storage benches are ideal for storing an assortment of items in a variety of sizes, but the style of storage bench you need depends on what items your plan to store and the proposed location of the bench. Some common storage options include:
Flip-top storage requires the user to lift the seat, making it a great storage solution for items not used often, or for temporary seating in entryways and outdoor areas. Most flip-top storage is long and wide enough to store tennis rackets, roller skates, and bulky outdoor items, making them incredibly versatile.
These divided shelves are an excellent choice for storing shoes and other small items underneath the seat. The open design also makes them suitable for displaying keepsake items and accent pieces.
A shelf underneath the seat offers you the flexibility to store long and bulky items or customize your storage system with baskets and boxes. Choose a slatted shelf for storing shoes as the airflow will prevent a build-up of dirt and odors.
Cabinets make a great choice if you need to store unsightly items like cables, recreational gear, or tools. Cabinets come with either hinged or sliding doors, helping you to save space in a compact room.
Often combined with cubbies and used in place of drawers, baskets are both a stylish and functional option that works well with country or bohemian homes. They are the right choice for storing small items, toys, or extra bed linens, making them suitable for bedrooms, playrooms, and offices.
Benches may also include coat hooks or small shelves attached above the bench. These hooks and shelves usually have low weight limits but are good for hats, jackets, backpacks, and handbags.
How much weight can a bench hold?
The weight limit on benches varies, but many can hold around 250 lbs. If you need two people to be able to sit on the bench at one time, look for a weight limit of at least 300 lbs. The weight limit includes the weight of any goods stored inside the bench, so avoid storing very heavy items inside if people will be sitting on it.
Which benches are easiest to clean?
Benches that are made of manufactured wood or metal are usually easy to clean. A damp cloth with soap and water is usually sufficient to remove dirt and stains. Make sure to double-check the manufacturer's specifications, as some harsh cleaning chemicals can damage manufactured wood or metal finishes.
Upholstered benches can usually be spot-cleaned or vacuumed but may require a little more effort than manufactured wood or metal. Fabric-covered benches may be a better fit for bedrooms and offices instead of mudrooms.
Which benches are the most child-safe?
Fabric-covered benches are the most child-safe option, especially if they have rounded corners and cushioning. If fabric is not an option due to cleaning concerns, look for wooden benches with rounded edges and corners.
Tip overs are generally not a concern with benches unless they have tall shelving on top. Benches with overhead shelving should be secured to the wall with anchors. Even if there is almost no chance of the unit itself tipping over, top shelves can wobble and cause objects to fall if the shelf supports are not secured to the wall.
Some benches with storage built into the seats have heavy lids that can pinch children's fingers. Avoid using these benches in areas with toddlers. School-age children can typically be trusted to open and close these benches, but children under 5 should be supervised until they have had some practice.
Look for benches that are around 18" tall and deep for comfortable seating. Though some benches are less than 40", look for benches at least 48" wide for optimal storage or seating.
Metal and manufactured wood provide strong and sturdy core materials. Fabric coverings make a bench more comfortable but may not be easy to clean. Resin and wicker are uncommon but can be great options if reinforced.
Tweed, velvet, polyester and linen blends are all excellent choices overall. Linen and velvet are softer, but tweed and polyester are more durable.
Choose a medium or dark hue for entryways or children's playrooms, where dirt and stains may be a concern. Save whites and light neutrals for bedrooms. Wicker makes a beautiful addition to sunrooms.
Storage benches are available in a variety of styles, including flip-top storage and storage cubbies. Also, try benches with attached shelves or hooks overhead.
Most benches hold 250 lbs., but some hold more or less. This weight limit includes items stored inside.
Upholstered benches are usually stain-resistant but may still require more careful cleaning than wood or metal benches.
Benches are not a major tip-over hazard, but toddlers may pinch their fingers in flip-top bench lids. Look for benches with lightweight lids and rounded corners or upholstery for child safety.
Benches that are rated for indoor use should be kept inside and not used on patios. However, some benches are designed for use either indoors or outdoors, and these can be placed anywhere.