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How To Choose A Storage Bench

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Do you ever get the feeling that there's never enough storage space? The best way to tackle this problem without filling your house with lots of big tubs or standalone pieces of furniture is to choose space-saving multipurpose items.

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Storage benches are the go-to option when it comes to optimizing space, but not all models are the same. From location to size to function and décor, here's how to choose a storage bench that complements the rest of the room and fulfills your needs.

What Different Types of Storage Benches Are There?

While you'll find hundreds of different colors, shapes and designs, benches can be divided into four main categories depending on their storage options:

Flip-top

This is the traditional long trunk with legs and the sitting surface that can be lifted; some of them feature upholstered seats, arms or even an upright back; recommended for storing objects that do not need to be taken out several times a day, it is often used for storing blankets, seasonal clothes, holiday decorations, old magazines, or even towels and extra bed sheets.

Upholstered Flip Top Storage Bench
Simple Wooden Storage Bench
Stylish Upholstered Storage Bench
Solid Wood Flip Top Storage Bench
Simple Classic Flip Top Upholstered Storage Bench
Rustic Wooden Flip Top Storage Bench

Cubby

Practical when it comes to shoes (especially since you can sit on top of it to put them on!) and ideal for records, books or other objects that you'd like to showcase and be able to reach for them easily, a cubby bench has an open front with a few square or rectangular holes;

Cubby Storage Bench with Seating Area
Traditional Style Cubby Storage Bench
Four Cubby Upholstered Storage Bench
Reading Cubby Storage Bench
Upholstered Cubby Storage Bench
Rustic Wicker And Wood Cubby Storage Bench

Drawer

The solid frame is home to one or more drawers that allow you to store different types of objects without them being in plain sight; drawer organizers help you neatly store smaller objects such as mittens, socks, shoe accessories, dog gear, and the like.

Wooden Storage Bench With Three Drawers
Three Drawers Wooden Storage Bench
Rustic Style Bench With Wicker Drawers
Solid Wood Drawer Storage Bench
Single Drawer Traditional Style Storage Bench
Upholstered Solid Wood Storage Bench With Drawers And Baskets

Cabinet

A compromise between a classic flip-top bench and drawers, it features handy cupboard doors that make it easy to reach the stored items. In the hallway, it can be used to store boots or even you kids' sports gear, such as a basketball. When placed in the kitchen, it can help you declutter you worktop from those cooking appliances that you bought but don't use too often.

In order to determine which type works best for you, it's important to have an idea of what you want to store in it (What type of items? How many? How big are they?) but also where the bench will be placed.

Wooden Storage Bench
Traditional Wooden Bench With Cabinet Doors
Upholstered Hall Storage Bench
Distressed Style Wooden Storage Bench
Solid Wood Two Door Storage Bench
Upholstered Storage Cabinet

How to Choose The Best Storage Bench for Different Locations?

  • Entryway: you'll want a long and thin bench with a sturdy feel; as drawers and cupboards can be a bit cumbersome in such narrow spaces, it's best to go for a traditional flip-top or, if you're going to use it for shoes, a cubby bench with comfy cushions or a vinyl or leather top;

  • Kitchen: more traditional and rustic wooden benches usually work very well in cooking and dining scenarios, and we recommend going for a comfortable model that features an upright back so that you can use it as extra seating whenever needed;

  • Living room or study: these benches usually fulfill the need to store and showcase a specific type of objects that can be used in that room, perhaps when sitting on it. From records if it's next to a record player to books if you'd like to create a special reading nook, pick a model with a comfortable seat and a type of storage that fits those objects the most;

  • Bedroom: generally placed at the foot of the bed, these benches are very decorative and look more like a backless couch or a wide ottoman; they're usually made of upholstery fabric or feature a cushioned flip-top;

  • Patio: wood, wicker or plastic flip-top benches are the most practical to store your cushions or other outdoor objects in order to always keep them dry and at hand.

Upholstered Stylish Flip Top Bench
Rustic Storage Bench With Wicker Baskets
Solid Wood Hall Storage Bench
Modern Style Upholstered Storage Bench
Upholstered Flip Top Storage Bench
Solid Wood Shoe Storage Bench

How to Choose a Storage Bench that Matches My Décor Style?

The best way to choose a storage bench that complements the rest of the room is to identify the colors in its existing palette and the décor style that you want to keep consistent. If you're planning on pressing your bench against another piece of furniture (e.g. your bed) or a particularly bright wall, we also recommend choosing a different color to help it stand out, perhaps by creating a light and dark contrast.

As for décor styles, here's some inspiration!

  • Traditional wooden benches are the most versatile: they work with rustic, mid-Century modern, vintage, French-country and cottage styles;
  • Minimalist benches should be made of wood, have very thin legs, a monochrome top, and feature drawers or cupboards to avoid keeping too many elements in sight;
  • Scandinavian benches are made of lighter woods and natural colors such as white, cream, grey, dark blue or forest green; adding faux fur or a different texture on top can also help bring this type of décor to life;
  • For a modern room, play with different geometrical shapes, painted wood and metal to create simple well-defined lines and a balance between aesthetics and functionality;
  • Industrial benches should combine wood and dark metal elements such as thin legs, cabinets or even see-through mesh to maintain an unfinished feel;
  • Featuring white or light pastel tones with a discolored or aged look, shabby chic benches boast more harmonious shapes especially when it comes to their legs, arms and backs; they often include details, decorations or even pretty basket-shaped drawers.
Distressed Style Storage Bench
Leather Upholstered Storage Bench
Wooden Storage Bench With Drawers And Baskets
Rustic Wooden Storage Bench
Upholstered Wicker Cubby Storage Bench
Classic Wooden Storage Bench

What Are the Best Storage Bench Materials?

Storage benches can be made of many materials and, as we've seen, some work better for specific styles or locations: fabric upholstery is popular in bedrooms, metal can be chosen for more modern and industrial rooms, while plastic and wicker models work well outdoors. 

If the top part is a separate piece vinyl and leather are the easiest to clean, but the latter can fade if kept in direct sunlight most of the time;

Fabric upholstery such as synthetic or velvet is another popular option, especially in bedrooms. If you're toying with the thought of getting a fabric upholstered bench for the dining room, think twice. Traditional wood is still the best choice for kitchen and dining room use, whether it's natural or painted, as it's wear resistant and versatile. 

If you like the look of a wooden bench but are worried about it being uncomfortable to sit on for longer, you could simply add cushions to it - removable covers can be machine washed if spills occur.

Wooden Storage Bench
Classic Style Storage Bench
Modern Style Hall Tree Bench
Wicker Upholstered Storage Bench
Modern Open Faced Storage Bench
Faux Leather Storage Bench

Quick Tips

Now that you've gone through a good overview, let's recap the points that you should focus on in order to choose the right storage bench for you and your house: 

  • Depending on how much room you have and whether you want the stored items to be hidden or kept in plain sight, you must choose between flip-top, cubby, drawer or cabinet-style benches
  • Go for a sturdy thin bench if you're planning on placing it in your entryway and consider cubby holes for shoes, a traditional wooden bench with an upright back for the kitchen, a practical model that can fit a specific type of items used in your living room or study, a soft fabric one for the bedroom, and light plastic or wicker benches for the garden
  • Create a light and dark contrast between the bench and the wall or piece of furniture that it's placed against
  • Identify the color palette and décor style of the room to keep it cohesive