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bench buying guide

Bench Buying Guide

A bench is a versatile seating option that adds plenty of functionality to your space. These simple two- or three-seaters make it easy to host extra guests comfortably or to relax outdoors in the sunshine. Here’s what you should know as you shop for the perfect bench.

Types of Benches

There are two major categories of benches: indoor and outdoor. While outdoor benches can be used inside, indoor benches are not designed to stand up to wind, rain and burning sun. Always check to make sure a bench is labeled for outdoor use before adding it your garden.
  • Outdoor Benches: Outdoor benches can be made of woods like teak or cedar that holds up to the elements, or it can be carefully sealed to repel water. Benches are also often made of durable, powder-coated metal. If outdoor benches have a cushion, it is usually made with water-repellent and fade-resistant fabric.
  • Bedroom Benches: A bedroom bench is most often placed at the foot of the bed to provide a place to sit as you get dressed. They are often upholstered for comfort and may have hidden storage for blankets and other linens.
  • Storage Benches: Storage benches with a removable or hinged top aren't just for the bedroom. They can be used in any room of the house to create a comfortable window seat and provide a great way to hide all your odds and ends.
bench buying guide types
  • Hallway/Entryway Benches: Adding a bench to your foyer or entryway makes it much easier to remove shoes and coats when you come in from the cold. A bench near the door can also help corral items like backpacks, purses and winter gear.
  • Dining Benches: A dining bench is a casual seating choice that adds interest to your decorating. Use one or two benches on the long sides of your table to mix and match with your dining chairs. Dining benches can be designed for indoor or outdoor use.
bench buying guide pick
Upholstery and padding are nice in living rooms and bedrooms, where comfort is key. On the other hand, dining areas and entryways benefit from the clean lines and functionality of wooden seats.

How to Pick the Right Bench

The first step to choosing the right bench for your space is to determine where you want to use it. A garden bench that's fully exposed to the elements should be designed for outdoor use, and it's best to skip the cushions. A semi-sheltered patio or porch allows you to add outdoor cushions with ease, while an indoor bench opens up a wide range of possibilities when it comes to materials and style.

Next, decide on the main purpose of your bench. If it's for storage, you'll want to look at styles that have shelves, cubbies or a full chest beneath the seating. Consider whether you prefer one large space or divided storage to help you get organized. Finally, look for benches that work with your overall decorating style.

How to Measure Your Space for a Bench

Measure the length of the area where you'd like to place your bench. Most benches will fit easily at the foot of a full, queen or king size bed. For dining benches, make sure that the entire bench will fit between the legs of your dining table so you can push the bench in when not in use. If you plan to keep your bench against a wall, bear in mind you'll need clearance to walk about 18 inches away from the wall to account for the bench's width.

bench buying guide measurement
bench buying guide tips

Decor Tips for Benches

  • A bench is a great opportunity to add a pop of color to your decor, so don't be afraid to go bold.
  • Add books to a bench with storage cubbies to create a miniature library window seat to curl up and read.
  • Dining benches are great for entertaining, since you can usually squeeze an extra person on each one.

Five Gorgeous Bench Seating Ideas

Bring spacious seating to your dining area with benches! Here are our favorite ways to incorporate these gorgeous designs.

1. Bench + Host Chairs | Cozy up! 
Your softball coach got it wrong – because this design proves getting benched is a good thing! Family dinners get a classy ‘dinner party’ feel every evening – when you pair an elegant dining bench with refined host chairs. Throw in three side chairs for good measure, and you have enough seating for a family of seven. (Love the look of bench sets, but wish there was room for just a few more seats? Simply add on extra chairs . . . but don’t try to crowd them around the same table. Instead, opt for a longer size, or one that extends.)

2. Rustic Wood | Warmth for evening's chill. Calm is in the air; look for traditional details like pedestal feet, sure to bring an air of familiar grace and make any guest feel at home. Distressed tones and warm neutrals invoke the ambiance of a woodsy retreat.

3. The 'Bench Chair' | For sleek support. After a long day, we can all use a good support system. Take a breather and slide into a dining bench that’s got your back – literally! A bench with a backrest lets guests get as comfy as they want – so they can focus on the feasting.

4. Clean & Modern | Touchable elegance. A tapestry of bold patterns and textures makes a statement amidst the grounding presence of a modern dining bench. A dining set with a monochrome black-and-tan bench keeps it clean and simple – and a pop of textural weaves adds intrigue.

5. Au Naturale | Airy and organic. Go long! Extra-spacious benches mean more room for dinner guests. Running the entire length of the table, these designs take the guesswork out of seat arrangements – while bringing a beautiful, natural air.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.