Whether you’re looking for a way to integrate extra bedroom storage or fill a large bedroom, a bed bench can be a brilliant addition. Bed benches, also known as bedroom benches or end-of-bed benches, are small-scale furniture pieces that are intended to be placed at the foot of a bed. They can include storage, or they can be a simple bench, used only for seating. Interested in working a bed bench into your bedroom? You’re in luck! Beautiful bed bench inspiration, plus tricks and tips, are full speed ahead!

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Bedroom with navy global textiles, cow skulls, and a black woven bench
Design by Peti Lau / Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Is there a difference between a bed bench and a standard bench?

In a word, no, there is no difference between a standard bench and a bed bench. Both have a height of approximately 18” to 20.” This height should be approximately ⅓ to ½ the height of your bed’s footboard. Generally, you do not want a bench to be the same height or taller than your bed’s footboard, although there are some exceptions, such as benches with backs. 

The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a bed bench, is not to select one that is longer than your bed’s width. For example, if you are shopping for a bed bench to outfit a 38” wide twin bed, you don’t want to choose a bench longer than 38.”  

Southampton Residence, Master Bedroom Featuring Custom Canopy Bed and upholstered waterfall bench
Design by Ayromloo Design / Photo by Annie Schlechter

Why add a bed bench? 

The reasons for adding a bed bench can be functional or aesthetic. On a functional level, a bench placed in front of a bed provides a place to perch and put on shoes or sit and converse. In a studio apartment, an end-of-bed bench with a back can provide a place to sit and watch TV. 

A bed bench that comes equipped with storage also provides organization. Bedroom storage benches often feature lift-up tops that can be opened to reveal interior trunk space. Use this space to store everything from shoes to extra blankets. These pieces can be especially helpful if you have a small room that lacks closet space, or you’re furnishing a guest room and you’d like to store extra linens and pillows in arm’s reach of the bed. 

From a more aesthetic perspective, a bench placed at the foot of the bed can provide a “capping” effect, making a bed look more complete. This can be an especially helpful design tactic in an oversized bedroom that requires additional furniture to feel full. A bed bench can also be an effective way to layer in additional texture and color that complements your bedding. Choose an upholstered bench to play with fabric and color, or a natural fiber bench to add texture. 

Master Bedroom Featuring Antique Mirror Wall and upholstered gold and light blue x-benches
Design by Denise McGaha Interiors / Photo by Stephen Karlisch

Can you use ottomans or poufs as a bed bench?  

Yes, ottomans and poufs can be effectively used as bed benches. To ensure your scale is right, you’ll generally want to use two ottoman bed benches for any bed that is bigger than a twin size. Some popular designs to consider include x-bench ottomans and upholstered waterfall-style ottomans. While cylinder and block ottomans will work as ottoman bed benches, you’ll want to ensure their scale matches that of your bed. The same goes for extremely low poufs and ottomans, such as hassocks, Moroccan leather poufs, Moroccan kilim pillows, and footstools designed to be used with accent chairs. Generally, unless you have a low platform bed, these ottoman styles will be too low. 

Design by Brockschmidt & Coleman, LLC / Photo by Sylvie Bequet

What kind of end-of-bed storage bench options are there? 

Storage benches come in all shapes and sizes, but generally, they are blocky in style to accommodate storage either in their interior or exterior (i.e. with shelves). Upholstered storage benches are common and often feature a fully upholstered base and top. Their top will typically flip up on one side, revealing an empty storage area that can be used to stow a wide variety of items. 

Storage benches can also be crafted entirely of wood, though these benches tend to look more like traditional trunks. It’s common to find wood trunk benches in rustic styles as well as Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles. Lane Furniture, in particular, was a heavy producer of wood end-of-bed chests and trunks. More officially known as Lane cedar chests, these chests were produced for decades and can be found in a wide variety of styles, ranging from Art Deco to Mid-Century Modern. 

Modern Traditional Master Bedroom in Neutral Colors with bench
Design by S.B. Long Interiors / Photo by Michael Hunter

Can you use a bench with a back as a bed bench?

Yes, with a little planning and design ingenuity, you can use a bench with a back as a bed bench. When shopping for a bench with a back to use as a bed bench, throw out the rule book that says your bench needs to be lower in height than your bed’s footboard. Feel free to go equal in height or a bit taller. 

Because a bench with a back placed in front of a bed can look visually barricade-like, it can be wise to select an upholstered bench and bed. Fabric tends to read softer than wood, making the back-to-back furniture pieces look less imposing. Anchoring a backed bench with a seating area opposite it will also make the vignette look more purposeful. Except in the case of a studio apartment, if you don’t have the room to integrate a full seating area into the area in front of your bed, you’ll likely want to avoid a backed bench, as a backed bench facing a doorway can look unintentional.

neutral bedroom with beige upholstered bed, sunburst mirror, wood bench, and potted ponytail palm
Design by Brockschmidt & Coleman, LLC / Photo by Paul Costello

Does a bedroom bench always need to be used at the end of a bed?

No, a bed bench doesn’t always have to be positioned in front of a bed. Consider using a bench anywhere you might normally use a dresser. Hang a mirror over it and you have a focal point that’s more compelling than a case piece, but still offers function.

Floral chintz bedroom with upholstered and skirted bed and floral French Provincial bed bench
Design by Brockschmidt & Coleman, LLC / Photo by Paul Costello

What are some tricks and tips for making an end-of-the-bed bench work?

  1. Try coordinating your bench’s upholstery to other patterned items in the room, such as wallpaper, drapes, or accent chairs.
  2. Ideally, select a bedroom rug that is large enough to accommodate part of your bed and all four legs of your bench. This will create visual cohesion.
  3. Have a bench that feels a touch too low for your bed? Try piling a stack of books on it to increase its height.

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Lead photo design by Rosie Case / Photo by Laurey Glenn


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May 23, 2023

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