Vintage Benches 101
Benches feel at home in every room. Unlike a bed or dining table - which would seem bizarre and out of place anywhere other than the bedroom or kitchen - a vintage bench fits in flawlessly wherever you place it, indoors or outside.
Place a used bench at the foot of your bed to hold extra blankets; in your foyer to help create a warm and welcoming entrance; in the dining room as a space-saving and visually intriguing alternative to dining chairs; at the base of an impressive gallery wall; in the living room to provide additional seating and an unexpected pop of color; on a patio or deck to soak up those all-too-fleeting sunny days.
You can find vintage benches with backs and sides or without. Choose upholstered cushions or minimalist wood. Decide if you’d like storage or simple seating. Shorter or longer? It’s up to you and your space. Here are some ideas to make the most of an antique bench, regardless of where it lives in your home.
An entryway demands both style and service. It’s the first space guests see when entering your home, and a beautiful, antique piece of furniture can help establish a warm, inviting feeling. Try a vintage American Colonial bench with patterned cushions to fit a farmhouse aesthetic. Add an elegant French one with carved legs for a bit of luxury. Or keep things sleek with an industrial bench in reclaimed wood and metal.
A bench should provide convenience for the person who comes through the front door most often - you. Take a seat while tying your shoelaces or drop bags when first arriving home. Benches with storage drawers or shoe racks on the bottom can help organize all those boots, umbrellas and dog leashes that are usually strewn throughout the house.
The Living Room
A secondhand bench can add an alluring decorative flourish to your living room, especially if it’s upholstered in a plush fabric or eye-catching color. Cushions with deep diamond tufting impart a touch of luxe, and a bench with clear Lucite legs gives a nod to ‘70s-era glam.
Beyond looking stunning, benches offer extra seating without taking up too much valuable real estate and can store remotes, magazines, throws and other everyday items, keeping your living room looking as pristine as possible. Decorate a secondhand bench with pillows in vibrant prints and create a cozy window nook to read and relax. Or move a bench, typically positioned along the walls, to the center of the room. No longer a wallflower, it shines and serves as a coffee table with a steady surface to place trays or books. You can style the same vignettes as a normal coffee table with the added bonus of sturdier construction to withstand more sitting, perching and bumping into. Because, after all, there’s a lot of living that happens in the living room.
A well-designed outdoor space can encourage us to spend more time al fresco, absorbing that precious Vitamin D we rarely get enough of. Whether you have a spacious backyard overflowing with fragrant flowers or a small balcony with a single succulent, a vintage bench fits perfectly into your garden of eden and makes practical and aesthetic sense.
Get a small one if you’re looking to lounge alone in the sun. A book and cup of coffee or tea are optional, but highly recommended. Or place a long bench at a patio or deck dining table to optimize space for company. The lack of chair arms makes room for more people, and the bench can be easily stored under the table when not in use. Plus, a combination of chairs and a bench shakes things up and avoids a too-uniform look. Match the material of your furniture or choose a common color palette to keep it all pulled together. Or mismatch everything to evoke a bohemian, effortlessly eclectic vibe. Either way, look for durable, weather-resistant materials, like teak, redwood, stainless steel and aluminum. An antique bench is a timeless piece, providing both function and fashion for your home, and you want it to last as long as it can.