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Bench seating is so incredibly functional, but how can you make it comfortable as well? In last week’s sunroom update, I shared a sneak peek of our custom bench seating and today, I’ve got the full process for you – from design to execution! Are you ready for this?

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner


First things first: Ken and I started at the drawing board with a billion different design ideas, and after a few hours, we settled on a long bench solution that would run the length of the windows, yet jut out at each corner to provide extra deep seating. The result creates an elongated “U” shape that is perfectly conducive to late-night conversations, napping and entertaining.

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

But because we didn’t want our guests to have to lean against a window every time they sat down, we came up with a brilliant solution – the bench’s lid would actually double as a seat-back (pictured below)! Here’s how we pulled it off:

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

1. We built the bench’s frame out of 2x4s (for our design, we used roughly 14 8-foot pieces). Word to the wise: It’s really hard to find perfectly straight 2x4s at the hardware store, but be patient and sort through for the good ones. It’ll be well worth it in the end when your angles line up and you’re headache-free.

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

2. To cover the bench’s frame, we faced the front with 1/2 inch birch veneer plywood by cutting it to size, glueing and finish-nailing it to the frame. Seamless and simple! (Note: We kept the frame and face 1/8 inches off the floor so that if someone happens to spill their drink (inevitable in a sunroom!), the liquid wouldn’t seep under the bench and soak into the plywood to create potential warping problems later).

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

3. We then added 2×4 edges to the interior of the bench, creating a lip that will house a second “lid” when the exterior lid is being used as the back of the bench. More on this later!

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

4. We cut a lid for the bench that was 1/8 inch smaller (on all sides) than the opening of the bench, connecting it to the back of the frame with two hinges. We then cut a finger hole in each lid for easy access to the storage below.

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

5. Next, we cut the second “lid” I mentioned above – this time, 1/4 inch smaller on each side. We drilled a finger hole in this piece, as well.

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

6. So here’s how it works (follow along in the photo below!): When we have friends or family visiting and want the bench to have a back for maximum comfort, we simply open the hinged lid and remove the “second lid” from the interior storage. That “second lid” becomes the new seat of the bench, while the former lid becomes the back! Smart, yes? The perfect mix of form and function.

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

Of course, I left out a pretty big portion of this project: the cushions! Luckily, we enlisted a very helpful mother-in-law to sew custom cushions for each bench, complete with tedious piping. She’s a trooper indeed (and we owe her a very big Mother’s Day gift – please send ideas!).

How To Build Modern Bench Seating - Erin Loechner

So what do you think, friends? We love how the bench feels modern and seamless, but is still entirely functional for both daily use and entertaining. When we finally finish decorating, I’m envisioning some serious back porch parties in our future!

Speaking of decorating, check back in just a few short weeks for a video of the final space – completely renovated, decorated and fully furnished with love. You won’t believe your eyes…

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