Sometimes it can be hard to find that perfect piece of furniture for the room you are working on. Sometimes you just need a perfect space where you can sit and read a good book, and sometime you just want another quiet space to take a nap! I have been presented with that challenge a few times in my career. Usually, it comes down to a built in bench seat. The photos in this blog show two different styles of built-in bench seats.
One is just simply a standalone bench seat, and the other incorporates two bookshelves on either side. Building a built-in bench seat is a complicated process that requires a lot of planning and, unless the unit was thought about before the home was constructed, there usually are some obstacles in the way. Built-in bench seats can be constructed in almost any area, but in my experience, clients have asked me to build them under and around a window in their home. This presents the first challenge: there is almost always a heat supply duct below a window in the home (after all, that is the proper placement for it). Covering up a heat duct is a bad idea because it will throw off the temperature in the room. The room will either end up too hot or too cold. For both of these jobs, the first thing I had to do was move the heat duct further away from the window to allow for the space if the bench. If you are building your own built-in’s and you don’t want to tackle this part of the project, you can always call a heating and cooling company to do it for you.
The second challenge was outlets and cable jacks. Once again, since there is a building code that regulates the placement of outlets, most likely there will be at least one outlet in your way. There are two ways to handle this; first you can move the outlet to a different location or eliminate it altogether. If this is the route you choose, I would definitely recommend calling a qualified electrician. The second option (and the one I usually choose) is to bring the outlets in through the bench seat. This can give you a great way to put accent lighting or even a small TV in the place (if you want). Now that you have the mechanical portion of the project figured out, you can now move on to the fun part: designing your built-in!
Since it’s a custom piece, your possibilities are endless. The first homeowner had a huge bedroom and a wide space to work with. We didn’t want to build a 12 foot long bench seat, so we decided to add built in book shelves on either side of the bench. This gave the homeowner great extra storage space all around the area. They decide they wanted to keep all of the toys and blankets out of sight, so they opted for drawers on the bottom of the bench seat and doors on the bottom of the bookshelves. Everything was custom built to fit around the window and we finished it off with a distressed finish and a glaze over the paint to give it an older, more rustic appearance.
For the second bench pictured, we had a much smaller space to work with, but the way the room was situated, this window was in an alcove off the room. There really was no perfect piece of furniture and this is the kind of space that begs to have a built-in. This room was a girl’s room and they wanted something simple. We designed an open space so that they could have baskets below for storage. Then the bench was painted white to blend in with the rest of the trim in the room. The interior designer on this project did an excellent job of picking out the right baskets for below and she had a custom cushion made for the top so this girl now has a great place to relax.
Whether you do it yourself, or hire a professional, built-in bench seats can be an excellent addition to any space.