We recently traded in one chair in our living room to two and I immediately felt overwhelmed with how many chairs we had in the space.
In our little open concept home, the two chairs in the living room + the four chairs in the dining nook looked like chaos. We’ve also been itching to add some functional storage in this space, so a built-in bench was the perfect solution! It took us a little bit less than a week of working on this in the evenings and ended up being a little bit less than $100 easy. Simple, affordable, and it looks great. I’m calling this a win!
Figuring out dimensions and gather supplies
We built an L shaped bench. It is 18” deep, 48” long (on both sides) and 18 3/4” high. The bench frame is 18” high and the top piece adds an additional 3/4” to the total dimensions.
This supplies list is based on the dimensions we used. Chances are you’ll need to do some math to fit the dimensions that will work best in your space, but this list is a good starting point to get an idea of what you’ll need!
2×4 for framing — We used 3
1×3 trim pieces for edges — we used 1
1x 6 trim pieces for bottom — we used 1
MDF panels — we used 2
Toe kick — we used 8ft
Square dowel — we used 3
Project panels — We used 2 of these in 48” x 18”, which were pre-cut sheets in our store.
Hinges — We used 8
If we were building the bench on a flat wall without paneling, we would have removed the baseboards prior to getting started. Instead of doing this step, we opted to build over our baseboards and paneling and fill in the gap on the wall.
Framing your bench
Create a frame for the bench by making boxes out of 2x4s. We made two pocket holes in each corner to secure the structure. We used our project panels to help us measure the frame.
Secure the frame to the wall
We used our kreg jig to make pocket holes through the frame so we could screw the bench straight into the wall. We secured it on both ends and the corner, and it is VERY secure. Try to pull your frame off the wall to test how it will hold up.
Adding the bench top and edge trim
After the frame was built and securely fastened to the wall, we moved on the adding the bench top. We used an odd number of hinges on both so there was a clear midpoint because it was easier to space this way. We lined up the top piece with the end of the frame to figure out the placement. To secure the bench top to the wall, we made sure the hinges got a full range of motion before making 1” props out of scrap wood to hold the bench top in place while drilling the hinges in.
The white pieces in the corners of this picture are the edge trim pieces. We cut 45 degree angles on a long end of our 1×3 pieces so they would have a mitered joint. Each we added these trim pieces to every corner and one piece on either end where the bench meets the wall. They are purely aesthetic and helped us get clean and crisp corners that mimic the style of the board and batten in our space.
At this same time, we added our square dowel filer pieces on the top. One fills the gap between the wall and the bench around the trim. The other piece gave us something the screw the hinge and pushes out the bench top so it hinges open without interference.
MDF & Baseboards
The last building step was to add MDF & baseboards. We cut the baseboards first and then filled the empty space with MDF cut to size. We used the nail gun to secure the pieces.
To finish the bench, we filled all of the nail holes and gaps with mud, waited for it to dry, sanded and painted. I did my first coat of paint before mudding because paint always highlights the areas that will need touchup. The very last step (that we did slightly prematurely) was to add the toe kick. This little tiny detail is what will really help your bench look like a built in.
All in, this project came in at just a little bit under $100. Not bad for custom furniture!
Phase two of this project will be making a cushion cover, so stay tuned for that! And maybe someday we will finish the inside, but for now the rough interior is low priority.