Cottage Bench with Storage Cubbies

Submitted by Ana White on Mon, 01/10/2011 - 21:32
Difficulty
Intermediate
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A simple cottage style entryway bench with under seat storage cubbies. Two large, roomy cubbies. Though the bench itself is small, the seat is adult height and size.

Our home does not have an entryway.

And we live in Alaska.

And I designed our home.

It is the biggest regret I have about our home.  And it's my fault.

But in my defense, when we built our home, we were on a strick budget of both time and money.  And labor.  A  paycheck to paycheck budget, and the labor of one man working full time and a woman with a newborn baby.  Adding just a few extra square feet wasn't a matter of an extra few dollars a month over 30 years.  It was a matter of more shoveling, more framing, more hauling materials, more finishing, more concrete to pour, but without more time or more paycheck.

So when I designed our home, our backs and budget were first and foremost in our minds.  And I reasoned that the large great room could double as an entryway.

And it does work.

But here's the major issues.  When someone stops by unexpectedly, our entire home is in plain sight.  And that means you can see whether or not I did the dishes (there's a good chance that I did not), all of Grace's toys that she's "still playing with," and whatever chaos we've got going on at the moment.  Then there is the problem of winter gear in Alaska having no where to go.  I used to use the laundry room, which is directly off the entryway, but then there was no where for laundry to go.  And finally, there is no where to sit down and take your boots off.

See what I mean?  When you open the door, there you are, right in the middle of our living space.  Ka-bam!  Hello, White Family, hello mess!

We considered several options, from adding on to the outside of the house, but the roof design just wouldn't work.  Every time I drive up to our home, I feel pride and gratefulness for what we have and were able to accomplish.  An add-on would take away from that.  We've considered boxing in the front entryway, but the floor isn't insulated, and it's really really narrow.  If anything, we'll be extending the porch out next summer.

I did have an Entryway Shelf System on the wall in front of the laundry room/closet, but there was nothing to force traffic to use it.  Then I replaced it with the locker I built for Fresh Home magazine, but still, no change in traffic direction, and nothing to block the view of our entire inside of our home from guests.  Not just guests . . . even I don't want to come home to chaos with an arm full of groceries and mail and Grace with full cold weather gear on and two dogs whining and the phone ringing. . . you know exactly what I'm talking about.

So we'll see how this all works out.  I plan to make the locker system less than traditional height- maybe five feet tall - so that people can look over it and see the windows and the great room isn't completely separated out.  Really eyeing these ones.

Another thought would be to add board and batten wall treatment around the great room, 5 feet up, and then also build a "wall" that is five feet tall (it would essentially be just the board and batten treatment on the false wall) where the locker system would go, and hang hooks on it, like my friend Kate did at Centsational Girl. Then the back side would be pretty too.  What's your vote? What would you do?

Oh, here's a quick peek of what my living room looks like right now . . . there is plenty of room.

I haven't made my mind up on the entryway wall.  I'd love your input.  In the meantime, I still need a bench for the wall in front of the laundry room.

So I drew up a few designs, and even built a bench.

But I haven't decided if this is THE bench just yet.  It ended up being a little shorter than I expected.  That is MY fault for not measuring.

But it's so darling and sturdy, I might just add a hall tree coat rack or something along those lines and keep it.

The baskets are from Target and fit perfect in the cubbies - which are quite large.  There is also ample space underneath, for shoes or dog dishes or even more baskets.  This bench is also just shy of a twin size bed, so would make a cute reading bench at the foot or a child's twin sized bed.  You could add a cushion and their favorite books in the bins for a special story spot.

Dimensions
Dimensions are shown above. 36″ wide, 18″ high x 14 1/2″ deep.

Preparation

Shopping List

1 – 1×12 @ 10 feet long (you can make mods shown in cut list to use an 8 footer, but the cubbies will be really short)
1 – 1×3 @ 8 feet long
3 – 2×2 @ 8 feet long
2 – 1×2 @ 8 feet long

Cut List

8 – 1×2 @ 6″ (Slats)
2 – 1×3 @ 33″ (Back)
2 – 2×2 @ 28 1/2″ (Back Legs)
3 – 2×2 @ 33″ (Back Support, Bottom and Front 2x2s)
1 – 1×12 @ 36″ (Seat)
2 – 1×12 @ 11″ (Sides) (Make this measurement 9″ if you want to get all your cuts in a single 8 foot 1×12)
1 – 1×12 @ 9 1/2″ (Center Divider) (Make this measurement 8 1/2″ if you want to get all of your cuts in a single 1×12)
1 – 1×12 @ 33″ (Bottom of Cubbies)
4 – 1×2 @ 11 1/2″ (Width of your 1x12s – adjust to fit)
1 – 1×2 @ 36″ (Front Trim)
2 – 2×2 @ 17 1/4″ (Front Legs)

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Drill
Circular Saw
Jigsaw
Power Sander
Level
Drill Bit Set

Instructions

Step 1

Back

Mark out your back 1×3 boards for the placement of the 1×2 rails. Either drill a pocket hole in each end of the rails (1x2s @ 6″ long) or carefully predrill a hole for screws from the tops and bottoms of the 1x3s OR drill holes in both the rails and top/bottom for wood dowels. With glue applied, you will only need one screw per end of each rail.

I tapered the top of the back by measuring in 9″ from the end of the 1×3 top board and down 1″. I drew a straight line and cut with my jigsaw. Then I rounded the top with a sander to make it look like it is a arched top (its really not).

Step 2

Finishing the Back

Measure and mark out the placement of the joints and predrill holes. Either use pocket holes or 3″ screws and glue.

Step 3

Box

If we are building a project that has storage in it, you are probably going to build a box. Screws and glue. 2″ ones will work just fine.

Step 4

Trim

Trim out the box with 1 1/4″ finish nails and glue. This should be a super easy step.

Step 5

Step 6

Assembly

Now the fun part. Attach the front and back to the box with 3″ screws and glue.

Finishing Instructions
Finish Used
Mine is finished with High Gloss Paint from Valspar. I simply filled all my holes and other imperfections with wood filler and let it dry. I did a second coat, then sanded with 120 grit sandpaper. A coat of primer and two coats of high gloss white and the bench is done! Enjoy.

Comments

fenn (not verified)

Mon, 01/10/2011 - 21:54

Your house is amazing, even more so that you and your hubby built it!! I'm loving the board and batten treatment idea with smaller lockers (the PB ones) I think that would look fab!

And OMG PB is great for inspiration pieces!! I think that will be my 2nd most stalked site (after yours :)

Christy (not verified)

Mon, 01/10/2011 - 22:23

Ana you read my mind! I'm doing my daughters room and she has a little nook in the corner that would be perfect as a reading area! Not to mention the back of the bench matches the top of her loft bed we just built. I love it!!! I think it's cute and you should keep it. The coat rack would be very cute next to it.

Christy (not verified)

Mon, 01/10/2011 - 22:28

I also wanted to add that the lockers are amazing! I LOVE that style! Your house is also gorgeous. I love love love the windows.

Amanda H. (not verified)

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:40

I LOVE this! Now I'm torn though, because I was going to build an entryway bench for my best friend now I don't know if I want to do this one or the bench from the Entryway System - which is the one I was FOR SURE doing before I saw these plans. Maybe I'll make both and keep the one she doesn't want... hahaha, wait. That might work. ;)

Sarah (not verified)

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:42

I vote for the false wall! This is my biggest pet peeve for homes built today (including mine)--the open floor plan is equal parts awesome and equal parts annoying. I dream of an entryway WITH a closet.

Best of luck! No matter what you do it will be great!

Leilani (not verified)

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:54

I vote for the PB locker storage. I looove those! Maybe you could do two sets back to back so that one faces your living room and one faces your entry?

Annalea (not verified)

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 13:00

Here's what I would do:

Keep the flooring the same. It will help keep the feeling open, even though you're going to have to add the lockers (which will do some obstructing) to get the entryway functionality.

I don't think I would build a wall, as the lockers would provide more storage for your square footage, and be less disruptive to the existing structure of the house. I'm not entirely sure how you'd anchor the lockers so they would be a great room divider but wouldn't be a tipping hazard (do you get earthquakes in Alaska?).

We had one rental that plopped you right into the dining room, smack against a peninsula counter adjoining the kitchen. It was always a mess, even though we only had one child at the time.

Best of luck with your project. I look forward to seeing what you do with it!

Lynn in Canada (not verified)

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 14:19

Ana, I'm relatively new to your site, discovered you just before Christmas and could NOT believe it! You're awesome! Ok, I live in Canada, not Alaska but still, I understand the snow-gear thing. We have built 3 houses - one of which was strawbale and let me assure you that this, our third and FINAL build has a proper entry and closet, finally. My ideas would be to not cut into that beautiful great room but tough it out one more winter and add-on an insulated entryway in an area (back of the house, side of the house) that is possible (roof-line) and does not affect the lovely facade if possible. But, in the end, for me anyways, functionality wins and I'd add-on that porch entry wherever I could even it if affects the facade. Another crazy idea: turn the laundry room into that entry-closet area and move the laundry to another part of the house. We had a house that had the washer and dryer in the master bedroom closet! (this bedroom had huge huge closets mind you!) It didn't bother me one bit but I'm not picky about laundry - I don't have kids (but I do have many dogs and so do a lot of towels and beds!). Could you do like the Europeans and put the washer/dryer in the kitchen? (stackables maybe?). doubt it but thought I'd mention it.
Good luck with this, thank you for all that you do!
Lynn :-)

Rachel (not verified)

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 17:01

I think you should definitely do a false wall! Although I think it's sweet that a 5' wall is meant to be seen over:)...I'm 5'2"! I think maybe you need a longer bench...sorry! Personally I would love to see the simple spa bench at the right length to fit your wall. Or maybe the three cube bench?

Any way you slice I look forward to seeing what you do. I too live in a small house and I am always looking for ways to make it more livable, efficient, and effective. Good luck!