Saturday, July 20, 2013

DIY Banquette Storage Bench

Hey there!

This is the story of our homemade dining room banquette bench.

We'd been trying to pull off a built-in dining banquette look for a few years -- and even came close once with this antique bench we found, except it was totally the wrong size -- so finally, we just had to build our own from scratch.

Too wide, too deep, too high.  Bad purchase?  Yeah...  Maybe.

As you can see below, our dining area lacked a little personality.  Here we had a table, bench and mirror, but zero welcome factor.

This is our first attempt, with the wrong-sized antique bench.

boooh to this lame dining area.

Here's how we built our bench using 3/4 inch MDF, purchased for about $100.

Preparing and cutting the boards
Our bench is 6 feet wide, 18 inches high and 18 inches deep.

Counter-sinking the holes, so the screws are flush with the surface

Gluing together the basic box shape

Screwing it all together for more solidity

We also added a top with hinges on one side, creating a big storage box.  We had primed it, then came the final coats of white paint.

Once we brought the bench upstairs, we put up refinished Ikea Billy bookcases on either side.  And soon, we were inching closer to the built-in look we were hoping for.

We realized, once we sat on the bench, that the 6-foot wide top piece sagged in the middle.  It wasn't strong enough to support people because it was so wide.  To avoid any future damage, we secured and strengthened the whole thing with two more MDF boards as supports inside the box, which also serve as dividers for stuff.

Next, we customized the look.  Below, we added some pre-made molding frames (kinda like we used on our bedroom walls to make wainscoting, with great results!) that we simply nailed in with with small nails, and then caulked all around for a seamless finish.

Next, we wanted to build a cushioned backrest. Here's how we did it:

By some random fluke, we came across some aerospace-grade seat cushioning when my darling hubby went to buy a second-hand wood tool at someone's house.  The guy worked for the airlines and had so much of the stuff, he practically begged us to take some home!

It came in randomly glued pieces which made for some odd shapes, but we sawed through it with a breadknife (!!) until we got a nice long, flat cushion.

Voila!  A nice long piece we can use:

We glued it to an MDF board cut to the right size.  Then, we wrapped it in cotton batting (the white stuff you see below), which we learned to do when we upholstered our own DIY headboard.

Next came my favorite part of this project:  choosing a fabric to cover the cushion.  I picked a shower curtain.  Yep!  Easy to maintain (read: easy to wipe down should there be any spills or splatters -- ahem!  toddler alert!) not to mention the colors were absolutely perfect with everything else we had going on.


So we tacked the shower curtain all around the back of the board with our staple gun, and the job was done.  Not bad for $9.99 worth of fabric!

My sweet mama and sweet baby girl enjoying the new bench!

Next up: completing our banquette dining area with a photo gallery to enjoy, which you can see below.

Pssst:  To learn a super easy way to create a photo gallery wall (with no math ;-) check out this post which explains how to do it.

And last but not least, we finished off the built-in look of our little dining nook by putting up crown molding.  If you're curious about how we did that, check out our 5 easy DIY molding tricks.

Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.

Till next time!


  1. Just found this page. I love what you did. Great job!! What colors did you use for the walls?

    1. Hi Allison, thanks for coming by, glad to have you ;) On the walls we used Antique Tin by Behr (UL260-21) which is a super nice velvety charcoal that goes with everything. We were a little chicken at first to use such a bold color but now we love it so much we're using it in our new house too. The turquoise inside the bookcases is called Jamaican Sea, fyi, which makes me want to go on vacation like, right now. The whites are all plain ol' white.

  2. How did you mount the back cushion to the wall?

    1. Hi Jim,
      We used a pair of inter-locking wall brackets similar to these: This type is quite solid and can hold quite a bit of weight - I'd recommend to keep an eye out for the weight these brackets can support and go with an option that suits your projects' needs. Best of luck!


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