Friday, February 17, 2017

DIY Storage Bench

4/23/21 Four years later, this bench is still going strong! We did decide to recover it in a new fabric; click here to see the process!

Can we talk about how much I love window seats? My dream house definitely has a window seat, perhaps flanked by bookshelves so make it a reading nook. If our current place was actually ours and not a rental, I'd already be scheming to build one into our bay window.

As is, when I decided I needed a better storage solution for the toys in our living room, this DIY bench seemed like the perfect solution. Target had a basic storage cube on sale for $45 (if I was mother, I realize I would have built the bench. Alas...) Looking now, Ikea lowered its price of a similar shelving unit to the same price (it was $60 last month. Blechy. Why is furniture so expensive?)

After buying and assembling our storage organizer, we needed items for the cushion. We bought a giant, 3-inch slab of foam from Smith's (who knew, right?) for $20. We later saw the same size foam for the same price at Home Depot. We cut the foam to fit the top of our bench: 57 & 3/4 inches by 14 & 9/16 inches. Since we didn't have an electric knife (the cutting tool of choice for cutting foam at JoAnn's), we just sawed by hand using a serrated bread knife.

This left enough foam for mom to take home for a bench of her own, so in the end the foam was only $10 for each bench! Love. 

Now, I was tired with a newborn and not thrilled with paying money for MDF board and then bothering to drill and screw the cushion to our shelving. I thought we should just cover the cushion, put it on our cube unit, and call it good. Luckily, mom was in town to help me and insist that, like the tutorial, we affix the cushion to the bench. At Home Depot, a helpful employee suggested we use "hard board" instead of MDF board for our project. What is hard board, you ask? It's basically a strong and thin white board, and a giant sheet costs only $10. Plus, they cut it to size for free! We put the foam on the hard board and then draped them in quilt batting, as per Mommy Vignettes suggestion, to keep the cushion smooth.

Tightening the batting as I went, I stapled it to the bottom of the hardboard for a smooth, finished look.

We found some awesome fabric on clearance at Joann's for... how much was it a yard, mama? I forget. Okay, you'd better shpeal everyone on the fabric, come to think of it. I'll just add the picture.(Aside from Mom: Fortunately I was there during a JoAnn's 50% off Red Tag event, so we found our Waverly upholstery fabric for $3 a yard! We chose an outdoor fabric that we hope won't fade from the sun coming in the window and will be relatively spill proof.) 

We cut the fabric amply big enough to wrap around the foam, batting, and board with three-ish inches overlapping onto the back of the board. You can see we measured and lined everything up upright on the cube organizer to make sure it would look just right, but finally I had to carefully flip the cushion pieces over to staple the fabric to the back of the hard board, pulling it taut as I went. The corners were the most time-consuming part; I tried to take extra care so the fold lined up at each corner to prevent asymmetry or puckering.

Now, how to attach the cushion? Mom was convinced that we could use the large Command velcro strips. That way, we wouldn't have to drill holes into the shelving unit should we decide to use it in another capacity later. As much as I love these damage-free miracles, I was skeptical that they'd be sturdy enough to really secure the cushion (or that they would even be thick enough to adhere to each other. After all, there's quilt batting and fabric along the edges of the hard board). I was so wrong! These work like a dream; I put one large strip at either end of the board (one side on the hard board, the other on the top of the shelving unit), and these two strips alone work great for us so far. Unlike the blog post we followed, we didn't add legs. The height seems just perfect for us without them. I think it turned out splendid. We scored some bins for $5 a piece at Shopko to hold and hide the toys. 

Plus, because mom is awesome, she made these matching pillows and promised to make curtains in a coordinating gold fabric that was also on sale at JoAnn's. Tutorial forthcoming, mama?

Again, feel free to check out the recovering process four years later!


  1. Hi! How is your bench holding up? I am dreaming of making a window book nook out of storage cubes however I can only find how to hack cube storage into a bench with IKEA cube storage. Unfortunately, I do not have an IKEA near me so I cannot replicate those ideas. You are literally the only person on the internet that I have seen hacking a non IKEA brand cube storage into a bench! How has it held up? Does the hardboard give it enough structural integrity to turn it into a seat? I'm hoping that you can give me the confidence to buy any brand cube storage and turn it into what I would like!

    1. Hi Katie! I had my doubts, but the bench has held up surprisingly well! We recently moved from our townhome into a house, and I just barely recovered the bench a few weeks ago to match the new room aesthetic. Yes, the hardboard and command strip combination worked far better than I expected. Our Target version of the cube bench looks great and has really held up. I'll have to add some new pictures; the biggest "wear" that has happened is that the front foam corners aren't quite square from 4 years of use (while the back ones look much more sharp; in hindsight, perhaps I should have rotated the bench every year?) Yet the fabric we used was AMAZING; I recovered it strictly to switch up the look for a different aesthetic, but I'm already nervous about our new choice holding up as well. Fingers crossed! I'll try to update with new (and better) pictures this week.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reaching out, and good luck with your project! I'd love to hear how it turns out. Here's the bench 4 years later with a new, bright fabric: