Bench Buying Guide – Standard Height & Depth Explained
The humble bench seat is making a comeback in a big way – and for good reason, too. Not only are benches super stylish, but they’re also versatile and practical, providing varied seating for guests or your day-to-day tasks. Benches can be purchased to suit a range of purposes and rooms in your home, so really, you can’t go wrong when adding one of these nifty numbers to your existing interiors. With the help of our expert team of stylists, we’ve rounded up absolutely everything you need to know about bench seating, including dimensions, purpose, and style.
The benefits of bench seating
If you’ve simply dealt with chairs your entire life, you might be wondering ‘what’s so good about a bench?’ Take a look around at your favourite restaurants, shops, outdoor spaces and more – benches are practically everywhere, and ultimately, it’s because they’re adaptable to all manner of needs. A bench can be put to good use in almost every room in your home, providing everything from seating at a relaxed outdoor dinner to a spot to put on your shoes.
Although back in the day, there was one type of bench (it was wooden, uncomfortable, and not particularly pretty), there are now so many styles of bench seating on offer. As a result, they’re more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than ever before.
Types of bench seating
Now that you know benches are super versatile, let’s explore some of the ways and areas you could put them to good use in your own home…
Outdoor bench seats are very popular, and are traditionally paired with a table to create picnic-style seating for the whole family (and more!) to enjoy. You might opt for an all-in-one outdoor dining set that comes complete with two benches around an expansive table, or you could opt to mix and match however you see fit, purchasing the benches separately. The outdoor table and bench seat combo is a quick, easy way to take your al fresco dining area to the next level in a cohesive and cute way.
Benches are unparalleled in the dining room – perfect for chilled-out family meals around the table, dining table bench seats provide a flexible way to eat and spend time together. They’re especially great for families with kids who might not love sitting still in their own chairs! If you entertain regularly, or host any number of people for dinner each night, a dining bench or two will be right up your alley, as they’ll provide a flexible seating alternative to a fixed number and style of dining chairs.
Hallways are notoriously tough to style, so if you’re looking to spruce and spice up this otherwise-bland area, a bench could be the perfect fit. Hallway bench seats create a little nook for you to prep to go outside, or to unwind for the day – a designated spot for taking off your shoes, gathering your things, and shedding any outerwear (or the other way ‘round, depending on the time of day). They also provide some visual interest that your hallway or entryway will thank you for.
Benches are also beloved in the bedroom, particularly when placed at the foot of the bed to elongate and extend your sleeping quarters. Establish a spot to get ready for the day with a bedroom bench seat, and perhaps create some depth in your space while you’re at it! Soft, upholstered styles are ideal in the bedroom, where you want your space to feel relaxed and serene.
We told you that this versatile seating works in practically every room in the home – including the living room! An ottoman bench seat that’s shorter and smaller than your typical bench will look great and serve its purpose in the living room, acting as a place for you to rest your feet, or simply for an additional guest to perch comfortably.
A distinguishing feature of a lot of bench seats, that’s also a massive selling point, is storage. Many bench seats have a fold-out portion from the seat that reveals storage space for all of your favourite practical or pretty items. Storage bench seats seriously come in handy in any room – after all, we’ve always got extraneous clutter in our homes just begging to be put away, right? So, if storage is a must-have for you, consider sourcing a bench that prioritises this, with ample space below to stow away whatever’s important to you. Outdoor storage benches in particular are super handy, as this area of the home traditionally doesn’t have a lot of storage options.
What is the standard height for a bench seat?
A big part of introducing a bench or benches into your space is knowing they’ll fit comfortably with your existing furniture. This is especially relevant if you’re using an existing dining table and pairing it with benches to sit at. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common bench seat heights.
Dining benches: The standard height for a dining bench is between 42cm and 48cm. This will accommodate the height of a standard dining table, which is around 74-78cm. Understandably, it’s not ideal to pair a taller table with bench seats, as this will be uncomfortable for you and your family and prevent easy use of the dining area. So, try to stick to the prescribed height ratios for the best scenario.
Ottomans: Ideally, your ottoman bench will be at a similar height to your couch to fulfil its primary purpose as a footrest. It’s not comfortable for your feet to be reaching too far down, nor having to elevate your feet excessively. Plus, if you’re using the ottoman as additional seating in the living room, you’ll want to be relatively level with someone sitting across from you on the sofa. A height between 30 and 40cm makes the most sense when paired next to a sofa or armchair.
Bedroom benches: In the bedroom, it’s likely you’ll want your bench to be at a similar height to your bed for aesthetic purposes – this way, the overall look will be much more cohesive and clean. When all assembled, beds vary in height, so the right size for a bench will too. However, look between 50cm and 60cm as a rough guide. Something of this size will ideally include ample storage, too.
As well as thinking about the right height, you might want to consider bench seat depth, too. Once again, this will depend on its placement and purpose, but generally, you’ll want to ensure it’s wide enough to comfortably seat one person at a time, but not so wide that it impedes reasonable use of your space. You’ll find most bench seats have a depth of somewhere between 35cm (for a dining bench) to 50cm (for a larger storage bench or ottoman).
How to measure your space for a bench seat
When you’re ready to take the plunge, the last thing to do before you purchase is to measure up. Be sure that your space will fit your chosen bench with enough wiggle room and space to manoeuvre.
Wherever you’re placing your bench seat, the most important factor to consider is clearance, from both other furniture items and the walls in the space. Try to leave at least 30cm from any other smaller furniture pieces, or 50cm from big items like sofas and entertainment units. Of course, if you’re using your bench as an ottoman, this rule won’t apply. The same goes for the walls in your space, particularly if you’re measuring up for a dining bench. To accommodate for pulling the seat out after a meal, aim to have at least 60cm between your bench and the surrounding walls.
Popular bench seating styles
If you’re keen on adding a bench to your interiors, take some time to browse the most popular styles and finishes before you commit. We’ve curated five of our favourite bench seats to suit a variety of rooms and purposes… let’s dive right in!
1. Mod dining, sorted
Turn your dining room into a mid century modern paradise with the sleek lines and gorgeous curves of the Coltrane Bench. This wooden bench seat comes in two finishes; rich dark chestnut and airy natural beech wood. Its exaggerated lines are a visual feast in any space, and it can comfortably seat a dinner party’s worth of guests without worry. In true bench seat fashion, it’s a versatile piece that’d also look great in a hallway or the bedroom as a convenient place to sit.
2. The epitome of easy outdoor living
If the idea of a one-and-done outdoor piece that provides ample seating and surface area appeals to you, look no further than the Smeaton Outdoor Dining Table and Bench Set. This setting takes all of the guesswork out of furnishing your garden, courtyard, deck or patio, and best of all, it does it in style! Modern cement and black metal create an industrial look that’ll be stunning when juxtaposed with the greenery of the outdoors.
3. A touch of coastal charm
A material that’s gained momentum with no signs of stopping is rattan – which is why we couldn’t leave a bench seat with this beautiful, textured wood off our list! The Caledonia Rattan Bench seat is constructed using sturdy mango wood and a rattan tabletop surface that adds depth and a little coastal flair. This is the perfect bench for placing at the foot of a wooden bed, or even using to demarcate a room into two – put it behind the sofa for easy segmentation. Although it’s not packed with storage, you’ll be able to pop your favourite decor items on the top for a lovely look that’s full of personality.
4. Storage made simple
Sleek and chic, the Sara Storage Ottoman adds a plush seat to any room, with soft grey upholstery that will blend right in with a variety of styles, from modern contemporary to Scandinavian and beyond. But, the real selling point is its ample storage – simply flip the lid to access tonnes of space for those items that need tucking away, including linens, blankets, and items that don’t have a place day to day. Place the Sara Ottoman at the base of your bed, or add it to any hallway.
5. Provincial, practical and pretty
If you’re looking for a piece that blends form and function, the Petite Fleur Ottoman will be a fast favourite. Made out of super-solid oak, the base has a rustic wooden look in line with this beautiful, French provincial style. Then, the seat itself is upholstered in ultimate comfort, with an elegant tufted look that will add a little luxe to any room. Place your favourite items on the shelf below while you perch prettily on the seat. This is the perfect bench for putting on (and storing!) your shoes in the hallway or bedroom.
Whatever your style, and wherever you place it, a bench seat or ottoman is bound to be a great addition to your home – one you will have wished you’d had for years! Shop our full range of beautiful and functional bench seats for the dining room, bedroom, living room, hallway and more and experience the Brosa difference.