What's a (reasonably) inexpensive way to replicate this bench?
October 25, 2020 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Outside the new local bakery there's an architectural bench feature. I want to replicate it to replace the cushioned love seat in my living room, but I'm lost even as to how to start thinking about it.

In the side courtyard of a new mixed-used building in my neighborhood, this architectural bench feature (all Instagram posts) might be the most comfortable thing I've ever sat on; it's perfectly proportioned in seat height, seat depth, and back rest for my body, but I don't even know where to start in trying to create an indoor, all-wood version. I know I'm being sort of hand-wavy with "(relatively) inexpensive. For context, I've looked at entry hall benches in the $200 range to see if they might be adaptable with some extra work, but I'm not sure. I don't have tools or a workspace but could probably get access to such (and in the past have helped build a goat barn). How complicated a task would this be? Bonus point, I guess, if you've got Portland-specific suggestions.
posted by bixfrankonis to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
(You may miss some good suggestions from people who don't have instagram accounts. Can you post pictures on a public image sharing site?)
posted by Thella at 11:44 PM on October 25


How long do you want your bench to be? Do you want inward and/or outward seat corners? Do you have material preferences?

Too many questions I know, but I design street furniture, often to a very low budget and your case is a fun challenge.
posted by unearthed at 2:39 AM on October 26 [6 favorites]


I suspect you’ll have to build thus from scratch, or have it built. The vertical back and hard horizontal seat are not common in indoor furniture. I’d start by making a dimensioned sketch of all the surfaces you touch while seated — back height, seat depth, seat height, and also include the height of the seat’s front edge. That at least gives you a useful record of exactly what you found so comfortable.

While you’re there giving it thought, note how much space you’re occupying laterally. An indoor version won’t be cantilevered from a 10-ton concrete planter. Unless you bolt it to a wall, it will need supports at left and right ends. It would be a shame to build something too narrow and find that you feel hemmed in. Also note whether you’re tucking your calves/feet significantly under the seat while seated. Consider not only how comfortable it is for a 10-minute break during a walk, but whether the hard surfaces would become problematic if you sat there long enough to have a conversation, watch a movie, or whatever you’d expect to do on it at home. How does it feel if you start to slouch a bit? What if you look down to read for a while? Is the outdoor, public location shaping your behavior and posture in ways that affect comfort? How might it be different in your living room?

Once you have a clearer idea of what you want (ergonomically and dimensionally speaking), then you can engage with construction details. There are lots of ways to build something like this, depending on how long you want it to last, how nice it needs to look, available tools, etc.

All of this said, lack of tools combined with a tight budget make this difficult. $200ish for something on the scale of a loveseat seems improbable it you have to buy anything but materials.
posted by jon1270 at 2:46 AM on October 26 [6 favorites]


Ana White is the best place to get plans for good-looking furniture made out of 2x4s, and her instructions are always super clear and easy to follow (and pretty easy to customize). This is probably the only way you're going to get anything custom for $200. Here's a bench that looks easy enough, though she has a ton of plans for other benches if you want something different. Home Depot or the like rent out tools, or they even do cuts for a buck or two. There might be a makerspace near you that also rents out space and tools for making something like this.

I wanted a super long sofa table for behind my sectional, and wasn't willing to shell out over $1000 for it. I was able to customize a plan and build what I wanted out of cheap wood, and it only cost about $250. I sanded, stained, and poly'd it so it doesn't stand out as super homemade.
posted by little king trashmouth at 6:48 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


Step One: Measure the dimensions.
Step Two: Make an appointment with the ReBuilding Center and pick up some lumber.
Step Three: Borrow some tools.*
Step Four: Bench!

*I did not click on those pictures expecting to see my old neighborhood! But that means I can tell you that you do have access to all the tools you'll need. The North Portland Tool Library is free to everyone in North Portland as long as you return or renew your tools on time. Also you can work off fines by volunteering in a variety of capacities. Remember to bring ID and proof of your north portland address (like a bill or something, digital ok) to set up your account.
posted by aniola at 8:15 AM on October 26 [1 favorite]


PS the tool library almost certainly even has measuring tape if you need it. and if they don't you can donate some :D
posted by aniola at 8:16 AM on October 26


Thanks for the feedback so far. Going through as a batch here.
How long do you want your bench to be? Do you want inward and/or outward seat corners? Do you have material preferences?
I was aiming for close to the seating area of my love seat, which is around 46 inches. I don't even know what the corner question means (will google later). The entire bench will be wood.
I’d start by making a dimensioned sketch of all the surfaces you touch while seated — back height, seat depth, seat height, and also include the height of the seat’s front edge.
That's my project for today after I finally take specific measurements.
An indoor version won’t be cantilevered from a 10-ton concrete planter. Unless you bolt it to a wall, it will need supports at left and right ends.
Yeah. I can't build an exactish replica; it's the comfort of the general dimensions I'm after.
Also note whether you’re tucking your calves/feet significantly under the seat while seated.
I'm not much at all, so that gives me options to work with in terms of how I'd build the overall support.
How might it be different in your living room?
I've sat on the existing outdoor version for an hour to read. It was the degree to which I was still comfortable over time that made me go, "Huh", and start thinking about this. Parenthetically, I have a coffeetable that's close to some of these dimensions, and I've (yes) practiced a bit on that to see how it would feel. (I've also got a less-cushioned-than-the-love-seat swivel/rocker loungey chair, which means I'd still have seating options in my living room.)
…seems improbable it you have to buy anything but materials.
It's likely that I can scare up workspace and tools. I think I would mosty be looking at materials costs.
Ana White is the best place to get plans…
Will check! Looking for plans for some guidance was on my to-do, but I wouldn't have known, really, what places to start off with.
The North Portland Tool Library is free to everyone in North Portland…
Oh, right. I needed this reminder; I'd forgotten. Lents had one of these, too, and my nonprofit used them all the time. I see they are somewhat operational again after shuttering during the early pandemic.
posted by bixfrankonis at 12:21 PM on October 26


I forgot: as near as I can tell, those Instagram images are viewable without being logged in, but here's a close-up of the bench in question.
posted by bixfrankonis at 12:40 PM on October 26


Lots here was helpful; I marked little king trashmouth's as Best Answer mainly because I did end up using that bench as a jumping off point for structure and managed to design pretty much what I'm after in SketchUp.
posted by bixfrankonis at 3:55 PM on October 27


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