Designing a Home for a Growing Family: Part Two – The DIY Bench Edition

Interiors & Decor

DIY bench

We thought we’d be the type of parents who would be extremely thoughtful about the amount of toys we brought into our home. All they need is a wooden spoon and some boxes, right? Yeah, right. Turns out, Joe and I both love playing with toys as much as August does, and within the first year of parenting, both our basement and living room were FILLED with stuffed animals, blocks, cars, trains, and the list goes on.

DIY bench

Given our challenges with seating in the living room, a storage solution that doubled as a seating area was ideal. I set out to find some sort of solution that existed already but found places like IKEA didn’t have much to offer. I came across this bedroom reveal from Avenue Lifestyle and began hunting for the same materials she used.

DIY Bench

Turns out, the IKEA system she used is sold out in Mpls, and not available online. So, I started looking for another way to mimic a similar look.

When designing a bench like this, you want the finished height to be similar to that of a chair, which is no taller than 18.” I was very familiar with IKEA’s SEKTION system from designing the Studio 125 kitchen and knew they had a series of wall cabinets that were 15″ high and 24″ deep. Turns out, the over the fridge cabinets are PERFECT for a DIY bench solution!

How to make a DIY bench

These cabinets are about as easy as it comes in the realm of IKEA furniture, so this was the most painless part of the process. The cabinets do need a base, because the doors are flush with the ground and get caught on the floor. So we added a base with 2″x2″ and a 3″ foam upholstered top for a seating solution that is really functional and comfortable!

DIY bench

When we paired this storage solution with our new couch, it FINALLY felt like we had a seating and storage solution that maximized the functionality of our space. After sharing a couple sneak peeks on Instagram, I know there are many of you looking forward to some guidance on how to make this yourself. Below are my instructions! Happy DIYing!

DIY bench

DIY bench

DIY bench

Wood Screws (1/2″, 1″, 2″)
Staple Gun
Spray Adhesive

30″ SEKTION Top cabinet for fridge w/2 doors, white, Häggeby white
Two 2″ x 2″ cut to the length of bench, minus 2″
2″ x 2″ lumber 20″ long, one for each cabinet
ÖSTERNÄS Leather handle, tanned leather, one pack per Ikea cabinet
2″ Molding

Upholstered Pad:
3″ Foam Pad (cut to size)
Batting (cut to size, with an extra 4″ on all sides)
Fabric (we selected Hudson 43 Farm Upholstery Fabric 58”-Pepper Devol)
11/32 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. Rtd Southern Yellow Pine Plywood Sheathing, cut 24″ wide and the exact length of the IKEA cabinets used.


  1. Build a frame out of 2″ x 2″ lumber. Leave an inch on each side for molding. The base should have one 2″ x 20″ support beams for every cabinet you plan to use.
  2. Build the IKEA cabinets per the directions. Place each cabinet on top of the base. Drill the cabinets together with 3/4″ wood screws. Use clamps to ensure they stay flush and secure.
  3. Drill the Ikea cabinets into the base to secure it in place.
  4. Attach doors and drill holes for knobs
  5. Add molding to the base and secure with finishing nails or wood glue.
  6. Spread fabric out on flat surface and make sure it is smooth. Spray a layer of spray adhesive. Add batting. Spray adhesive. Place foam layer in the center of the fabric. Top with plywood. Make sure the plywood and foam are flush.
  7. Tightly secure the batting and fabric to the plywood with staples. Staple every 1/2″ and make sure the patterning isn’t warping.
  8. Place the upholstered plywood on top of the bench. Secure with 3/4″ wood screws.

Product Sources: Lighting by Schoolhouse Electric, Rug from Maison Eleven, Pillows from The Citizenry, Susan Connor NY, Charish on eBay, Curtains from CB2, Curtain Rod by West Elm, Paint: White Dove by Benjamin Moore, Baskets from The Citizenry and All Modern (no longer available, similar style available here).

Images by 2nd Truth

BY Kate Arends - November 9, 2017

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The bench really completes the whole room. I’m probably not skilled enough to DIY it, but I love it!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Colleen Ryan
November 9, 2017 11:44 am

I love those windows (the actual ones) – is there a link to those or are they original?

November 9, 2017 7:09 pm

I love window seats and have since I was a little girl!! Thanks for this:)

November 10, 2017 6:26 am

Hi just wondering how you close the curtains? Do you plan to shorten them in the future?

November 10, 2017 3:02 pm

I love architecture and decoration, thanks! 🙂

November 18, 2017 9:38 am

What color did you paint the base and at what point did you paint it?

April 16, 2018 3:18 pm

Where are the curtains from?

George Forbes
May 25, 2019 9:34 am

Wow! Awesome collection of photos! And the ideas which you shared. I’m sure it will help my work at which is a window replacement company in Chicago. We replace old windows to the new ones, which looks nice!

August 18, 2020 1:22 pm

I love this and would like to recreate something along these lines. Wondering if you ever thought about adding extra stability to the cupboards since they are made from particle board? Thanks!

January 27, 2021 12:31 pm

This is just the kind of DIY storage bench hack I have been looking for! Thanks for sharing it. For my space, I’m considering the same IKEA cabinet but the 36″ version. Based on your photos and those on IKEA’s website, it looks like there is no middle divider/support in either the 30″ or 36″ cabinet. As you used the bench, did you ever feel like it needed additional support like the kind that would be offered by a divider/support?

January 27, 2021 12:33 pm
Reply to  Danielle Hauck

Do you think additional support would be needed with the 36″ version? I see that you responded to a similar question below about your benches’ sturdiness.

February 9, 2021 1:29 pm
Reply to  Danielle Hauck

I’m also very curious about this, as I’d like to build these in an L shape for our dining table. Thank you for this great DIY!

December 23, 2021 6:17 pm
Reply to  Danielle Hauck

I’d like to know as well for 36″ version.. can you please help?

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