Constructing a Built-In Storage Bench

In our plans for the pool house, we decided to add a trio benches to store the inevitable flood of pool noodles and toys.  One in the recessed nook at the deep end of the pool:


And a pair along the angled wall near the back door:


With the tile complete, we started constructing the benches.  A hundred little details were discussed and decided upon: finished depth, recessed area depth, how many/width of boards, hinge style, end panel finish, support structure, lid overhang/hardware, etc.  For a bit of depth and interest, we held the end of the angled bench four inches away from the wall, but parallel.

To get started, we measured everything and marked it either on the walls or floor to determine our angled cuts.  Ben cut a row of boards to make up the entire front, then laid them on the floor to ensure an exact fit.


To break up the vertical board and batten wall treatment, we ran the boards horizontally for a simple, modern look.


Vertical 2 by 4 boards form the corners of the bench, securing the horizontal pieces together.  Additional verticals are placed every quarter of the bench, screwed from the inside, to keep the front in line.


Comfortable chair height is around 18 inches, so we cut four 2 by 6 boards down to 4 inches wide to make up the fronts of each bench.  With the fronts complete, Ben ran another vertical strip along the back wall.  A piece connects the front and back, forming a center support for the bench lid.



More pieces attach at bench height to the back wall, screwing into the wall studs.


Along the back of the bench is a stationary strip, which holds the movable lid in place.



To build the tops, Ben screwed together three boards using trim scraps.




We really wanted to use hidden hinges, but couldn’t find any that a) had a high enough weight rating and b) had a wide enough angle.  So, we went with the most durable option: door hinges.  In order to get the smallest gap possible, Ben notched out the hinge placement.  First, he cut a small groove using a jigsaw.



Then, using the router set to the hinge thickness, he carved out the rest of the space.



It’s a slim gap, barely wider than the spacing of the other boards.


Once sanded and stained to match the beams, the oil rubbed bronze hinges shouldn’t be as noticeable.



We weren’t able to finish the construction of the third bench top or create the recessed handle detail.


It’s exciting to see it come together, but it’ll be even better after I finish with my part of the process.


How To: Trim Out a Door

Our Saturday started with tracking down hinges for the storage benches, followed up by checking out hot tubs.  Then the real fun kicked in, with grout by the bucketful.


Initially, Ben and I both applied the grout.  We quickly realized it was easier for him to apply grout and for me to follow-up with a sponge, cleaning off the bits left behind.  Sunday morning, we both thoroughly washed all 800 square feet, leaving most of our bodies aching.  With the floors grouted and clean, we’re able to start installing the remaining trim.  Trimming out the five sliding doors was first on our list, as the baseboard and batten strips terminate into these.


Working on the top piece first, Ben uses a scrap of the finish wood to measure the thickness of the door reveal.  He then secures shims behind, making the reveal of all doors match.


The same happens on the sides of the doors, extending the frame to fill the depth of the wall.



Carefully cut and measure to ensure a tight fit against the floor.


Before attaching the trim around the door, Ben sprays compressed insulation in the gap to eliminate air infiltration.


Now, the exciting part-adding the finish trim to the doors.  We chose 3 1/2 inch wide square fir trim for a simple, modern look.


For a little interest, and the ease of not having to perfectly match the trim to the extension, we leave about a quarter-inch of the extension showing.


It’s a simple process, not taking much time, but does make the space look more finished.



Is it Saturday yet, so we can get some more trim work done in here?  I’m incredibly excited to get paint on these walls!

Tile and Bench Planning

We laid the last tile in the pool house this weekend and it’s a relief to have this huge task out of the way.  Grouting will come next, fingers crossed this weekend.


Once grout is complete, that concludes the floor saga for the pool house.  We’ll move on to trimming out doors, installing base boards, and attaching the rest of the vertical batten strips.  Creating the built-in benches will also happen somewhere in that mix, so I’ve given too much thought on the design of those.

Initially, I thought we’d have white benches, for simplicity, with wooden tops for durability.  A pair will follow the angled walls of the kitchen area, meeting at the corner.  Another bench will fill the recessed nook at the far end of the pool, as seen above.


Recently, while picturing everything in my head, I realized wooden bench tops weren’t going to cut it.  In a room with a white ceiling and (what will be) white walls, tile floors, and few other accessories, I don’t want this space to lack warmth.  Sure, adjacent areas will have wood in small doses, like the floating kitchen shelves:


And the half bathroom vanity:


But it’s still a stark contrast to the house, with hardwood floors and wooden furniture/accessories in every room.  In addition to the structural beams, the benches will be the main source of wood tones.

After considering options, I’ve decided I like the look of four horizontal planks along the front, similar to this:


The tops will open to access items inside, and I like the look of continuing the same boards along the top.  I’d love to have a very slight overhang of the top, with a cut in handle detail, like this CB2 bench, for a sleek look.

CB2 Wooden Bench

Loaded with pillows, it should be a perfect perch to hang out before/after swimming.  Or a place to watch the kids from.

Pipe Base Bench

Our master bedroom is over-sized, measuring a normal 13 feet wide, but just under 19 feet long.  It’s sized to have a small seating area directly ahead of the entrance, along the shared bathroom wall.  Which is what we set up when we moved in using a left over bench.


It wasn’t ideal, but I patiently waited for the perfect vintage dresser to replace the bench.  Stalking Craigslist paid off when I brought home the dresser of my dreams.


After building our king bed, we had a slightly too large space between the bed and dresser.  Just enough room for a bench.


As usual, we took the DIY route and made a 60 inch long by 19 inch wide bench, with a base made from galvanized pipe.


Crunching numbers and a trip to Home Depot later, we returned home with:

1 54 inch long section of pipe (cut and threaded at the store)

4 7 1/2 inch long pieces of pipe (cut and threaded at the store)

4 4 inch long galvanized nipples

4 3 inch long galvanized nipples

6 3/4 inch diameter galvanized tees

4 3/4 inch galvanized floor flanges

4 1 inch to 3/4 inch galvanized reducing couplings

1 package of black rubber adhesive pads


Before assembling, I cleaned the pipes with mineral spirits to clean off the manufacturing oil that coats the surfaces.  Then, started screwing the pieces together.  All 4″ pieces into either side of two of the tees.  A tee and reducing coupling on each end of the 3″ sections.  A floor flange on one end of the 7 1/2″ pipes.


To complete the leg assembly, first screw the tees into the horizontal bars.  Follow up with the long section with the floor flange to create two H shaped leg sides.


Attach the center bar, tighten everything up, and spray paint to match your decor.


With the base dry, we were ready to make the top.  We added two inches on the depth and three inches past each end of the length.


For a really sturdy top, we screwed two pieces of plywood together before wrapping both in a thin foam.  I found a thick ticking stripe fabric to wrap the top with, careful to keep the lines straight.  Adding black pads to the base prevents unnecessary scratches, but the sticky rubber also keeps the bench from sliding around on our wood floors.



The bench is the perfect perch to put on socks, or to toss the extra pillows at night.


There’s still a fair amount of floor space between the bench and dresser, but each piece has a purpose.


What do you think of bedroom sitting arrangements?  Do you have a tricky room or floor plan to work with?

Pool House Progress: Accessories

Guess what we did this weekend.  I’ll give you a hint:


More tile in the pool house!!  We really know how to have fun.


When the pool was initially built, everything immediately surrounding the pool had tile.  As the new structure settled, some of the tile cracked, a ladder on the deep end was removed, and outdoor grade carpet covered everything.


Only the bathroom hadn’t been tiled and was a quarter of an inch lower than the rest of the floor.  Ben laid sheets of 1/4 inch Hardie backer to even it out, then carried the tile into the room.


From there, the tile continues into the home of the future kitchen, going under the cabinet locations.


Unfortunately, the white ’tile’ edge is molded into upper fiberglass portion forming the pool walls.  Without completely reforming the pool, it has to stay.  Womp, womp, woooomp.


From this angle, it looks like we’re finished with our tiling adventure, but we still have about half left.


All of the angled cuts took longer than the previous section, but it’s really taking shape.


With the end of the project drawing nearer each weekend, I’m slowly stockpiling accessories as I find something I like.  Due to the nature of the room, accessories will be limited, so I’d like for each one to be both fun and functional with maximum impact.



  1.  Snowbound Painted Walls
  2. Montauk Black Slate Tile
  3. Metal Peyton Barrel Planters
  4. Black and Gray Turkish Towels
  5. Svartsjon Hooks
  6. Vintage Ram Skull
  7. Brass and Marble Side Table (similar)
  8. Black and Ivory Geometric Key Pillow
  9. Green and Black Striped Lumbar Pillow
  10. Indigo Tie Dye Ripple Pillow
  11. Wooden Storage Bench Tops

Do you have any favorite outdoor accessories?  Or pool/beach essentials?