As we strive to create home-based havens away from the daily grind, our gardens become important centers of relaxation and seclusion. And for those of us who prize both design and comfort, neatly executed and practical outdoor seating is a priority. Although freestanding furniture offers convenience and flexibility, there’s an irresistible appeal to a perfectly proportioned built-in bench. Be warned: These six examples may turn more than your thumb a little green with envy.
Benches 1: KR Garden Design, original photo on Houzz
1. Space stretcher. Integrating a built-in bench into a compact courtyard garden is an efficient use of space. This wooden model is painted the same color as the walls and floor to unite the area. The trees and other greenery planted behind the bench trick the eye into believing that the garden is bigger than it is.
Benches 2: Jessica Risko Smith Interior Design, original photo on Houzz
2. Curved and tiled. This sweeping seat edges a terraced garden and would work well in similarly organic spaces where straight lines are at odds with relaxed planting. Constructed from stone and concrete, the bench has a mosaic tile treatment and a custom-made curved cushion. Additional seats and a coffee table create a casual conversation area.
Benches 3: The Garden Builders, original photo on Houzz
3. Combined with a planter. The bench on this rooftop terrace backs up to a trough of tulips. Olive trees provide height and structure for spectacular flowers that change with the seasons.
Benches 4: Marylou Sobel Interior Design, original photo on Houzz
4. Plush with pillows. Make your built-in bench comfy with colorful throw pillows and seat cushions with contrast piping. This wooden seat stands out against a dramatic and densely packed living wall. The blue and orange fabrics tip toward tropical when combined with such lush greenery.
A less extravagant version of this cute corner could be achieved with an assortment of potted bamboo, palm and fig plants.
Benches 5: Liz Prater Design Home, original photo on Houzz
5. Floating above greenery. This suspended bench appears to hover between the walls. This type of installation requires skill to create a smooth transition between the materials. Additional planting beneath the bench softens the overall design for a more naturalistic effect.
Benches 6: Laura Garner, original photo on Houzz
6. Covered with a pergola. This rooftop oasis is designed not to entertain hordes of friends, but rather to act as an idyllic hideaway from the stresses of daily life. An all-wood combination of bench, pergola, flooring and fence unifies the design elements and provides a neutral backdrop to enhance the eclectic mix of greenery.
For maximum practicality, make use of the space beneath the bench, as this designer did, for storing cushions when they’re not in use.