There are a few areas in my home that I think lack in styling. They just feel undone and I am ready to do something about them. This 31 day series on Interior Styling gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get going. First on my list is the bench in our foyer.
I made a slipcover for the bench to add some pattern and hung a gallery of DIY Captains mirrors on the awkward wall above the bench. And that is where the makeover stopped…just short of being awesome. This was the semi-boring before:
Well, I am back to focus on this area with my interior styling tips in mind! Since I struggle with finding balance between practical and pretty, I tried a few different options with this bench. Today I am going to share with you the pretty version, which is well-styled, but not necessarily practical for our family. Then, I will show you the practical version which is still pretty. The second version is what I think we can live with everyday. I will finish off with a formula you can use to recreate the same look in your home!
Before we look at the styling eye candy, I want to share a bit more about my process. I am basically following the inspiration to action steps I outlined yesterday. Since I am styling several spaces in my home for this series in a short amount of time, I am shopping my home and trying to avoid unnecessary spending. You may see me use or reuse items from different rooms and in more than one vignette. I figured the best course of action is to figure out how I want everything styled, even if I have to borrow something from another area. Then, once I know all my final looks, I can shop to fill in the gaps. For example, we only have a few throw blankets now. You will see me use the same ones over and over. Once I figure out where all I want to use throw blankets and how many more I need, I will buy the extras. Until then I am going to make do with what I have, and hopefully find out I don’t need much more.
Pretty, NOT Practical
This first look is fabulous. What a warm welcome when you walk through our front door! I love everything about it, except it is not very practical for my family with two young boys.
To add more texture to the bench, I layered it with a faux sheepskin (borrowed from the nursery). I added two decorative pillows on top of the sheepskin. I think it draping down in the front eliminates the need to add something to fill the space under the bench . It makes for an oh so cozy looking bench.
On the other end of the bench, I added a round mirrored tray filled with a stack of books and a small vase. This is the part that is impractical for us, even though it looks good.
Tucked under the bench are my cowgirl boots….my favorite footwear. The insides are turquoise. They are great functional decor.
At the end of the bench I added a basket for more texture and a natural element. I stuffed it with throw blankets, the top one dripping out casually. The whole basket thing looks good too, but I am not sure why I would ever need a basket of throw blankets by the front door. Umbrellas and a towel to wipe the dogs feet would make more sense.
Pretty AND Practical
Given what I found impractical about the first look, I pared back a bit and came up with a pretty look that is practical for everyday living.
I love this look. It is like doing your makeup to get a “natural” look…just enough to make it look like you aren’t trying too hard. It is laid back, yet just as inviting as the first look. Maybe more inviting, because you could actually sit on the bench without fear of breaking something. It is more us.
I swapped the faux sheepskin for a more practical, but still cozy fringed teal throw blanket. It is neatly folded and draped down the front of the bench. I added two throw pillows again. The other end of the bench is bare…you know, for a place to actually sit.
With this look there was a lot of open space beneath the bench. I filled it with a shallow basket (borrowed from the kitchen) piled high with folded blankets. The cowgirl boots stayed right where they were.
I think this is a look we can keep everyday. I just need to find another basket, that doesn’t normally hold my onions, and some extra throw pillows. Maybe another pair of cowgirl boots for good measure? I kid.
The Bench Styling Formula
So here is my magic formula for pulling this look off on your bench. It is very scientific. Focusing on the shapes, like I recommended here, I created this sketch of items for you to recreate this look at home.
So which look is your favorite? Anything you would do differently for the everyday look?
I am sharing this post here:
The Happier Homemaker – Monday Funday
I Should Be Mopping the Floor – Monday Inspiration
So Much Better With Age – Give Me the Goods
The Gunny Sack – Time to Sparkle
NY Melrose Family – Whimsy Wednesday
Ginger Snap Crafts – Wow Me Wednesday
City Farmhouse – The Inspiration Exchange
I like the second look but would add a tall and full plant next to the bench, where you had the basket in the first look.
I like lots of plants in my house for the looks and they improve the indoor air quality.
Good idea. I too noticed that end of the bench looked a little bare when I was editing photos. A plant would look nice!
Love the first look, but see how it might not be functional for everyday use, but do you really sit on the bench? My mom has a similar entry and bench but it’s never used and is just a filler for the space. They always go in the mudroom and guests don’t use it either. If the bench isn’t regularly used, I’d say go for the first one! As long as there is enough kid friendly spaces, I’ve found that kids will learn to leave certain decor alone(unless they are under 2 or so- then everything is free game!) But the second is nice, too.
You are right. It is good to teach kids to leave something’s alone. Sadly my boys and sometimes my hubby are like bulls in a China shop. They don’t mean any harm, but accidents happen. We actually do sit on this bench to put shoes on when we go out the front door. We also move it to the dining room table when we have dinner guests for extra seating. Maybe I can find a more durable tray (without mirrored glass) to keep on the bench. Could be a cute place to keep a jar of dog treats handy by the front door.
I am very excited to read that you are addressing the difference between STYLED and DAILY LIVING. This is an area that has stymied me for years.
Because “housekeeping” is not my favorite activity (I’d rather be golfing than dusting), I don’t want my house filled with objects that have no purpose other than to collect dust, oops, I mean “look nice”. Yes, I want my home to look nice and to feel homey, but not to the extent that it’s filled with “things”.
What is the purpose of blankets in your front entryway? Are they just for looks? Do people ever actually use a blanket whilst in an entryway?
Both of the photos are good. I like the look of both, and always enjoy seeing what you design. I have learned more from you than from any other design blogger. Yours is the first blog I read each day. You give us information that is actually useful. :)
I appreciate this whole series that you’re doing, and especially appreciate that you’re encouraging people to think about the pretty vs. useful aspect of decorating.
I can hardly wait to see what you have lined up for us tomorrow. :)
Riley, You are so sweet. I’ll admit the throw blankets wouldn’t be used much in the entry, but they make an inviting look. In the deep dark days of winter I think the more throw blankets the better. I want them everywhere :)
I L-O-V-E the pretty vs practical part of this series…actually I love the entire series!! But its nice to have my “opinion” seconded by someone in the know. ;-)
Thanks, Peni. Being able to share both a pretty and practical look seems so much more honest and real to me!
I definitely like the second look better! The first is a little “too” styled and busy for my taste. I personally prefer more simple lines and like some empty space. And I wouldn’t want to cover up too much of that gorgeous fabric on the bench!
Good point, Amy! I do love the pattern on the bench fabric, so less styling helps show it off!
Bravo! Finally someone admitting that a styled space isn’t practical for daily living. =) On the other hand, I agree that styling for pretty’s sake isn’t bad as long as it isn’t in the way (I like the blankets–I agree–very inviting!). And I am digging those boots!!! They bring great personality to the entryway. I prefer the second option. I like the mirror tray, but I would be more comfortable with it on a table or ottoman. Hmm, maybe I’ll poke around for some things I can use to style my bench in the entryway…
Thanks, Melissa. I love my boots, but sometimes they feel out of place in Minnesota :) They are the only footwear I take when we go to Texas to visit family.
I love the post! Benches (or some type of seating) are a must in the entry way. I am in the process of recovering a cushion for our current bench. It is amazing how much a room can come together with a simple (and cheap) fabric change! Great tips – keep em’ coming! Love, love, love your blog:)
Thanks Alyssa! Yes, fabric is a big game changer. I love me a good pattern!
I didn’t have time to read your previous posts on this, but I love everything in your second except…I missed the basket!! Not the throw in it but its height or almost height…a couple umbrellas? Shoes inside?? My brothers house had the basket front and back doors (Seattle, boys=necessity) and it was handy. And believe it or not, your boys shoes will soon need big baskets! But I love a bench to sit and pull on shoes, take off wet ones, so I love it functional. I love your colors in the basket. Warm up right away with a blanket from the pile, check your wet hair for fly aways and you’re good to go for the kitchen and hot chocolate. But seriously everything looks perfect. Just missing your basket sans throw! No plant loved it how you had it. Casual. Part of we take our boots off here look in a glam yet cozy way
I love the look of the first bench with the cozy fur and pillows. I think it would look great without the tray and you’d have a place to sit. Love those cowboy boots too!
Both looks knocked my socks off but I’d have to ho with the second look because of its practicality. Such talent and a great eye!
I Love both looks also. Sound like the practical one works better for you. Have you considered an area rug containing the different turquoise color you want or the yellow, I see in the basket below? You could place some pillows in the turquoise color or yellow for that pop of color.
[email protected] says
Love look 1, but totally understand paring back to go with look 2. When you have young kids (like me!) you have to go with what works for the family. Great information. Thanks!
Emily @ Two Purple Couches says
These look so amazing! Now I need to find a bench to style… ;)
northern cottage says
looks awesome – I MUST find me some sassy cowgirl boots (with eeeek….aqua insides!!) to.die.for!!
Susan @ Oh My! Creative says
Love your bench tutorial! The colors are just beautiful! I wanted to let you know I featured it on my blog from last weeks Whimsy Wednesday Link Party! You can see it here…
Have a great day – Susan
Thank you, Susan! I really appreciate you featuring my post.