A bench doesn’t serve its purpose until it’s a storage box at the same time. Hundreds, even thousands of years ago, chairs were saved for the more important members of society (or ‘chairmen’); leaving the inferior sharing chest-like benches. Eventually, these benches developed four legs, arms and a back and became a more desirable place to sit, especially for children and couples (hence the name ‘love seat’).
The first benches to hold storage were most likely Piano benches, designed so that one or more people can sit and play the instrument at one time, in comfort. Storage is built into piano stools to allow the owner to keep all their sheets of music in easily accessible one place.
To have any furniture that has more than one use is always an advantage and considering people started out sitting on chests, it made sense that those chests were filled. Storage benches open via the seat, which acts as a lid usually spanning the whole length of the bench or two separate lids. Sometimes the lid comes off completely; otherwise it will open just at one side using hinges. Some storage boxes feature lids with prop-ups so that the lid can be opened and will stay there while you use both hands to retrieve what’s inside, without having to hold it open. Storage benches do not have legs, and are supported by the box underneath the seat. Once opened, the storage compartment usually stretches the height of the box, with a base and can hold almost anything. Storage chests can often be seen attached to a wall, underneath a windowsill as a ‘window seat’ and are likely to be upholstered either fully or just on the seat in satin, normal cotton or leather.
However, benches are not confined to being indoors. In fact, a common use nowadays is as a outdoor storage bench, placed outdoors to hold children’s toys, firewood, hay and garden tools amongst other things. Such outdoor benches are very successful as storage boxes, providing the wood they are made out of is treated and varnishes appropriately to avoid rotting, or that they are made from a material that isn’t subject to harsh weather such as plastic.
Also, many decorated storage benches are commonly found in children’s nurseries and bedrooms and are a perfect and attractive place to hold toys or baby blankets. Single-seated storage boxes are sometimes fitted with casters on the bottom to allow the child to sit down and pull up to a desk or scoot around the room. Casters on larger models of storage bench provide a great deal of flexibility and allow for a room to be rearranged as often as necessary or even to transport the contents to a more suitable place.
In general, storage benches provide a place for clutter to be hidden, organised and to be stored in a place that is easily accessed. Their double usage as a seat only makes this piece of furniture more appealing and they are especially useful in houses or gardens with limited space available for extra storage.