In our raised ranch there isn’t exactly a formal entryway. We always dumped our stuff on the kitchen table when we walked in the door since we didn’t have anywhere to set things in our entrance or have a proper coat rack to hang coats and jackets. It drove me crazy.
I dreamed of having a grand entry with space to drop keys and shoes and set my computer bag and purse so it didn’t end up on the table. Little did I know, I had just the space to create our own little entryway mudroom...
In the basement there’s a room off the garage that we use as our main entry every time we come home. The way our raised ranch is set up is you walk into the ground level door through the garage and then take a full flight of stairs up to the main area of the house, where the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms are located.
Well, that room off the garage we always entered was kind of a waste of space. It’s a pretty large room, bigger than an average bedroom, but we never utilized the space. We hadn’t thought much about the space and what to do with it, since it’s not an area we spend time in – we just walk in the door and go up the stairs.
The extent of us “furnishing” it was getting a hutch to hide our desktop computer we rarely used and a bench and some hooks. The hooks were cheap and always fell off the wall if you hung anything on them, so it wasn’t super functional.
One day it dawned on me to turn the room into a mudroom entry. It’s the door we use every single time we come home or leave the house, so it’s time to turn it into a functional entryway and create a drop zone for coats and bags etc. that actually works for us.
I have no idea why it took me so long to realize it just needed a little TLC to turn it into a useful, functional room.
Once I get an idea in my head, I can’t stop until I figure it out and create a plan.
So I sketched out a plan and we got to work.
Keep reading to see how we did it and get our built-in bench seat DIY tutorial.
Our Entryway Before
First, let’s start from the beginning. Here’s what our entryway used to look like.
We weren’t utilizing the space to its capacity, and the hooks were a pain because they always got knocked down the moment you hung something on them.
With such little natural light from the single tiny window in the basement room, and the bland beige carpet with harsh fluorescent lighting, the room looked and felt pretty drab. Not quite the site I want to see when I come home from work everyday.
But with a little DIYing, now it looks like this!
Beyond building a bench seat, we gave the rest of the room an update as well.
We added a DIY desktop, ripped up the old carpet that was getting dirty from the constant traffic (and Bria who stayed down there when we’re not home), stained the concrete with a dye to change the color and make it look like a finished floor, and added baseboards along the bottom. But for today, we’re going to focus on how we made the DIY bench seat.
We used this tutorial from Little Red Brick House as a starting point for our bench seat plans, but we did make some adjustments to best suit our space.
4x8x3/4” sande plywood
1×2 wood boards
1x4 wood boards
Built-In Bench Seat DIY Tutorial
I’m such a visual person that I need to draw out my plan and get on paper the idea I have in my head. This also helps when explaining my vision to Jordon, so he can understand what I’m going for. When drawing up our bench seat, I knew I wanted cubbies underneath for storage, hooks with an accent wall above the bench seat, and I wanted to add a desktop along the perpendicular wall so we had a nice workspace for our computer. It took a bit for us to figure out the exact layout we landed on, but I love it. We added a stock cabinet for some closed storage (to hide the printer, paper, etc.) that the butcher block desktop could sit on, and then we built some additional cubbies that fit in the corner. I had it all drawn out and Jordon helped bring it to life.
First, we measured and figured out what size we needed to build the built-in bench seat. I wanted three cubbies underneath the bench, so we figured out what size to make them so they were even. Our bench seat length is 70.5 inches, 18.5 inches high, and the depth of the seat is 18.5 inches. Each cubby is 21.5 inches wide. I wanted a 2 inch trim between each cubby so we faced it with 2 inch boards. Your measurements will be different depending on your space.
We started by making the frame and cubby dividers using ¾” thick sande plywood and 1x4 boards to connect them together. We chose to use sande plywood because it is really solid and sturdy plus it’s clean and has a smooth finish so you can paint it. Everything was connected using 1″ pocket hole screws which we did using our Kreg Jig. It’s one of the best tools because it’s fast and gives a tight bond and is easy for the everyday DIYer that we are, instead of doing a more complex joinery. We use this for lots of projects around the house, definitely recommend it if you do lots of projects yourself! It really simplifies the job. When you make your pocket holes, make sure the holes face toward the wall so they are hidden when everything is assembled.
We didn’t take any photos during this process and I wish we did, but this tutorial we followed from Little Red Brick House has helpful photos I’m including below to give you a visual since ours was very similar.
I also wanted our cubbies raised up so the baskets weren’t sitting on the ground. Before attaching the frame base to the wall, we added the bottom board that acts as the cubbies. They are attached 3 inches up from the ground using pocket hole screws. Then we added the top board using MDF that creates the top of the bench seat. We wanted it nice and sturdy so we used MDF and attached it using a brad nailer.
Once the frame was built out, we painted it white. We just used a Behr white paint we had on hand and gave it a few coats.
Then, it was time to connect it to the wall and secure it in place. Because we were also adding a built-in desk and cubbies on the perpendicular wall, we needed to make sure that the bench was installed in the correct place. We used a brad nailer to attach it to the wall.
After it was secured in place, we finished it off by adding trim around the front and sides using wood glue and a brad nailer. We used 1x4 boards for trim along the bottom front and sides and then for the cubby dividers we used 1x2 boards. We also added 1x4 boards we painted white as trim around the rest of the room. A little tip if you don’t want to buy the more expensive actual baseboards, you can use 1x4 boards for a much cheaper price.
Because we were adding hooks above our bench, we decided to do an accent rustic wood wall. To do this, we painted the wall black first (so any gaps between the boards wouldn’t be obvious) and then nailed down these reclaimed barn wood boards. We found them at Home Depot and they come pre-cut and stained so it’s super easy way to add some texture and rustic elements without a ton of work. One box costs about $28 and covers 10 square feet. All you do is nail them to the wall using a brad nailer. Then, we trimmed out the accent wall with 1x4 boards we painted white and added heavy duty black hooks.
For the DIY desk, we used butcher block countertop as the desktop and gave it a coat of stain and topped it with poly. Then for extra storage, we made cubbies that we rested on the desktop in the corner. Jordon built those the same as he made the built-in bench seat, starting with the frame and then sliding it on the desktop and securing it to the wall.
To top off the bench and make it look finished and sit comfortably, we added a bench seat cushion. I got 3 inch foam sheet from Amazon, and then we had a custom Comfort Works bench cover made, in the same color as our living room sofa slipcover. I cut the piece of using a hacksaw (an electric carving knife for Thanksgiving turkey would work much better if you have one, seriously) to fit the top of our bench seat. I really love having the cushion and custom cover! It pulls it together and makes it look polished, plus it’s added comfort. The cover fits the foam perfectly and finishes off the bench seat. I’m so impressed with the quality of Comfort Works and can’t recommend them enough if you are looking to slipcover furniture.
This was a decently easy project if you have the right tools, but it did take some time. It probably took us a couple of days to finish everything in the room, mostly because the floors took a while to dry between each coat of concrete stain. As long as you build a sturdy frame, you can’t mess it up because you can customize it to your space and size requirements.
Overall, the whole mudroom cost us a little over $500 in materials, and just the built in bench seat cost around $200 in materials. Not bad for a whole updated mudroom! Even Bria approves :)
I am so happy with how it looks! We love having a place to set our bags and hang our coats. The cubbies are so nice because I can stick my workout shoes in there and keep them out of the way so we don’t trip on shoes in the entryway.
Every time we finish a project, I kick myself wishing we had done it sooner!