Garden bench ideas: 14 creative ways with outdoor seating
These garden bench ideas cover all the looks you need from contemporary and traditional to built-in and freestanding
Every outdoor space needs garden bench ideas to set the scene for enjoying quiet moments. Benches bring such a lot to the garden besides a place to sit. As well as being good to look at and creating a focal point they can be moved around easily to suit the mood, brought out to squeeze in more guests, and many are multi-purpose with integral storage that's handy if space is tight.
With so many brilliant garden bench ideas around how do you choose the right one? Narrow the field by taking the architectural style of your house as the starting point and choose a design that complements it. So if your house is modern choose a minimalist slab with sleek and geometric good looks, while if your house is Victorian opt for a style that's more ornamental or traditional to enhance the aesthetic.
Well-placed patio furniture ideas like a garden bench can be used year-round too, especially if you put it in a sheltered spot. If you have a small pond or other water feature place a bench nearby so you can linger there to take in the soothing sound of trickling water. Or maybe you like the idea of a modern arbor for your bench, a great look for a deck.
Boost your seating options with these garden bench ideas
From cool and contemporary to classic and chic, we've got all the best garden benches covered. You may want to buy a new design as an instant lift to bring your furniture up to date or alternatively you might be interested in a little DIY project for the weekend that's uniquely yours.
Either way these gorgeous bench seats are just the update your outdoor space needs right now. Mix them with your best garden furniture to work up a look and that's summer entertaining in the garden sorted.
'When outdoor space is limited, it is a good idea to think about how furniture can be used in different ways. Garden benches can carry out the job of multiple pieces of furniture without cluttering up your outdoor space and detracting from the overall aesthetic,' recommends JYSK design manager Rikke Blaeside.
1. Add a bench seat to a wall
Sometimes simplicity is everything. An elegant garden bench can be cantilevered from a freestanding or retaining wall to create a simple and elegant solution. A low stone wall can be used to form the backdrop for fixing a solid piece of beautiful wood. This type of design works well in small gardens as well as larger gardens to create more seating. It produces much more of a sculptural installation too.
A chic suspended bench appears to almost float between rendered walls thanks to a clever cantilevered design. This type of installation requires precision to create a seamless transition between materials. Additional planting can be incorporated around the bench to soften the overall scheme, giving a more naturalistic effect.
2. Choose a new take on timber
If you're looking for outdoor seating ideas you can't go wrong with wooden benches. For an indoor-outdoor patio moment choose an elegant design with a matching low garden table for a relaxed look that's right on trend. Style up with mix and match cushions and other accessories for a 'living room in the garden' feel.
Traditionally garden benches have mostly been constructed in timber with hard woods such as teak the most common material. As well as looking good wood is warm to the touch even on cold days.
Acacia wood is a more recent option for wooden garden furniture and it's a great choice for garden benches as it's highly durable and weather-resistant, withstanding hot or wet weather conditions and pretty much anything else you might like to throw at it.
3. Paint a bench to blend in with garden boundaries
If you're thinking of painting garden furniture, why not opt for the same shade for your wooden bench, fences and even your garden planters? Painting them in the same color will not only look super smart, it will also enhance the feeling of space on a small patio or deck.
In this stylish scheme, raised garden beds planted with lush ornamental grasses help to screen the built-in bench from view, creating a quiet and secluded spot where you can sit back and bask in the sunshine.
4. Go modern with an eye-catching design
The humble garden bench can also be elevated to sculpture if you choose the right design. So if you want your garden bench to work as a focal point it's worth investing in a more individual piece.
Design and surface finish are important to create an original look. There are now lots to choose from though as innovative new materials are leading the way in garden bench design including resins, aluminium, stainless steel and concrete to produce pieces that are infinitely more collectable than before.
Check out the best materials for outdoor furniture so you can be sure you choose the right product for your garden.
5. Integrate a bench into a bigger design
A fluid, organic hard landscaping design is perfect for the inclusion of a curved garden bench as everything segues together seamlessly as one. Curves are one of the big garden trends this season and work well when used in bench design so they look good in addition to having an obvious practical purpose.
Integrating a built-in bench is a very efficient use of space. As this clever design shows nothing beats the appeal of a perfectly proportioned built-in seat. The curving bench appears to be a natural extension of the sweeping slate garden wall and the distinctive roundels of the rustic wood path.
Lighting can also be recessed under the bench seat to switch things up at night as part of a bigger outdoor lighting design plan for your garden.
6. Pick L-shaped benches for a sociable space
This fabulous corner set-up beneath an airy pergola has a great built-in area that creates an ideal outdoor living area in the garden. The seating is roomy enough to host plenty of guests and the layout is great for creating an easy social space when you're hosting.
Modern and stylish, an L-shaped bench design is the perfect choice to create a feature in a corner of your garden, whether that's on the patio, or in another sheltered spot. It's a great example of how you can use outdoor sofa ideas to create the right atmosphere for entertaining in the garden.
'We have seen an emerging shift to take the industrial, rustic, and stylish look from inside the home, out into garden spaces,' says Marketa Rypacek of Industville. 'Open-plan interior-style designs are perfect for creating a seamless transition from your interior to your exterior.'
7. Repurpose a pallet with style
This project is the perfect weekend DIY project if you've spied any pallets in a skip near you and are in the mood for a makeover. It's a great idea for pallet furniture ideas and shows you don't have to spend lots of money to create a stylish look.
Learning how to build a pallet bench is a great starting point if you want to tap into this trend to transform your space without a big spend. Once you get the idea you can add to the first pallet bench with more to create a larger seating area.
8. Find a multi-purpose bench to maximize space
Multi-functional garden bench ideas are a great choice in tight spaces. Look for designs with storage for stowing away stuff, integral planters and even fire pits, as well as those that can be used as extra table space, shelving, a log store or foot rest.
This smooth black aluminium design is one of the best garden bench ideas we've seen if you're tight on space. It would look fantastic in a modern courtyard garden and includes a fire pit that can also be used as a large planter. As deck furniture ideas go you can't beat a design like this.
9. Embrace the trend for curves
As we mentioned earlier, curves are big news this season. Garden designers are embracing curves big time, especially in small gardens, where they give a softer, organic, more fluid shape to a garden.
Curved garden bench ideas can become a focal point in your design, adding something unique to the look. Replace harsh angles with sleek curves to create a soothing effect on the eye, just what you want when it comes to choosing a design for seating.
'I love curves, especially in small gardens,' says garden designer Catherine Clancy. 'They give a softer, organic, fluid shape.' Curves bounce the eye across a narrow garden to make the space feel wider too.
10. Opt for a moveable design
If you choose a built-in garden bench there's not much you can do if you change your mind about where you've put it. Instead you may prefer the flexibility of a style that you're free to move around. Designs that can be slid out of the way or stored easily are definitely the go-to if you're tight on space.
Lightweight benches or those with wheels mean you can take full advantage of chasing the sun or shade as preferred. It's definitely worth considering in smaller gardens where sunlight and shade patterns can change quickly.
'If your outdoor space is small, opt for a minimalistic style garden bench which will not detract from the space regardless of its position and use. The open space underneath the bench will enhance the feeling of spaciousness even when that may not be the case,' says JYSK design manager Rikke Blaeside.
A bench without a back or arms can also double up as a table or shelf if you need to switch things around, so it works well if you're looking to combine a seating area with a socialising area.
11. Incorporate recessed planting in your bench
Look for a beautifully handcrafted wooden piece that's a real design statement. It's also a place to perch and take a moment to enjoy your morning coffee or evening sundowner. For a multi-purpose take, designs with recessed sections can be used to get up close to fragrant plants to enhance your sensory experience. Or you could use the space as a handy area for drinks and snacks to save getting up.
To give your bench a more original look, why not update it with some easy garden furniture paint ideas? Simply painting the legs a different color can be a simple way to make it work with the rest of your garden color scheme.
12. Choose a tiered look
If your outdoor space is tiny look for creative garden bench ideas that work harder, such as waterproof storage underneath for stowing garden cushions and integrated garden planter ideas behind that max up your growing space. That way you get more from your garden bench without creating a bigger footprint that takes up precious space.
The smaller the garden the more decorative the solutions that can be used, as the detail can be admired and appreciated up close. Garden seating can also be used as hard landscaping, where seating doubles up as part of the boundary, for example, or as part of a low wall to divide up the space creating a tiered effect.
13. Keep it sleek with on-trend concrete
'When picking a garden bench for your outdoor space, minimalist concrete designs are a wonderful choice,' says Joanna Spindler of Graham and Green. 'Clean, contemporary and hardwearing, sturdy seats like these will weather the seasons without the worry of peeling paint or fading wood.'
Ideal for sunny deck ideas and leafy courtyards, the smooth gray finish of concrete contrasts beautifully with natural greenery. 'Top with colorful cotton cushions or braided seagrass seat pads, and surround with your favorite foliage,' adds Joanna.
14. Layer up the bench cushions for added comfort
A wooden bench might be a timeless choice for garden seating, but if it's going to be your main seating option on your patio you'll want to make sure it's comfy enough for afternoons alfresco.
Readily available online, outdoor bench seat cushions (try Amazon) will add some extra cushioning to your seating should you need it. Decorative cushions will add a punch of color to your scheme, and give you a handy spot to rest your head should you decide to curl up and doze off in the sun.
For extra durability, look for cushions made with fade- and water-resistant fabric, although it's always advisable to store them in the shed or garage when not in use to stop them getting damp and moldy.
How do I squeeze in a bench on a tiny balcony?
To squeeze in a bench on a balcony garden, think about including a seating area as part of the wall design or other boundary. A bespoke design can also include a lift-up seat so you have space to stash cushions and accessories inside it during the cooler, wetter months.
If you prefer freestanding furniture pieces look for compact foldaway designs that can be stowed away easily and don't take up a lot of space. When not required for seating they can be used to display plants, cushions and lanterns to create a pleasing outdoor vibe.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design, she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
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