Building a DIY mudroom bench was the first upgrade to our breezeway addition that we tackled. We were lucky enough to have the space to build 2 benches, one intended for my husband and I, the other for the kids. We also wanted a shelf above the benches for hats, gloves, sunglasses, and other miscellaneous items that keep ending up on the kitchen counter.
Materials for the benches included 3/4” plywood, 3/8” plywood (for backing), decorative paneling, coat hooks, high grit sandpaper, pocket screws, finish nails, gorilla wood glue, paint and stain. Our mudroom is a true working farmhouse mudroom, so the design and materials had to be strong enough to hold up to kids, my construction worker husband, and farm animals (that try to sneak in the house).
The tools we needed for this project included a saw to cut the plywood, router, orbital sander, finish nail gun, and power drill with a pocket hole jig and bit (these usually come as a kit). If you don’t have the money to purchase a good saw to make straight cuts, you could always draft your plywood cut list and go to a supply store (like Lowes and Home Depot) that will cut it for you. (In previous projects, I have drawn them out on a piece of paper, which reduced plywood waste TREMENDOUSLY!) You will likely need a lot of cuts, so don’t go to the store on a busy Saturday or Sunday. Instead go during the week later in the day (or at night if you must go on a weekend), when the store isn’t as busy. The associates will not be as rushed, allowing their measurements to be more exact (plus they will be more willing to do additional cuts without an extra cost).
I highly recommend purchasing a pocket screw jig for this DIY project. They are about $20, but allow assembling your own mudroom bench to be as easy as if it were bought from Ikea! Pocket hole screws are a great way to securely assemble furniture, while being aesthetically pleasing. If you ever need to disassemble the furniture, it makes things extremely easy! The other tool I recommended buying is a plunge cut circular saw. This saw is safer to cut large sheets of plywood than a wobbly table saw, and has a track to keep your cuts perfectly straight. We purchased the Makita track saw because it had an option for a 10’ track, and was one of the cheaper models. It was difficult for me to spend $500 on another saw, but I knew we would be building a LOT of shelves and furniture in the near future, and this tool would definitely be worth the expense.
Once we had the materials and tools, we cut down the sheets of plywood and drilled the pocket holes. Our benches are 8 feet long, and would comfortably sit 3 people putting on shoes (giving extra space for all the movement). We are messy people, so for us it comfortably sits 2 with extra crap (lunch boxes, coats, etc). We also cut a 2″ trim piece to clean up the face frame of the plywood, while giving it a thicker look. We based the bench height off of the standard dining room chair height of 17-20 inches. We added about 6 inches to the standard dining room chair depth of 16-18 inches, allowing extra space for coats and items to be hanging on the coat rack behind the seat.
We debated on adding plywood to the back of the bench, or keeping it open (exposing the drywall). We decided to add plywood to the back to add strength to the mudroom bench seat (kids climbing, jumping, etc). It to also protects the back wall from shoes being thrown in the shoe storage cubbies. Aesthetically, I would love to have cute wicker baskets or cabinet doors for shoe storage. However, I know our crazy busy family will not use the storage baskets, and their dirty shoes will end up scattered all over the floor instead of in the shoe storage space. So we decided to leave the cube bench fronts open for easy access.
For the top shelf, we decided to mimic the bench for added storage. The top shelf is intended for seasonal decor, while the bottom shelf is intended for hats, gloves, and accessories. We extended the plywood backing down 8 inches past the bottom of the shelf to allow for a solid surface to mount the coat hooks to. 3/4 inch plywood is much more secure to mount hooks to than drywall or beadboard panel (again, it needs to hold up to kids and abuse).
The mudroom bench top is also made from 3/4 inch plywood. To dress up the front edges of the plywood, we cut 2 inch strips of plywood to trim the face, and rounded the edges with a router. Paint and caulk will cover just about any imperfection, however for this project I wanted to use wood stain. If you prefer to not have the layers of plywood exposed, you could purchase trim board. Since the price of wood is about 4x higher than normal, we decided to use leftover plywood. The results are better than I expected, and I am becoming more fond of Minwax gel stain as I find it more forgiving to user error than traditional wood stain.
We decided to add a wood back to the mudroom benches to protect the drywall from wear and tear from heavy coats, sports bags, and backpacks banging against it. It also adds a bit of contrast to the room, and gives a bit of decorative feel to the bench area. It is secured with using a brad nailer, so if they become damaged we can simply replace them with new paneling, bead board, or shiplap.
For finishing touches, I decided to stain the top of the bench and paint the bottom pieces, side pieces, and overhead shelf. I believe the stained top will hide the scratches and blemishes that will occur with daily wear and tear. I also applied polyurethane to give more protection to the bench top. The finished look of stain also adds a bit of contrast, and transitions nicely to the decorative paneling backing.
Our two 8-foot mudroom benches and shelves cost breakdown:
|3/4” Plywood||4 Sheets @ $41/sheet||$164|
|3/8” Plywood||1 sheet @ $35/sheet||$35|
|Paneling||2 sheets @ $35/sheet||$70|