How Riding the Bench Got Our Butts in Gear

We have been avoiding our backyard like the plague. After such a long winter, it was all I had to muster up the energy to even film the “behind the scenes tour” for you from yesterday. I think a combination of not knowing what we wanted the space to look like, mixed with insecurities of making wrong choices/ not knowing our way around a garden resulted in us neglecting to start to make it our own. But times are changing folks, and slowly but surely, the backyard is taking shape. In fact, we are confident that, now that we have a plan for the space, the patio/backyard could easily become one of our favorite parts of the house.

Before we get going (in regards to that mysterious title), here’s a quick shot of what we’re working with. Meet my daddy our patio in all of its glory:Backyard As you can see, we have great brickwork and two lovely garden beds. We also inherited a few funny nick nacks- a palm tree-ish plant, many pots and hanging baskets, a dinner bell (to the left of the door), a small pond (see that black thing next to the bush?), annnnd… a concrete gargoyle. Yep, we’ve got a project on our hands!

So what did it take to get our butts in gear? Just a bit of old fashion “riding the bench”. A.k.a., we hunted down and purchased a bench for the open space here:house 062

Not recognizing it? That’s because, when we first saw the house, it looked like this:Patio

Which, by the time we moved in, looked like this:Patio

Yaaa… it was taking over. In general, we’re not fans of cutting down trees/bushes and removing natural things, but in this case, our monster bush was taking over half the patio. My mom pointed out that we could gain an extra fourth of the entire space back as useful area if we removed the bush and around here, extra space is gold. So the bush had to go (don’t worry, we planted lots of other things elsewhere to make up for it), along with a good bit of that pachysandra. Luckily for us, my mom is a trooper and enjoys gardening, so she took it upon herself to create a new and improved (aka “tamed”) area for us.

PatioAnd in the end, our new blank canvas looked like this:Patio

So, you’re all caught up. Okay, now fast forward to a couple weeks ago: the next part of the plan was to turn our plot of dirt into usable space by adding a bench for extra seating. We were excited to finally have some direction for the patio, but were quickly stumped by the fact that we couldn’t find the right bench!

We looked at all of the usuals: Target, HomeGoods, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. but everything was either too bulky or too expensive. No way were we trying to drop over $200 for a bench (most of the ones we saw were in the $300-500 range), especially because we knew that this was not the only piece of furniture we would need to purchase for the patio.lowes bench

Finally (and I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner), I gave Ikea a shot to see what they had in the realm of outdoor furniture. Pretty quickly, I stumbled on this one:applaro bench

A two-seater for ninety bucks! While our dream bench had built in storage (and actually, this feature was not included in a lot of the too-chunky ones we saw either), this one took the cake for not being “too bulky”. But back to the price tag- we thought if we could get away with spending under $100, that would be awesome. However, we are always careful not to get our hopes up until we “meet” things in person.

There was a high probability that this bench looked great on paper, but could be super uncomfortable to sit on and poorly made or cheap-feeling. Solution: We took a little trip to Ikea to check it out in real life… and it was a.w.e.s.o.m.e. Comfy to sit on, sturdy, made of weather friendly materials, the whole nine yards. I had been looking at the natural wood bench online, but the floor model we saw in the store was white… and we kind of liked loved it. All of the sudden we had an unexpected decision to make: natural looking wood tone or crisp and clean white?

brown vs whiteAfter much deliberation (and a couple of laps around the store), we decided to go with the sparkly white. The thought process was that because our patio has a brick “floor” and wooden planked “walls”, a brown bench might get lost in the landscape, where a white bench would stand out nicely against all of the other muted tones. Applaro BenchAnd oh, happy day, we were 100% right! We brought it home, assembled it right away (because I have the patience of a third grader with these types of things) and had it outside the very next day. Just look how she shines!Applaro Bench Applaro BenchWe love how the white feels clean and inviting against the other earthy tones of the space. The bench we ended up with is the Applaro Bench in white (Article #:102.590.46). In terms of durability, we’ve only had the bench for a couple of weeks, but I will be sure to check back in with a further-down-the-line review. So far, we’ve had a few campfires and rainy weekends and it has held up swimmingly. The wipeability of the material is great and we plan to stay on top of keeping it clean so as to preserve the white color.

Applaro Bench

Let’s just say, this bench has us (ok, mostly me) giddy with excitement about continuing work on the rest of the patio. Applaro BenchRemember the “getting our butts in gear” part? Well, let’s just say, one thing led to another at Ikea and we might have gone back for a second piece. That’s another story for another day (tomorrow), but I’ll leave you with a sneak peek of this potential domino-effect patio makeover. Here’s the next domino to fall:ApplaroSo how are your patios/backyards looking these days? Are you excitedly dusting off packed away summer things for the season? Maybe you’re starting fresh like us? Please, dish us the dirt (yes, it’s an outdoors pun). Happy Summer-Is-Coming!


11 thoughts on “How Riding the Bench Got Our Butts in Gear

    • Haha love it! We didn’t get any of the cushions that were available for the set (we don’t have a lot of places to store them when not in use), but I know they have some available. Word on the street is that some feel cheaper and more flimsy than from other stores. We did however, get a few single chair cushions from Target that we LOVE (coming to the blog soon) and I think they sold bench cushions too. You can grab a few to try on for size with any Ikea products you end up with… I wouldn’t limit yourself to only Ikea lines for those.

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