Benches are an unsung hero in room design. During a party, they can accommodate several guests in a small space. At a dinner, you can move it over to an extended dining table if you don't have enough chairs. In between gatherings, this work-horse piece of furniture can be staged next to a sofa or chair to add structure to a room.
I use a long oak bench as a low console table equivalent behind my sofa. It's a great place to stack quilts and a pretty container holding my son's toys. More organizing containers can easily — and attractively — fit underneath.
Try out this technique for your bench, which I found in Matthew Gleason's portfolio, and create an instant reading area with books and a table lamp. Or, go for broke and use the entire length of the bench as a low bookshelf.
Do you decorate with benches in your house? How do you use yours?