When the children were tiny, I bought my first Russian bench and had it sitting along the wall in the bathroom. As each one of them would get out of the bath, they were wrapped in a towel and the next child would be scrupulously cleaned and observed by the next!
As they grew too old for this, my bench was moved and found a new role in our narrow boot room, where it has become an invaluable place to sit and put your shoes on and to line up the various school bags for the next day. Occasionally, I’ve even managed to find time to sit there with a cup of tea and look at the view.
What I love about these antique European benches is that not one of them looks the same. The majority of benches I find come from Northern Europe – Hungary, Austrian Empire, Transylvania and Russia. They tend to date from 1850 to 1890 and made of hard wood, either oak or a fruit wood.
Every household would originally have had a bench which may also have doubled up as a pull out bench bed in which all the bedding could be folded inside the lid and slid back into place.
They use the space so effectively, slick and flat backed they fit against a wall, if not a box bench, then the space underneath can easily accommodate storage boxes or baskets to take shoes or toys.
My own bench has become that indispensible item that is now part of the family.