Building a Bench to Read Upon
Being a homeschool family, we had a growing collection of books and a dwindling amount of space to keep them. A dilemma ensued: how can we create an environment for learning while simultaneously not getting overwhelmed with too many books and nowhere to put them?
The books we accumulated could be added to shelves or cupboards in an out of the way spot to keep the appearance of a tidier home. But we did not want to tuck the children’s books away because we want books to play a central role in our home; we want the children to see their storybooks and feel the urge to go over, grab one and sit down to enjoy it. We want our nature guides to be quickly grabbed when a new flower or insect is discovered. But we also want these books to be given a place of honour and not just stuffed onto shelves with no thought to aesthetics or the atmosphere of the room.
To encourage our books to be enjoyed, we needed a place that invites a person to sit comfortably and get lost in a book. The main room in our home is the kitchen-great room. The room is bookended by the kitchen area on one side and a sitting area on the other. In the centre is our table/school desk and wood burning stove. I hoped to keep our books in this room where we spend most of our day. We needed a solution that could house many books, look pleasing to the eye, and provide a comfortable place to read. We needed a reading bench!
I’ve always liked the look of a reading bench in front of a window; an upholstered bench with cushions just waiting to have a person cozy up with a good book and sit for a spell. Of course, the window behind such a bench looks upon a verdant garden. To me, window benches hold a romantic appeal; they suggest luxury, leisure and elegance. Three things I have always dreamt of having. My reality however is hard work, an unending to-do list and country charm. So while we saw that a reading bench was what we wanted, my visions of elegance needed to be tapered with a dose of reality: 3 children and constant use.
Dad and I talked it over and planned our reading bench. A day’s worth of construction and painting in the barn was followed by a few hours of cushion assembly. We placed the bench in its spot beneath a window, topped it with throw pillows and filled the cubbies our treasured storybooks and nature guides. Now when it’s time to read we pile onto the bench and snuggle in for a good story.