Embassy Housing Hack: Weird Bench Coverup

After I dealt with that unattractive bathroom vanity, I got to thinking about this weird, built-in bench. It is Formica with plain metal legs. Like a cheap kitchen island got lost and ended up in our front hallway. Also a junk magnet, but to be fair, that’s not really the bench’s fault. Anything in our front hallway will end up with junk on it.

You see what I mean.
You see what I mean.

We love this apartment, but there are two problems with it. One is typical cheap rental fixtures. Two is lack of storage. This bench represents both problems: it’s both ugly and a waste of potential storage space.

I rummaged again in my collection of fabrics from seven posts, and decided on some 20 year old batik from Zambia. Because, as I’ve said before, nothing in my house goes together, so everything goes together, right?


I had three meters of brown and purple batik fabric. I measured the bench, which is 22 inches tall. I added 2 inches for a top hem, and 4 for a bottom hem, then cut four 26-inch pieces, with just a scrap left over. I whipped those up into four 22-inch long “curtains.”

The fabric was 36 inches wide, and the bench was 118 inches long, so I ended up with a bit more length than I needed. This was good, because I could overlap the curtains by 8 inches and sew them into one long curtain.

Overlapping the curtains.
Overlapping the curtains.

I think the overlapping curtains look nicer, and they also make it so that  you don’t have to pull up the whole curtain to get underneath the bench.

All our winter boots are now hiding under the bench.
All our snow and hiking boots are now hiding under here.

I used the same technique that I used in the bathroom to attach the curtain to the bench. Iron-on Velcro on the curtain, and stick-on Velcro on the bench. Then I found some Polish baskets to “containerize” the junk.

That's better!
That’s better!

So, Zambian batik, Zimbabwean and Polish baskets, Guatemalan wooden animals, a Bolivian coca pouch, and a Turkish kilim with a disguised rental fixture. Just another Foreign Service decorating scheme!



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