Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden benches

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In our backyard, we have a spot that is ideal for a garden bench, but with all of the other higher priority items involved in finishing the house and getting it furnished, the garden bench took low priority.  However, we ended up having to replant some trees, and it became apparent that we needed to go ahead and find a bench so that the trees could be placed in their final position based on the size and scale of the bench.

I have been collecting some images of benches over the years, as I love the charming element that a classic bench adds to a garden. Many of the benches that I have seen and admired have been in the beautiful parks that can be found all over London.  This image shows a bench in Kew gardens (source).

As I was looking for inspiration photos, Cote de Texas’s most recent post had a beautiful picture of a curved garden bench.  I really like this style, but I need at least a 6 foot bench, and this style only comes in 4’ and 5’.

I have long admired the custom benches in this garden designed by John Howard. These benches were custom designed for the space.

A custom colored bench is a feature in this back yard from a house that was on a tour a few years ago.

A simple and classic garden bench, flanked by magnificent trees, makes a wonderful visual feature in this garden. Image from Southern Accents.

This is one of my favorite style benches, and is not too hard to find in the 4’ size (as seen here).  However, it is much more difficult to find in the larger 6’ size (and can be quite expensive). Image from old real estate listing.

Here is the larger version – there is something about the straight lines of the bench and the curves of the design that really appeals to me. Source unknown.

Richardson Allen makes a 6’ version of this bench.  It comes in natural teak, or any custom color painted in marine grade boat paint (so it is very hardy and won’t rot).  I do love this bench – this particular version is over my budget, though!  Also, as the bench is custom made for the customer, I could not wait for the standard lead time as we needed to move a tree that was incorrectly placed, and we need to do it while the tree is still dormant.

The Lutyens style bench is a classic (this one is made by Kingsley-Bate), and I kept visiting it in a local teak store as I thought it would look beautiful as a featured landscape design element in my backyard. 

According to what I could find on the internet, what we know as the Lutyens bench was designed by famed English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) for the garden at Little Thakeham, and is officially called the Thakeham seat.  When researching the origins of the bench, I stumbled across a company called Lutyens Furniture and Lighting, which was started by Lutyens granddaughter and sells furniture based on Lutyens’ designs.  According to the Lutyens Furniture site, not only was Sir Edwin Lutyens a prolific architect, but he also had a passion for and expertise in furniture design. Image source.

After much thought and consideration,  I purchased a Lutyens bench for the spot (seen above, in my back yard), and I am very happy with the decision.  The Lutyens bench has such a distinctive and classic style, and the size (6’ 5”) works very well for the space.  The bench is teak, so it will weather with exposure to the elements, and ultimately achieve a beautiful silvery gray color. Already the color of the teak is starting to mellow.

The bench can be seen from most of the rooms on the main floor, and it such a pleasure to catch a glimpse of it!  Landscape design by Alec Michaelides of Land Plus – now that spring is here, and the back yard is starting to bloom, I am simply awed by the beauty of the landscaping – Alec created a truly beautiful design for us.  I am such a big advocate of carefully considering the landscape when designing a house.  It is an essential design element, and makes our house feel as if it has been here for years.

When I was contemplating the garden bench decision, I pulled out a lovely book that I received for Christmas:  Gertude Jekyll and the Country House Garden.  Ms. Jekyll was known for her collaboration with Edwin Lutyens, and the book highlights several beautiful gardens that were a result of this collaboration (as well as many more).  In this book, I saw pictures of some of the original benches that Lutyens designed for the gardens that they worked on. (Click here to purchase on Amazon)

One of the original Lutyens designed benches, in a garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

A Lutyens bench found in an image on the internet (source unknown), at a house in France.

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  1. I am wanting a bench this year for my front yard. One that I can sit and read a book on as the children ride bikes. I know that my cats would come curl up next to me. Then I would be experiencing the perfect summer day.

    I like all the photos of the different styles of benches. I like the blue one best of all.

    1. The blue bench was custom colored to match a feature in the hand painted wallpaper in the dining room - not many people know that, but it is a fact I remembered from the tour!

  2. Beautiful back yard, the bench looks perfect.

  3. Just gorgeous, Holly! I love the teakwood benches.

  4. I love garden benches, but I wonder if anyone ever sits on them when they are in backyards and not in parks. Do you sit on yours? It sure looks fine.

  5. Your backyard is gorgeous and the bench is the perfect fit. I too have Lutyen benches in my backyard and the silvery color they turn is stunning!

  6. Holly you chose my favorite bench!! I wish I had the room for it ( I am in a condo)

    We sit on my Mother's bench out on her front porch all of the time!

    I hope you will come and see the feature I have on an amazing sculptor.

    Art by Karena
    The 2012 Artist Series

  7. Must be so pretty at night too, with those landscape lights under the trees.

  8. All beautiful - I just adore benches - they really add to the sense of an outdoor living room. I've always wanted a bench that surrounds the trunk of a large tree - Weatherend has a fabulous one!!

  9. as a landscape designer i am following along saying to myself "choose the luytens", and viola, it's perfect!

    in case anyone inquires, the custom bench you liked can be purchased from currey & co.

  10. Your new bench looks right at home between the two trees, I can only imagine how lovely it will be this summer to sit there, Kathysue

  11. It's the curve on the Lutyens bench you needed in your garden. Perfect with all the horizontal lines. Pulling in reference to the boxwoods.

    Wise to know you needed 6'. What is on axis with the Lutyens bench?

    Have an 18-wheeler of standard trees arriving for a client tomorrow. Had to get them from Florida. With this economy they were not available in GA in the size needed. A discouraging fact. Love, love, love seeing your standards.

    You have chosen everything with such care, aesthetics, function. Enjoy you taken us along for the ride.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  12. At last we see! I'll see you Wednesday night?

  13. Hi Holly - What a lovely post! Your bench is perfect, and your garden is divine. Very elegant!! I had the hardest time finding a 6' garden bench...took me forever. Finally found one at Barlow Tyrie. Loi Thai

  14. Such a lovely, happy post on this beautiful spring day!

  15. So pretty. A garden brings so much joy!

    Angela Williams

  16. Holly,
    I applaud your choice of the Lutyens bench!! It is so classic and looks like it was made for that spot. How fun to take a photo of that very spot once each year and watch as the trees grow!

    And, so agree about the landscaping. We are only going to do Phase 1 of ours this year (boy, do things add up) but believe it truly enhances a home's curb appeal.

    Our mudroom built ins were delivered today and the rest are expected this week. We're getting there....hoping to be completed by Memorial Day so I can switch gears and focus on a fun summer!!
    xo Elizabeth

  17. Holly,
    Before Smith and Hawken went out of business (before Scot Lawn people bought them) I was fortunate enough to purchase 2 of their all teak benches...this was in the early eighties and the benches are still beautiful...a natural gray. We treasure them in our garden and they provide such a pleasant place to sit and relax. I love the look of your lutyens bench...so pretty.

  18. The Lutyens bench is the perfect focal point to your beautiful backyard! I still love the 2 small Lutyens benches that sit on our bluestone porch, they add so much.

  19. Hi Holly The Lutyens is my absolute fave...we had a beautiful white one from Oscar de La Renta that was stored in our poolhouse while we were building and can you believe someone stole it! We were (and still are) so upset. They dont' even make that bench anymore. It is such a beautiful classic that compliments any beautiful garden. I look forward to eventually getting another pair.......good luck in your own search. Hope alls well.

  20. These garden benches are BEAUTIFUL! My parents have a very elegant, wrought iron bench in their backyard. It is pretty, but after so much time outdoors it is starting to rust and peel (maybe it's not wrought iron and just looks like it?). Anyway, these benches are stunning - can't wait to forward to Mum to help her find a new one! http://adventuresofdutchandme.blogspot.com/

  21. Benches are such a great addition to a garden. I have two concrete benches on opposite sides of our backyard and they are perfect for relaxing or resting when working in the garden.


  22. Perfect choice! I have two Lutyens benches and sit on them often. In the winter I even pull one indoors and place at the end of the bed in the guest room...the lines are so seductive. franki

  23. Beautiful! Not only are you so fortunate to have such a lovely place to work, but the space itself is lucky to be filled with such color and joy! Thank you for sharing!


  24. I think you have caught my breath just now! Stunning gardens. Some inspiration for certain there.
    Ness xx
    Marley & Lockyer

  25. I love beautiful gardens....looking forward to adding some color to the outside of Casa de Moore!

  26. The Lutyens is my fave! Have fun at the event!


  27. don't these benches remind you of the ending of Notting Hill? Great post!

  28. I love how you research each decision when it comes to your house. Is your house brick? Did you consider the color of the mortar when choosing a trim color? I am going to wreck my car checking out other houses to figure this out!

  29. Wow... I'm in love with this post! :-) So much inspiration and beauty!

    Have a wonderful day!


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

    PS: If you a minute, please drop by to enter my Giveaway! :-)

  30. Great post! I am also obsessed with benches! Very nice blog of yours.

  31. Absolutely beautiful gardens! I would love to share some photos of my want-to-be English garden, complete with Chippendale teak furniture and parterre "room". How do I do that?

  32. I love these benches! People try to create too much drama and work by fluffing up outdoor spaces with pillows and cushions. These benches made of natural materials need nothing! Maintenance free! Always ready to sit on! I think it's more important that you decorate with your gardens and hardscapes rather than try to create elegant spaces with pillows.

  33. It’s very enjoyable for everyone to sit on a garden bench or wooden garden furniture out in the open with some tasty barbecue and a summer sunset.

  34. When choosing garden benches, begin with the construction of the furniture. This involves checking the way that the parts are joined and the overall strength of the bench.

  35. Holly, what a great display of Garden Benches! The Lutyens bench seems to fit so naturally in the garden.

  36. A garden bench is an outstanding place to spend a beautiful summer day.

  37. I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.


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