This $129 Storage Bench Keeps My Ever-Expanding Tote Bag Collection in Check
All 16 (and counting!).
Published Jan 24, 2023 1:00 AM
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I like to think of myself as clutter-averse. Having lived in small spaces for the past six years, keeping up the appearance of tidiness—aka closing the door on all my stuff—is important.
But shortly after moving into my latest apartment (a petite one-bedroom on Manhattan’s Upper West Side), I struggled to find the solution to my main organizational woe: keeping an ever-growing collection of canvas and cotton totes neatly tucked away. Over a short time, catalyzed by New York City’s ban on plastic and tax on single-use bags, they had magically multiplied to an unruly number. I didn’t want them to be on display 24-7, and there were simply too many to just hang on a doorknob. My entryway closet, however, was filled to the brim with jackets, scarves, cleaning supplies, hats, vases, umbrellas, seasonal decor, coolers, even a badminton net—you get the idea.
In other words, the reusable bags had to go somewhere else.
Initially, I attempted to stick Command hooks on the inside of my closet’s bifold doors, but even the large utility options could only hold two or three before they started to slip off, falling into a heap on the floor. So I turned my attention elsewhere. Specifically to the odd, narrow hallway that connects my entrance to the living area.
But as it’s the main walkway, I was worried a console table would soak up too much square footage. Installing shelves would have been tricky; I definitely don’t consider myself a pro with power tools, and drilling into the wall would have meant screws in the back of my kitchen cabinets. Instead I decided to look for a low piece of furniture with a slim silhouette. After a days-long deep dive on Pinterest, I finally came up with a new idea: a storage bench.
I’d always thought this type of bench belonged in a bedroom. In fact, that’s exactly where Urban Outfitters contextualizes the budget-friendly bamboo number. But at just 19 inches tall, with a depth of 12 inches, it sounded like the perfect fit for my entryway. Plus it isn’t too bulky or heavy (less than 15 pounds), so returning it to the nearest store wouldn’t have been a huge hassle, and a restocking fee would have only set me back $5. Hitting “add to cart” was easy.
It shipped in a flat box with all the necessary hardware and even a little Allen wrench, so with the assistance of my partner-slash-roommate, it came together in just 15 minutes. Looking back, I probably could have figured it out on my own (this is noteworthy because, sadly, following directions when it comes to assembling furniture is not my strong suit). I was immediately impressed by the quality and finish of the wood. The very few negative reviews noted it felt flimsy, worrying it might crack over time—but I couldn’t disagree more. While some other products I’ve purchased at Urban have had alignment and assembly issues, this bench had zero.
Like most other buyers, I found it to be sturdy and stable, even on my old warped parquet floors. In fact, I frequently pop a squat on the upholstered portion to either lace up or untie my sneaks; our most frequently worn footwear hangs out on and below the slatted shelf, doubling as a shoe rack. It doesn’t creak or wobble, and at almost two years old, it still appears new.
The top lifts with ease to reveal what at first looks like a shallow opening (it is only about 2.5 inches deep, and I had my doubts when I started filling it), but it currently holds 16 tote bags with no closing issues. I fold each to roughly the same size, layered in sets of four. And since the bench is located by my front door, I hardly ever end up at Trader Joe’s without a bag tucked under my arm.
The Final Word
My absolute favorite thing about this storage bench (aside from the affordable price point, of course) is that it helps hide the fact that I actually own one too many totes. This way, I can continue keeping up my clutter-free illusion.