Remove the baseboards and built a sturdy 2×4 frame. The boards can be nailed or screwed directly into the studs on the walls.
Cover the frame with MDF or plywood. Here we used some 3/4″ cabinet grade plywood that we had from another project. We nailed it in using finish nails and our nail gun. As you can see, we also cut a small hole for an air vent because our heater vent would now be located inside the bench.
Add 3-1/2″ wide MDF to create a panel look. Don’t worry too much if the pieces don’t fit together perfectly, this can be fixed with caulk.
Cut your top using thick MDF. We used 1-5/8″ MDF (also from another project). We cut the top in three pieces. First the middle piece, which we wanted to use as a hinged lid for storage access. Next we used butcher paper (you can also use newspaper) to create a template for the two side pieces. I was worried that if we just tried to measure all the angles we wouldn’t get a good fit. The paper template method worked like a charm. We just traced our template onto the MDF and then cut along the lines. We also used a router to add a nice finished edge. Nail your top to the 2×4 frame.
OPTIONAL STORAGE LID
If you want your bench to also work for storage, you will need to cut about a 1-1/2″ piece off the entire back length of your middle top piece. Nail just the thin piece to the 2×4 supports then place the rest of your top in place and use a piano hinge (sold at Home Depot etc.) to attach the two pieces back together. As seen in the photo below (part of the 1-1/2″ piece is covered by our back molding, but you can see how the hinge attaches).