Furniture that combines storage and seating has a long history, and we still love the idea of the multi-purpose space-saving storage bench today.

Whether you’re looking for something in the hallway for shoes, at the end of the bed for blankets and bedding, or a general box for tidying away toys – this list covers a variety of needs for different styles and budgets.

Ottomans and upholstered benches tend to be at the upper end of the price scale, but can make a valuable addition to existing furniture in bedrooms and living rooms.

If you want your bench to boost seating capacity for parties and dinners, or turn a nook into a window seat, these types also offer more comfort.

Benches with harder finishes are better for more frequent use. Consider how easy it is access the things you need – drawers, cupboards and open compartments are best for keeping things you need to use regularly.

On lidded storage benches opt for soft-close hinges and props that stop the lid slamming down – for safety but also for longevity too.

These should also keep the lid up when open, leaving you both hands to reach your items inside.

Myakka Mallani storage seat: £249, Myakka

The Mallani is a solid seat made of Indian sheesham wood, with four compartments that lend themselves to storing shoes. For extra storage potential, you could add a couple of baskets or trays as a home for smaller bits. This seat scores well on practicality, it’s robust enough to deal with daily use in the hallway, and the cream seat cushion has a removable cover that washes in the machine.

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Garden Trading Modern settle bench: £495, Garden Trading Modern

The settle – or monks-style bench – has a history going back to the 16th century. This traditional furniture type usually has a high back and winged arms, with a storage box under the seat. Garden Trading’s stylish take on the settle has the same form, but a sturdy birch frame finished in a sophisticated matt black. There’s ample storage under the seat, and unlike more basic benches, it’s comfortable too.

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La Redoute acacia storage box: £139, La Redoute

This basic container undoubtedly performs better as storage than it does a bench, but if you’re after big capacity it’s a top choice. It’s made of acacia wood that’s stained and oiled to look more teak, and you can use it outdoors or in. The hinged lid has props that help the lid stay open while you are rooting around inside. The slats provide ventilation, making it particularly good for preventing mould and damp on stored textiles.

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Swoon Editions Plymouth ottoman: £449, Swoon Editions

If you’re looking for something to complement existing furniture in the bedroom or lounge, Swoon Editions offers a huge variety of upholstery fabrics for its antique-style Plymouth ottoman. A brushed linen-cotton mix, wool, leather or velvet all look elegant on buttoned top and body. Under the seat there’s compartment that’s wider than most, at 130cm. This piece would make a great window seat, as well as at the end of the bed.

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Cotswold & Co farmhouse painted shoe bench: £249, Cotswold & Co

Painted a striking blue, this farmhouse-style shoe bench makes a bright way to tidy the hallway or boot room. Double doors hide away shoes and other clutter, but inside there’s only space for eight compartments that really only sized for a single pair of shoes in each. The cream upholstered seat pad adds comfort, but it’s not so practical – the fabric needs to be cleaned in situ.

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Habitat Oregan bench: £375, Habitat 

This is a versatile, well-made bench that could make itself useful in the hallway, at the foot of the bed, or as additional seating at the dining table. Two comfortable seats are made of woven cord in a dark grey colour that contrasts with the rest of the oak bench. Rails under the bench are good for placing a few pairs of shoes or your own boxes to contain smaller objects.   

Buy now Burcot upholstered storage bench: £199,

This compact bench is a steal compared to most upholstered and padded ottomans, but it still has good attention to detail. The interior compartment is fully lined, the polyester upholstery feels as soft as wool, and the stitching and piped edge is fairly well done. The lid is easy to lift, either with the little loop handle or by grabbing the edge and stays up safely thanks to the props inside.

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John Lewis & Partners rose mist ottoman blanket box: £550, John Lewis & Partners

This luxury ottoman has been designed with French antique style in mind. The scrolling arms, base and lid are all upholstered in a composite material with an elegant light grey finish, and the interior padding is soft and comfortable. The moulded legs each have a decorative motif that gives this ottoman a unique touch. The lid isn’t the easiest to lift, but the interior compartment is surprisingly deep and well lined.  

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Ikea PS 1995 storage bench: £90, Ikea

This wheeled bench has clean Scandinavian style and is a great choice for the kids’ room. Using it is pretty simple – there’s one cut-out handle to open the lid, and another to grab while wheeling along. Made of particleboard, plywood and birch, it’s also incredibly light and easy to move. There’s a decent amount of space inside for toys and your less-fragile items. Soft-close hinges keep the lid from slamming.

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Dunelm Lucy Cane cream storage bench: £149, Dunelm

This well-priced storage bench comes with three built-in cane-fronted drawers – handy for keeping a variety of items tidy and easy to access, rather than just shoes. At 120cm-long it’s a good size for bay windows or at the end of the bed. The body of the bench is made solid wood, lacquered and painted off-white. The seat cushion is framed at the sides and back to stop it slipping off – a useful feature if your bench will be in regular use.

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The verdict: Storage benches

The solid Mallani bench from fair-trade specialist Myakka is a good all-rounder. The open compartments are wide, to leave the choice of storing shoes or other items. The seat cushion has a removable cover for easy washing, and the price is reasonable too.

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