Entryway bench with drawers and cubby shelves and hooks
Build | Room Makeovers | Shelves & Storage

How to Build an Entryway Bench with Hooks and Storage

How to Build an Entryway Bench with Hooks and Storage Post Preview: This article will show you how to easily make this hallway bench with hooks and storage, perfect for mudrooms or entryways.

This post is sponsored by Old Fashioned Milk Paint. All opinions are entirely my own.

Do you ever have a busy room that’s an absolute mess? A room where there’s absolutely no efficiency?

This was our previous mudroom (see before picture below).

It was a disaster. 

Shoes and coats were always just tossed everywhere. Backpacks, diaper bags with no place to go.

When you have a room that drives you crazy like this, you have to rethink it. My wife came up with this great plan of installing a hall tree – with an L-shaped bench and locker-style cubby shelves.

Upper cubbies would be loaded with hooks for hanging things like coats and kids’ backpacks. Lower cubbies would hold shoes. We even planned to add drawers to parts of the lower cubby shelves for additional storage.

My wife’s favorite part of the plan, aside from the organization, was that we were using completely natural milk paint and Tung Oil, provided by Old Fashioned Milk Paint. Their milk paint is a gem – completely natural ingredients and it was a dream to work with.

In addition to the built-ins that we were making, my wife Eileen also planned to stencil the wall and add some shiplap. 

With these grand visions, the mudroom had no idea what was coming. Check out the before and after mudroom pictures:

Before picture of our mudroom makeover with a storage bench and cubbies
Before picture of the entryway bench with cubbies makeover
DIY Mudroom Makeover with Cubbies
Entryway bench with drawers and cubby shelves and hooks
Mudroom makeover – you won’t believe the “before”

How to Build an Entryway Bench with Hooks and Storage

Below are the instructions, tools, and materials for how to build this decked out entryway hall tree yourself 🙂 This corner mudroom storage is one of our all-time favorite DIY projects.

Entryway bench with storage drawers, hooks, and cubbies

Tools and Materials

Corner Mudroom Storage Bench Design Ideas

So, Eileen came up with her vision and sketched it out. Before our kids could color over it, I put her vision into place using a 3d design on my computer. 

Mudroom Drawing Renovation

The entire structure was to be made mostly out of ¾” birch plywood, cut into strips.  

Several hidden areas were going to be reinforced with 2x4s.

Finally, since plywood was being used, I had to cover all the exposed edges with trim.  

I planned to make my own trim by cutting thin ¾” strips of pine board.

To join all the pieces together, I was going to use a combination of construction adhesive, deck screws (1.5” and 3.5”), pocket hole screws and finishing nails.

The mudroom hall tree shelves consisted of three segments – two lower cubbies for drawers and shoes (and to also serve as a bench), and the upper cubbies – think locker-style – for hanging things in.

So logistically, this meant I could work on different parts of the cubbies as was convenient for me, and have them come together in the mudroom.

Building the Lower Cubbies for the Entryway Bench

For the corner mudroom storage area, I started with the two lower cubbies first. Here is what a finished cubby looked like (minus any drawers):

Building a bench with cubbies for the mudroom easy DIY tutorial

I used my table saw and miter saw to make the below woodcuts:

Cutting plywood and 2x4s with the table and miter saw to use in the DIY entryway bench project

Each lower cubby consisted of three vertical (16.25” x 19”) and two horizontal (16.25” x 17”) pieces of plywood.  

The horizontal pieces attached to the vertical ones.

The structure was further reinforced with some 2x4s in the rear, and some plywood in the front.

The rear 2x4s also would serve as anchor points to bolt the cubbies to wall studs in the mudroom.

Joining the Cubby Shelf Pieces

To join most of the pieces together for the corner mudroom storage, I drilled a number of pocket holes using my Kreg Pocket Hole Jig, as shown below:

Joining pieces of the DIY entryway bench together with the kreg jig

The pocket holes were ideal for joining inside pieces of wood, like the piece in the center.

Here is what a pocket hole joined section looked like:

Using pocket holes to connect wood when making a DIY entryway bench

I used some deck screws to join the end pieces (with the help of a 3ft bar clamp to keep everything tight during the joining process):

Using deck screws to join together pieces of the DIY entryway bench

Sneak Preview of the corner mudroom storage

When the two lower cubbies were done, I placed them inside the mudroom to get a feel for how they would look:

Mid construction on the entryway storage bench with cubbies - lower cubbies and bench

I also bolted some 2x4s to wall studs in the corner to provide support for the entryway bench over there.

Not wanting to sacrifice some electrical outlets in the room, I also cut out some notches in the cubby shelves, so the outlets could still be accessed.

Painting the Lower Cubbies

After I was happy with the look of the cubbies inside the mudroom, I brought them back outside for painting:

Using milk paint to the lower cubbies for the DIY entryway bench

We used Old-Fashioned Milk Paint, which we absolutely love. It’s completely natural and has zero VOCs. It’s made from just milk casein, lime, and earth pigments. There’s no smell and it goes on beautifully. To see how to use milk paint on raw wood, check out this post

Building Drawers for the Entryway Cubby Bench

With the lower cubbies complete, I moved onto the drawers.

They were simple box drawers made from 4 pieces of ¾” plywood for the sides, and a thin ¼” plywood sheet for the bottom. I attached the sides together with construction adhesive and screws to form a square.

Then, I used more glue and finishing nails to secure the plywood sheet to the bottom.

Here were the drawers for the corner mudroom storage:

How to make homemade drawers for an entryway bench

If you want to learn more about making custom drawers, check out my post on building pull-out drawersI give all the details on these DIY shaker-style drawers on that post. 

Next, I mounted the drawers in the cubbies with some drawer hardware (at this point, the cubbies were back inside after being painted and bolted to wall studs):

Connecting drawers to openings for a homemade DIY entryway bench with storage

I would later revisit the drawers to add nice custom shaker-style drawer fronts and handles.

Building the Bench Top to the Cubbies

Now on the corner mudroom storage project, it was time to cut the wood for the benchtops that would attach to the lower cubbies. I used two pieces of  ¾” plywood and cut them to size.

Attaching the Bench to the Cubbies

I secured the two plywood benches to the cubbies with construction adhesive, and inserted screws from underneath.

Here are the cubbies prepped with construction adhesive for one of the benches:

Attaching the cubby storage to the benchtop with construction adhesive for an entryway bench makeover

Here the benches have been secured in place with the constructive adhesive and screws:

Securing the benchtop to the wall and cubbies for this DIY entryway bench tutorial

Installing Trim Around the Benchtop

Once the benchtop was in place on the corner mudroom storage area, I covered all the exposed plywood edges with some custom-cut trim:

Covering the exposed benchtop plywood with custom-made trim for the DIY entryway bench

I used my miter saw to cut the corners of the trim at 45 degrees, so all the pieces would fit seamlessly together.

Then, I attached the trim to the plywood benchtop with construction adhesive and finishing nails (with the help of my finishing nailer to speed things up).  

Afterward, I gave the trim edges a light sanding by hand to bevel and smooth them.

Here’s another picture of the trim showing an inside corner:

Sanding the edges of the benchtop trim of the DIY entryway bench with shoe storage

Neat Trick: Making Colored Wood Putty

Here’s a neat little trick I did to fill in some gaps and holes after the benchtop trim was installed.

Normally I would use wood putty to fill in these spaces, but I had planned on staining the wood and did not want the putty to stand out very discolored (especially since I was planning on using light, very transparent tung oil stain). So I made my own wood filler.

I took sawdust produced from cutting the trim and mixed it with Elmer’s glue. I mixed a little glue at a time, sometimes adding more sawdust until the mixture was putty-like.

Then I filled in any gaps and holes with my custom-made wood putty.

After it dried, I sanded it down.

The end result was great. My custom-made wood putty produced a near-perfect color match filler.

I did originally make the mistake of mixing the sawdust with wood glue on my first attempt.  It was a bad idea. The mixture dried so hard that it was nearly impossible to sand off. So make sure to use Elmer’s glue if you’re using the trick on one of your own projects.

Here’s a picture showing the custom-made wood putty drying (looks messy now, but after a good sanding, it produces great results):

Custom-made woody putty to match the wood in building an entryway bench for the mudroom with tons of storage

Staining the Benchtop with Tung Oil

Next, I started the process of applying Tung Oil to the benchtop. I opted to use pure Tung Oil for this project.

It was going to be a little more work and time, but I didn’t want to use any chemical-based stains.

This meant also staying away from any Tung Oil marketed as “fast drying”. Those meant the Tung Oil was mixed with a chemical to hasten the drying period.

Pure Tung Oil takes several coats spread over a long period to achieve good results.

So I rubbed on some pure Tung Oil to the wood with some lint-free rags, then gently rubbed off any excess oil sitting on the surface. I was pretty liberal with the amount of Tung Oil, as it was the first coat.

Then I let it dry for about 24 hours (or until the surface wasn’t so tacky anymore).

The room did have a fairly strong odor of Tung Oil, but at least it wasn’t a strong chemical odor. It was akin to the smell of cooking oil. I made sure the window was open during the day with a large fan. I kept the fan running all night too to help with the drying.

After the first coat was dry, I started the process of applying more coats, about 24 hours apart.  I did about 4 more coats in total until I was happy with the color.

The more coats you do, the darker the stain gets.

On these subsequent coats, I did not use rags though. I wet sanded them.

This means I lightly rubbed on the Tung Oil stain with very high grit sandpaper specially made for wet sanding (the paper wouldn’t fall apart if sanding while wet). Using high grit sandpaper to apply the Tung Oil resulted in better penetration of the oil into the wood.

Here is the picture of the Tung Oil applied to the benchtop:

Tung Oil on Plywood - benchtop for a DIY entryway bench with tons of storage and drawers too

Building the Upper Cubbies for the Entryway Bench

The lower cubbies were done for the time being. It was time to move onto the upper cubbies. I had to give the Tung Oil stain a few more days of drying anyway before I could work near to the benchtop.

Cutting the Pieces for the Cubbies

Here I am trimming the long 8 ft pieces of plywood for the upper cubbies (I’ve got an assembly line flow going on):

Trimming plywood to make cubby shelves for the mudroom entryway hall tree bench

These strips of plywood were going to be the five vertical segments of the cubbies (10.5” x 69.5”), and the header piece (10.5” x 71.25”).

Also, I needed four smaller pieces (10.5” x 17.25”) for some shelves at the top of the cubbies.

Joining the Pieces for the Upper Cubbies

After the pieces were cut for the corner mudroom storage, I pre-drilled screw holes to attach the five vertical pieces to the header piece:

Predrilling pieces of wood for the upper cubby shelves on the entryway bench

To attach the vertical pieces, I found it super convenient to use a 90-degree wood clamp.

After applying some construction adhesive, the clamp helped hold the pieces in place while I inserted some screws from underneath (in the holes I pre-drilled earlier):

Attaching the plywood to make cubbies using clamps

The upper cubbies are starting to come together now. Here they are with the five vertical pieces attached (note that the whole thing is upside down at the moment):

Assembling the cubbies for the entryway hall tree, with tons of storage

Reinforcing the Mudroom Storage Cubbies

To reinforce the vertical pieces and make the structure more rigid, I added some extra plywood in between each section at the header (fastened with pocket hole screws, as you can probably tell by the holes):

Assembling extra support on the diy cubby shelf for the entryway bench

It was time to flip the vertical cubbies over (I had constructed them upside down for convenience):

Finishing assembling the entryway hall tree with cubbies on this diy mudroom project

Next on the corner mudroom storage area, I added some more pieces in between the sections. These additional pieces served two purposes.

First, they reinforced the cubbies even more.

Second, they were going to hold hooks for the cubbies. I wanted strong mounting points for the hooks so they wouldn’t fall out, and attaching the hooks directly to the cubby structure made the most sense.

Here’s a picture showing the back of the vertical cubbies with the reinforcing pieces attached (I used a lot of pocket holes to attach them):

Reinforcing the cubbies with extra wood for the entryway storage bench with locker-style cubbies project

Painting the Cubbies with Milk Paint

I got some help from Eileen to paint the upper cubbies. She put on several layers of milk paint and was happy with the look:

Painting the entryway cubby shelf with old fashioned milk paint in snow white

BTW, check out Eileen’s awesome post on using achieving great results with milk paint and raw wood!

Installing the Locker-Style Cubbies in the Entryway

The corner mudroom storage cubbies were now painted and ready for the mudroom installation. I lifted them onto the benchtop and started securing it to wall studs (I used 3.5” deck screws for this task).

Here’s Eileen hard at work helping to attach the cubbies:

Installing the DIY cubby shelving into the mudroom, resting on the diy entryway bench

To secure the upper cubbies to the bench and prevent the vertical pieces from moving around, I used some pocket hole screws to lock them in place:

Using pocket hole screws to hold the upper locker-style cubbies in place

I would later fill these pocket holes (using special pocket hole plugs), sand and repaint to hide them.

Attaching Trim to the Corner Mudroom Storage Cubbies

Next on the corner mudroom storage project, I spent some time installing trim to hide the unfinished plywood edges. Here’s a close-up of some of the trim (you can see some plugged pocket holes waiting to be painted):

Adding trim

Just a few remaining tasks for the entryway bench and cubbies

With both the lower and upper cubbies installed, the mudroom project was nearing completion:

Installing an entryway bench with cubbies and drawers in the mudroom

I had already installed most of the shiplap (post coming soon), and Eileen did a wonderful job of stenciling the wall.

See Eileen’s great post about stenciling walls!

At some point in every project, you are left scratching your head trying to solve a problem. Here I am in one of those moments (I forget what my issue was at that time, but clearly I figured it out to complete the project!):

Building an entryway hall tree with tons of storage

Making Custom Drawer Fronts

At this point in the corner mudroom storage project, I went back to the drawers to finish them. I custom-made some shaker-style faceplates.

The result was some amazing-looking drawers:

Building DIY mudroom storage drawers on the entryway bench

Make sure you read up on my post about making custom drawer fronts for full details.

Installing Shiplap Between the Cubbies

In this picture, I have already installed shiplap in between the upper cubbies for a uniform look in the room:

Installing shiplap in between the cubbies for a modern farmhouse look

The structural pieces of the vertical cubbies were starting to blend into the shiplap.

They only stand out now because they are sanded and unpainted.

Notice how I also taped off the benchtop. The Tung Oil was still a bit tacky and I did not want sawdust, paint, and other debris falling on it as I worked with the upper cubbies.

Adding Hooks to the Corner Mudroom Storage

We ordered some simple hooks from Amazon – we used 8 of them on this built-in hall tree. I added them directly into the cubby structure – not into the shiplap.

The shiplap wouldn’t have been strong enough to hold the hooks, as the shiplap in between the cubby shelf was only secured to the wall with construction adhesive because of their size. 

We also have been using 3M command hooks for extra spots on the sides of the locker cubbies.

That is an added bonus of putting dividers between each of the cubbies – you get more storage.

It’s perfect because it gives more space for coats and hats. And boy, you can pack a lot of stuff into this built-in entryway storage bench. 

Corner Mudroom Storage is finished!

Shortly afterward, the project was completed! The Tung Oil technically needed some more time to cure, so I put up “Wet” signs to let people know not to sit on the bench.

I gave the Tung Oil about two more weeks to cure before the bench was available for use.

Here are the finished mudroom cubbies:

Locker-style cubbies in mudroom painted in Snow White Milk Paint
Locker-style cubbies in mudroom painted in Snow White Milk Paint

Amazing isn’t it! Eileen and I love our new mudroom cubbies. Everything has its place. All the shoes are tucked away and coats and bags are hung neatly on the abundant hooks.

Time and Cost of the Hallway Bench with Hooks and Storage

It took about 3 weekends (not full days) to build this decked-out entryway storage bench with locker-style cubbies. I did also work a little bit during the week to apply Tung Oil here and there. The cost was $250. Not bad for a huge piece of furniture?

Build your own DIY entryway storage bench with locker-style cubbies
how to build an entryway bench with drawers and cubby shelves

4 Comments

  1. I AM DYING OVER HERE!!! EILEEN!!! You guys did a fabulous job! This is Better Homes and Gardens worthy!!! (*jaw is still on the floor*)

    1. Omg, Lidia! Now I am dying from your comment!! That is the BEST compliment there is!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. What an amazing transformation! It looks fantastic, and I’m totally drooling over all of the storage space in there. You guys always give the best tutorials (just in case I put this on my to-do list at some point). 😉

    1. Thanks so much, Amy! It really has come in handy bc it holds everything!! Awww you are so sweet!! I’m a fan of yours too!:)

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