Nelson Bench Showdown

The Original

George Nelson’s 1946 classic. The Nelson Platform Bench is sold by Herman Miller.  Here’s the definitive description from the Herman Miller store:

Equal parts seat and surface, the Nelson Platform Bench emerged from George Nelson’s Fortune magazine office to join his first Herman Miller Collection in 1946. Made with polished chrome or ebonized wood legs, and available in a variety of lengths and two finishes, this wooden bench can also serve as a low table or the foundation for the Basic Cabinet Series.

It’s interesting to see the designs that came right after WWII. The Nelson bench was the foundation for the Herman Miller collection and could function not only as a bench but also the foundation for a chest or cabinet. Although, I can’t imagine using it like that or even as a coffee table which is a popular use today.

Herman Miller sells the 48″ version for $1015 carries a 5-year warranty.

The Alternatives

If you can afford the Nelson Platform Bench from Herman Miller that’s what you should buy. It is perfection and it will retain value. This is aspirational furniture and it’s understandable you desire the original.  It’s not right for most budgets, pretty much every budget but we want it. Fortunetly, there are alternatives.

All of the of the alternative bench photographs well. It’s a simple design.  That’s the beauty.  It’s no wonder it’s been replicated so many times.  The alternatives are all Chinese made and all are available on Amazon.

The Home Depot

The Home Depot’s version is made by Baxton Studio.  Baxton sells furniture with a number of companies.  I believe we have a few chairs from them in the dining room currently. The simpler the design the better off you’ll be Baxton products.

It sells for $194.18 and carries a 1-year warranty.  There is only one review currently, but it is a good one.  I’m not positive but the legs appear to be metal based on the specs.  It’s only available in the Natural Light Brown Books

LeisureMod (via Amazon)

LeisureMod’s version beats Home Depot in variety.  LeisureMod’s bench is available in three colors; natural wood, dark walnut, and black wood. It is well reviewed, carrying 4 out of 5 stars from 25 reviews.  However, the negatives are touch on the quality and illustrate the issues with photos of dents and scratches.  This may not be the one if you have kids.

Their version is priced at $259.  It’s not on Amazon Prime but shipping is free.

Poly + Bark (via Amazon)

Early in the month, we profiled some choices in tripod lamps we were looking at. They also have a version of the Nelson style bench. It’s 5′ long.  It has a slightly different feel. Although the legs are the same design as the others, they are made of wood and not metal. It has mostly excellent reviews calling it a steal.  The walnut color looking better than the natural version.

It’s priced at $157.24 on Amazon. Nearly $20 less than their own website. Their bench beats the others in price and variety and it’s an Amazon Prime product.

LCH Nelson Platform  Bench

Unlike the alternative, LCH’s version has two sizes – 4 Feet and 5 Feet. It’s the best reviewed of all the alternatives.  Some buyers even included photos and it looks good.

It’s $129 and it’s not available on Amazon Prime but they do have Free Shipping option.

DIY

If you want your bench made in the USA you’re going to have to make it yourself. This is apparently a pretty easy design for experienced woodworkers. I’m not a woodworker but I’d love to give this a shot someday.

Here are a few guides put together by folks who have made it.

Popular Woodworking

The Indestructibles

An Outdoor Version from ManMade will likely be the one I attempt some day.  I’d love to have a picnic bench and table based on this design.

At the end of the day, I’ll likely choose the LCH or Poly + Bark version. Eventually, I’ll make an outdoor variety for the backyard in the next couple years.

Update

In the sentence above I said I’d likely choose LCH or Poly + Bark, but when I made the purchase I bypassed them bed.  Instead I opted for Hayneedle’s version.   It was around the same price.  The base is wood rather than metal but the bench is super solid and would imagine it would last a lifetime.  We went with the natural color as it matches our room more closely.

Here’s are a few pictures of the bench in our bedroom.  Onto the next!

edgemod furniture-slat-5-ft-indoor-bench edgemod furniture-slat-5-ft-indoor-bench

 

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