Antique garden benches provide splendor beyond the grass, not to mention a little extra outdoor seating.
"The nice thing about vintage furniture is it can be used indoors or outdoors and lasts a long time," said Yvette Freeman, owner of Foundry by Freeman, an antique goods shop on U Street in Washington.
Freeman recently transformed an antique wooden bench into an heirloom for a client. She painted the bench creamy white and then had the client's 11 grandchildren each pick a color, dip their hands in paint and stamp their prints all over the bench. She also added the paw prints of the client's three dogs.
"I wrote their names under each of their hands and created garden art for her," Freeman said. "It's really simple. It was a really fun way to take a vintage piece of furniture and turn it into beautiful art."
Cote Jardin Antiques, with locations on O Street and in West Palm Beach, Fla., stocks faux bois benches made in the 1940s. Faux bois, which means fake wood in French, is an art form in which concrete and other materials are used to create woodlike structures.
The faux bois benches at Cote Jardin look like they are made from twigs. "Most people buy them for decorative purposes," said David Stralo, of Cote Jardin. "They aren't that comfortable to sit on. They feel like concrete."
Cote Jardin also has wrought-iron antique garden benches, better suited for seating. An American Cast Iron twig bench, made about 1880, is priced at $3,500. It would look wonderful in a front yard garden or entrance, Stralo said. "You can have cushions made for wrought-iron benches."
Because antique garden benches are about the same length as twin beds, Freeman said they make excellent accent pieces in children rooms.
Of course, they look great in gardens too. "It's beautiful if you have really lush overgrown plants, and you can tuck it in behind them" she said. "You're not expecting it to be there."