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BUCKET BENCHES:
The Water Reservoir of Early Homes

Written by Dan Weaver

​ Imagine a time far different from what we are now accustomed to, a time when the things we now take for granted were not at all commonplace. Our ancestors would certainly marvel at our modern conveniences. They had to have things in place to make life as convenient as possible. Most of us cannot imagine having to draw water from a well and carry it to the house in order to have the water we need to accomplish everyday tasks.

  In the days before indoor plumbing was available just about everywhere, the bucket bench played an important role in people’s lives. A bucket bench was typically a wooden bench that was placed on the porch or outside of the summer kitchen. On it sat buckets of well-drawn water that could be carried inside to have quick access to water for doing dishes, cleaning the home, and cooking meals. 

  A common practice was for the man of the household to keep the buckets filled and easily accessible for their wives to complete the indoor tasks that required water. Throughout the day, when the buckets were depleted of water, they were replenished with water from the well in order to keep the household supplied.  

  Today we thankfully do not have a need for bucket benches as they were originally used. Nonetheless, those who decorate in a primitive style adore the well-worn patina and beauty of bucket benches. We have long since brought them from the outside to the inside of our homes, and we use them as another way to give our homes the look we desire. Bucket benches were typically small, so they can be placed in just about any space to add a primitive accent in our homes.  

    Bucket benches may not be as easy to come by as other early furnishings, but a good place to start is by attending shows that showcase early primitives and antiques. Also, consider asking dealers who specialize in early finds. It may take some time, but with a little patience, you will find the perfect bucket bench that will have just the right character to fit in perfectly with the style of your home.  

  The bucket bench is a nice addition to any home decorated in a primitive style, and each bench has its own special story. Adding a bucket bench to your collection is a nice way to give a nod to the past by incorporating this once necessary and practical furnishing into your home and making it useful once again by giving it a new purpose to meet the needs of the lives we live today.

  Bucket benches were typically handmade, so they can be quite different from one to the next. Some are painted, some stained, some very plain, and some are even ornate. Typically, they were built to be sturdy, utilitarian objects, so many of them have stood the test of time and the elements quite well. Because most bucket benches were originally used outdoors, they may have a naturally weathered look.

  There are virtually unlimited ways to use a bucket bench in our homes today. They can be placed in entryways, kitchens, dining rooms, or even on stair landings. They look very attractive when old wooden buckets are displayed on them, but many other primitive objects can be placed on them as well. For example, any type of early treenware looks natural displayed on a bucket bench, or they can be dressed up more formally by pairing early lighting and old leather books. They can even be used as additional serving space when having a meal or as a drink station during a party.