I like the Shaker feel of this design. With the drawers and cupboard storage. I made my bench just the draws and no cupboard. I have had benches with open area or just a shelf under the top and they always ended up being a catch-all, so a set of drawers was a good alternative and you never have too much storage space that is close at hand.
I do not like painting wood but it keep well with the shaker look and I could save some money by buying poplar as the substrate. The poplar panels are 3/8” thick resawed from 4/4.
I tried Minwax water based wood stain clear tint base for the first time and I am very happy with the resolute. The clear base stain can be tinted to your choice of about 50 colors. I picked “Deep Ocean”
The water based stains dry quickly so I used a brush to apply it to a small area and wiping the excess off with a rag within 2-3 min. Minwax recommends to use a pre-stain conditioner to keep the grain from rasing but I had very little raised grain on my test peace that I did without the conditioner. I did lightly sand before applying a clear finish.
For the clear finished I used Minwax’s Polycrylic this is also a water base product. The clear topcoat makes the color look great and did not change the appearance of the color.
-- Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31