My daughter’s bedroom had an area under her bay window that was just screaming for a built-in window seat. So, a built-in window seat is what it got! But I didn’t just want an ordinary window seat, I wanted something that was elegant but also served a purpose besides seating, and for someone like me, with my OCDish tendencies, the best additional purpose is STORAGE! 🙂 Here’s the area in her bedroom that had been begging for a built-in:
At first, I thought about building a hinged top, but I knew if I did, anything placed into the storage area would get tossed in, thereby destroying my dreams of ultra-organization. So, drawers and cabinets it was! I was a little leery of putting in drawers as I have never built drawers before, but I figured that now was better than never to give it a try! (And it was actually pretty easy!) For this tutorial, I’m not including the measurements I used, as everyone’s windows and walls are different sizes and lengths. But I will provide the step-by-step instructions explaining how I measured for and built my window seat. So here it goes:
*Please note that this post contains affiliate links.
DIY Built-in Window Seat Materials:
Wood List: (may vary depending on length of your window seat)
|1 sheet||3/4″ cabinet grade plywood|
|1 sheet||1/4″ plywood|
|~5||2″ x 4″ @ 8′|
|1||1″ x 12″ @ 6′|
|1||1″ x 3″ @ 8′|
|2||1″ x 4″ @ 8′|
|1||decorative thin molding piece @ 8′|
DIY Built-in Window Seat Tools and Supplies:
Optional Tools and Supplies (these items are not necessary but make the job MUCH easier!):
|Planer||Kreg Drawer Slide Jig||Kreg Cabinet Hardware Jig||Kreg Rip Cut|
DIY Built-in Window Seat Tutorial:
First, if you have carpet and/or baseboards, you’ll want to remove those in the area where the window seat will be built.
Pull the carpet up from the tack strip and far enough back to clear the area for the window seat.
Then, using a hammer and chisel, lift the tack strips off the floor (they should begin to break away from the nails holding them to the floor.
Once all the tack strips have been pulled up, pull up the nails that were holding the tack strip down to the floor (use a hammer or cats paw nail puller).
Next, remove the baseboards, again using the hammer and chisel.
Then remove any nails left in the wall.
Once all the baseboard and tack strips are removed, clean the work area and it’s time to start building!
First, use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall where the window seat will be built. Use a pencil to mark the location of the studs.
Next, determine the height your window seat will be once complete (make sure to account for the 3/4″ plywood top). Once you have the height, subtract out 3/4″ for the top and mark that location, that will be the top of the 2×4 that you attach to the wall. The top of my window seat was 19″ from floor to top of the seat, so I marked a line at 18 1/4″.
Next I measured the very back wall, under the middle window. I cut a 2×4 board to that length, and since this area is under a bay window where there are angled walls on each side, I cut each end to a 22 1/2 degree angle. I then predrilled holes and attached the board to the wall, making sure to put the screws into the marked studs in the wall ( and using a level to make sure the board was well, level! 🙂 ) The top of the 2×4 was placed so it lined up with the mark I drew on the wall to identify the 18 1/4″ height.
Next, I measured the two side walls. First, measure a distance of 2 1/4″ back from the front edge of the wall and mark that distance. This is to ensure there is enough room for the front 2×4 and the 1×4 front trim boards (2×4 is 1 1/2″ thick and 1×4 is 3/4″ thick for a total of 2 1/4″). Then measure from the corner where the back board ends to the mark you just made, and cut 2x4s to that length. If you have a bay window, one end of each of the 2x4s will likely need to be cut at an angle around 22.5 degrees and the other end mitered to an angle of 45 degrees. Attach these to the walls by predrilling the holes and attaching with screws into the studs, always checking to make sure the boards are level.
Repeat these steps for the bottom boards, which should sit flush with the floor boards. (Always check to be sure your walls are even, if not, you may need to adjust the length of the top or bottom side wall boards to ensure that they both end at the same location on the floor.
Now, measure the distance across the front from each edge of the front of the side boards. Do this for the bottom and top board and cut two 2x4s to size for the top and bottom. Again, if building this for a bay window, you’ll need to miter each end to 45 degrees (most likely). Attach at each end using 3 1/2″ wood screws (predrill holes first).
Now, measure the distance between the back board and the front board on both top and bottom. Cut 3 2×4 boards to that length for the top and three more for the bottom. Then, drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into one side of each end of each 2×4. Attach three 2×4 boards to the top (one at each end of the back 2×4 and one exactly in the middle) using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. Repeat for the bottom section making sure cross boards are placed in same location on top and bottom. Use a pocket square or framing square to ensure cross boards are straight.
Next, measure the distance between the middle of the top front board and the middle of the bottom front board and between the bottom back and bottom top boards. Cut two 2×4 boards to those lengths. Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of one side of each of the 2×4 boards. Attach between the front top and bottom board, in the same location as the middle cross board, and between the back top and bottom board.
Next, measure the horizontal and vertical distance between the vertical boards on the left and right sides. For my seat, the vertical distance was exactly the same as the width of a 1×12 board. So, I used that size of board and cut the board to the length from front to back for each side. If the space on yours is larger, you can cut a 3/4″ piece of plywood to size. I drilled three 3/4″ pocket holes into each end of one side of the boards and attached to the 2×4 boards (so it was flush with the side of the 2×4 closest to the middle) using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. (Make sure the boards you use are straight, and use a square to ensure the board is straight from front to back).
Next, time to cut the top! For mine, I used 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper that I taped together and cut to create a template for the top of the window seat. You can also use cardboard if that is easier (I always struggle with cutting cardboard, so paper was an easier option for me).
I used that template to trace the correct shape and size onto my 3/4″ plywood.
I then used my circular saw to cut out the top.
Test fit the board, and if it fits, sand until very smooth. Then attach by predrilling holes using a countersink drill bit, and then attach with 2 1/2″ wood screws.
Next, measure the distance from the top and bottom front boards on each end. Cut a 2×4 board to that length for each side.
Again, if you are building this for a bay window, you’ll need to miter these two boards to a 45 degree angle lengthwise. I did this using my circular saw. First, I set the miter on my table saw to 45 degrees.
Run the edge of each of the 2×4 boards lengthwise.
Next, attach the mitered 2×4 boards between the top and bottom front boards at each end using 3 1/2″ wood screws (predrill with countersink bits).
Next, using paper or cardboard, create a template for the bottom shelf of the left and right cabinets. Trace the shape onto the 3/4″ plywood and cut with a circular saw. Test the fit and then sand until smooth.
Attach the cabinet shelves using the same method as the top (predrill with countersink drill bits, and attach with 2 1/2″ wood screws). Make sure to attach to the 2x4s underneath.
Now, trim boards. Measure the distance across the front of the top and bottom 2×4 boards and cut 1×4″ boards to those sizes (miter the ends if necessary).
In addition, cut two 1×4 boards to the same length as the vertical 2×4 (the mitered boards) at each end of the frame. These 1×4 boards will need to be mitered using the same method with the table saw.
I also cut three 1×3 boards to the same length as the three middle vertical 2x4s that are between the front top and bottom board.
Since these were the boards that will be visible, once I had all boards cut to size, I decided to run these through my planer (this was my super awesome Christmas gift from my super awesome hubby and parents!! I’m a lucky girl!). If you don’t have a planer, I HIGHLY recommend Dewalt’s planer, this is the one I have and it is phenomenal, my boards come out looking super shiny, flawless, and new (affiliate link): DEWALT DW735 13-Inch, Two Speed Thickness Planer
I attached all boards using my Ryobi Airstrike Brad Nailer and 1 1/2″ brad nails.
I wanted the edges of the 3/4″ plywood on the seat top and the cabinet shelves to look a little more polished, so I used a wood veneer strip to cover the fronts of both. I purchased mine at Lowe’s and you apply it to the plywood edge with an iron.
Next, it’s time to build the drawers and cabinet doors. First, I measured the distance top to bottom and side to side for each cabinet and drawer opening, as I wanted my cabinet doors and drawers to sit flush with the trim. I then built the frame for the cabinet doors and the drawer fronts using 1×3 boards and 1/4″ plywood.
I cut two 1×3 boards to 1/4″ less than the actual size of the vertical opening in the frame for each cabinet door and drawer front. I then cut two 1×3 boards that were 5 1/4″ less than the horizontal opening width of each cabinet and drawer opening (you want 5 1/4″ less due to the 1/4″ needed for clearance plus the width of the two 1×3 boards making up the sides of the frames – each 1×3 is actually 2 1/2″ wide). I drilled 3/4″ pocket holes into each end of one side of the horizontal boards.
I then ran all of these boards through my planer to get a silky smooth finish. 🙂 Next, I built the frame using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws (and using my pocket square and clamps to ensure the frames were completely square).
Use the same method to build the drawer front frames.
Now comes the fun part (well, I guess that depends on your idea of fun!) The router! I had never used a router before, so this was a first for me. Although, my routering skills need some improvement, I was able to get the job done to a satisfactory level (nothing a little caulk can’t hide 😉 ). Using a square router bit, I routed along the inside edge of the frame (this is to create an indented area for the 1/4″ plywood cabinet center section.
The router leaves curved corners, so you’ll need to use a chisel to square the corners.
Next, measure the size of the opening in the middle of each cabinet and drawer front and using a table saw or circular saw, cut a 1/4″ piece of plywood to that size for each frame. Sand the plywood and then attach to the frame using wood glue and 5/8″ finish nails.
For the drawers, I used the method shared by Jenn at Build Basic: Simple Drawer Tutorial
I built my drawers to be 2 inches shorter than the opening and 1 1/2″ shorter than the distance front to back.
I used the 1/4″ plywood and my Kreg KMA2675 Kreg Rip-Cut to cut out the drawer bottom (another super useful tool that helps those of us who are straight-line challenged to make a perfectly straight cut! 🙂 )
Once the drawers were assembled and sanded, it was time to install the drawer rails. I purchased 16″ soft close rails from Home Depot. To assist with installing them, I purchased the Kreg Tool Company KHI-SLIDE Drawer Slide Jig. Although my drawers ended up being too close to the ground to use as intended, I was still able to use them to assist me with getting my drawer rails on straight! You gotta get creative in this line of hobby…
Once the rails have been attached to the frame and the drawer, install the drawer onto the rails. Once the drawers are in, attach the drawer front to the drawer using 1 1/2″ wood screws (attach from inside of drawer through back of drawer front).
Next, attach the cabinet doors using hinges. I used external hinges on my doors to add a little more decor to the front.
Now for the hardware. I purchased my drawer and cabinet pulls at Home Depot. To install them with ease, I purchased the Kreg Tool Company KHI-PULL Cabinet Hardware Jig(affiliate link), this makes lining up the holes for the pulls super easy.
Once I had all the hardware on, I tested everything to make sure it fit properly.
I decided that the front still needed a little pizzaz, so I decided to add a thin, decorative trim piece across the front, directly underneath the plywood seat top.
I removed all the hardware, filled all the finish nail holes and the countersunk holes on the top seat with wood filler, let dry, and then lightly sanded one last time.
I then brushed on one coat of white primer and three coats of Behr Semi-Gloss Swiss Coffee white paint. Once dry, I re-installed all the hardware and drawers and doors. Here’s the final result:
My next step is to build a cushion for the top so my daughter has a nice, comfy place to sit and read, or just to look out the window and enjoy nature. I also want to build built-in dressers and bookshelves on the walls on each side of the window seat. So many projects, so little time… 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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