What's a bay window without a window seat?  An unfinished and underutilized space waiting to be transformed!  Building a window seat is a basic "build-in" project and here's how you can do it.    

Step 1: Plan It Out

Since bay windows are not all created equal, you'll need to measure the angles of the walls.  The standard is 135° but there are other variations and the "as built" angles will probably be different.  Walls are never perfectly straight, corners are never perfectly square...you get the picture.  In the end, you don't have to be super exact since a piece of trim will cover the gap between the wall and the seat, but the angle needs to follow the wall.

How deep you'd like your seat to be is the next question.  I build this one to be 24" deep so we could use a rug runner instead of cushions.  Runners are 21"-23" wide.  How deep your seat is will also determine how wide it will be.  At 24" deep, mine turned out to be 8' 5" long.  Since sheets of plywood are 8' long it would have been easier to make the front shorter than 8' long and let the depth work itself out.  In that way you could rip an 8' piece of plywood for the front whereas I used 2 pieces.    

On www.askthebuilder.com I found a sketch of the framing for a window seat (pic 2).  The height they recommend is 19" with a 21" deep seat.  You can see from the drawing that a window seat is actually a short floating wall achored to 2x4 cleats on the wall.  The front can be wood, sheetrock or other materials since it is only decorative.  The one thing I did differently from the drawing was to place the 2x4s on edge as opposed to typical wall framing.  This makes a sufficiently strong wall and also creates a bit more storage space inside the bench.  
<p>Great instructable! I'm looking forward to start making one of these for my own house. One question: do you find the center 2x4 essential? I realize it provides support, but I don't like the way it puts a beam in the middle of the storage space. Would using just 2 2x4s and possibly a thicker board for the top provide enough strength for one or two people to sit on it?</p>
Thanks! I think you need it or need to add strength with a thicker top as you suggested. You could also make 2 smaller doors between the 3 2x4s as they are currently arranged.
I have recently made a window seat following your instructions. It came out great! Thank you for the great instructions!!
<p>Great job! Looks very professional!</p>
Thank you!
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Great post! Any words of advice on a curved bay!? Really want a window seat but unsure on how to start with a curved bay ?
Cutting the top is the trickiest. What I would recommend is to cut a piece of cardboard an 1&quot; smaller than you need and tape it in place so there's a gap. Then use stiff card stock strips to bridge the gap and tape them to the top of your cardboard. This lets you make an exact copy of the wall and any of it's quirks. Lay that facedown on the back of your top and trace the outline and the should match very closely especially with trim. For the trim, the easiest is to use vinyl trim since is bends easily and you won't need to make relief cuts. Can you post a pic of the curved bay?
<p>Great job! Looking forward to a starting a window seat of my own. This is a BIG help.</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Great job! Looking forward to a starting a window seat of my own. This is a BIG help.</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>I've always liked the idea of sitting at a window seat with a whiskey and a cigar and the fact that it'll double up for a storage unit is a pretty awesome idea too. Not to mention I think a lot of wives and daughters will really like to curl up and read a book in the corner somewhere. Definitely a project for the home to consider sometime in the coming year!</p>
<p>Storage is always welcomed around the house regardless of the size. I have utilized almost every inch of my apartment including the walls and ceiling to their maximum capability to maximize space as much as possible. I have also tried clearing out some closet space for the sheets but there are just too many. This window seat with storage looks perfect even for the rooms.</p>
<p>I've been looking at this project. What is the need or reason for the 2 X 4 in the center where the lid will close? I'm just wondering if I want to put in longer items in here? Is it structural? A way around it?</p>
<p>It's structural. The framing gives support to prevent sagging when someone sits on it. It also supports the lid and provides it a place to close. You could run another 2x6 down the middle length wise and block it to the back. The back half would be solid and the front half a hinged lid.</p>
<p>love this post! I'm considering taking up this project in summer. My house is carpeted. so should i rip off the carpet under the seat or build the seat over the existing carpet?</p>
<p>I'd rip the carpet out. You won't have to worry about the it deteriorating over time or keeping it clean. The base should be front should be setting on solid floor and not carpet as well.</p>
If it's carpeted you might want to rip out the carpet but don't take my word for it.
<p>hi, love these instructions! I have been working on my window seat, my first real woodworking project, and hoping you can tell me how you end your moulding on the front edges? Thanks!</p>
<p>Thanks! Glad instruct was helpful. The molding around the top edge is cut flush with the top but could also angle back at a 45. </p>
Kent- I'm getting back to you with my success story. I reused a cabinet face frame and doors in addition to the upper sides of a wall oven cabinet for the seat. Im so pleased with how it looks and the solid construction based on your instructable. I had to reduce the cabinet face by 1.5 inches. I chose the middle door based on your insight regarding symmetry. Perfect choice! My only regret is that i didnt get the 2x4s lined up behind the door frames very well. On the other hand the doors open for access in addition to the hinged lid. My seat is a generous 29x47 inches. Thank you for clear directions and explaining some of the reasoning behind the construction.
<p>I love the idea of window seats that incorporate extra storage space for random stuff lying around the house. And it always pays to have an extra corner or something to keep things out of sight!</p>
<p>Thanks for the excellent tutorial - I never would have made this otherwise. I thought I'd share a few lessons I learned along the way, probably lessons mostly useful for the novice like me rather than the experienced DIYer. </p><p>Firstly, I had lots of 'slightly-thinner-than 2 by 4' timber left over from a previous project miscalculation. It's about an 30mm wide, and I was concerned at first this wouldn't be strong enough or might make aligning the top of the lid fiddly, but it worked out fine and it seems plenty sturdy enough for 3 or 4 people of average weight to sit on it. My only concern would be the pocket joints on the back to front bracing pieces, but mainly because I don't have much experience of them (bought a jig specially for this) so maybe I'm being paranoid. Definitely get a pocket hole jig if you don't have one - I bought just the jig for about &pound;5.50 if you don't want the much more expensive whole kit and caboodle. As long as you have a clamp you don't seem to need the rest so I'm not sure I get why there expensive kits out there? Someone will let me know I'm sure.</p><p>Allow plenty of room for the extra depth that making panels will create. I used 12mm MDF, with 12mm MDF panels, so that's 24mm extra depth right there. Sorry if that's an obvious thing to everyone but, hey, I didn't add it on in my calculations! Maybe because it wasn't obvious in the design sketch above so I ended up slightly closer to being flush with the bay than I had intended.</p><p>I had originally added a profiled pine trim to the lip of the lid and the seat - see it in the third picture if you look closely. However, this inadvertently led to the lid having a kind of sharp 'blade' that would be sure to do some serious damage to any little, or even big, fingers trapped in the lid. I reluctantly tore it off and used a flat profile 18mm thick strip of rectangular profile pine (to match the 18mm thick MDF lid) and this is much much safer. See picture 4. I was worried it would look chunky and out of place but it doesn't, it looks just fine.</p><p>It also makes finishing off the corners where the mouldings all meet much easier - see close up (which still needs some touching up on the grey paint!). </p><p>The unanticipated depth of the panels meant it was more sensible, I think, to work 'backwards' from the front of the seat to the back, as any left over gaps at the back of the seat were easy to cover with trim. I wondered though if in any case it would be more sensible to work backwards from the front, as this way you are guaranteed a perfect fit at the front where people will see it.</p><p>A tip on the piano hinge - the one I bought was fairly cheap and had not much 'indent' for screws to sink in to it's depth - as the screw holes on each 'flap' of the hinge lined up with each-other there was a risk that the screw heads would bump in to each other when shutting the lid, so it wouldn't lie flat and flush. The simple trick was to only screw in on alternate holes, so the screw heads never met - it seems plenty strong enough still.</p><p>The 18mm MDF is quite heavy - even this relatively small seat has a 1m wide lid which makes a room shaking slam if it falls shut. I 'borrowed' some Blum soft close door dampeners from my kitchen where there are 2 on every door - it turns out you only need one on each kitchen door for the exact same soft close effect so they were effectively spare. Even though they are very stiff, I need 3 on each side of the lid to be an effective little finger saver, and even then it won't prevent a smack on the knuckles, though I daren't try it. Adding the soft closers takes some fiddling - drill a hole though then for a screw hole, and position 2 near the hinge and one about half way down - this seemed to be optimal for my lid, but you mileage may vary. Warning: the momentum of the falling lid is pretty large so the lid will feel a force to 'pivot' on the dampers, effectively stressing and pulling 'up' on the back-most piece of the lid that holds the hinge in place, so make sure that has plenty of screws holding it down securely. While I did consider using 25mm MDF for the top, 18mm seems just fine and I can't imagine any amount of damping would hold a falling 25mm thick lid.</p><p>Finally, if you have shutters like those in the picture, I found that using a small round cushion at the back helps to stop people accidentally shutting the shutters by leaning back too far! Not ideal when you are trying to soak up the sun.</p><p>Thanks again for the instructable, I couldn't have done it without you.</p>
Beautiful! Nice job! Thanks for sharing!
<p>Sharing was the least I could to repay your tutorial. I would urge others to give it a go, it really isn't as difficult as you might think with some planning and the right tools and materials for the job.</p>
Just what i needed! I want to build a wide bench at the end of a hallway which otherwise would be wasted space. My enthusiasm outweighs my woodworking skill however your instructions are excellent and i can see myself being successful. <br>Before I begin, can i build the front frame just like a regular wall? Your 2&times;4s are faced 3.5&quot; facing? <br>And thanks for mentioning that piano frames can be cut.
Great! Glad it was helpful. You can build the front frame like a wall and it would be even stronger. Yes, 2x4s are actually 1.5&quot; x 3.5&quot;. Good luck. Share pics when conquer this project!
I realized later that you have the 2x4s positioned that way to improve your storage access.<br>My rectangular bench will be 46&quot; wide and 28&quot; deep. Do you recommend any changes to accommodate the extra depth?
<p>I don't think you'll need to add any additional support. Not being an engineer, I would tend to test it for rigidity before installing top. If anything I'd guess you would be fine simply doubling the 2x4s spanning the top. A 2x4 on edge can support a lot of weight, but sit on it and see while it's still easy to add supports.</p>
<p>I made one over the last weekend and my wife loves it. I'm turning my formal living room into a play room for my two girls and the window bench will be perfect for toy storage. I just need to put my moldings on and I'm going to put a cushion on top</p>
Sweet! Nice job. I think you'll really enjoy the storage and use of the space.
<p>I've never really been very fond of window seats - it's a good space for extra storage, but it really depends on whether the layout of your house can accommodate it or not.</p>
<p>This looks awesome and very easy to follow! My one question is: why is there a gap on either side of the face frame? The outer stiles are not flush with the outer edges of the rails. It looks pretty, so is it just for esthetics? Thanks!</p>
Thanks! The main reason was I didn't want to rip the edge at an angle to match the wall. I thought it would look okay offset so I rationalized being lazy and not messing with it. I like the look but at the same time it creates a little recess which is harder to paint, caulk, etc. If I had a &quot;do-over&quot; I'd probably rip the angle.
<p>Those sections aren't asymmetrical&mdash;which means one half is different from the other. You simply made the sections two different sizes, But both the left and right halves of the face section appear the same.</p>
You are correct. It is symmetrical, but not uniform.
<p>these are great instructions! Is it possible to build this as a removable bench, rather than securing it directly to the wall? </p>
Sure it could be movable. You would need to build a frame for the box and could use 2x4s &amp; 2x6s. The back frame could be build similarly to to the front. Then the build would be pretty much the same.
Many thanks - this has been really useful to help me get my head around what I need to do.
Glad to help and share. Once you get started it goes pretty quickly. Good luck!
I've included pics of my finished work. Well, almost..... I still need to do a final painting over where I patched all of the nail holes. But you can see how it came out. <br> <br>Thank you for the awesome instructions. We were looking for ideas for a window seat, looked at yours and decided this was exactly what we wanted. The bonus was the terrific step by step instructions. <br>I spent about $250 for mine, and that included a new floor register and the ducting needed. <br> <br> <br>Thanks again! <br>
Wow! Awesome job! Glad it was helpful.
Thanks, that's very useful. Much appreciated. I'll check if those Kreg jigs are available in the UK.
Great job, and instructions. Can I ask a dumb question? (I'm pretty new to home improvements). In the front wall, how are you attaching the 5 blocks to the horizontal 2x4s? <br>Many thanks
Thanks! Not dumb at all. I used a Kreg pocket jig with 2 1/2&quot; screws. In the 3rd pic you can see 4 oval holes in the face of the vertical 2x4. These are holes you drill using the Kreg jig which allows you to drive the screw. The screw enters the other board roughly midline and doesn't exit the other board. Very strong joint especially with glue. I use the jig more for 3/4&quot; thick boards but it will even work on 1/2&quot; boards. It is an easy and quick joinery system I would highly recommend. I use it for virtually everything.
I built a window seat this week using this design as a basis. I had a floor vent to contend with so I used a 8&quot; base on the interior frame and just elevated the bottom of the face frame to allow for a vent. The whole thing looks very similar to your and my wife and daughter are ecstatic with the result. The bead-board sandwich is so easy to do and it made this a very usable, attractive and solid. Thanks so much!!!
Awesome! Good job. We love ours too. Changed our kitchen!
Thanks for sharing the comprehensive step-by-step DIY techniques. They are easy to follow and the end results are amazing. A storage space under a seat is a really smart idea as it is a combination of 2 useful functions. The storage can be used for multiple purposes like for magazines or throw pillows that people often use while sitting on the window seats and enjoying the scenery.
I love these built in seats! I need to find a place to put one in my house. :-) Great instructable.
Very Nice. I like window seats - great places to read!

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