Picture of Build a Window Seat with Storage
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.    
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Step 1: Plan It Out

Picture of 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 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 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.  
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.
Before I begin, can i build the front frame just like a regular wall? Your 2×4s are faced 3.5" facing?
And thanks for mentioning that piano frames can be cut.
kentdvm (author)  anne.t.oreilly4 days ago
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" x 3.5". Good luck. Share pics when conquer this project!
I realized later that you have the 2x4s positioned that way to improve your storage access.
My rectangular bench will be 46" wide and 28" deep. Do you recommend any changes to accommodate the extra depth?
rshellem12 days ago

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

kentdvm (author)  rshellem12 days ago
Sweet! Nice job. I think you'll really enjoy the storage and use of the space.
UdyRegan26 days ago

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.

jklavens4 months ago

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!

kentdvm (author)  jklavens4 months ago
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 "do-over" I'd probably rip the angle.
skunkworkx.5 months ago

Those sections aren't asymmetrical—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.

kentdvm (author)  skunkworkx.5 months ago
You are correct. It is symmetrical, but not uniform.

these are great instructions! Is it possible to build this as a removable bench, rather than securing it directly to the wall?

kentdvm (author)  Colleenpimentel10 months ago
Sure it could be movable. You would need to build a frame for the box and could use 2x4s & 2x6s. The back frame could be build similarly to to the front. Then the build would be pretty much the same.
cbunyan11 months ago
Many thanks - this has been really useful to help me get my head around what I need to do.
kentdvm (author)  cbunyan11 months ago
Glad to help and share. Once you get started it goes pretty quickly. Good luck!
briser31 year ago
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.

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.
I spent about $250 for mine, and that included a new floor register and the ducting needed.

Thanks again!
kentdvm (author)  briser31 year ago
Wow! Awesome job! Glad it was helpful.
incandenza1 year ago
Thanks, that's very useful. Much appreciated. I'll check if those Kreg jigs are available in the UK.
incandenza1 year ago
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?
Many thanks
kentdvm (author)  incandenza1 year ago
kentdvm (author)  incandenza1 year ago
Thanks! Not dumb at all. I used a Kreg pocket jig with 2 1/2" 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" thick boards but it will even work on 1/2" boards. It is an easy and quick joinery system I would highly recommend. I use it for virtually everything.
rbookser1 year ago
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" 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!!!
kentdvm (author)  rbookser1 year ago
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.
DIYDragon1 year ago
I love these built in seats! I need to find a place to put one in my house. :-) Great instructable.
stephenf2 years ago
Very Nice. I like window seats - great places to read!
pinchebob2 years ago
Nice job both with the construction and the explanation.
kentdvm (author)  pinchebob2 years ago
wa7jos2 years ago
I built something like this for my son's house. The front of mine is made like a cabinet front with 2X4 structure supporting the top. In the cabinet front are 4 raised panel doors. The small ones on the end are decorative, but the two larger ones in the middle are operable leaving some storage space. I put a 1" thick bull nose across the front for strength. Then we had some cushions made to fit the top.
wa7jos wa7jos2 years ago
kentdvm (author)  wa7jos2 years ago
I like it! Nice job. I thought about making doors on the front but finally decided a lid would work better for us. Ours is surprisingly comfortable with just the rug although cushions might be in the future. Thanks for sharing!
janandrews2 years ago
This is great! Now I want a bay window so I can have a window seat.
heibert2 years ago
Great job! Thanks. May be i try to make same at my house.
Ohgeez this looks like the window seat set up I illustrated for this children's book for a woman close to Toronto. Almost a splitting image except there was also an a window at the top, the room was white and it was a stormy night. Spooky! :o
Takelababy2 years ago
Very nice
melmomma62 years ago
Beautifully done! It's just what I was looking for. Thank You for posting.
kentdvm (author)  melmomma62 years ago
Thanks! I know you'll like it;)