Published: October 1, 2010
A window seat can add as much as 13 cubic feet of valuable storage space that doubles as attractive, usable seating for your home.
Comfort and storage capacity go hand-in-hand when you add a window seat. The benefits of window seats are many: They de-clutter, provide comfy built-in seating, and add architectural appeal to any room.
Types of window seats
Window seats typically are one of three types. Each type can be made with a storage compartment accessible via drawers, doors, open shelves, or a lift-up seat. An average window seat takes up about 13 cubic feet and provides about that much in storage space.
- Freestanding units are low-cost and portable but aren’t as finished-looking as built-ins. Cost: $200 to $500.
- Custom-crafted window seats give you exactly the look and style you want and can be made to fit into odd-shaped spaces. They are also the priciest option. Cost: $400 to $1,000.
- Modular window seats are built using stock kitchen cabinets from a home improvement center. This is a moderately priced option that the average DIYer can tackle. Select quality construction upper cabinets to achieve the proper height for your window seat base. Add a ¾-inch veneered plywood top, a cushion, and a toe-kick base; paint the unit to complete, if needed. Cost: $600 to $800.
Where to add window seat storage
Position versatile window seats in virtually any room. Some options include:
- For entryway storage, use a window seat to stash boots, shoes, and seasonal or sports gear.
- In playrooms, a kid-friendly seat is perfect for storing toys and games. Use safety hardware that prevents doors or lids from slamming on fingers or trapping kids inside. Outdoor fabrics work best in a kids’ space for stain-resistance and resilience. Also use quality, washable paints or polyurethane finishes over stains.
- In a bathroom, cover window seats with outdoor fabrics and moisture-resistant paint. If possible, install the seat so a heating duct vents through the seat base–towels stored inside will be toasty.
- Niches naturally lend themselves to retrofitting with window seats. Existing niches can be found in a bay window or alcove. Or, your could create a niche by flanking your window using cabinets or bookcases. If you choose to forget the niche, a seat can be successfully positioned on a flat wall.
Window seat installation tips
- Don’t let a floor or wall vent keep you from installing a window seat; simply redirect the vent toward the window seat’s toe-kick, and provide an opening for heated or cooled air to flow into your room.
- Your windows will determine the length of your seat; the height (including the seat cushion) should be 18 to 20 inches, and the depth a comfortable 20 to 24 inches to allow for cushions along the back.
- Building codes require fitting windows near a window seat with tempered glass.
Nationally published home improvement writer Jan Soults Walker and her husband, Dave, once built a window seat with flanking bookcases into a kitchen. It remains one of their favorite storage projects to date.