Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First there was a window seat...

by Liss

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had a plethora of projects that I finished for the baby's room. I'm happy to say that the baby's room is now 99.9% done. I'll do a before/after soon, but first wanted to give you details on one of the first projects I completed for the room- the modified window seat.

Window seats can offer much to a home- storage, seating, and character.  For all of these reasons I was interested in putting a window seat under the casement windows in our soon-to-be baby’s room.  Unfortunately, after completing renovations on our spare bathroom, and time quickly ticking away until the baby arrives, building a custom window seat was not in the cards.  Instead, I converted an Ikea bookcase into an affordable and useable window seat. 

Before I get going, I need to disclose that I didn't come up with this idea on my own. I can't remember where I first saw it- probably the ikea hackers site.  I'm sure if you just google "Ikea window seat" you'll get a bunch of results. Anyways, here's the breakdown of how I did it for under $150.


Step 1: Let’s Go Shopping
 In order to complete this project you will need the following:
o        Ikea Expedit Bookcase:  Ikea’s Expedite line of furniture includes bookcases that are designed to be used vertically or horizontally, and come in a few different finishes.  For this project I purchased the 5-shelf bookcase in white ($59.99):

o       Foam Core:  I purchased 4” foam core from Joann’s Fabric- look out for their 40-50% coupons.  The foam is 24” wide, so I planned on making 3 separate seats, each 15” deep. I bought about a yard and a half of the foam and it cost around $18 with a 40% coupon.

o       Quilter’s Batting: High-density twin or full-sized quilter’s batting will cost you around $6.00 with a coupon.   This was another purchase at Joann’s with a 50% coupon.  http://www.joann.com/45x60-80x20-quilters-cotton-batting/zprd_09207572a/

o      Fabric: This can cost a few dollars to a few hundred, depending on what you want to spend.  I suggest trying online vendors for deals. I bought grey chevron upholstery-grade fabric at onlinefabricstore.net for under $8.00/yard.  For this project I used about 3 yards.

o       Plywood: For my purposes, I wanted seats that could be removed, washed, or re-covered. I also did not want to touch a sewing machine or spend a lot of time covering the seat. So, I purchased some plywood at Home Depot and had them cut 3 24 x 15 pieces for me (you can get more than 3 cuts out of the plywood, so I suggest getting as many as you can just in case you mess up- they are going to give you the leftover plywood anyways.) The plywood cost around $23.

o      Industrial Strength Velcro: Strong enough to keep the seats on the bookcase, but not permanent, so I can remove if I need to recover the seats, or if somewhere down the line I want to use the seat as a regular bookcase. I purchased mine at Walmart for under $2 a foot, I used about 10 feet of it and still have lots left over- $20.
o      Misc materials that you may already have around the house (I did): measuring tape, staple gun, wood glue or glue gun.

Step 2: Cut Some Foam
Foam core is easiest to cut if you use an electric carving knife. If you don’ t have one, any serrated knife will do the trick.  Use one of your plywood pieces as a pattern and draw a line with a marker on the foam where you should cut. Using the knife, cut as straight a line as possible through the foam, but don’t freak out if things get a little “wonky.” The batting and fabric will cover up any minor snafus.

(Cat optional for this step)

Step 3: Attach Foam and Batting to Plywood
Using the hot glue or wood glue, affix the foam to the plywood. Press down and put aside for glue to dry. Repeat for the other two pieces of foam.

Next, lay the quilter’s batting out, and place one of the seats on top. Cut around the seat, leaving an extra 4-6 inches around. Repeat for each seat.
Place each seat foam-down on the batting.  Pull the batting taut around the seat and staple it into the bottom of the plywood. You should now have 3 cloud-like seats.

Step 4: Cover with Fabric
Place each seat foam-down on the underside of your fabric. Cut the fabric with 4-6 inches of extra space around each seat. 

Pull the fabric taut around the seat and staple it into the bottom of the plywood- start with one staple on each side, then work your way out towards the corners. For the corners, tuck in the overlapping pieces. Cut off any extra fabric that is getting in your way. Here’s what one of my seats looked like once it was covered:

If you are using a heavily patterned fabric, make sure you keep the 
material lined up across all three seats before stapling.

 Step 5: Stick it On
Now it’s time to stick the window seats to the bookshelf. The industrial strength Velcro is great. Cut 2 pieces per seat, and stick the Velcro to the underside of the seats.

Next peel off the second strip of stickiness, turn the seat over, and press the seat down on the shelf. Voila!

This was one of the easiest projects I did. I'm awful at measuring fabric, and having the plywood pre-cut to the correct size gave me a good base pattern to use when cutting my fabric. As you'll see (soon enough!) I use some loosey-goosey measuring techniques. Whatever, I'm pregnant, I'm allowed :)


  1. love it! Can't wait to see how it all turns out.


  2. Love the seat! Love the fabric! Love it! Might use your technique to recover the window seat in my bedroom! :)

  3. P.S. The curtains look great too! ;)