Fall Decor in a Rustic Farmhouse Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

built in bay window seat with storage tutorialBuilding a Window Seat with Storage in a Bay Window

You know when you dream about the finished product on something that you’ve been planning for a long time? And then you finish and your dream becomes a reality? And you think to yourself, am I still dreaming? All those sentiments and more have been going through my head since I finished the building this built-in window seat with storage in our bay window. This window seat is divine! In fact, I’ve begun calling it the Queen’s seat in the hopes that it will deter any male folks from claiming it in our household.

Love this kitchen decorated for fall. You have to see the rest!

Several of you have asked for the tutorial to build the window seat. I have that for you, but I want to mention that this is a slightly more advanced project. Halfway into writing this tutorial, I realized there was no way I could show you each and every cut, step, and trick without this being the world’s longest blog post/tutorial. If you have some basic carpentry skills (you know how to hammer, nail, use some power tools and you know how to attach a 2×4″ securely to a wall), you should be able to handle this. With that being said, I do want to offer any help if you should have any questions during the process of building this bench, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to help you.

I also want to mention that I did have to move the HVAC vent forward so it came out the front of the window seat. Here’s the tutorial to move a floor vent. I do want to caution you against building over a vent. We have a bookcase that was built over the register and the wood inside grew mold because there wasn’t enough force to blow the air and moisture out the front of the bookcase. Just a warning, don’t take the easy way out.

Basics for Building a Built-in Window Seat in a Bay Window:

one side open window seat storage

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

(Subject to your own window dimensions and needs.)

Optional:

  • 3/16″ plywood for floor inside storage bench
  • Dremel with metal cutting wheel

Tools:

Instructions:

Remove any baseboard molding and window stools and other molding in your work area.

empty bay window

Build a small framing wall with 2×4 lumber that fits perfectly in the front width of the bay window. The wall should be approximately 15″ tall. The finished height will be 17″ tall after the lids and reinforcing studs are added. After adding a cushion, the height will be a standard 18″ chair height.

build front frame for window seat

Set the framing back to allow for the thickness of drywall.

set frame back allow drywall setback

Attach the framing to the floor with screws or framing nails. Toenail (nail in at a 45 degree angle) the ends of the framing into the wall.

secure framing to floor wall

Attach 2×4 studs to the back of the bay window. Make sure that they are level with the framing wall.

add 2x4 back wall

Measure the distance between the front of the framing wall and the back wall. Cut three 2×4 supports to this depth. (You will notice that I have an outlet that still has to be moved by the electrician. By code, you cannot cover an outlet or even a junction box. The remedy was to move all the wiring to the front of the window seat.) 

add bench support posts to bay window

Cut and attach 2×4 boards on the angled walls of the bay window and stop them at the front framing wall. This support is at the same height as the 2×4 supports that you just cut, so be sure to attach it 1.5″ above the framed wall. Next cut a 2×4″ board to fit between the side wall and the first support board. Repeat for the opposite side.

fit back support double front

Cut two more 2×4 boards to fit between the support 2×4’s. Make them snug, this will reinforce the support boards and the framing wall. Hammer these boards to the top of the framing wall using framing nails.

hammer top plate onto bench

Cut two more 2×4″ boards that will sit on top of the boards attached to the back of the bay window.

attach 2x4 on top back

Nail these two board into place. They will sit on top of the secured cleats at a perpendicular angle. You bench should look similar to this, when viewed from above:

top view bay window bench

Before you attach those support 2×4’s permanently, you might want to consider adding a finished flooring inside your window seat. Especially if you will be using it for storage. (I installed tar paper on top of our subfloor and screwed thin plywood pieces to the floor.)

screw subflooring down

You can now attach those support 2×4’s with framing nails. Nail them to the front framing wall and the back wall cleats. This is also the time to move any wiring and HVAC. (As you can see, the electrician ran the wires for the new outlet, and I installed the new vent into the front of the bench. Tutorial at a later date.)

framed window seat plus wiring and hvac

At this point in my build, I decided I wanted a shallower seat and wanted to bring the back forward a little, so I added additional horizontal supports between the front to back supports. I used a kreg jig (tutorial for using a kreg jig) to create pocket hole joinery to secure the supports.

kreg jig joints

I also added more support to the side angles using 2×4’s with pocket hole joinery on the ends.

framed bench and back support

Frame a small support wall for under the large middle window. Cut vertical studs to frame the back support for the side windows. This allowed me to have more width overall, but a shallower seat. (If you have a sharp eye, you’ll notice I ditched the idea of the horizontal supports in the previous picture.)

framing out back bench seat bay window

Drive screws into the back support frame to secure it to the wall and the bench supports. Nail or screw the other 2×4’s (under the smaller windows) to the wall.

secure back support to wall

Add drywall to the front of the bench (Tips for installing drywall. How to mud a drywall seam.)

vent outlet roughed out

Time to cut the MDF panels for the bench top and back. It is a really good idea to map out your cuts ahead of time. All my panels fit on the one sheet of MDF, but it was a tight fit.

plan mdf panel cuts

Unless you have a helper, the best way I found to cut a heavy MDF sheet is to prop it up on 2×4’s. Then clamp a straight edge to the sheet. Use a circular saw to make your long rip cuts. Then you can use the table saw or continue to use the circular saw to make the smaller cuts.

phg cutting mdf sheet

The shims in between the two seat panels (shown below) are holding a slight gap between the seats while I measured the triangular spots. This will allow the panels to expand slightly after I paint them.

add mdf backs

Speaking of measuring those side triangular spots. I learned a really cool trick from the countertop installers.

open end corner

They used thin strips of plywood to create a template. I used strips of cardboard to do the same thing. Simply cut cardboard strips and line them up against the perimeter of the triangle.

lay out cardboard strips

Use a hot glue gun to join the strips at the corners.

glue template strips

Remove the templates and trace them onto the MDF board. Cut them out with a jigsaw. Be sure to label which side is which.

template traced line

Layout the MDF panels on the bench. Attach the back panels with finish nails (drive nails into the studs behind it.)

attach mdf back finish nails

The bench should look something like this (I still needed to trim down the seat panels, but wanted to make sure they were flush with the side panels.):

mdf panels cut window seat

Cut the two middle seat panels down to size and route all the front bench panel edges with a router and a rounded bit.

curved routed edges

Use a jigsaw to cut the profile for the new window stools (if you saved the old ones you can use them as a guide). Use smaller 3″ stools for the sides and a 5″ for the middle window. Overlap sections and mark where they overlap to get a tight seamless fit.

mark overlap line

Nail the stool into the top of the back support with a finish nailer. Caulk all edges (except where the stool meets the window sash.)

window ledge

At this point in the window seat build, we ran our plank walls up the sides of the windows, and capped them off with Howe casing. You can read about installing plank walls in this tutorial.

add planks above window seat

To save money, I purchased a long piano hinge and cut it in half with a metal cutting wheel on a Dremel. You could purchase two smaller hinges if you don’t want to cut the hinge.

cut piano hinge with dremel

Attach the piano hinge to the back support and the top of the lids using the screws provided with the hinge.

attach piano hinges bench

Glue and finish nail the side triangle panels to the supporting 2×4’s.

secure side corners

Add cove molding to cover the gaps on the side of the triangular panels. Add quarter round just under the lip of the seat panels to finish off your bench.

finish off bench seams with molding

You can add corner molding on the sides of the wall where it meets the back support.

molding on bench

Wood putty all nail holes. Let dry, prime and paint.

window seat bay window storage

The bench has loads of storage inside.

storing trays in window seat

I will probably add some type of lift support at a later date.

storage in window seat

Here’s the bench before I made the cushion.

window seat in bay window no cushion

Ahh, adding a custom bench cushion with piping was the way to go. Learn how to sew your own bench cushion with piping here.

Fall Decor in a Rustic Farmhouse Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m really enjoying this seat fit for a Queen!

Holiday Home Tour - Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

The extra floor space in our kitchen helps make the kitchen feel bigger.

bay window bench finished kitchen view

The ledge under the windows is wide enough for me to add plants or herbs if I want.

Fall Decor in a Rustic Farmhouse Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

What do you think? Do you have a bay window that is dying for a window seat? Now you can add one!

diy bay window bench seat with storageLike this post? Here is a collection of 10+ Dreamy Window Seats:

bay window seat designs

91 replies
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  1. Brad
    Brad says:

    Great instructions!
    One question: I want to do this project in my den, where the floor is carpeted. Would you recommend just building it as is, on top of the carpet? Or should I cut the carpet at the line where the bench will be? (I’d rather the former, cuz I’m worried I might not cut exactly right.)

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Brad, yes, if it was me, I’d leave the carpet there. Just be sure to secure the framing into the floor and walls and you should be okay. The only downside is if you ever replace the carpeting you’d have mis-matched carpet inside. And, if there was ever a leak or spill inside the bench it would be harder to clean/dry out. If you do decide to cut the carpeting, you’d have to install a new tack strip to hold the carpet taut against the bench. So, I vote for the former too ;-).

      Reply
  2. Angela
    Angela says:

    You’re window seat turned out awesome! We just built a similar one in our kitchen. It was quite a bit less complicated because we didn’t have to build up any of the drywall as the way our windows and wall are set up, all we needed was a frame for the box. (smaller area). We also lucked out that our vent was already two feet out from the wall so we only had to add a half moon vent that fit over the the existing floor vent and then cut an opening in the front. My question for you is what type of paint you used for your window seat?? I’ve never worked with painting furniture before and since people will be sitting on this, I want to use a good paint that’s easy to work with but will hold up to wear and tear. Will you share what paint and type of brushes you used for painting? Thanks and again its beautiful!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Angela, ahhh, good question! I used Benjamin Moore Advance paint. It has a hardener in it. Be sure to prime first, paint two coats and let it cure for a week before putting anything on it. 😉

      Reply
  3. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    Just bought a home and am going to try and build a window seat. Looks so beautiful. Happens to be that those are the colors I am using in my living room…. Would you, could you please tell me where to purchase the pillows? Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Ila Higginbottom
    Ila Higginbottom says:

    I have nearly completed my own window seat using your instructions. Thank you for such clear instructions!! My only question is, what is your reasoning for having 2 openings at the top? Is there a reason why you could not just make this one opening?

    Reply
  5. Jouena
    Jouena says:

    Hi again! I see you have moved the power outlet from the wall to the side of the banquette. I realized I have to do it. too. Do you by any chance have a tutorial on how to that? And thank you again!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Jouena, yes, my electrician said it might come up on the electrical inspection, although both of us agreed it was an un-necessary outlet that I’d never use. He went into our crawl space and pulled the old wiring down and out of the old electrical box and relocated into the box in the bench.

      Reply
  6. Jouena
    Jouena says:

    Yes, that’s what I was asking about 🙂 namely, the two pictures below the sentence “Cut and attach 2×4 boards on the angled walls of the bay window and stop them at the front framing wall…” That “angled walls” are a real pain for me! Thanks again!

    Reply
  7. Jouena
    Jouena says:

    Brittany, I cannot thank you enough for this tutorial! I am planning on building the same thing and am all over the internet combining pieces of tutorials into what I need. My major question is how to define the angle at which to cut the studs, that are to be secures to the window wall?? In your notes you call them “angle boards” and there is a lovely picture with a clean cut, too 🙂 But how to know this very angle at which this piece should be cut to be attached to the adjacent studs? I hope my question makes sense… Again, Thank you tons for this tutorial!!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Jouena, I just re-read the post and can’t find where you are referring to. Can you copy and paste the sentence here? Otherwise, I usually find the angle by laying one board over the other and scribe a line to get the perfect angle. Then I line up my miter saw to the scribed line. Not sure if that answered your question or not.

      Reply
  8. CAPERNIUS
    CAPERNIUS says:

    And they say that women can’t do for themselves…yeah right.
    you just shot that quote to Hades & back.

    All joking aside, I think you did an excellent job with that window seat.
    I could see me there, reading a book, watching the birds outside, taking a nap,etc…
    Very Cool project that was accomplished with the utmost style, grace & quality.
    2 thumbs up! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Steve Reynolds
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Just wonderd why you used nails in this project, As with Kreg Jig you could have used pocket holes for all joining except tacking on mdf

    do like the project thanks for posting

    maybee see some more Steve

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Steve, for several reasons I only used the Kreg Jig in that one spot. 1) nails are cheaper. 2) hammering is much faster than drilling pocket holes and driving screws. 3) all the nails are covered by the planking in the end anyway. Hope that answers your question.

      Reply
  10. Moriah Huff
    Moriah Huff says:

    Been all over pinterest looking for a diy bay window bench tutorial and yours is fabulous! I think you think the way I do in regards to how I have to see things. Thanks for the work! I can’t wait to start on mine!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Contractor Kurt. This is an excellent look at how to add drawer storage to your window seat build. Building a Window Seat with Storage in a Bay Window by Pretty Handy Girl. Brittany always does a thorough job with her DIY tutorials. She even shows […]

  2. […] Building a Window Seat with Storage in a Bay Window … – You continue to amaze me with your ability and willingness to tackle anything! I like that you put the height of the window seat the same as a standard chair…. […]

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