Window Seat Part 1 of 2

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One great way to add cozy charm to a room is to build a window seat. Not only do window seats make a room more inviting, they provide functional benefits as well, particularly when you surround them with built-in shelving. The window seat shown here has a base built from above-the-refrigerator cabinets. This size provides just the right height (when placed on a 3” curb) to create a comfortable seat.

 

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Continue to Step 1

Overview

One great way to add cozy charm to a room is to build a window seat. Not only do window seats make a room more inviting, they provide functional benefits as well, particularly when you surround them with built-in shelving. The window seat shown here has a base built from above-the-refrigerator cabinets. This size provides just the right height (when placed on a 3” curb) to create a comfortable seat.
Above the cabinets and flanking each side is a site-made bookcase. A top shelf bridges the two cases and ties the whole thing together—while creating still more space for storage or display.
Cutting List
Part
No.
Desc.
Size
Material

A
2
Outer standard
3⁄4 x 11 1⁄2 x 77 1⁄4"
MDF

B
2
Inner standard
3⁄4 x 11 1⁄2 x 63 1⁄4"
MDF

C
6
Shelf
3⁄4 x 16 1⁄2 x 11 1⁄4"
MDF

D
1
Top shelf
3⁄4 x 11 1⁄4 x 70 1⁄2"
MDF

E
1
Top backer
1⁄4 x 13 1⁄4 x 71 3⁄8"
Plywood

F
2
Backers
1⁄4 x 17 1⁄2 x 63 1⁄4"
Plywood

G
1
Seatboard
3⁄4 x 25 x 74"
MDF

H
2
Bridge cabinets
15 h x 36" w
Stock cabinets

I
2
End panel
3⁄4 x 24 x 18"
MDF

J
4
Nailer
3⁄4 x 2 1⁄2 x 15"
Plywood

K
1
Ledger
3⁄4 x 2 1⁄2 x 72"
Plywood

L
2
Curb rim
3⁄4 x 3 x 72"
MDF

M
4
Curb strut
3⁄4 x 3 x 22 1⁄2"
MDF

N
1
Cabinet nailer
3⁄4 x 3 x 72"
MDF

From: Complete Guide to Custom Shelves & Built-Ins, 978-1-58923-303-4

What You'll Need

Tools:

Miter saw
Table saw
Circular saw
Drill/driver
Level
Stud finder
Hammer
Tape measure
Nail set
Pneumatic nailer/compressor
Router
Shooting board
Sander
Framing square

Materials:

2) 15" upper refrigerator cabinets
2) 3/4" x 4 x 8 ft. pcs. MDF or plywood
Screws/nails
1) 1/4" x 4 x 8 ft. lauan plywood
Caulk
Primer
Paint

 

Step 1

Lay Out the Project - Step 1

This window seat is integrated with the existing window and trimwork. The key control point for laying out the base cabinets is locating the center of the window opening. It is also important that the cabinets sit level both left-to-right and front-to-back. Level cabinet tops make installing the upper cabinet cases much easier.
Before you begin building, relocate or remove any electrical outlets that’ll be covered by the cabinet, according to your local electrical codes. For example, you can’t just dead-end wires and leave them buried in a wall. They usually need to be capped and placed in a junction box with a removable faceplate that is accessible (which may mean making a cutout in the back of a cabinet panel).
Mark the center of the window opening on the sill


Step 2

Lay Out the Project - Step 2

Use a square and a level to transfer that mark plumb down the wall to the cabinet height location. At the height of the cabinets mark a level line. Measure from the floor up to the level line in several locations to make sure the cabinets will fit all along their entire run. If they don’t fit, make the proper adjustments; that is, raise the line. Cabinets that don’t come up to the line must be shimmed so they are level. Using an electronic stud finder, find and mark the wall stud locations beneath the window and on each side in the project area. Note: You should find jack and king studs directly on either side of the window and a header above the window.


Step 3

Lay Out the Project - Step 3

Determine the overall span of the cabinets you choose. For the project shown here, the bank will be 6-ft. long, measuring from outside-edge to outside-edge. Use a level to mark the outside edges of the cabinet run on the wall. Mark plumb lines down to the floor and up to the ceiling.


Step 4

Install the Base Cabinets - Step 1

With all the layout lines marked out, the next step is to install the cabinets that form the base of the window seat. This determines the control points for the rest of the project layout. Use a pull-saw and sharp chisel to remove base molding between the vertical layout lines.


Step 5

Install the Base Cabinets - Step 2

To elevate the cabinets that will be used for the seat to a more comfortable height, and to create a toe-kick space, build a short curb that matches the footprint of the seat. Since the curb will not be visible, you can use just about any shop scraps you may have to build it. The one shown here is made with MDF sheet stock that is rip-cut into 3"-wide strips. Then the curb is assembled into a ladder shape by attaching struts between the front and back curb members with glue and screws. Once the ladder is built, set the cabinets on the curb so the cabinet fronts and sides align with the curb. Mark the location of the backs of the cabinets onto the top of the curb and then remove the cabinets. Attach a nailer to the curb just behind the line for the cabinet backs. Then, position the curb tight against the wall in the area where the base molding has been removed. Attach it to the sill plate of the wall with nails or screws.


Step 6

Install the Base Cabinets - Step 3

To support the back edge of the seatboard, attach a ledger to the wall. The top of the ledger (we used a 21/2"-wide strip of plywood) should be flush with the tops of the cabinets when they are installed on top of the curb. Attach the ledger with panel adhesive and nails or screws driven at stud locations.


Step 7

Install the Base Cabinets - Step 4

Measure between the top of the curb and ledger and cut a few nailers to this length.
Attach them to the wall at the ends of the project, and add a couple near the center to help support the ledger.


Step 8

Install the Base Cabinets - Step 5

Set the cabinets in position on the curb, with the back edges against the nailer. Drive shims between the curb and the floor if necessary to level the cabinets (photo 8). Fasten the cabinets to the nailer strip. Pre-drill, countersink and face-fasten the face frames together with screws to form a “gang” of cabinets. If you are using cabinets that have no face frames, screw the cabinet sides together as directed by the cabinet manufacturer. Cut off shims as necessary.


Step 9

Install the Base Cabinets - Step 6

If the ends of your window seat are open (that is, they don’t butt up against a wall), cut end panels to cover the ends of the cabinets and the open space behind them. Use 1/4" plywood or hardboard. You may need to remove a sliver of the baseboard on each side so you can butt the panels up against the wall. Attach the panel to the cabinet ends and the curb with panel adhesive.


 
 

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