How to build a Victorian Bay Window Seat with Storage

Jul 17, 2016 | 12 comments

Finished Victorian Window Seat

Filling up the entire bay in our front room with a window seat felt like quite a committing project, but the arguments have been stacking up:

1) Every time my wife encounters a window seat – in a house we are visiting, on the telly, or in a magazine – she goes all doughy-eyed and wishful. She wants one.

2) Our son loves climbing on top of the wooden chest that sits in our window and looking outside, something a window seat would be perfect for.

3) The headcount in our family will shortly be rising. This means a fresh influx of plastic-singing baby crap coming down from the attic. Trying to relax in a room filled with toys that start pumping out nursery rhymes when your foot accidentally brushes against them can be a challenge, and space under a window seat offers ideal out-of-sight storage.

So, a perch for children, toy storage, extra-seating, and a happy wife – the case was compelling. Internet research yielded a succession of staggeringly beautiful window seats with views over the pool, vineyard, manicured lawns, snow-capped mountains etc. Our outlook: parked cars and the old lady living opposite. But window seats can absolutely work in an urban setting; I mean the houses across the road are reasonably attractive!

The internet also threw up a fantastic step-by-step guide for the build. This breaks the process down into four stages: the frame, the front face, the top, and the finishing touches. Before I started I decided that I would not cut into the skirting board so as not to damage it if a future owner wanted to remove the seat. I also made sure that I would still be able to access broadband wires under the floorboards and power-points before fixing everything in place.

I wanted to create a sturdy seat that could bear a lot of weight and repeated jumping on by children. I started by building the frame out of 2x4 timber. The tricky but important bit here is ensuring the front and back are level (particularly when the floor almost certainly isn’t!)

Window Seat Timber Frame
Window Seat Timber Frame

The next stage was to build the front-face. I cut 6mm mdf sheet to size and fixed it to the frame using a combination of wood glue and nails.

window seat mdf sheet
window seat mdf sheet 2

I then cut some planed timber to size for the framing and stuck this to the mdf sheet before adding a couple of coats of white primer. The next job was to cut pieces plywood to form the top of the seat. I used 12mm plywood to provide the required strength.

Window Seat Front Face Primed
Window Seat Plywood Top

After checking the sizes were correct I primed all the plywood pieces before fixing them to the frame. I also used a piano hinge to attach the back of the seat to the lid before screwing it down.

Window Seat Fully Primed
window seat piano hinge

I attached a small bit of strip wood to provide a lip across the front, and a final bit of wooden quadrant trim to cover the gaps around to edges. Then I filled all remaining gaps and screw-holes with instant filler before sanding and painting with white eggshell.

Window Seat Front Lip

The result is a bunch of very happy campers. The seat blends well into the room and has given us some extremely useful storage in a space that would otherwise remain empty.

Finished Victorian Window Seat 2
Window Seat Door Open
Finished Victorian Window Seat 4

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