I love window seats. I believe humans, like cats, are drawn to sunlit spots to relax. And who doesn’t love a cozy spot with lots of soft pillows and plenty of sunshine? Or a view of the outdoors: greenery, hopping birds, and the first blossoms of spring or the yellowing leaves of fall.

Add the enjoyment of sipping from a hot cup of coffee and nibbling on a sweet cookie and you’ve created a tiny moment of joy.
Or a piece of pie.
Or a browny?
Or chocolate…
Ok, sorry, I got a little carried away there.

Anyway, in our last home, Joran and I created a windowsill seat that doubled as extra dining tables.

I loved it. But when we moved, we had to say “bye-bye” to the tables that we had made to fit perfectly to match the exact measurements of that home. After we’d experienced the magic of a little seating space like that we decided to build a new version of it in our current home.

This time, we went even further with the design. I had big plans. They involved organic lines, and lots of greenery. I had this vision of pulling the outdoors in, and surrounding ourselves with plants. It was quite the project. And it was executed over a long period of time. But it has become a joyful spot inside our living room.

Here is the step by step breakdown of the process.

Phase 1: Prototype

As a designer, I believe any design in an early phase should start with prototyping your vision to test your ideas. I did this in 3 ways:

  1. Photo-edit the space to get a rough idea of the look and feel.

2. Create tiny paper models of different shapes to play around with the angle of the curves and functionality (the early idea had moving parts in it, which I eliminated after this paper experiment).

3. Create a full-scale cardboard prototype to check if the dimensions worked to sit comfortably on, and how the size and shape would look and feel in the space. I don’t have a picture of it, but this also included me sitting on a piece of cardboard next to a wall with a pillow in my back to make sure the surface was wide enough on the right places.

In every phase I made big and small tweaks and changes. That’s how an idea develops into a concept. Once I was happy with the design, it was time to build it.

Phase 2: Build the wooden bench

I wish I had better pictures for your guys. But I don’t. The thing is, I actually have loads of video material of this project, but zero motivation to edit that into the video that could have been (#shiftedprioritiesinlife). We bought an enormous piece of wood at a lumberyard to create the seat out of one piece. Joran was the real hero of this project. He basically built the entire thing, and made sure that the semi-floating seat was sturdy enough to carry our weight.

If you look very closely, you might recognize the old table leg from our up-cycled dining room table that we repurposed for extra support here.

Phase 3. Create a shelf above the window for loads of plants.

Some inspiration for the project: Matamba hanging ceramic planter [rose & grey] | Natalie Ensor’s master suite | Jean & Jeff’s Manhattan loft

Originally I just wanted to hang a few planters. But that idea slowly evolved to build a hanging shelf full of plant pots. Because of the available space above the window, and our choice to not have curtains downstairs, this actually worked perfectly.

Use neutral colours

I kept all the colours neutral so that the structure would blend in with the rest of the walls and space. I had to fight my urge to bring in pops of colour, and decided to keep all the planters white in the end. This way the plants are the real stars of the show and it radiates a more tranquil vibe. We thrifted all of the white pots in a few different thriftshop visits (pro-tip: measure your inner plant-pots before you go to the shop, save the dimensions on your phone and always take a measuring tape with you).

Pick carefree plants

We bought a few plants. A friend of my sister owned a plant shop, and she was instrumental in getting the right plants. I basically created a list of requirements (watering max. once a week, west-facing windows, both extreme direct sunlight in summer but also parts that never get any sunshine, etc.). And then she advised a few plants that have been doing a stellar job ever since.

Add a simple irrigation system

Admittedly, watering the plants did become a bit of a hassle. So Joran ordered a set of ceramic cones and tubes to set up a basic irrigation system. Now we only need to fill 2 containers with water on time and it saves us a lot of time and effort.

Make it kid-proof

Last year I gave away my biggest plant – my pride and glory – to a friend. When our son started crawling nothing was safe anymore, including the luscious plant overgrowing our living room floor. I was sad to see it go, but the safety hazard was not worth its good looks.

Overgrowing plant that we gave away once our son started exploring the living room floors

Phase 4: Make custom seat cushions and pillow covers

I’m proud to say I’ve been able to recycle the foam from our past window seat with some clever cut work. I picked out a stylish fabric (Lane by Arvidssons), and then the true time-consuming effort begun to create custom pillow covers.

Do you see how even the half-circles on the sides perfectly match up with the repeat pattern, even where the cushions meet each other? Anyone with even the slightest bit of sewing experience will understand how proud I am of pulling this project off.

BONUS: Add a second backrest

Joran created a modular piece of wood that you can add to one end of the window sill. It adds a second seat to the bench and transforms it to a second place where you can more easily (read: relaxed) sit. Or, it means you can sit there when the afternoon sun shines upon that part of the seat (while there is no sunshine on the other seat on the far end directly to the wall). Because the piece is removable, it doesn’t sacrifice the minimal look of the window seat ‘ in rest’. I created the cushions in such a way that it perfectly matches up with this extra feature. The small third cushion transforms in a pillow to support your back.

Admittedly, we haven’t really used this extra seat that much yet. But I still think it’s pretty awesome feature that can be added at any time.

So, that’s it.

This post was long overdue. We have been living with our completed window seat for quite some time already. But I think it’s a pretty cool project that I have been wanting to share here.

What are your thoughts on it?

1 Comment

  • Reply

    Jax

    June 4, 2024 at 04:20

    Such a cool idea! I love window seats but don’t have one in our family home. It love the idea of creating one in a big window.

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