Once again, I am interupting the normal self-stitching and lady grey-ing to bring you a house and garden post. I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled subject-matter come Monday…

Our basset hound, Lucy, yearns to live somewhere where she gets to eat bacon for every meal, instead of with us where she is forced to eat lamb and rice kibble and the occasional treat of lettuce leaves and sugar snap peas (and this morning, a dollar bill.) As such, she spends an inordinate amount of time staring out the window, looking for new humans to love her. It was hard to keep her off our kitchen table, which has a nice view of the street. After months of catching her sitting where she shouldn’t be, we decided to build her a window seat for proper viewing enjoyment.


This project was relatively easy, and the best part was the built-in look we achieved, using Ikea Billy bookshelves and some accessories from the Ikea kitchen section. This weekend’s post will cover our shopping list and prep for this project. Our finished unit is around 12 feet wide, with the window seat part around 110″ wide.

The Ikea shopping list

  • Two Billy bookcases – 16″ x 80″
  • Two Billy Wall units – 48″ x 14″
  • At least one extra Billy shelf – (more to fit the shelving to your books – we bought a lot extra, because the entire left hand shelf is filled with the smaller mass-market books that are shorter. We probably have about five or six extra shelves, plus the one required to build the unit.)
  • Three Billy height extension units – 16″ x 14″
  • Three sets of the Akurum adjustable legs made for the built-in kitchen cabinets (in the kitchen section)
  • Two Perfekt plinths. These are the toe kicks that are meant to go with the built in kitchen cabinets. Unlike most Ikea things, these aren’t picked up in the warehouse section, they are ordered in the kitchen section. If you’re not familiar with the Ikea kitchen section and how it works (we remodeled our kitchen with Ikea stuff, so we’re experts!), just go to where all the kitchen stuff is and find an ikea person and ask to order two toekicks. Tell them that you need them in the color to match your Billy color – we did our window seat in black/brown, so we needed Liljestad plinths. They should be able to figure out what you want. The mounting strips come with the toekicks and are super easy to use. You’ll place the order and can pay right there. Then find the legs (previous bullet point) in the kitchen section (hanging on the wall somewhere, they are black plastic, don’t get the pretty stainless ones, they aren’t meant to be used with toekicks**) and head down to the warehouse to pick up your Billy stuff. By the time you pay for your legs and Billys at the regular registers, your toekicks will probably be waiting for you in the pick up section – at our Ikea (Minneapolis) it’s by the return area. Just give them your order number and they’ll give you your toekicks.

** You don’t HAVE to use the black plastic feet and toekicks – you could skip both and instead get the pretty silver Capita legs, which are meant to be shown off and give more of a freestanding look. We wanted a built in look AND we have a tennis ball obsessed dog, so free-standing = tennis ball hiding zone and mad basset barking at us until we fish her toy out with a broom handle…

What to get from other places

  • Approximately 250 books
  • A big sheet of 1″ MDF, unfinished -I think the one I bought was four feet wide and eight feet tall. Ask the people at the store where you get it to cut into your seat width. Our seats are 15″ deep, which is a little shallow for an actual window seat – we wanted to conserve space and knew it would be mostly a basset hound perch. A more standard seat depth for a window seat is 17″ – 22″. You need enough length to cover your window seat. Our window seat is 110″ long, so a 4’x8′ sheet was more than enough.
  • Some L-brackets – perhaps 2 for every three feet or so of window seat – the ones that look like this –
  • Tools – um, a hand drill is helpful. You might need to cut your lengths of MDF down some more, so a saw could be helpful too (you might be able to get the store to do that for you too!), screws, a level, screwdrivers, probably a rubber mallet. A tape measure. A staple gun would be super helpful to cover the MDF, but pound-in two headed tacks would work too.
  • Some high density foam. We got ours at Joanns, waiting for a sale. This stuff is sort of on the pricey side, so I definitely recommend waiting for a sale! We got the 3″ deep stuff. It’s very comfy, but if you want this for all-the-time seating, or for napping on, then I’d spring for the 4″ stuff. What we have is fine for the occasional perch for guests or snuggling with the hound. Much like the MDF, you can have this cut to size (usually) at the cutting counter at the store. If you opt to cut it at home, you’ll need a serrated knife, a lot of floor space, patience and a vacuum. It’s a mess. And annoying.
  • Some sort of batting to wrap around the high density foam. The HD foam (the green stuff) is sort of sticky and would be hard to slide your seat covers over. I just got some cheap, super thin poly batting meant for cheap, super thin quilts.
  • Enough fabric to make into seat cushion covers. Math will be required. Here’s how I normally figure out yardage – if your fabric has a repeating pattern (mine is a toile, so it did) you’ll have to adjust for the pattern (and if you sort of know what I’m talking about, I’m betting you know how to do that!). My method is pretty slapdash and I usually add at least a half yard to the number I come up with for accidents or bad math!
  • Some sort of fabric to wrap the MDF seat base pieces in – the edge will show. We wrapped ours with burlap because it’s cheap and I like the look. We wrapped the top and all the edges, leaving the bottom exposed. If you are trying to skimp, you could just wrap the edges, or even paint the edges to coordinate. I know from previous experience that it’s hard to match the black-brown Billy color, so I used fabric. If you decide to use fabric, you can use the same formula as for the seat cushions – just keep the length of your seat and the width/length of the fabric in mind!

Once shopping is done, head home and assemble your Billy’s per the Ikea directions and set aside. Then figure out how long your window seat will be and if you will need to cut your MDF (the seat base) and high-density foam (for the cushion) into pieces. Our window seat is 110 inches long and we split the length into three seat cushions in order to make the best use of the repeating design of our toile – the middle cushion utilizes the entire width of the fabric, then I split the difference for the two side cushions.

[how we configured our seat cushion lengths]

 We decided to cut our MDF seat base pieces into the same lengths as the cushions, partially for looks, but also to distribute the weight more evenly across the span of our window seat!

Next weekend’s edition will cover assembly and the weekend following I’ll finish up with covering the cushions and seat bases.

PS – to keep us on task, here is a photo of what happens if you do not construct a windowseat…

[to be avoided at any cost]

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