Window seat ideas - clever ways to carve out extra seating and storage space

Make the most of your windows with a thoughtful seating idea

living room with grey wall window seat and grey sofa with cushion and tea table
(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

We're all about maximising space and making the most of our homes, and one great way to do this is with a smart window seat idea.

These cosy nooks not only provide a comfy place to sit or snooze, they often provide a generous base to store things like blankets and other bits that you don't use all year round. Adding a window seat maximises space in all rooms, from a small kitchen to a snug living room idea.

'Many period homes have a bay window, which is the perfect spot to slot in a window seat,' says Ideal Home's Amy Cutmore. 'But modern homes and new builds can often accommodate one, too.'

I'm seeing many modern kitchen extension projects, which, rather than run bi-fold doors along the back of the property, have fewer doors, then incorporate a large picture window with a built-in seat below. It creates a spot for quiet contemplation.

Amy Cutmore

Window seat ideas for all rooms

1. Extend out from a shelving unit

living room with white wall shelf white window sofa chair with cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Bradbury)

The depth and side of this built-in shelving unit has been brilliantly utilised to create a space for this comfy window seat. Panelling the front of the frame ensures the window seat blends with the panelling on the wall behind it too.

The extra deep seat cushion lets its double up as a day bed, so you can choose to nap or natter to the neighbours.

2. Create a breakfast banquette

kitchen with white wall white cabinet white window and stone flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

This spot overlooking the garden was ideal for a breakfast area. But instead of surrounding the dining table with chairs, the home owners decided to build a a breakfast banquette.

Doing this provides space for more bums on seats, as you can always pull up extra chairs if needed. It also provides a quiet area for anyone working or schooling at home.

3. Plan storage with a view

living room with white wall glass window plants and grey chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

If you're having any structural work done, it's worth considering the space around a new window or glazing. Creating an extra deep recess around the huge glass pane in this modern home has provided space for built-in storage above and to the sides, as well as a gorgeous window seat below.

4. Build into the bay

white wall room with window side seating blue chair cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Rachael Smith)

By adding the skirting board to the outside of this built-in window seat, it looks as though it has always been there. If you plan to do something similar, be meticulous with your measurements. As you can see here, the depth of the seat cushion slots in perfectly beneath the window ledge.

The fabric coordinates well with the blinds and the pretty coral piping on the seat cushions picks up the accent colours in the room.

5. Buy a blanket box

white window and seating with cushion and flower pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Robert Sanderson)

Creating a window seat doesn't necessarily mean going to the expense of building one into the structure of your room (even though that is a great option).

The same look can be achieved if you can find a blanket box or ottoman that will fit the space.  Alternatively, find a local carpenter that can make one for you, to suit the spot you have in mind. The added bonus is the storage space as well as the extra seating that you gain.

6. Utilise a spare corner

window side seating with floral cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Situate a window seat in a spare corner and you'll have room to share your space with another, or use the additional surface to place books, drinks, or whatever else takes your fancy.

Cover with squishy cushions for the ultimate spot to sit back and relax with the latest best seller.

7. Turn seating into a feature

white window with golden curtains window side seating with designed cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby)

With the soft back rest, the matching blinds and cushions and the silk drapes surrounding it, this gorgeous window seat becomes a real feature in the room.

It's also a fantastic use of the space in this period home as there is less need for any more bulky chairs to accompany the sofa.

8. Make a perch in the bathroom

bathroom with white wall bathtub and window

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Robert Sanderson)

Like to chat to your other half while they're in the bath? Or just want somewhere to sit and take your socks off pre-bath? Then there's two good reasons to create a window seat in the bathroom, particularly if you have a suitable alcove.

Get your builder to hinge the top and you've a handy space for storing towels too. Actually, that's three good reasons to embrace this brilliant bathroom storage idea!

9. Situate sliding drawers under a window

window seating with designed cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Bradbury)

This nifty storage unit has super deep drawers for housing all kinds of home paraphernalia from table linens and tea towels to tennis rackets and trainers. It's been designed and made so that it's sturdy enough to accommodate enough weight for extra seating on top too.

Overlooking the garden, the leafy green patterned scatter cushions ensure that the seating neatly links the inside space to the outside.

10. Consider push click catches

living room with blue wall white window side seating with blue cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Robert Sanderson)

If you're opting for a window seat with storage, the most popular is the ottoman style, with a lid hidden beneath a seat cushion. However, if you want to store things you use frequently, like kids' toys or tablets and chargers, then constantly removing cushions to open and close the lid might become a faff.

If you have enough space in front of the window seat, think about installing drawers instead. Those with a push click function will still have the same seamless style as a lidded seat but it will be easier to access the things inside.

11. Create a reading zone with toy storage

white window side seating with cartoons designed cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Alison Hammond)

Built into this end-of-the-room alcove, every centimetre of space has been used to create a comfy reading zone, with its slimline shelf to the left and deep drawers below.

The seat is even deep enough to take a child's mattress instead of a seat pad, so it's big enough for a kids' sleep over.

12. Blend seating into the background

living room with white wall window side seating with sofa and designed cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Thinking about how to dress a bay window  and incorporate seating? By hanging sill-length curtains within the bay window and using the harmonious colours of nature, this window seat blends gently into the view beyond.

13. Do it yourself

white window seating cushion and flower pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Creating a window seat needn't be an expensive undertaking. If you, your other half or a friend are handy with a hammer and some nails, a window seat is an easy enough job to do your self.

Most DIY stores sell timber planks and foam for seating. You don't even need a sewing machine, as you can fold a spare piece of fabric around the foam. Just make sure you road test it for an adult's weight, before you get comfy!

14. Ditch the dining chairs

living room with white wall white window and stripe sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Helsby)

If your kitchen island has created an L-shape next to a window, why not turn it into a casual dining area?

Banquette seating is often more comfortable than hard chairs, purely because you get a soft seat and back rest. It also allows you to squish up and accommodate more people. So a window seat is a winning option all round.

15. Keep it simple with a bench

window side seating with designed cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Add a single width shelf to act as a bench beneath a window. If all your want is the seating and not the storage this design is ideal for your space. The look is not as bulky as alternatives with built-in storage, meaning it feels less encroaching in a small space.

All of our simple yet smart ideas offer a chance to maximise the wasted space under your windows. Which one will you choose?

Jacky Parker

Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.