Ideas for window seat for toy/game/book storage?? I need the houzzers!
March 30, 2014 in Design Dilemma
Hi guys! I've been pondering this off and on for many months (but too busy with other projects...still too busy, but pondering it again anyways....everytime I look at the messy top of the current cabinet lol). Actually went to ikea a few months ago, nearly purchased the arkum cabinets to do it, and then decided it needed more consideration and planning first!
I would like to do something like this under the big (8 ft) window:

Here's an the bottom of the trim it's 19 1/2" (if we go above the trim, it's about 23"). So, with a 15" tall cabinet as the seat base, that would leave 4-8" for a cushion. And then you would actually be leaning back against the window itself. Unlike some of the examples, there would be no wall between top of window seat and window.

Ideally I'd love to do something roughly like this:
However, because the wall to the right has a window, even with the narrow Billy bookcase (11" deep) it would still block a few inches of the adjoining window, which I would NOT like at all. An alternative would be a bookcase only on the left side, but that would feel off-balance to me. I suppose I could compensate by putting some large framed photos there, maybe 2 or 3 vertically. That might help balance it visually... (quick sketch attached, but not to scale)

Right now, we have this hutch/cabinet thingy for toys and some books. At it's neatest it looks like the attached photo. However, not only does the finish not coordinate with the overall furniture, it doesn't hold all of our toys and games. So, it's more of a temporary (we have it already) solution. And, as you can see, I have kids' books stacked along the top. Ultimately, I don't want anything stacked up there because it gets cluttered and the books get precariously stacked and toppled and it just looks messy. And we have many more kids' books than will fit on the top anyways. A full wall solution on that wall won't work because of the fireplace.

We could do a very, very short bookcase along the adjoining wall (the right wall), but it could be no taller than 19 1/2" to fit under the window trim (like an expedit on its side), but that seems like a ridiculously short bookcase. The rocking chair belongs in the baby's room, by the's out here temporarily.

Anyways... if you've gotten through all that, thanks! I would looooove ideas! Is a window seat there a bad idea, given the constraints, leaning against the window, etc? I am desperate for a neat toy/game/book storage solution(s). I don't mind if the kids get everything out and build forts etc, but I want a place where we can put it all away and have it also look like a grown-up room :-)

Please help!!
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Alright...found lots of really pretty pics where people have window benches with people leaning against window. Still just not sure if this is a wise solution. The seat (if I do the ikea hacked solution) would be 24" deep.

Anyways, would love to hear if anyone has any thoughts on this or better ideas :)
0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 1:48PM
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I don't think leaning on a window as a seat back is a safe idea. It is also probably not very comfortable.

Young children do better with low shelves rather than bins. If you do use bins, attach a photo of the contents to the outside of the bin. This helps babysitters and visiting relatives help the children clean up.
1 Like   Thanked by mshutterbug    March 30, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Thanks for the reply :) That's my thinking too. Though you'd be surprised at how many examples you can find of that very scenario. I am really looking for more of a built-in (and hidden!) solution. That's what really appeals to me about the bench seat using cabinets. We have bins with cubbies in our den, and I like them, but want something that isn't quite so visible for this room. I'm having trouble deciding on a layout for the room though. And somewhere in this room we must have significant bookshelf space...we have a lot of books :)
0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 2:53PM
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0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Thanks for posting these! The window wall would be the perfect spot for a storage bench... and without a bookshelf on the left side, that could be a "reading nook" where someone could lean against that adjacent wall (like in the example with the big teddy bear). However, that would mean I couldn't put a bookshelf on either wall or you'd literally be leaning into/on it. I guess if you put a bookcase out from the bench, then it would form sort of a little slightly recessed area (kinda like in the white pic with the gauzy bed). But then the question is how wide of a bookshelf since you can't go the length of the wall or you'd run into the angle of the fireplace. Hmmm... there must be some brilliant solution I'm just not thinking of :-D
0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Looks to me like you're putting the cart before the horse. How exactly do you intend to use this room? Will you have a sofa? TV? Entertain in front of the fire? Watch TV while the kids play with their toys?

I think you first need to establish all your needs and come up with a workable furniture arrangement which includes the play area.

It would also help us if you gave us a photo of the fireplace wall.
0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 6:25PM
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And a rough floor plan with dimensions wouldn't hurt either. ;-)
1 Like   March 30, 2014 at 6:25PM
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Sorry... I thought I shared the room intentions...but maybe I just thought it :-D

This room is our "quiet" play area. We have a very open floor plan, and the big window is essentially the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. (Hence my desire for cabinets that have doors and other ways to hide any toys etc. In this space, the kids (we have 3) play with their toys, build blanket forts, read books. It also has our fireplace. It's the room we put up our Christmas tree. Attached to this room is our dining room, where we play board games at the table. I sit in the chair in here to feed the baby or grab time with a book when possible (ie. my two babies are napping and my big kid is entertaining himself :)

So, here's a rough floor plan with dimensions. If they aren't clear, I'll type them out here:
back wall with 8 ft window is 174" wide. There are 36 3/4" on the right side between edge of window trim and wall and 34 3/4" on the right side. Directly adjacent that is a shorter wall, to the right. It is almost entirely filled with another 8 ft window. That wall is 108". The trim takes up a bit, there's about 2 inches to the left (corner) and about 5 inches to the right. The wall to the left of room is 187" inches long (from window wall to fireplace).

Let me know if that makes sense!

I'm also attaching an idea my husband and I were just discussing... a bench along both window walls, with pillows piled up on the wall portion to encourage someone to lean there. Don't be too jealous of my drawing skills ;)
0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Missed a couple questions groveraxle... Thanks! No tv in this room. Can't see that a sofa would fit well, but we are thinking a couple easy chairs near fireplace. I'll attach a few more pics to try to give a better idea of room...first is pre-trim but you can see how it opens into dining area. Another that kinda shows that view. And a before/after of the fireplace wall that shows where the front door is...
0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 7:44PM
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Got it. I will ponder a bit, but at first blush, your long L-shaped window seat would be aesthetically pleasing, but I'm concerned about the possibility of a child leaning through the glass. I also wonder if you have a plan for the big toys, or will those just remain out?

BTW, you've done a wonderful job so far. Love the floor and fireplace and the way you've opened the space. Wanted to let you know before I lose myself in cogitation.
1 Like   Thanked by mshutterbug    March 30, 2014 at 8:04PM
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Thanks so much groveraxle! The big toys are definitely a conundrum. I don't really want them sitting out, but my thought is for regular everyday they'll just meander between this room and our den/tv room. Then when we are expecting guests we'll hide them in the den/tv room or a bedroom lol!

The leaning on the window thing is a big concern for me as well. We are thinking if we set it up this way, it would encourage lounging against the wall...there's close to 3 feet on either side of the instead of sitting with feet dangling over front you'd sort of lounge the long way. Does that make sense? Husband also thinks that with the window trim it won't be comfortable to lean against window, and thus people wouldn't be likely to do it. Our current toy hutch, the bottom portion, is actually just the right height to simulate a window bench, so we're going to move it over there (you can take the cabinets off the top) and stick some cushions on them to see how it would work in real life.

One thing to note - husband is building me a new table (he's pretty handy and a big DIY'er ;) so the table you see will be replaced with a larger one that fits 4 chairs along back wall (where the second high chair is), 1 on either end, and then a bench on the side closest to the living room (where the kids are currently sitting). My thought is that this will allow the 5 of us to sit in normal chairs if we want, with the bench allowing for extra seating with guests (or the kids if they want to sit there), but it will also maintain an open sight-line between the dining and that living/play area. Does that make sense?

The living and dining flow together for us, as we often grab board games from the cabinet and play them at the dining room table.

I sketched out another thought regarding the overall layout. It's a terrible sketch, but it gives you an idea of what I'm thinking... I'm not great at visualizing the best way to lay out the furniture, especially when it comes to creating separate spaces within one room. And maybe ultimately the window benches are a bad idea. I tend to lock on to one idea and try to make it work. But maybe something else entirely would be better. Ultimately I need lots of storage to hide away toys and board games, as well as lots of bookshelf space for our kids books.

I appreciate the help and ideas :)
0 Likes   March 30, 2014 at 8:25PM
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This is kind of ingenious:

Though I am looking to do cabinets, not a bin that you open from the plan would be to put board games in some of the cabinets and maybe baskets or bins for toys inside the others (hidden behind the cabinet doors. And the back doesn't look super comfy...and I wonder how sturdy it would be. (Better than leaning against a window, for sure.) And I don't know if my kids would bother to get out the hidden seat back. But nonetheless, what a cool solution. Thought I'd post it here in case anyone else is looking for ideas.

I'm still contemplating the latest sketch. I really like the idea of creating the two lounge areas on an L-shaped bench. Just trying to figure if that really is the best solution.
0 Likes   March 31, 2014 at 7:57AM
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mshutterbug, that bench is ingenious, though I don't think the back looks quite as elegant as the rest of the bench and the cushions.

I am still cogitating and coming up empty, but keep posting to keep this dilemma on the front page. Someone somewhere might have a brilliant idea when you least expect it.
1 Like   March 31, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Wedge bolster pillows?
0 Likes   Thanked by mshutterbug    March 31, 2014 at 11:01AM
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Thanks groveraxle! I agree - the back looks unfinished. I actually searched around briefly to see if there was a "final" picture. It just seems like with such an elegant bench, they'd have found a way to make the back look and feel a little nicer. Maybe they did, but I wasn't able to find it :)

Alright, so I sketched out a new plan. The living/dining is roughly to scale, but when you get into the hallway, front door, and kitchen it's really not accurate. I just wanted to jot down kind of where they are. There is a small wall to the right of the front door, so you can see the dining and the living from the little entry, but you can't see the kitchen. So that part is kind of wonky lol.

My thought is if we do the pillows propped against the wall portions, as I indicated in my earlier very professional-looking drawing ;) Then we fashion some sort of back like in the previous link, with something like a smaller version of bolster pillows (stored....umm, somewhere?) across the window portions. Then the backs are hidden when not in use, but can be opened up if people want to sit more than just against the walls lounging.

0 Likes   March 31, 2014 at 12:40PM
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I'm standing in dining area...moved stuff around to approximate my idea. All the furniture will be moved to different rooms, just using it as placeholders. The "benches" under windows are almost the exact depth and height of what we're thinking of (add the cushions to top). If we can figure out a hidden back feature I am really liking the L-shape bench idea :) I put the chairs there as one option. I could fit a 5 ft loveseat in that space (with a low back to maintain the view) or 2 comfy chairs facing the fireplace. The hutch along the wall is where we'd put a bookcase - either a tall "built-in" with crown moulding or shorter mid-height.
0 Likes   April 4, 2014 at 7:58PM
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It's Friday night, and I am just now getting your Monday post. I see I can't trust my feed.

Off the top of my head: I would keep it open between this room and the dining. Since you use the rooms for combined purposes with the kids, I would like to see nothing blocking the space between the two. You have a picture above of the kids sitting at the table. I like the openness that shows.

I like the bench/storage idea with the bookcase which I would keep low--waist high or so--so it doesn't end up being the one tall thing in the room. And I would probably put two swivel chairs and a coffee table or ottoman in front of the fireplace, placed so you can turn to interact with playing children or turn toward the fire for a cozy tete-a-tete after they've gone to bed.

For the bench, I wouldn't even bother with a flip up back and hidden cushions. I'd have an assortment of bolster pillows and leave them out for the kids to arrange however it suits them at the moment. And frankly, the kids are not going to get pillows out and put them away.

One other thing to consider: perhaps two coordinating rugs to define two spaces, a plush one in front of the fireplace, and a sturdy one that complements it for the kids to play on.
0 Likes   April 4, 2014 at 9:30PM
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Thanks groveraxle! I was thinking that too...wondering if a tall bookcase would make the room look lopsided somehow. There is the fireplace mantle, and there are tall things in the kitchen, which is visible from the room, so I wonder if that would help balance it. I like the idea of a shorter bookcase from the perspective that it might make a chair nearby feel more comfortable (not sure exactly why lol), and it would give me a place for framed photos above it (which is important to me, hence the name ;) But the bookcases that we were thinking of using just look really unfinished. We had thought we'd attach perhaps a baseboard at the bottom and crown at the top, so it would look nice. But obviously we can't put crown moulding on the short version. Well I guess you could, but it would look weird...

Thank you for the ideas. I like the idea of two different, but complimentary rugs. And, I think I agree with you about keeping the rooms open. When I put those chairs there, I realized I would not like that at all. Maybe a short loveseat, but even that...I think you're right. Chairs by fireplace, nothing between dining and living room.
0 Likes   April 5, 2014 at 7:46AM
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Amazing what you have done to it. For a girl's perfect room type in "Your perfect bedroom for a 11 year old girl"
0 Likes   April 5, 2014 at 7:52AM
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Thanks rishikarex! I will check it out :)
0 Likes   April 5, 2014 at 10:34AM
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