What is a Window Seat?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A window seat is a seating area in an alcove or nook that is lined with windows. These seating areas have romantic associations, as many people idealize the sense of luxury and spare time that they suggest. Typically, the seat is installed in an area with an attractive view, so that someone seated in it can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while working on a project that requires natural light, such as knitting. Such seats are also used for reading or simply enjoying a respite from daily life. Many homes are built with them in mind, but it is also possible to install one at relatively low cost.

Window seats are often installed to enjoy a great view.
Window seats are often installed to enjoy a great view.

A conventional window seat is located in an alcove such as the space provided by bay windows. This prevents the seat from jutting out into the room and interrupting the feel of open space in the house, while also creating a nook that can feel like a retreat. In some cases, one may even be lined with curtains so that the person seated in it can close off the rest of the house. Most commonly, the bench is built with cushioned raised benches to sit on, and it is typical to include storage under the bench.

In a small area, there will usually be enough room for one or two people to sit with books or small projects. Larger ones may be designed to accommodate seated diners, creating a dining nook or alcove, or a table to be used as a workspace. The only hard and fast rule about the layout is that it must include built in bench seating.

Many Victorian homes have built in window seats, as do other homes with bay windows and available window lined nooks. Homeowners who want to install one without remodeling the house can also built one relatively cheaply, using prefabricated cabinets to create a seating and storage area under a window. To make it feel more like a nook, shelving and cabinets can line the seat, creating a small area of retreat along with a back rest.

While the bench is typically padded, it can also be accented with cushions or throws — although that may not be practical for those that lift up. Seats that have cabinets accessed through opening or sliding doors can be covered in an assortment of materials, as they will not be disturbed every time someone needs something from inside.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I have a window seat in my room, and I was wondering if it was possible to take out. So I have more space.


One thing that works really well if you don't want to completely install a built-in window seat is to get a window bench seat.

It is a freestanding bench shaped just like a built-in window seat, but it's not attached to the wall or anything, so you can move it whenever you want.

There are other kinds of window seat furniture as well, and they even make special window seat cushions that fit in existing window areas -- so there's really a lot of options if you don't want to get into the whole construction project that is a window seat.


Do you know if it's possible to modify a wood window seat with storage to have a cabinet opening? Right now my window seat only opens on the top, which is a total pain if you need to get something out of the storage area, since you have to move all the cushions and stuff.

Do any of you handy wisegeekers know if I can do this? By the way, it's a corner window seat, if that makes a difference.


It has been one of my lifelong dreams to have a window seat, and now I'm finally getting a custom window seat installed in my apartment.

I have been almost embarrassingly excited about it -- my husband is getting tired of window seat designs being spread out all over the table.

But I really do love the sense of rest that you get with a window seat -- and I knit and write a lot, so that's going to be my own space -- my "room of my own".

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