Bay Window DIY Window Seat: IKEA Nordli Hack

Learn all about our Bay Window DIY window seat using this IKEA Nordli hack

Pinterest image of window seat

We just finished up another project, this time adding a window seat with storage to our bay window. I am enormously please with how it turned out! It was one of those DIY projects that we thought about doing for a while, but it just wasn’t a priority. But now that its done, I wonder why we took so long! (Oh, that’s right…because we’ve been building pool decks and fixing plumbing and replacing a roof and converting garages…)

When we moved into our house, there was a window bench in this spot already, and it actually looked pretty good (if you ignored the broken window and rotten trim above it.) However, it was completely non-functioning! It was essentially a box with a REALLY heavy butcher block on top that I could not lift up by myself. So, as a result, we shoved a few things in there and then forgot about them.

Here’s what the window seat looked like right after we moved in:

Image of the window seat before we took it out and made a new one with storage.
The window seat before- guest starring our dog, Luna.

This would have been ok if all we were going for in this spot was looks, but this area is right next to our laundry closet and we REALLY needed storage space. Our laundry area (by the way, that laundry closet makeover project is coming soon!) is also a drop zone, so we needed to have an area for our shoes, bags, socks (I keep all the kids socks in one area, near the door- it just makes the most sense to me!) and a score of other stuff needed in an entry way. AND we needed storage for our laundry baskets, which otherwise had been sitting on top of the bench or on the floor.

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Designing The DIY Window Seat

The window seat would need to fit the dimensions of the bay window, have space for drawers, as well as an open shelf for our laundry baskets. Initially my design idea was to build drawers from scratch, which I figured Daniel could totally do -and he could, he can build anything! But, that was going to be way more complicated of a project and right now, I’m all about finding hacks to save time and energy! Enter- the Ikea Nordli drawers.

How We Used This Ikea Nordli Hack for our DIY Window Seat

The Nordli drawers at Ikea are a two-drawer modular system that come separate from the top and bottom, and can be built to different heights. We bought two of the drawer units without the top or bottom, because we knew we would be building our own top to the window seat.

The drawers are large and allow for a lot of hidden storage. Each two drawer chest is 31 1/2×17 3/4. They run about $90 per unit, althought I recently saw them as low as $50/each. It’s worth checking every once in a while to see if they’re on sale! Find them at IKEA here.

Image of the IKEA Nordli drawer unit

How To Build a Window Seat: Step By Step Process

Here’s a quick run down of everything you’ll need for a DIY window seat like ours.

Materials Needed

2 IKEA Nordli Drawer Units (without the top or bottom pieces)
2×6 pine boards for the bench top
2×4 pine boards for the window frame
Primed MDF board for trim
Primed MDF board for shelf
Finishing Nails
2″ Screws
Caulk
White paint
Sandpaper
Stain

Tools We Used

Miter Saw
Table Saw for ripping wood
Drill
Nail Gun
Caulking Gun
Sander
Measuring Tape
Safety Equipment

Removing the current window seat

The first step we needed to do was to remove the current window seat. The butcher block top was not screwed into place, so we simply took that off the base and set it aside. We ended up using part of the butcher block for another counter space in our kitchen- we’ll blog about that later!

Image of Daniel removing the current window seat

Daniel used a crowbar and hammer to remove most of the material. We saved the shiplap from the front of the box, and will find another project for those pieces.

Putting together the Nordli Drawers

I purchased and assembled the Nordli drawers, and we put them into place to make sure they would fit. We removed all the boards you see in this picture and reused them for the base.

Image of the drawer unit in the framed DIY window seat

The Nordli units are easy to put together, each one took me less than 30 minutes. The drawers fit well and are smooth to open and close.

Building the Frame

We constructed a frame using the wood from the original window seat. Here is a picture of the base we used, and where we placed the drawers and the board for the center shelf.

frame of the window seat

We cut the existing pieces to fit the new dimensions. Then we installed additional vertical supports that the top seating area could be screwed to. This helped take some pressure off of the Ikea drawers.

Building the Top

We purchased 2×6 pine boards for the window seat bench. Daniel cut the pine boards to length and then evenly spaced them out on top and screwed them into the side supports along either end of the frame.

Image of the pine boards

After the drawers were in place, Daniel put finishing nails through the 2×6’s and into the edge of the drawers to prevent the top from flexing when sat on.

Window frame with the boards on top

Adding Trim and a Shelf

As you can see in the above picture, the window above the new window seat needed new trim. Daniel added trim to the bottom, and replaced the middle, rotten trim with new. We caulked all along the window trim- you can see the difference really well between the left and right sides.

Window trim with caulking

Next, we added trim pieces as well as the shelf for the middle section. We used some of the trim pieces from the previous window seat. The shelf was leftover primed MDF white shelving from a previous closet project.

Image of trim in place

We added a small trim piece to the bottom of the unit to match the rest of the baseboards in our house, and used the nail gun to secure it in place.

Image of Meredith using a nail gun

Caulking and Painting

Finally, we caulked all along the edges of the window seat trim to give it a cohesive look.

Image of Daniel caulking

I wanted everything to match the Ikea drawers. I scoured the internet for the formula for the exact shade of white used on IKEA furniture, but there was such a huge variety of answers that I didn’t feel comfortable choosing one. So, I brought one of the drawer fronts in to Sherwin Williams, and they color matched it perfectly. It was actually really hard for me to tell the difference between the Pure White I bought for another project, and the color-matched formula.

Pretty hard to tell the difference, right?

Image showing the difference between Ikea white and Pure white

Here’s a picture of the formula where you can see they started with a semi-gloss extra white based and added a little yellow.

Color match formula from Sherwin Williams

Sanding and Staining the bench Top

I sanded down the top of the bench, and then stained it using Natural Varathane Wood Stain. I did a total of two coats. We liked the look of the natural wood, and I didn’t want it to get too dark.

Image of the wood stain

You can see the difference here between the stain and the natural wood.

Image showing difference between wood stain and natural wood

Painting Walls

I used the same paint color to also give the walls of the bay window, as well as the trim around the window, a fresh look. Everything started to look more cohesive now!

Painting the walls of the bay window

Lastly, we added a small shelf for our internet modem, a few pillows and a plant to try to hide some cords- which didn’t totally hide them but oh well, its not the end of the world to see some cords…right? We do live here, after all.

Image showing the other side of the DIY window seat

And that’s it, that’s our DIY window seat project! I’m thrilled with the extra storage, and the room to fold clothes and store away baskets. We use this space all the time, and couldn’t be happier with the end result.

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