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How to DIY a Simple Built-in IKEA Window Seat (an IKEA Hack!)

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Intro by Robin & Steps by Ed

This IKEA window seat is only the second built-in we ever tackled – and it is hands down my favourite!  (The first was this stair-top bookshelf and plant stand and early 2018 we made wall-to-wall Billy bookcase built-ins! )

What little girl doesn’t dream of a window seat?  This big girl still does!

Because of the window dormer and the angled ceilings in our daughter’s room – there are limited places for storage – I knew this window seat needed to do double – or triple – duty.  It needed a seat (well, duh.), shelves and drawers.

Now drawers are super handy to have – but they are also super tricky to build  – especially when you’re a beginner.  They need to be perfectly square and engineered just right to make them actually work.  We were daunted.  Building drawers is beyond our current skill set.

What isn’t beyond our skill set? An Ikea Hack!

Armed with their trusty catalogue I figured out that 2 of their humble Malm nightstands would work perfectly for our needs:

  • They’re the right height.
  • They’d give us four drawers.
  • Their smooth face has no knobs or pulls – so there’s nothing to scratch a calf or catch a pant leg when climbing up and down.
  • And they’re pretty darn affordable.

Definitely more affordable than hiring someone to build us a custom-built window seat!  When we added the second storey to our home – which included this bedroom – the quote we were given to build this very window seat was almost $1000!  

Ours comes in at less than $200.  Including the cushion – our original quote was just the hard bits!

Keep reading for Ed’s easy to follow tutorial of how to make a simple IKEA window seat with drawers…

IKEA window seat tutorial

How to DIY a Simple IKEA Window Seat Built-in

Steps by Ed

IKEA Window Seat Materials List:

Step 1) Assemble and place your cabinet units

Before with Malm cabinets

It took us a long time to finally write up this post – these green walls and circus curtains are dating us.  We built this back in 2013!

Move them around and see what conflicts you have with existing ductwork, electrical, etc.  

We chose to avoid moving the floor duct by moving the MALMs back a bit.  You’ll see at the end how we dealt with the electrical.

Step 2) Demolition

prepare for window seat install

Not the fun smashing “demo-day” you see on TV, sorry.

Carefully remove baseboards, measure and cut the carpet and underlay and remove the carpet tack-down strips.

You’ll be reusing bits and pieces to replace trim after, but if you do want to smash something, take the carpet cutoff outside and hit it with a baseball bat.

Step 3) Framing

IKEA window seat building

Cut lengths of 2″x3″ and fit them in place, using the cabinet unit as a guide.

Check for level and anchor securely with screws to side walls (into studs where possible).  Attach the base cabinets to them – again, checking for level and square before you drive home any giant screws.

Step 4) Complete the Seat Framing

make idea window seat frame

The majority of the MDF seat panel will sit on the MALM cabinets, but you’ll still need a level support along the wall and a bridge piece between the cabinets to make it strong.  

Cut a ‘cleat’ for the outside wall, position it between the two side walls – checking again for level as many ways as you can. Secure it with screws into wall studs.

frame between ikea built in window seat

Build a small 2″x3″ frame ‘wall’ and secure it between the cabinets. Things are starting to take shape.

Step 5) Shelf bottom

IKEA window seat how to

So far, most of what you’ve been working on has been behind-the-scenes stuff that gets hidden. Time to start with some finishing – so colour inside of the lines! Cut a length of MDF for the front edge/ kickplate.

You can then either add the Iron-on Veneer Edge (a terrible task even with the right tools – Robin did it and I love her for that), or cut some half-round, paint it and nail it in place. We ended up using the latter method for the final part.

Add another piece of 2″x3″ for the bottom shelf to rest on. Cut your MDF shelf and edge it with your choice of torture. Secure the bottom shelf by predrilling and screwing through from the inside of drawer units.

Step 6) Shelf back and floating middle shelving

IKEA window seat with power

Lots to cover here, but most of it is straightforward and the pictures say most of it.

If you have a wiring issue (like you see here with the wall outlet being hidden under the seat), make a decision. We wanted to have an outlet in the shelf so we purchased a high-quality power bar and simply bridged the outlet to the shelf with it. This is likely against building code, but it actually is under less clutter and stress than the average power bar, so we’re not worried.

Then shelf back is made from a piece of thin MDF, painted white and notched in a few key spots to fit. It is held in place by the wood back frame on the shelf section with two small screws that are near the top and invisible when the books are in place.

Lastly, the middle shelf is a piece of MDF, cut to size and finished with a veneer edge. You drill four holes and push in some shelf supports available at any hardware store.  

The only part to be careful of here is to measure really carefully and drill nice, straight, clean holes (a pilot hole helps!). The supports will break out if the holes are too big, too small or rounded. You’ve been warned.

Step 7) Cut and Install the Window Seat

IMG 0620 1

This is your biggest MDF cut, so take your time and measure carefully.

It doesn’t need to fit tight to the sidewalls (the seat cushion will hide the gap) – leave yourself some wiggle room. You are going to add a facing piece, so the good news is you won’t need to do any edging.

Secure with screws or let gravity hold it down if you want access to the inside of the seat.

IKEA window seat cushion spot

Step 8) Finishing Touches

Add an edge to the front of the seat.

We used MDF trimmed with half-round, screwed into the frame in a few locations to add strength.

You can use the ‘plastic buttons’ to cover the screws. You could also use a natural or stained piece of real wood here and it could look quite nice as an accent.  

We opted to keep with the simple, white we had going on already.

IKEA window seat

Our surprisingly simple DIY window seat!
IKEA window seat with drawers
Those pillow fabrics! 😍 They’re from Spoonflower – I especially love the Mermaid Watercolor Mosiac one!

I made them using super cheap fat quarters and our easy pillow tutorial.

Add the DIY window seat cushion – you can find the tutorial for that here – and you’re done!

Check out our other simple and affordable DIY projects – including this IKEA hack built-in and more!

ikea bookcase built in billy storage

More of our simple, DIY built-ins

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Dalwi Szyje

Wednesday 23rd of August 2017



Tuesday 21st of March 2017

Looks great! I might actually try to do this :)


Tuesday 21st of March 2017

If you do, Reg - be sure to come back and show us! :)


Friday 10th of March 2017

I love this. Wow, it's fanstatic! I want this.


Tuesday 21st of March 2017

You can, Ivory. It wasn't that hard to build! Thanks for your comment. :)


Thursday 9th of March 2017

I love this windowseat - thanks for sharing! Please do share how you made the cushion on top soon. I was wondering how deep the seat is?


Thursday 9th of March 2017

I'm aiming to share the cushion turorial soon - in the next few days! Check back or subcribe to make sure you don't miss it. :) Your question about the seat depth is a great one - I'm going to edit the post to share that! It's 27.5 inches deep. Perfect depth to curl up and read a book in. :)


Thursday 9th of March 2017

Holy Cow! That was quite an undertaking, but you really hit all the details. It's so nice to have someone blaze a trail first...I'm thinking I could actually make a built in window seat myself using your directions. Thanks for making them so thorough. And you two did a really great looks fantastic.

Have a great week



Thursday 9th of March 2017

Thanks, Lynn! I'm so glad the post has given you some confidence. We actually find built-ins to be easier than free standing furniture - and you've tackled that! Go for it! :)