When I was about 10 years old, one of my favorite books was The Velvet Room by Newbery award winning author Zilpha Keatley Snyder. In the novel, the young heroine Robin discovers an abandoned mansion, empty except for one perfect, beautiful bedroom, complete with lush velvet draperies and cushioned window seat.
In my childhood imagination, a window seat became the perfect place to read, dream, and escape from reality (if only for a little while).
Although I’ve graduated to more grown up novels, curling up with a great book on a chilly day is still my idea of heaven. And my favorite hiding spot is still a cushy window seat complete with fluffy pillows, a snuggly throw and occasionally a steaming cup of hot cocoa!
Snuggle-factor aside, from an interior design perspective, for both style and functionality, a window seat is hard to beat. Built-ins take advantage of small nooks and turn them into a focal point, extra seating and storage.
Best of all, a window seat can be added to almost any room in the house!
Window seats are most commonly found in a living room or den, flanked by bookcases. Custom cushion seating and pillows complement the room’s textiles (whether drapery, sofa or chair) and gives a coordinated, traditional look.
A window seat in the bedroom is oh-so-romantic and brings to mind just about every Jane Austen novel I’ve ever enjoyed. In a bedroom, a window seat is also extremely practical, as it creates a place to pull on socks or lace up boots.
And just like Robin in The Velvet Room, children will find a bedroom window seat a wonderful place to read or just daydream. In a bay or bow window, when curtains or drapes are added, it creates a “secret fort” feel that every child, regardless of age, will adore.
If your bath is large enough, a window seat is a wonderful alternative to a chair. It adds an element of luxury, to be sure. But, is actually wonderfully practical, as it adds a comfy space to file your nails, dry your hair, etc. Plus, you can never have too much storage in the bathroom and in seat interiors are a great place to stash extra toiletries, towels, and more.
Many kitchens take advantage of window seating using a banquet to pair with an eat-in kitchen table. This is an excellent use of space and creates a cozy space for informal dining. In addition, standalone window seats are a lovely spot to be inspired whilst reading your latest cookbook, plan menus, or write guest lists for holiday events.
Even hallways and stairwells offer an opportunity to add character with a window seat. I particularly love a window seat on the stairs as it provides a perch from which to “spy” on those outside or coming up the drive (I guess I am still that 10 year old girl at heart!).
A window seat is more than just a place to put your feet up. It’s a great opportunity to add storage (and who can’t use more storage?!). Options include hinged tops (great for pillows, blankets, etc.), cabinet doors (perfect for infrequently used dishes, small appliances, craft supplies and toys), or open shelving (wonderful for cookbooks, or small bins for the little ones).
If your home isn’t blessed with a beautiful original millwork, built in bookcases, or a cozy window seat (or two!) you can still get this charming look. Because it’s easy to fake it. Simply center a small bench or hope chest under a window, flank with freestanding bookcases and… voila. Instant character.
If you’re looking for a more finished look, use matching cabinets for the seat and bookcases which can be mounted to the wall. Finish with wood trim (paint in a bold hue or simple white unifies unmatched pieces). It’s a built-in look at a fraction of the price of custom woodworking. IKEA bookcases are an incredibly affordable option (the BILLY universally adaptable to almost any décor, but there are many styles from which to choose).
The right accessories complete the picture. Don’t forget to add a small table (for hot cocoa, naturally), a warm throw, some fluffy pillows, and… loads of wonderful books!
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