The window seats

I didn’t do laundry on Sunday, or make my lunch, or get my gym clothes together, or any of the things that make a Monday morning not feel like an unmitigated disaster of unpreparedness. Instead, I made window seat cushions for the kitchen. Worth it.

We still have some odds and ends to finish before we can call this renovation truly done, but we’re so close. We needed more tiles for the microwave wall, which were back-ordered, but they’re back in stock this week.  I’m holding off on the before and after pictures until then. In the meantime, we’ve started finally unpacking all of our kitchen boxes, and it’s pretty damn glorious. You can see glimpses of it in these pictures.

I’ve been dreaming about window seats ever since I saw these super deep sills (but also, my whole life). On the first two floors of our house, they’re all 12″ deep. The kitchen has two perfectly placed windows that flank the island, and for some reason, the replacement windows don’t actually go all the way down to the sill. I’m not sure if it was out of cheapness or privacy, but rather than replace them, it’s perfect for extra seating, since you’re not leaning against the glass.

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After looking at a couple options, I decided to do a no-sew version similar to this tutorial where the foam and fabric are tacked onto an MDF base. It seemed sturdy enough to not get kicked to the floor by my monster cats and pretty straightforward. I’ll vacuum off the fur when needed and scotch guard for extra protection, but I think the smooth hand of the fabric we chose will keep it from being too much of an issue.

I’m super lucky to live in between the best of both worlds in Philly for fabric and sewing supplies. Down the road to the left is a shop with a gorgeous, curated selection of apparel fabrics and home fabrics. To the right is a discount shop that’s brimming with well-priced basics, as well as unexpected closeout gems. They also both have hours on a Sunday for last minute crafting impulses. Nikki and I picked out this Westminster cotton sateen at Handcraft Workshop, along with some heavy poly batting (and I resisted buying every other gorgeous fabric she has in stock), and then we made the short trek down Germantown Ave. to Gaffney’s for foam. The nature of Gaffney’s can be hit or miss, but their prices are ridiculously good. They cut the foam to size and sell it by the inch.

At Home Depot I picked up a piece of 24″x 48″ MDF. Since my window sills are approximately 12″x 40″, I asked them to cut it in half lengthwise for me, which they did, sort of. It was off by 1/4″. I also picked up some spray adhesive.

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Like everything else in an old house, the sills are both irregularly shaped and irregular in their irregularity. To make things easier, I made a craft paper template to get the angles right. I then traced my template onto the MDF, clamped down a straightedge, and trimmed the sides to shape with my jigsaw. This was actually the first time I’ve gotten to use this tool, and I’m in love. The cuts were so easy and precise.

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Then I got caught up in the project and failed to take any pictures until I was mostly done.  First I trimmed the foam to size. I tried to use a utility knife like a civilized DIYer, but it barely grazed the surface of the 3″ dense beast. Instead, I guiltily used the 10″ serrated knife from our really nice wedding registry set. I justified this by reminding myself that as a gluten free person, I’m certainly under utilizing this knife with all the delicious, crusty bread I’m not eating and slicing. That sort of made me feel better, but hungry.

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I attached the foam to the MDF base with spray adhesive, wrapped it in batting to soften the edges, and tacked it to the bottom with my staple gun. I cut my fabric, ironed out all the creases, and matched the pattern placement on the two cushions. If I thought ahead, I would have gotten a little extra yardage to pattern match, because it felt a little tight, but I was able to make it work with a yard and a half. Also, I might have worn a work glove, because while my no-frills stapler is an utter champ, I developed a blister on the palm of my squeezing hand a few hundred staples in.

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It was late and dark when I finished, but the pictures I quickly snapped give the overall view better than the backlit ones I took in the morning. The pillows are from last year’s Target outdoor section when I restyled our balcony, and the contrasting patterns are really doing it for me. From a design perspective, it would look cozier with a couple more pillows, but that would really cut into the seating area and not add to the function.  I also need to add curtains of some kind, but I’m not sure exactly what I want and I’m always so loathe to filter the natural light.

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Nik sat in the window this morning, and used the island stool as an ottoman, so I think it would be helpful to get a pouf that will tuck nicely into that corner and can be used as extra-extra seating. Thinking something along the lines of this jute fellow, but that’s more than I want to spend.

I’m overall really happy with this cushion-making method and don’t think I would have gained much by sewing a box cushion. I have a couple other similar projects I want to try, which will probably be easier, since they don’t involve charmingly lopsided trapezoids. The angles were tricky to wrap neatly. I’m also not a grade-A present-wrapper, so there’s that. I might get a piece of felt to glue to the bottom, both to neaten things up and to minimize any scratches the staples might make, but I also might not actually get around to it, and I’m okay with that. They’re pretty great as they are.

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3 comments

  1. Awesome window seat! If you’re looking at more foam-trimming in your future, I highly recommend an electric knife (like the ones people only use once a year at Thanksgiving). They’re easy to find at thrift stores and cut foam like a dream.

    1. Good call on looking at thrift stores. The serrated knife I used worked well, but I bet the electric knife would be even easier. I also definitely need a dedicated craft knife, at the very least!

  2. Rachel Loischild · · Reply

    Looks great! And I’m now so excited to see the kitchen- the tiny peeks looks awesome 🙂

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