Build a Book Nook and Window Seat

Build a book nook and window seat. Your favorite books within easy reach, a comfy seat and lots of warm, natural light — these are the three features that make an inviting book nook. With a simple design, and reclaimed cabinets (or inexpensive ready-made shelf units), success is within reach of anyone with intermediate woodworking skills. That’s what you’ll find here: a toolbox of universal concepts, techniques and solutions that you can apply to your specific project.

| August/September 2007

  • This built-in windowseat/bookshelf can be an attractive addition to your home.
    This built-in windowseat/bookshelf can be an attractive addition to your home.
    Illustration by Len Churchill
  • The DeWalt DC 330K jigsaw is a handy tool for removing internal dividers in reclaimed cabinets.
    The DeWalt DC 330K jigsaw is a handy tool for removing internal dividers in reclaimed cabinets.
    Photo by Steve Maxwell
  • Book nook diagram. When resizing salvaged cabinets, attention to detail is key.
    Book nook diagram. When resizing salvaged cabinets, attention to detail is key.
    Illustration by Len Churchill
  • Book nook diagram. While your specific design may be a little different, all book nooks have the same basic components.
    Book nook diagram. While your specific design may be a little different, all book nooks have the same basic components.
    Illustration by Len Churchill
  • This “crown cap” is a quick and easy substitute for complicated crown molding.
    This “crown cap” is a quick and easy substitute for complicated crown molding.
    Illustration by Len Churchill

  • This built-in windowseat/bookshelf can be an attractive addition to your home.
  • The DeWalt DC 330K jigsaw is a handy tool for removing internal dividers in reclaimed cabinets.
  • Book nook diagram. When resizing salvaged cabinets, attention to detail is key.
  • Book nook diagram. While your specific design may be a little different, all book nooks have the same basic components.
  • This “crown cap” is a quick and easy substitute for complicated crown molding.

Use recycled or ready-made cabinets and shelves to build a book nook and window seat in a cozy, sunny spot. You can custom build this combination window seat/bookshelf/storage area for your home. And it won’t cost much if you remember two things: salvage and simplicity.

How to Build a Book Nook and Window Seat

Your favorite books within easy reach, a comfy seat and lots of warm, natural light — these are the three features that make an inviting book nook. Combine a little bit of vision, a little bit of know-how and a few key tools, and you can custom build this combination window seat/bookshelf/storage area for your home. And it won’t cost a whole lot if you remember two things: salvage and simplicity.

Keep your design simple, make use of reclaimed cabinets (or inexpensive ready-made shelf units), and success is within reach of anyone with intermediate woodworking skills. Yes, every nook will be a little different, but that’s OK. Custom work like this needn’t be daunting because the design principles and construction skills you need remain the same in every case. That’s what you’ll find below: a toolbox of universal concepts, techniques and solutions that you can apply to your specific project.

Step 1: Find the Perfect Window Seat Location

Every book nook needs shelves, a seat and a window. These are the essentials, but because the window and its location sets the stage for the rest of the project, start there. South-facing windows offer direct sunlight, which is nicest in northern climates. Light from north facing windows is less intense and easier on the eyes.



Ideally, you want to choose a window that is within 30 to 42 inches of the floor. Any higher, and the seating area won’t be as well lit. Any lower, and there won’t be a place to support your back. You’ll also need a location with at least 24 inches of free wall space on both sides of the window for shelves (more is better).

Have a corner window? You’ll enjoy a cozier book nook in this location, though construction might be more challenging. It’s more complicated to join a base cabinet and bench at 90 degrees because it interferes with the swinging action of the doors.






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