December was a very stressful time for us. My son moved to Canada to study Psychology at UBC and my daughter and her dad, aka the ex-hubby, went with to make sure that he settled in okay. Canada is sooo darn far away 🙁 A week before they left, the ex-hubby also moved into a new house, which meant that my little girl not only had to say goodbye to her best friend and big brother, but the new house didn’t feel like home either. What can a mom do, besides bawl her eyes out because her son is half way across the world. The ex-hubby and I had a chat and we decided that I could make something for Talea while they were in Canada. Something that would make her feel like the new house was also a new home. After throwing a few ideas around we finally agreed that a dreamy window seat would be perfect. Who doesn’t love a window seat? Here’s the thing though, I would only have 4 hours to install it. On the day they got back from their trip. Wait whaaaaat!!!! I can’t measure, tweak, come back again? Nope. While the ex and I are good friends, giving me unlimited access to the new house clearly wasn’t on the cards 😉
Okay, let’s fast forward to the beginning of January so I can at least show you a pretty picture of the finished window seat, before getting into the “what I learnt” making something like this completely off site and installing it in a few hours.
I was super worried the day before the install. What if I didn’t measure correctly or I couldn’t finish before they came home? What if I broke something while putting it together? I don’t think the ex would’ve be too happy if I destroyed his new house. And Talea would have been devastated if she came home to a scrap yard in the middle of her bedroom. But I’m happy to report it worked and there’s even extra storage underneath the window seat.
Would you believe that the storage is made from these el cheapo collapsible crates?
We just added a mock front using shiplap (tongue and groove) that we cut to size, painted and screwed onto the front. Then we attached rope handles to fit with the nautical theme in Talea’s bedroom.
And we put some wheels onto the bottom for smooth sailing 😉 We used small blocks of wood inside the crates and screwed the wheels through the plastic into the wooden blocks.
The storage is perfect for Talea’s HUGE collection of swimming costumes and other bits and bobs. Did I mention that my baby girl’s biggest dream is to swim for South Africa in the Olympics. The plastic crates are a great choice because if she throws a wet costume inside it won’t get all moldy and eeky.
So what did I learn making the window seat off site.
- Do your research and learn from the experts. I’ve never built a window seat before so this tutorial from Instructables really helped. A lot.
2. Measure twice or three times. Measure the height, length and depth of the space. Then measure again and just in case, measure one more time for luck. Write the measurements in a book. I wrote the measurements down on a piece of scrap paper which mysteriously disappeared in my handbag for
3. Take lots of pictures so you have something to refer back too. The devil is in the details and it’s amazing how quickly you forget the little things. Like the skirting at the bottom of the bay window.
4. Simple is Better. I went for a basic frame built out of 2 x 4 which I screwed into the back and side walls. More 2 x 4 were used to create the front of the window seat which was covered with shiplap . The front frame was made before the time so all I needed to do was screw it onto the “wall” mounted frame bits using brackets.
5. Use the longest, meanest screws you can find to attach the frame to the wall. Talea is almost 17 and she’s the type of girl that would rather climb a tree than go to the mall. I didn’t want the whole thing collapsing in heap just because she dive bombed her window seat from her bed.
6. Take everything with you. If you’re using a battery operated drill, make sure it’s charged and take a spare battery with. My battery ran out as I was trying to screw the second last of those longest, meanest screws in. My shoulder is still not talking to me. In fact, take everything with you. Everything, even if you don’t think you’ll need it, take it with. Okay you can leave the kitchen sink at home, but take everything else. There’s just no time to drive around looking for something you forgot.
7. A bread knife and a ruler are all you need to make a custom sized mattress for the window seat. Just use the ruler as a guide and cut the foam. You can buy foam at most haberdasheries but they charge extra if you want a specific size. A lot extra!! We ended up buying three standard size bits of foam and cutting them to fit the space.
8. And finally, believe in yourself because love really does conquer all and there’s nothing that a hammer and a chain saw can’t fix. Oh and a few pretty pillows and a cuddly toy or two.
The window seat doubles up as a single bed, so Talea can invite friends for a sleep over.
Don’t you just love that retro clock and tray?
By keeping it simple, I had enough time to hang two of Talea’s ballet portraits on either side of the bay window and add sheer curtains to soften things up a little.
I even vacuumed up all the dust and packed everything back in the car in my allocated 4 hours. She’s super happy with her window seat and it makes me smile every time I see one of her selfies on Facebook and she’s sitting on her window seat.
Have you ever built and installed a window seat under pressure? I’d love to hear what you learnt in the process.
Wishing you a super happy, love filled week.