May 15, 2013

Ikea No-Sew Window Bench Tutorial

I've had many requests to do a Window Bench tutorial from my Nursery Reveal post. It was something I saw myself on pinterest and other blogs but had a hard time finding a good tutorial, and there's nothing more I'd like than for you to make one yourself! It has made such a big difference in our nursery and our living room. That's right, we made two!

Window Bench in our Girls' room

Window bench in our living room
Here are the finished products, don't you love the way they turned out? I love that you can customize it to whatever your taste in decor is.

I love this window bench for so many reasons:

1- It creates a high enough bench that my girls can look out the window. They love looking outside.
2- It provides a comfortable place to sit and read books, play, rest, etc.
3- The storage containers hold so many toys, blankets, etc. It helps keep clutter down and it's easy to clean things up now by just putting them away in the storage bins.
4- The bench in our living room adds 4-5 more seats for adults.
5- We made it ourselves! There is so much satisfaction in completing a project like this.

So on to the tutorial:
The first thing you will need is an Ikea Expedit Shelving Unit.
They come in different colors, but we preferred white. Follow the Ikea instructions for putting the shelving unit together. My husband did it within a few minutes, it was easy.

UPDATE: The Expedit Shelving Unit is no longer available from Ikea, however, the Kallax shelving unit is available and if it had been when I made my window benches, I would have used it because it is a little bit shorter with 4 openings instead of 5.

Next you'll need at least 2 sets of Ikea Capita Legs. We got the 4 inch ones which made the window bench plenty tall. It's the perfect height for kids to be able to climb up on the bench, and for adults to sit on it. We got 3 sets of Capita legs because we made two window benches.

They are easy to screw into the bottom of the Ikea Expedit shelf. We put the legs on each end and in the middle of the bench, totaling 6 legs.

Once the legs are attached to the shelving unit, you will need a piece of MDF board and foam. We got our MDF board cut at Home Depot (for free) to the dimensions of the shelving unit. The board cost us less than $15 and we had enough for both window benches with some board left over.
Here is some advice for the piece of foam. DO NOT buy your foam through a craft store like Hobby Lobby, Joann's, Michael's, etc. It costs way too much! I found a piece of foam at Smith's Marketplace for $20 which was big enough for 2 window benches. They had smaller sizes too so if you are just making one window bench, you can easily find a piece of foam for probably $10 or less at a hardware store or a similar store. 

You will need to cut the foam to fit the bench. Just place the piece of foam on top of the bench, use a Sharpie marker to mark the edges, then use a kitchen carving knife (electric) or whatever you have to cut the foam. 

We cut the foam to these dimensions:
72 inches long
15 inches wide
3 inches high

The only cut we had to make was to cut the foam piece in half length wise. It was already the proper dimensions pretty much. So we got 2 bench-seats worth of foam out of one piece.



Now comes the cushion part of the bench. Several tutorials I saw skipped this step, but I would recommend adding quilt batting first, before the fabric. I bought a humongous bag of quilt batting at Walmart for about $5. First set the piece of quilt batting on the floor/table/bench, then the foam, then the MDF board. 

We actually stapled the fabric to the board/foam without the quilt batting the first time, then realized it didn't look very good. We could see bumps and areas where the foam wasn't quite straight, and it was hard to get the fabric tight enough. So we removed the staples and fabric and added the quilt batting.

Then simply stretch the quilt batting over the edges of the foam and MDF board and staple it with a staple gun! This was actually really fun. I found that by adding quilt batting, it provided a tighter surface area to stretch the final fabric over, which helped keep it nice and tight fitting.

After stapling the quilt batting, you will repeat the step but using fabric this time. You can choose any type of fabric you want. For the window bench in our nursery, we chose Pearl bracelet Andover fabric in Citron color . I had previously cut it and ironed it for a smooth surface once it was stapled on.

How much fabric do you need? I purchased 2 1/2 yards of fabric for each window bench. It was a little more than I needed, but I didn't want to cut it close, and I have a little bit left over if I need it in the future.

For our living room bench, we chose Waverly Sun N Shade Lovely Lattice in Lagoon color. I can't tell you how long it took me to decide on which fabric to use. I would suggest waiting until you absolutely fall in love with something. 

Tip #1: When choosing fabric, I would recommend a sturdy type, such as the Waverly Fabric I chose for our living room bench. It's an indoor/outdoor fabric made of durable Teflon-coated polyester fabric. It's breathable, will hold up to harsh sunlight, resist mold, mildew, soil, and stains. And they are easy to wipe off and clean. 

The fabric we chose for our nursery, the Pearl bracelet fabric, is a simple cotton fabric. I fell in love with the print that I decided to go with it even though the fabric itself isn't very sturdy. This may prove to be a mistake in the future, we'll have to see. I can already tell a huge difference in quality of the fabrics I chose, and would recommend going with a sturdy indoor/outdoor type of fabric.

Tip #2: When choosing fabric, I highly suggest viewing it in person to get the most accurate coloring/texture. There were many samples that I saw online but once I saw it in real life, the coloring was completely different. If you can't go see it for yourself in a craft store, then ask the seller to send you an actual picture in natural light. Both of the fabrics we chose were not available in my area, but the computer image compared to an actual picture of the fabric in natural light was such a huge difference, the difference between choosing it and not. 

Continuing on:
Pull the fabric tightly over the edge of the foam/board and staple it down. I actually folded the fabric so that the staple had 2 layers to grab onto to help prevent tearing in the future. 


 I found it was easier to stretch the fabric tighter when it was on a slippery surface like the top of the Expedit shelf, rather than on the carpet. You will want to pull and stretch the fabric generously to ensure the final product is tight with no puckering.

The corners got a little tricky, I had to experiment folding the fabric down different ways so it wouldn't pucker. When I finally found something that worked, I went to town staple gunning it down.

There you have it! The cushion is now complete with the MDF board, foam, quilt batting, and fabric. 

The final step is to attach the cushion part to the actual bench. 

Simply grab some 3 inch screws, and screw them into the MDF board from underneath the bench. We screwed 2 into each end, plus another set in the middle to hold it on tight.

And waaalah! You have a beautiful window bench! Now that wasn't too hard was it? We will enjoy many years of fun with these window benches.

For more information on the storage containers/bins I chose for my window benches, look HERE.
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