A window seat is a seating area in an alcove or nook that is lined with windows. These seating areas have romantic associations, as many people idealize the sense of luxury and spare time that they suggest. Typically, the seat is installed in an area with an attractive view, so that someone seated in it can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while working on a project that requires natural light, such as knitting. Such seats are also used for reading or simply enjoying a respite from daily life. Many homes are built with them in mind, but it is also possible to install one at relatively low cost.
A conventional window seat is located in an alcove such as the space provided by bay windows. This prevents the seat from jutting out into the room and interrupting the feel of open space in the house, while also creating a nook that can feel like a retreat. In some cases, one may even be lined with curtains so that the person seated in it can close off the rest of the house. Most commonly, the bench is built with cushioned raised benches to sit on, and it is typical to include storage under the bench.
In a small area, there will usually be enough room for one or two people to sit with books or small projects. Larger ones may be designed to accommodate seated diners, creating a dining nook or alcove, or a table to be used as a workspace. The only hard and fast rule about the layout is that it must include built in bench seating.
Many Victorian homes have built in window seats, as do other homes with bay windows and available window lined nooks. Homeowners who want to install one without remodeling the house can also built one relatively cheaply, using prefabricated cabinets to create a seating and storage area under a window. To make it feel more like a nook, shelving and cabinets can line the seat, creating a small area of retreat along with a back rest.
While the bench is typically padded, it can also be accented with cushions or throws — although that may not be practical for those that lift up. Seats that have cabinets accessed through opening or sliding doors can be covered in an assortment of materials, as they will not be disturbed every time someone needs something from inside.