Turn a Bookshelf into a Storage Bench | No-Sew Window Bench Tutorial

Tutorial on turning a bookshelf into a storage bench with Step-by-step instructions.

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!

Here is the finished product, don’t you love the way it turned out? I love that you can customize it to whatever your taste in decor is.

turn a bookshelf into a storage bench

I love this window bench for so many reasons:

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

So on to the tutorial:

#1 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.

#2 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.

#3 Next 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. 

#4 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 lengthwise. It was already the proper dimensions pretty much. So we got 2 bench-seats worth of foam out of one piece.


#5 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.

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