Here's how to make a comfy hideout complete with built-in storage cubbies and a work surface for coloring or homework.
The heart of this 5-year-old's room is the window seat he calls his "office." Remove the cozy cushions, pull up a stool, and the seat becomes a work surface that he can use for coloring books now and homework later. Accessible built-in storage cubbies under the seat double as a step for the window seat. Cork tiles provide a nonslip surface. The open storage allows him to change the scenery by replacing what's inside while keeping things tidy. The desk stool tucks under the seat and out of the way. Here's how to make this cool kids' room window seat.
Skill level: Intermediate woodworker
Time to complete: 2 weekends, including painting
Estimated cost: $200, plus fabric/foam for cushions
Using the portable circular saw and then the table saw, cut the 3/4-inch-thick Multi-core or plywood sheets into parts A¿G and N. Use a table saw with a 3/4-inch dado blade (or a router with a 3/4-inch straight bit) to cut the rabbets and dadoes on the right and left end panels (A, B) as shown. (All joinery cuts go on the inside faces of parts.) Also, cut a 3/4-inch rabbet along the rear edge of the floorboard (C). Use a jigsaw to cut the radius on the front corners of the right end panel (A) and the wall bracket (N). Set the plywood panels aside, then cut the face-frame rails, stiles, support cleats, and other parts (H, J, K, L, M, P, Q) from the poplar stock.
Arrange the short (P) and long (Q) floor cleats on a flat surface and glue the mitered ends together. After letting the glue at the joints set for a few minutes, apply a bead on the top faces of the cleats, then set the floorboard (C) on top of the cleats and position for a 1-inch overhang along the edges. Drill 3/16-inch holes along the perimeter (through the floorboard only), then drive 1-1/4-inch screws to secure the floorboard to the cleats.
Use glue and 5d finishing nails to attach the lower edge of the right end panel (A) to the edge of the floorboard as shown; make sure the front edges align. Repeat to attach the left end panel (B). With both end panels secured, attach the back panel (G) with glue and nails. Then glue the base divider (D) in place as shown (note the offset from center) and secure it with 1-5/8-inch drywall screws driven up through the floorboard and also through the back panel.
Apply glue inside the dadoes in the end panels, then slide the step platform (E) into place. Drive finishing nails through the ends and also through the platform into the upper edge of the base divider. Then glue the upper divider (F) in place and attach it with screws driven through the back panel.
To complete the bench assembly, use glue and finishing nails to attach the face-frame rails (H) and stiles (J, K) to the front edges of the bench panels and dividers as shown. Use a hammer and a nail set to countersink all the finishing nails in the frame and other areas, then fill the holes with wood filler. Let dry, then sand flush with the surface. Use glue and 1-1/4-inch screws to attach two support cleats (M): one to the top rail of the face frame (offset 3/4 inch from the left end) and one on the inside face of the right end panel (A), 24 inches from the floor.
Cut the desk rails (L) to rough length, then cut and notch the wall bracket (N). Glue and screw the third support cleat (M) to the front of the wall bracket. Use a sanding block to ease all sharp corners and edges on these parts and on the storage bench assembly. Apply a coat of latex primer to all surfaces, followed by two coats of gloss or semigloss latex enamel. Let dry.
If necessary, prep the alcove area by removing the baseboard molding where the bench will fit. (You may have to cut and reinstall some sections of the baseboard.) Also, mark the locations of wall studs in the alcove area. Fit the bench into place and secure it to at least two wall studs, using 2-1/2-inch screws driven through the back panel (G). Test-fit one of the desk rails (L) against the wall, mark stud locations, then drill 3/16-inch holes and screw the rail firmly to the wall. Similarly fasten the wall bracket (N) to the adjacent alcove end wall, then use glue and finishing nails to attach the front desk rail as shown.
Recheck the dimensions for the desktop/seat platform (O), then cut and test-fit that part in place. Adjust as necessary, then prime and paint. When dry, secure to the supports and the storage bench with finishing nails. Cut the cork tiles to fit and attach to the step platform.