SketchUp, Window Seat Bookcase
Comments 12

Current Project: Window Seat Bookcase

I have been looking at so much Greene & Greene furniture, my head hurts. I keep hoping I’ll see something that helps me break out of the design block which currently has a hold on me. What you see above is the current design idea for my daughter’s window seat bookcase.

The Window Seat Bookcase design 2.

The Window Seat Bookcase design two.

During the past week, it has become clear to me that my first design was just that: mine. My daughter, wants the window seat bookcase to be more of a bench with a seat back. So instead of viewing this project as a case piece, I really need to view it a little more from a chair perspective.

So far I have gained most of my design inspiration for this project from Darrell Peart, a fantastic woodworker who specializes in the Greene & Greene style. Another design source: David Mathias’ book, “Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood & Light”. Mathias’ book easily gets my creative juices flowing because it is full of actual photos of Greene & Greene homes and furnishings (as opposed to interpretive work).

But, I think what I have drawn above doesn’t really have Greene & Greene bones. Sure I could add cloud lifts and ebony plugs and make it look more like something the Greene brothers would have designed, but I have found only a couple of side tables which have similar proportions. The Greene brothers designed furniture which was lighter than what I have drawn, so I am thinking there is something about my design that does not fit. I think it has too much mass.

The two design options.

The two design options.

You can see from the image above that the two designs are vastly different especially the height of the bookcase area. The second design, shown on the left, has a much smaller storage area for books. The fact that this bookcase will sit in front of two windows limits the bookcase height. Add in a seat back and designing a bookcase which has meaningful storage space has been challenging.

The good news: my daughter likes this new design. Until I started drawing the first design, she had never heard of Greene & Greene. Even though I explained how years from now she could tell her friends she has a Greene & Greene inspired piece, all she really wants is a bookcase that fits under the windows in her bedroom. I am the one that wants to build it in the G & G style. Some more images of the current design…

Design Two Collage

I do like how the arch in the lower front stretcher is repeated in the bench crest rail. The crest rail also curves front to back matching the curve on the seat back posts. The cut-out detail in the side panels seen in the first design remains and it would be extra cool to find some figured wood for them. I did thin the legs slightly when compared to the first design.

Here are the blog posts showing how construction is progressing..

Window Seat Bookcase: Planning for the Top
Window Seat Bookcase: The Back is Completed
Window Seat Bookcase: Making the Back Slats
Window Seat Bookcase: Making the Shelves
Window Seat Bookcase: The Lower Shelf
Window Seat Bookcase: The Aprons, Part 2
Window Seat Bookcase: The Aprons, Part 1
Window Seat Bookcase: Making the Sides and Dividers, Part 2
Window Seat Bookcase: Building the Sides and Dividers, Part 1
Window Seat Bookcase: Getting Underway
Creating a Complex Crest Rail in SketchUp
My First Full Size Mock-Up

So, what do you think? I love the first design, but I like this one too. According to SketchUp, there are 49 parts to make for design two. That is nothing to sneeze at (I’ve been sick, so pun intended). I will soon begin making a full-size mock-up of the window seat bookcase which I suspect will lead to some minor design tweaks. Then construction will begin. Can’t wait.


  1. dennis says

    Well here’s my two cents worth. Overall I like the design, but it is a bit hard looking. How about making the top rail one piece and giving the top a very slight curve from one end to the other? Maybe 3/4 inch less at each end from the center. The bottom would be straight. Also will the bench have a cushion on it? Might be uncomfortable without one. A cushion will also soften the look.

    • Dennis – you are right about it being hard looking and it will have a cushion. One thing I noticed when studying the G & G style in Darrell Peart’s work is there are no sharp edges; most every edge has a subtle curve. I just don’t want to go to that trouble to create in SketchUp.

      Concerning the top rail; an earlier design was this…

       photo LowBookcase022414B_zps9f8e319d.png

      Cloud lifts in the thick top rail which I would have added a curve at each end where the rail meets up with the outside posts. But I kept messing with it and finally settled for the look you see in the blog post. I’ll give it some more thought. Thanks for the input.

    • wilburton says

      I think you have come up with a great design — and I like the upper rail being straight on top, which will repeat the straight line of the window trim; and curved below to repeat the bottom curve. What are the overall dimensions? When I think of window seat I think of something fairly low. What wood will you use to mock up and for the final?

  2. I like the overall design. The end panel details look very sharp. The chair back looks fine to me. My only question would be the seat height. With standard chair height being ~17″, 22″ seems a bit tall to me. I realize that losing 5″ would compromise the storage function considerably, but it my opinion, it looks a bit too much like a book case with a back attached rather than a window seat with storage. It’s a matter of which function you give priority, I suppose.

    Nevertheless, I’ll be very interested to see how it turns out.

    • Caldeobald, you are right about the seat height being high and you could not be more correct in your assessment of it being a bookcase with a seat back. That is really what it is, a bookcase first and a window seat second. I suspect it will get very little use as a seat, but the full size mock-up will be key. Designing in SketchUp means you can loose perspective on an objects true size.

  3. I agree with caldeobald about the seat height. It looks a bit uncomfortable as far as a seat goes and why get so hung up on G & G? Make it your own design, you seem like a great designer and woodworker, or better yet make yours and your daughter’s design. If you want a window seat build it with some storage. If you need more book storage, build a stand alone book case then your daughter will have 2 pieces of furniture that I am sure in the future she will brag that “my father built these for me”. Good luck!

    • Rick, I guess the reason for the emphasis on G & G is I want to do something very different with this project and grow a little as a woodworker. Never done G & G before. However, as you say, this will end up as a special project regardless of the design style. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Luc says

    Nice work Jeff, I like the dual functionality, more is good….

    Cheers – Luc

  5. It’s looking good Jeff. The window seat that I built last year was 18″ tall with a 4″ foam cushion on top. It works quite well at that height.

    I know it would compromise the storage space, but raising the lower rail a bit might change the feel some. Pierced rails might work well on this piece, I like the detail on the side panels. The pierced elements always seem to feel lighter even thought they are typically square.

    Another idea for more storage would be to only have the center portion of be at seat height and have the two end compartments higher, allowing for more books and providing a surface for a reading lamp or cup of coffee. This would limit the seating to one person, but work as a reading bench of sorts.

    Can’t wait to see where you end up with this.

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