Window Sill Ideas

By Meg Escott

I've collected together a series of window sill ideas.  You might think that there's not much you can do with your window sills but read on to see how your sills could do double duty as:

  • a window seat
  • a desk
  • a breakfast bar
  • a storage area
  • a radiator / HVAC cover
  • a shower niche

We'll go on to see some window sill designs in relation to the kitchen sink which can sometimes be tricky and then talk about window sill height, window sill materials and window sill profiles and aprons.

I hope you agree that window sills form an important part of your window design.

Window sill seat

I'm a big fan of a window seat.  It's a great way of adding comfortable seating to a room.  In particular, bay windows provide great space for a window seat.

The area under the window seat can be used for storage, or can house a radiator or HVAC vent.

window sill ideas window seat storageThis window seat also incorporates a drawer underneath for storage

Window seat cushion tips

No window seat is complete without a cushion to make it all the more inviting.  If you plan to use this window sill idea, think about how to keep the cushion in one place. 

First tip - make sure you leave enough space between the bottom of the window and the window sill for a nice thick cushion.

Second tip - the cushion can be a bit annoying if it slides out from under you.  Possible solutions might be:

  • Screw in eye's at the back of the window that the cushion can be tied to.  This is my preferred solution
  • Make the cushion with a non-slip surface at the bottom.
  • Glue velcro onto the window sill and sew the other side onto the underside of the cushion.

Window sill desk

Of course you could put a desk in front of a window.  Could you squeeze in a desk as part of your window sill?

The important thing about a desk is that the area underneath needs to be free for the chair.  This will need to be specified in your plans.  It may mean that you'll need a n insulated panel below the window, or build a slight bay to create the space for underneath the desk.

The window sill can be extended into the room to provide the depth of desk you want.

Desk height is about 30 inches or 76cm.

window sill ideas deskWindow sill desk

Window sill breakfast bar

Similar to the desk window sill idea above, in the kitchen the same idea (only a little higher up) could apply to a breakfast bar.

Again, the area under the window sill would need to be free for stools.

Bar height is about 42 inches or 107cm.

window sill ideas breakfast barWhy not extend your kitchen window sill to create a breakfast bar?

Window sill storage area

If you need more storage space (either open shelves or closed cupboards / drawers) under the window can be the perfect spot.

In the example below the window sill has been extended to provide the depth required for the shelves which creates a nice wide sill on top for display.

window sill ideas shelf storageExtend your window sill to create storage below

Window sill radiator or HVAC cover

Heating systems whether they are radiators or vents are often place under windows.  They're often not all that pretty to look at so combining a cover with the window sill is a good window sill idea!

You can decide whether or not to include vents on the top of the window sill.

window sill ideas radiator HVAC coverCombining the window sill with a radiator cover is an elegant design solution - with or without top vents

Window sill shower niche

A fully tiled window sill (and reveal) does nicely as a shower niche.

window sill ideas shower nicheTiled window niche plays the role of shower niche

Window sill ideas for the kitchen

Many kitchen layouts call for the kitchen sink to be in front of a window.

window sill ideas kitchen sink with sill aboveKitchen window sill idea with the sink above countertop level

I really like this kitchen window sill idea where the window sill is flush with the countertop.  It creates extra space behind the sink.

This arrangement needs careful planning as the height of the window sill will need to account for floor thickness, kitchen cabinet height and countertop thickness. 

window sill ideas kitchen window sill flush with countertopKitchen window sill idea with the sill flush with countertop level

Here the window sill is below countertop level.

The sink is suspended across the window from the surrounding kitchen units.  The more the sink is set back from the window, the more it will look like a piece of furniture just in front of the window rather than a kitchen sink shoved right up to the window.  The back of the sink unit would need to be nicely finished.

The void underneath gives a feeling of space.  I love the way the sunlight peeps through onto the floor.

This window sill idea would also work for a powder room washbasin so long as there's a mirror somewhere else.

window sill ideas kitchen window sill below countertop levelKitchen window sill idea with the sink below countertop level

Window sill height

Just before we start on window sill height, this section on window height will be useful to you as well.

We'll start from the bottom to the top....

Window sills at ground level

Let's look at the pros and cons of window sills at ground level.

  • If the window sill is all the way down to the ground I guess effectively there's no window sill so there's a seamless connection to the outside.
  • If you live in a place that's warm enough, you can install folding or sliding windows so that your home can be opened up entirely to the outside.
  • On the flip side of that, leaves can collect on the outside of the window so to maintain a nice view, there's a bit of outdoor maintenance to be done.
  • I think it looks slightly odd to put furniture up against a ground level window.  So if you share my opinion, a window down to the ground means there's a bit less wall space in a room. 

Window sills at knee height

Moving up a little now to knee height...

  • Sight lines are more or less uninterrupted from inside to outside but without the problem of seeing any debris that builds up against the side of the house.
  • Knee height is the same height as a coffee table so if you have a chair by the window you can put your drink or book on the window sill.
  • If the window sill is sufficiently deep it's the perfect height for a window seat.
  • If the height of the window is sufficient, a window that opens can behave like a door as it's not too much to step over the window sill to get outside.
  • Knee height is still too low to place furniture straight up against it.

Window sills at waist  / hip height

Once the sill reaches waist / hip height this introduces some interesting functional window sill ideas.

  • It's true to say that the connection to the outside is lost slightly once the sills get to waist / hip height.  However it means that there's space to put furniture in front of the window.
  • This height is the perfect height to create a display on your window sill - provided your windows open outwards or don't open.

Window sills at shoulder height and above

Windows are usually placed at shoulder height for two reasons:

  • When the view is not suitable for a window lower down.
  • If the wall space is required, for example in a bedroom for the headboard.

A high-up window sill has little functionality apart from a display space.  In fact if the window is above eye level it might be better to do away with a flat sill and angle the reveal to improve the light and view from the window.

Window sill materials

Window sills can be covered in different materials.  Wood is popular in living spaces and tile and stone are most often found in kitchens or bathrooms.

window sill ideas materialsWindow sills can be covered in different materials - here's wood, tile and stone

Window sill profiles and aprons

Let's start with window sill profiles.

My strong preference is for the window sill to wrap around the wall and for the profile shape to be mitered at the corner.

window sill ideas wrap sill around the wallWhich window sill profile do you prefer?

You may have noticed that below the window sill there's a part of a window called the apron.

This is the decoration that's sometimes included below the sill.  Design choices range from having no apron to having quite an elaborate apron.

window sill ideas apron designsWindow apron designs ranging from simple to more elaborate

The design of the apron should compliment the design of the architrave, but need not be identical.

The vertical emphasis of the apron should be in line with the edge of the architrave.

This article on installing stool (sill) and apron is a good read for more detail that will help you discuss your sills, architraves and aprons with your architect or carpenter.

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