Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Build Your Own Flip-Up Window Seat! For Your Cats. Because Your Cats Get All The Cool Stuff. :D

For a while now we've had two problems over by our dining room window:


 The first problem was that Eva's stick-on window shelf was a huge eye sore. (It has her baby blanket over it in that pic.) The OTHER problem was that Suki the Beast is too chonky to get up that high, and so she didn't have a window seat of her own.

Now, Suki is a bit of a bully, so it's good Eva can escape to her high perch unscathed. But c'mon. LOOK HOW SAD THIS IS:

Suki singing in cat yowls: "I want to be... where my sister is."

We always had a dining room chair under the window so Suki could look out, too, but that was ALSO an eye sore - and with only a few feet between the wall and the dining room table, I worried a shelf would take up too much room.

Our solution? A flip down window seat. That way we can fold it flat against the wall when we have company, so there's still enough room around the table!

Here's the shelf flat against the wall, and Eva trying to figure out where her seat went.

John built this from scratch, but the design is pretty simple:

1: Build or buy a basic wood shelf. It helps if it has a slight overhang around the edge - you'll see why in a sec.

2: Build or buy basic wood shelf brackets that are long enough to support your shelf:

... but also short enough to fit inside the shelf, like this:

3: Attach the shelf brackets underneath using piano hinges so they fold inward toward the center, like this:

Pro Tip: You can buy long lengths of piano hinges at any hardware store, and then cut them to size using tin snips.

You'll need another length of piano hinge to attach the entire thing to the wall.

After that comes the SUPER hard part: figuring out how to finish your shelf.

We started out thinking we'd try to make our shelf look like a rustic sign, since those are still all the rage on Pinterest, ha. So John stained it:

... and then we designed this with some free clip art:

We made the stencil with our Cricut, then John sprayed it with gold spray paint and gave it a light sanding.

Aaaaand we kind of hated it.


It just didn't look right, and we stared at it for a good three days before realizing it was time to scrap the sign idea altogether.

Instead we went back to square 3 and upholstered the shelf in vinyl we had leftover from our "High Tech Headboard" build. We had some thin upholstery foam we stacked double for the pad, then stretched and stapled the vinyl in place underneath:

I even found some gold upholstery tacks in my stash to add some tufting, so we didn't have to buy any more supplies for this part. Woot woot!

It's tough to get a good photo, since during the day it's a white-out, and at night it's all glare and reflection, but hopefully these give you a good idea:

Here you can see how much space there is between the window and the table - and why we needed that option to fold it when if we have folks over for dinner:

Oh! I forgot to mention: you'll also need to attach two small squares of wood to the wall itself, right where the shelf brackets sit. You can see one in this photo, between the bracket and the wall. This block compensates for the back lip of the shelf, and holds the whole shelf level. Those support blocks are hidden under the shelf when it's folded down, and are barely visible when the shelf is up.

Initially we took down Eva's suction-cup shelf once this was built, figuring the girls could just share the lower one. After three days of watching Eva stare longingly upward at the window, though, we caved. (Yes, we're saps. What.)

However, to make the suction-cup shelf a little less hideous and a lot more stable, John added some modifications.

This is the shelf as it comes:
It claims to hold up to a 30 pound cat, but I can tell you from experience that two forceful 10 pound cats can take it down, ha. John replaced the top 2 suction cups with hooks drilled into the window trim a long time ago, but now he added extra support to the bottom, too, by screwing the bottom PVC supports directly into the metal of the lower window frame:

Then he sewed a new vinyl cover to replace the icky beige one. Eva is pleased.

Now the girls have matching window seats, and my dining room looks pretty again!

Sometimes we'll pop Suki up on top for a while, which she LOVES and Eva resents:

You can almost hear Suki going "Neener neener."


Fortunately Suki can jump down OK; she just can't get up there on her own.

"Five more minutes!"

Notice how Eva has left in a huff here: 

And here's the shelf folded down again:

I hope this was helpful and maybe inspirational for you cat owners out there! As always, feel free to ask any build questions in the comments, and John or I will do our best to answer.

Also if you're new here and haven't seen it yet, you might be interested in our Kitty Quidditch Tower. We're basically on our way to becoming professional cat spoilers. :D


Speaking of our cats, I have a handful of useful things I recommend - including the window shelf we modified here - linked over on my Amazon Cat Stuff list. Be sure to click on the speech bubble over each item to read my reviews!


  1. I love how you guys spoil your cats. I can't do any of that since I rent, and I have a 12 pound cat that will collapse any suction cup shelf on the market. And seeing pictures of your beautiful cats is always good!
    Maureen S

  2. We have that window shelf - I'll have to see about making the mods so it is a little sturdier. Two 12-pound cats can most definitely take it down! Our window is only eight inches off the ground, so we just wedge a box under it but that's not very attractive in our family room.

  3. No cats here, but you just made me wonder if this could somehow be turned into bench seating for humans. Save space because our table and walk way are cramped...

    1. You absolutely could, just make sure you use hefteir hinges, and screw them into studs!

  4. Well no wonder the cats didn't want to share the new shelf...Suki nearly takes up the entire thing. Maybe you should just wet her down so her fluff doesn't take up so much room. bwahaha! Glad both cats are now happy.

  5. I'm laughing at Suki not being able to get to the high shelf. I once had a cat who could leap to the top of my roommate's china cabinet, which was 7 feet tall.

    In one leap.

    1. Sweet Stay Puft, yeah, Suki is more of the lumbering, ground-dwelling type. :D Probably for the best, since she's also prone to flopping over and falling off things, ha.

  6. We have a similar build planned for a counter that my husband can use when running DnD. It'll fold down against the wall over my cedar chest and (hopefully) look like a nice bench when we aren't gaming. Thanks for the guidance!

    1. Ohhh, that sounds awesome! Please share pics when it's done, I'd love to see.

  7. That shelf is sooo elegant looking! What a great idea.

  8. What a great idea! I think I need to make one of these! :D

  9. What a fabulous idea! The end result looks SO good. Folded up, it looks like a beautiful design element, and folded out, it's still pretty while being useful. You guys are my heroes!

  10. They don't scratch up the vinyl? Your cats are trained better than mine. *eyes vinyl couch arms*

    1. Errr... WELL... they *mostly* don't? We also made their Quidditch Tower pads out of vinyl, and those have a few punctures here and there, but at least no rips. So I fully expect this will get some abuse, and eventually we'll have to recover it again. I think it's still worth it to avoid all the hair build-up on actual fabric, though.

  11. Replies
    1. It can be done! Same build design, just using much heftier hinges screwed into wall studs. You could also build pop-up tables or workspaces like this. My favorite I've seen folds UP, and then has a piece of artwork on the back, so while folded up it looks like a framed painting!

    2. OOOHH!! That would be very cool! Folding up with a framed painting!

  12. Great ideas! We have nice wide window sills for Maine Coon Floof to hang over(along with the fat belly). But I like the fold down option. But vinyl would not last very long in my house. Hence the microfiber beige fabric the couches are slip covered in. Hides claw marks and cat fur.

  13. I always love seeing the 'failed' part to a craft, like your first take on the window seat. Sometimes it's nice to have that reassurance that your first attempt might not turn out the best, but if you keep trying you'll wind up with something awesome! Have you ever thought of making a post that's just all fails? It might be a fun/cathartic way to celebrate those little projects that didn't get finished.

    1. Ooof, I don't know how well my ego could take an All Fails post, lol. :p Though I will say I'm trying to share a lot more of them as they happen, now. I've hidden SO MANY over the years - any extended period of time between craft posts was most likely because whatever I'd tried went in the trash. If I could go back I'd share them all, since now I know that even Fails have tremendous value. They can inspire someone else to try it a new way, and like you said, they also remind folks that everyone screws up sometimes, and that's OK!

    2. Thank you for sharing what fails you have! It means a lot to see pro's like you and John have crafting fails too (And yes I do consider you guys pros!).

  14. That is so fantastic! I've been trying to figure out something for my girls because they love to sit and look out our big picture window, but the ledge is too narrow. I have a little still sitting there now, but it's in a weird position to not block the vent, so this would totally fix the vent problem. I wish I could use one of the windows shelves but we have low hanging awnings so they wouldn't be able to see much.

  15. This is hilarious! My daughter and I are planning a set of cat climbing shelves for a wall in her room and this morning she asked me if there was a way to make the shelves fold down out of the way so she didn't bump into them when she was getting stuff out of her closet. I told her I didn't think so, then a few hours later I checked your blog and you have the solution for me!

  16. Oh. My. Gosh. I have a window space that screams for a window seat, and a doggo who has destroyed a loveseat in that spot because it's his favorite, but it is also where my Christmas tree is supposed to go.... I could totally modify this to be dog-friendly and the fold-down means room for my tree.... Ack! Now to plan!

  17. Here you go: Something lovely and peaceful to make you smile.

  18. Oh my goodness! Suki changed color just like our Sadie did! Cute little white-ish kitten to ginormous grey-tawny flufferbutt (our Sadie, not necessarily your Suki!)

  19. This looks so elegant, both with and without cats ! I would do this if I had the skill and the possibility, I would just use a velvety fabric instead of vinyl. Probably cobalt blue velvet. I must say, even the cats look assorted to the curtains and furniture...

  20. I've read this post several times and have only just noticed that the wood grain shown in the illustration for step 2 looks like a sitting cat...


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