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."
"BUT THAT'S MY SPOT."
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!