A Built-In Corner Seating Nook
Plywood boxes assemble into an elegant, comfortable kitchen bench with storage.
Synopsis: Builder Joseph Lanza faced a challenge: how to create a seating nook in an 18th-century house where plumb, level, and square no longer existed, and to do so without help. In this article, Lanza describes the design and construction of the nook. After designing the unit in SketchUp, he decided to break down the job into four parts: start with a level plinth, install the base as four separate boxes, install the seat and the corner-cabinet unit, and finish with the solid-wood parts (seat back, nosings, and moldings). He built the boxes from Baltic-birch plywood, the seats from pine plywood, and the beadboard panels and various trim pieces from solid pine. In addition to providing a place for dining, playing games, and doing homework, the nook includes storage in the corner cabinet and in drawers that run the full length of the seating area. Detailed drawings illustrate the construction of the base units; the installation of the corner cabinet, seat panels, and back frame; and the placement of the trim pieces.
My friends Debbie and Tom decided to make better use of a small room next to their kitchen. They wanted a built-in seat that could serve as an informal dining area and a place for board games or homework.
After measuring the space and designing the seat in cross section, I made a Sketch Up model of a seat with enough room for four people, storage drawers below, and a cabinet in the back of the corner seat. Tom and Debbie liked the design, but before I started building, I made a 24-in.-wide plywood mock-up to make sure they would be comfortable sitting in it. We agreed that the mock-up was more comfortable with a 3⁄4-in. plywood block under the front edge. I gave the seat an additional…