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This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/674,671, filed Apr. 21, 2005.
The present invention relates to window shelves, and more particularly to an adjustable window shelf that is installable on a structure such as a windowsill or other structure in a manner that requires no tools and results in little or no damage to the structure and surrounding area.
Various means for providing a window shelf or support platform at a window sill or ledge have been devised, serving a variety of purposes ranging from support means for supporting an air conditioning unit or the like installed in a window, to platforms used to support potted plants, ripening fruit, a resting pet, or the like, in the sunlight next to a window.
Installation of window shelf or platform structures is accomplished in a variety of ways. For certain purposes, such as supporting an air conditioning unit, the ability of the platform structure to support a great deal of weight for an extended period of time, as well as to accommodate vibrations and other mechanical effects, is of paramount concern and an installation that is more or less permanent is desirable.
For other purposes, such as providing a support for potted plants, ripening fruit, a resting pet, or the like, of greater concern than weight and vibration bearing ability often are the aesthetic appearance of the shelf, the ability to easily install and remove the shelf with few or no tools, and the ability to install and remove the shelf without causing damage to the window frame and surrounding wall.
Window shelves are known that may be permanently attached to an interior window sill and/or wall by using screws or similar fasteners. However, once such a window shelf is removed, screw holes, or other visible damage caused by fasteners, remain.
Other window shelves are known that may be removably attached to the window sill without screws or other damaging fasteners, but such window shelves often employ a complex bracing or leg support to be configured during installation, and may require the use of tools for assembly and installation, even though damaging fasteners may not be required. Additionally, even if damaging fasteners are not required, the use of metal fixtures used for installation may result in abrasion or other cosmetic damage to the window frame or surrounding walls.
An adjustable window shelf according to the present invention is configured to be installed on a windowsill or other structure or location. The adjustable window shelf serves a variety of purposes, including providing a seat or bed for small pets, a place for potted plants or ripening fruit, or simply providing a general purpose shelf or support or the like.
The adjustable window shelf provides a shelf element in the form of a platform or a small open box (having a floor surrounded by a low perimeter wall) that optionally contains a removable pad. The adjustable window shelf is installable on a windowsill in a manner that requires no tools and results in no damage to the window and surrounding area.
The adjustable window shelf attaches to the windowsill with two adjustable elements that accommodate most styles of windows, including those that have obstructions such as handles, locks, or cranks at the base of the window sashes as well as those that tilt inward or outward for cleaning. The adjustable window shelf is adjusted to fit a window by using sliding brackets or straps to accommodate nearly any windowsill depth, while also ensuring that the shelf will be level.
The adjustable window shelf also has an improved adjustable support system that incorporates two brackets that adjust by sliding in runners on the underside of the shelf, which allows for the runners to be variably positioned, as opposed to positioned in one of a few discrete, predefined locations such as pre-drilled holes found in other devices. A stop within each of the runners further insures the shelf will be level. These brackets meet the wall at an angle, providing better support, while also taking up less space than the horizontal U-shaped brackets in use by other inventions.
These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is an environmental perspective view of an adjustable window shelf installed on a windowsill, and being enjoyed by a cat.
FIG. 1b is an environmental perspective view of the adjustable window shelf of FIG. 1, with a cushion removed for use as a surface for plants.
FIG. 2 is a side view of the adjustable window shelf of FIG. 1
FIG. 3a is a top perspective view of a shelf element of the adjustable window shelf of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3b is a bottom perspective view of shelf element showing sliding metal L-brackets and runners for receiving diagonal support brackets.
FIG. 4a is a cross-sectional illustration of the invention viewed from above.
FIG. 4b is a cross-sectional illustration off the invention viewed from the front with the cushion in place.
FIG. 4c is a cross-sectional illustration of the invention viewed from the side with the cushion in place.
Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.
The present invention is an adjustable window shelf, designated generally as 10 in the drawings. Referring to FIGS. 1a and 1b, the adjustable window shelf is a shelf that may be secured to a windowsill, or in other locations, to serve as a seat for pets (as seen in FIG. 1a), a place for plants (as seen in FIG. 1b), or as a general purpose shelf or support platform for a variety of purposes.
The adjustable window shelf 10 is comprised of a shelf element 100 having the shape of a platform or an open shallow box. Optionally, a cushion 200 may be placed, either fixedly or removably, in or on the shelf element 100. The cushion 200 may have a removable washable cover 201.
When in use, the cushion 200 fills the interior area of the shelf element 100, resting on an upper surface 111 of the shelf element 100, creating a soft and comfortable place for small house pets to enjoy the view beyond the window. Without the cushion 200, the interior area of the shelf element 100 may be used as additional surface area for anything that may or may not benefit from being near a window.
The shelf element 100 is comprised generally of a horizontal platform 110. In the illustrated embodiment, the platform 110 is fully surrounded by perimeter walls 120 to form a shallow, open box. Alternatively, the platform 110 may be partially surrounded by the perimeter walls 120 or the perimeter walls 120 eliminated entirely. In the illustrated embodiment, the platform 110 edges extend slightly into the walls 120, such that the walls 120 provided support and for the shelf element 100.
The exterior profiles of the walls 120 may be plain or decorative. They are shown in FIGS. 2, 3a, 3b, 4b and 4c in accordance with one embodiment having decorative front and side wall profiles, while the rear wall 121 has a flat surface, so it can rest directly against the window sash if there are no obstructions (such as a window crank) to accommodate for.
The walls 120 in all of the illustrated embodiments shown here extend both above the upper surface 111 of the platform 110 and below the bottom surface 113 of the platform 110, forming an upper wall 123 and a lower wall 125. The lower wall 125 gives a more attractive appearance by concealing the underside of the shelf element 100 where windowsill attachment and support mechanisms are located, although the lower wall 125 and concealment of the underside of the shelf element 100 are not necessary.
In some cases, depending on the window style, the shelf element 100 will rest directly on the windowsill. When this occurs, the lower wall 125 of the wall 120 rests on the windowsill and provides spacing between the windowsill and the bottom of the platform 110, preventing the attachment and support mechanisms from contacting and possibly damaging the windowsill. Thus, while in some embodiments the walls 120 may be entirely eliminated, it is desirable that if the lower walls 125 are eliminated an alternative support element or elements are added to the underside of the shelf element 100 at the back to prevent the attachment and support mechanisms from contacting and possibly damaging the windowsill.
Although the shelf element 100 can be secured to the window in any manner that is adjustable and that does not require the use of tools or making holes in the walls or woodwork, an attachment mechanism in the illustrated embodiment is shown including anchors in the form of two metal L brackets 130.
The anchors (L brackets 130 of the illustrated embodiment) are configured to be engaged to a structure, such as to a window frame or sill.
The L brackets comprise a long arm 131 and a generally perpendicular short arm 133. These L brackets 130 are located directly under the platform 110 of the shelf element 100, each having its long arm 131 disposed against the bottom surface 113 of the platform 110.
The L brackets 130 slide out laterally through slots 127 in the lower wall 125 of the rear wall 121 of the shelf element 100, the slots 127 providing additional support for the L brackets 130. Each L bracket 130 has an elongated slot opening 135 that extends the length of the long arm 131 of the L bracket 130 in order that adjustments can be made freely. A screw 137 passes through the platform 110 of the shelf element 100 and through the slot opening 135 in the L bracket 130. A wing nut 139 secures the assembly, so one only needs to loosen the wing nuts 139 in order to slide the L brackets 130 to the appropriate length for attachment to the windowsill and then tighten the wing nuts 139 to hold the L brackets 130 in the correct position.
The short arm 133 of the L bracket 130 extends from the exterior side of the rear wall 121 of the shelf element 100. The short arm 133 is slightly longer than the height of the lower wall 125 so that it can insert between the window sash and the sill, as shown in FIG. 2, or any other comparable cleft in other window styles. The L bracket 130, or another type of anchor, may be similarly engaged to other structures, such as retained behind a top edge of a door, allowing installation of the adjustable window shelf in numerous locations in addition to windows.
In one embodiment, the exterior side of the rear wall 121 has indents 129 behind the L brackets 130 such that when the L brackets 130 are not required to be extended for installation, the short arm 133 of the L bracket 130 fits into the indents 129 to provide the exterior side of the rear wall 121 with a smooth surface as shown in FIGS. 3a and 3b.
In an alternative embodiment, flexible straps (such as nylon straps or the like) that are adjustable in length are attached to L brackets 130. A flexible strap may be attached to, or comprise at least a portion of, the long arm 131 of an L bracket. The flexible strap is attached to the shelf element 100 to provide for adjustment in the extension of the L bracket 130 from the shelf element 100. The L brackets 130 are adapted to be secured between the sill and the sash or hooked under the closed sash, and the nylon straps adjustably securing the L brackets 130 to the shelf element 100.
In another embodiment, a stopping member such as a foam tube or small block is attached to the end of each of the adjustable straps. The shelf element 100 is secured by extending the straps underneath the sash of the window and closing the window, such that the stopping members are trapped on the other side of the closed sash.
Support assemblies each comprising a runner 140 disposed in a front-to-back orientation along the bottom surface 113 of the shelf platform 110 and a support bracket 150 having a top end configured to be slidably engaged with the runner 140 adjust to accommodate various wall and window configurations and to support the lateral load of the shelf element 100 and its contents by forming a diagonal brace from the shelf element 100 to the wall 16.
The top end of the support bracket 150 is adjustably positionable along the underside of the shelf platform 110. Once in the appropriate position, the support brackets 150 may or may not be locked into place by tightening the knobs 155 on optional stopping blocks 17.
In one embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 3b, 4b and 4c, the support brackets 150 attach to the underside of the shelf element without the use of tools by simply inserting a sliding member 151 at the top of a support bracket 150 into a track 141 defined within a runner 140, through a track opening 143 at the rear end of the runners 140.
In the illustrated embodiment, the sliding member 151 is a rectangular block-shaped member extending from the top end of a support bracket 150, and the track 141 is a “T” shaped elongated slot defined in the runner 140 corresponding to the shape of the sliding member. In other embodiments, the shape and configuration of the sliding member 151 and the track 141 or runner 140 may of course be varied.
Once positioned in the track 141, the sliding member 151 is slidably disposed within the runner 140. The sliding member 151 of the support bracket 150 fits in the track 141 snugly, but in such a way that allows the support bracket 150 to slide front to back to adjust to different window and wall arrangements.
The support brackets 150 may be inserted into the tracks 141 in the runners 140 in another manner besides entering at a track opening 143 at the back of the runners. In one alternative, a runner 140 could have an opening on its underside in communication with the track 141 such that the sliding member 151 of the support bracket 150 may be turned at a right angle to the runner 140 for insertion through the opening into the track, and then turned in line with the runner 140 once inserted, such that the sliding member 151 is slidable within, and cannot fall out from, the track 141.
Once the support brackets 150 have been installed in their runners 140 and are positioned with the bottom end against the wall, they will support the weight of the shelf as well as anything on it and therefore resist moving until the weight of the shelf is lifted.
Stopping blocks 153 may be used as an additional precaution against any accidental movement of the support brackets 150 caused by impact. If one chooses to use the stopping blocks 153, they may be inserted in the tracks 141 of the runners 140 before the support brackets 150 are inserted. Once the support brackets 150 are pushed up against the wall, the stopping blocks 153 may be pushed against the top of the support brackets 150. The stopping block 153 comprises a clamp in the form of a knob 155 with a screw in it that extends and screws into a small block that fits into the track 141 of the runner 140. When the knob 155 is tightened, it pulls the block closer to the knob 155, which sandwiches the runner 140 between the block and the knob 155, preventing further movement of the knob 155.
While the adjustable window shelf 10 is described in relation to its installation at a window sill, the adjustable window shelf 10 may be installed in a variety of locations and settings not limited to a window or window sill. For example, the shelf may be attached near the top of a door, with the L brackets 130 anchoring the adjustable window shelf at the top of the door and the support brackets 150 supporting the shelf against a surface of the door.
It will be understood that the above-described embodiments of the invention are illustrative in nature, and that modifications thereof may occur to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, this invention is not to be regarded as limited to the embodiments disclosed herein, but is to be limited only as defined in the appended claims.