Have you ever thought about turning a closet into a reading nook? I’m guessing a lot of us have — there are beautiful examples all over the internet to prove it! I learned a few things when converting my kids’ closet into a book nook during a recent bedroom redesign and wanted to share some of my best tips with you!
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This first thing to do when you decide to make your closet into a reading nook is to start with a clean slate. Pull out all the wire shelving (or whatever you might have in yours), patch all the holes with spackle or mesh patch for bigger sections, then add a fresh coat of paint.
Even if you plan to keep the walls the same color, I would still recommend repainting the entire wall. It will give the whole space a much neater and fresher appearance. Personally, I took this as an opportunity to play with a fun color I wouldn’t use in a whole room:
How to Make a Reading Nook for Kids
There are four essential elements for a perfect reading nook for kids:
- Cozy seat, bench, or bed
- Shelves for books
- A twist of magic
Here’s how we added all of those things.
1. Add a cozy seat, bench, or bed to your closet reading nook
Once you strip your closet down to its clean slate state, measure and evaluate what kind of seating will:
b.) function best, and
c.) look the cutest.
One could argue that looking cute isn’t that important but hey, this is for kids! We’re trying to encourage literacy. Lure them in with appealing seating, I say.
In our case, we opted to DIY a built-in upholstered bench. Since we needed space for two kids to sit at once (fit) and Josie wanted it to double as a little sleeping nook, making it as close to a bed as possible was ideal (function). We also elevated it a bit so we could fit a basket and some poufs underneath while also making it feel a bit like being in a treehouse (function and cuteness).
If you have a large closet, you might be able to fit a chair or a small couch inside. A smaller closet might work best with a few floor pillows. Take a good look and imagine what will feel the most inviting to your child while also fitting the space you have to work with.
2. Add bookshelves to your closet reading nook
Since we’re building a book nook, shelving for books is a must! Here are a few things to keep in mind when you choose and place your bookshelves:
- Be sure that nobody will easily hit their head. You can ensure this by either choosing a very shallow shelf, hanging the shelf high, or both.
- Be sure the shelves won’t prevent someone from sitting comfortably. Meaning, don’t hang seat-to-ceiling shelves along a wall that someone would naturally be inclined to lean on when hanging out in the reading nook. I’ve seen some beautiful nooks that do this and I find it baffling. Nobody sits rigidly upright while reading.
I decided to use two inexpensive picture ledges to put the girls’ books on. It’s both pretty as a book display and functional since they’re out of the way of our backs and heads.
3. Add lighting to your closet reading nook
If you’re going to read you obviously need lighting! In our book nook, we added overhead lighting to read by and mood lighting for coziness. Mood lighting is optional. Here are some ways you can add reading light to your cozy closet nook:
- Add traditional overhead lighting. If you’re already wired for lighting in your closet, great! Simply use the light that’s there or swap it out for something more whimsical.
- Stick battery-operated puck lights to the ceiling. If there’s no electricity in your closet and you just want to install a couple of reading lights quickly and efficiently, these puck lights are awesome. They cast far more light than you’d think.
- DIY a pretty pendant light. This option doesn’t require electricity either and is super affordable! Try this project if you want something a little glam.
4. Add a twist of magic to your closet reading nook
Since this reading nook is in a kids’ room, I was able to go full magic with plant walls, larger than life flowers, fairy lights, and light-up signs. Here are some other ideas for adding that spark of magic to a kids’ closet book nook:
- Fun wallpaper. Don’t be boring here — try wild themes, mythic creatures, and pop colors. If you go the peel-and-stick route you can easily change it once your child outgrows it.
- Wall mural. You can buy a premade wall mural (also peel-and-stick) or go crazy and paint one with your kid!
- Thick curtains. Enhance that hideout feel with thick curtains that your kids can draw closed when they need some alone time. When not in use, use a cheerful tie-back like this one to hold them open.
Since the theme of my girls’ bedroom is a secret garden (at night), we obviously decided to turn the closet into an actual secret garden. Hanging the faux fern plant panels was a literal snap — 10-minute project! I added the fairy lights in the foliage to give the feel of fireflies and stuck some big bright flowers in there for extra dazzle. Finally, I made the twinkle light sign (tutorial to come!) and stuck a few of the butterflies that are placed around the rest of the room onto the book ledges as a finishing touch.
Final thoughts on making a kids’ reading nook
The most important thing that will go into making this small getaway for your kids is love. Cheesy? Heck yes, but is there anything more comforting than a space made just for you by the person who loves you the most? Not really.
So show it by leaning into what you know your child will enjoy and not what you think will look best. I know. It can be hard to resist. But I promise — make it wild, sweet, and fun and your kid’s excitement will make up for that a million times over.
What if you want to make a reading nook but don’t have a closet to spare? Get creative! You could try:
- A space under the stairs
- A corner of a room
- A pass-through space like a wide hall or landing
Use your imagination! You’ll find a spot