Have you ever thought about turning an unused closet into a reading nook? It’s the perfect solution for making the most of a small space. I converted my kids’ closet into a fun reading nook during a recent bedroom redesign and wanted to share some of my best tips with you!
The four essential elements of a perfect reading nook are a cozy place to sit, shelves for favorite books, light to read by, and a twist of magic. There are many ways to tackle this DIY project in your own home, but every cozy reading nook should check these boxes.
As far as closet makeovers go, this one is the most fun to do! A cozy book nook is a perfect spot for a little girl or boy to enjoy some reading time and a fun way to create a little hideaway for your favorite kid (or kid at heart). Read on for creative ideas and DIY touches.
Pin for later!
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. Thanks for supporting Bloom in the Black!
1. A fresh coat of paint
The first step to making your closet into a reading nook is to start with a clean slate. Once you have an empty closet, 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 few coats of paint.
Even if you plan to keep the walls the same color, I would still recommend repainting the entire wall. This is a great way to give the whole space a much neater and fresher appearance.
Removable wallpaper would be another good option to create a beautiful focal point, but I took this as an opportunity to play with a fun color I wouldn’t use in a whole room. I considered pewter green but ended up using this soft pink color (Spring Blossom by Benjamin Moore):
2. Add cozy seating to your DIY reading nook
Once you strip your closet space down to its clean slate state, measure and evaluate what kind of seating will:
a.) fit well,
b.) function best, and
c.) look the cutest.
One could argue that looking cute isn’t that important, but hey, this is for a kids room! We’re trying to encourage literacy. Lure them in with a good book and a cute and cozy space to sit.
In our case, I opted to DIY a built-in bench with a bench cushion. 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).
I elevated it a bit so it would feel like a mini loft bed (cuteness) and get some extra space underneath. This gained us some storage space to fit a basket and some poufs underneath (more function).
If you have more square footage or a walk-in 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.
3. Install bookshelves
Since we’re building a reading corner, shelving for a book collection 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 the side 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 give us plenty of space to sit and lean.
4. Include lighting
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 a traditional overhead light fixture or a wall sconce. 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.
We opted for the simple stick-on puck lights for reading and adding oodles of fairy lights and a funky twinkle light sign (similar) for our mood lighting. Check out my tutorial to DIY your own twinkle light sign!
5. Add a twist of magic to your closet reading nook
Since this book 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 your reading space:
- Fun wallpaper. Don’t be boring here — try wild themes, mythic creatures, and pop colors. If you go with peel-and-stick wallpaper, 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 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 closet 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.
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.
Want more? Here’s the full collection of Bloom in the Black decorating posts. If you’re interested in having me cover a particular topic, shoot me an email and I’ll add it to the list!