Turn an Underused Closet into an Adorable Reading Nook!

Two questions for our readers today: Number one, do you like to curl up and read in a comfy space? And two, do you have a closet you aren’t using or really don’t need? For many homeowners, the answer is an affirmative “Oh yes” to both of these questions, and we have a wonderful DIY project that’ll both use your closet to its maximum potential and give you an adorable spot to sit down and catch up on some reading.

It’s called the “closet reading nook,” and it’s been popping up all over the DIY blogs over the past few years.


What the nook consists of will partly be up to your willingness and/or need to add certain things due to the size and shape of your closet, as well as your construction skills and ambition, but there are a few essential steps that will turn any closet into a wonderful little nook for learning and relaxation.

  1. Size up your closet. This is important in two ways: first, you need the literal size of the closet, as this determines what you can fit in the thing! Second, you need to figuratively “size it up,” because some closets will transform into nooks much easier, while others might not be worth the trouble. See what’s in the closet in terms of things that are nailed, screwed or otherwise built-in to the area, and decide what you want to keep as well as what you have space to keep when a sitting area and room for books is added. If there’s a lot to remove such as built-in cabinets as well as shelves, you might want to try another closet (unless you’re confident in your construction skills).
  2. Take the contents of your closet out. This might simply mean removing items, but most closets will have clothes hanger rods or even shelves or other obstructions as well. Most such things can be removed with hammers, screwdrivers and/or drills, and if you have any questions about how to remove a certain installation, Google should point you in the right direction quickly.
  3. Remove the door. This is pretty easy to do: first, close the door and use a hammer and nail to loosen the hinge pins. Simply put a nail through the hole at the bottom of the pin, and tap the hammer so the nail drives upwards into the pin, pushing it up a bit. Then continue to tap the pin out by placing a flathead screwdriver up under the lip of the pin and tapping upwards. Put a piece of cardboard under the door, and then swing it open and pull it to the side so it falls off the hinges. All you’ve got left after that is to unscrew the hinges from the wall.
  4. Clean and fix up the closet. Now that you’ve done a little removing, there’s probably some damaged paint, holes in the wall and door frame and dirtiness. Get this all fixed and painted properly with paint, plaster and whatever else is needed (this will be up determined by each closet’s situation) before you start adding things, and you’ll be happy you didn’t wait until the room was full.
  5. Paint the room! Most closets are that same old boring white color, and that’s just not very conducive to a nice reading session. Choose a color that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable, and you can even add a little texture at this point if you feel the urge.
  6. Install the seating. Now, here’s where things can go very differently from one closet to the next. If you have the room, and you’d rather not build anything or you have a chair you’d like to use, simply put a comfortable chair in the closet. Throw a rug down beneath for some added comfort, and make sure you leave room for shelves and anything else you might want (a small table, etc.). If you’re a bit of a DIY veteran, we’ve seen some absolutely awesome custom-built seating that basically turns the whole bottom area of the closet into a seat by building a sturdy wooden frame and adding a cushion and some pillows.

There are dozens of detailed instruction sets for building this kind of seating out there, so take a look if that’s what you’re going for, but the essentials of this kind of seating are that you need to build a rectangular frame in the base of the closet (attached firmly to studs in the wall), build a similar frame above at the desired height, and then build support between the two. You then can paint the wood and purchase a cushion or make one of your own.


  1. Add in the shelving. If you have room, this can be as simple as installing a pre-built bookshelf, either free-standing (for nooks with chairs) or wall-mounted (for those with custom made seating), or you can build your own. Building shelves is very easy: first, mark out a level line in the side of the closet that you’d like your shelf.

For this, we’re assuming that your shelf will span the space next to or above your seating from one wall to the next. Then, build a frame for the shelf to sit on by screwing boards against the wall along your line so they form a “C” shape on the wall. You’ll want to do this with the boards laid lengthwise with the largest side of the board flat against the wall, and you’ll also want to screw the boards into studs, so make sure you find and mark those first (look up how to do so if needed). Next, lay a custom cut board flat on top of the “C” so it fits perfectly in the space between the walls and forms a shelf. Nail this into the supporting boards that form the “C,” repeat until you have all the shelves you want, and paint.

  1. Set up your lighting appropriately. Most overhead closet lights aren’t going to be great for reading, so either install a new bulb, add a fixture that will put the light at a comfortable level, or add a lamp or other lighting to the room. Again, this will be up to your closet, but some great ideas are hanging paper lamps, shelf lights or lamps that sit on a small table (if you have room). We’ve even seen some people add a dimmer for extra customization of their reading experience.
  2. Decorate, add books and relax! Add a few finishing decorating touches as wanted, then stock your shelves with books and kick back!

Now isn’t that nicer than a musty closet full of things you never touch. Now, instead of having a part of your house that you rarely use and never spend more than a few seconds in, you’ve got another place to get away from it all and even show off. At Prestige Painting, that’s what we call a win-win situation.

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Birmingham, AL35216

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