DIY Secret Book nook

DIY & Save Money, Little Victorian Home / Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

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When we initially toured our little blog cabin, we were excited to discover a closet within a closet! Yes indeed, the closet in Triceratops’ bedroom has a hidden recess under the eaves. It is SO cool! Triceratops requested we turn it into a secret book nook. Lucky for her, she is a small breed of daughter and could put the space to use in a way that no one else quite could.

We began by removing several shelves and a rod that would have reduced the headroom and space in which to move about. Also, Greg wanted the entry-within-an-entry to look as tall and grand as possible while showcasing the rounded ceiling.

The walls were initially a shade of green that you couldn’t even vomit if you tried. A considerable amount of thought went into what to do with the sloped walls given that the plaster was very roughly troweled on, uneven, and cracked. Rather than repair or cover it, we elected to play up the stucco feel with two shades of grey paint.


We rolled on the lighter grey and troweled on a slightly darker and warmer grey. While rolling, part of the wall peeled off to reveal that it had been wallpapered with newspapers. THAT was a nifty discovery and a throwback to a thrifty era when phone numbers had only three digits, as could be seen in the original ads.

We decided to paint some of the boards in the closet to look like timbers. First we applied brown paint and later dry-brushed one of the gray shades over it. The end result is a rustic, white-washed look.

On the outside wall of the nook, we added removable brick wallpaper. This was left over from a previous project. The roll was originally $30 from Walmart, and the remnant was the perfect amount–within inches!–to complete this project. Applying the self-adhesive wallpaper was a bit of a challenge for two reasons: 1) the wall was textured with lots of sharp bumps and 2) part of the application was continuous onto the curved ceiling. In hindsight, sanding the bumps would have been wise to improve ease of adhesion. As for the ceiling, we DESPERATELY wanted the ceiling to appear to be a brick arch, so the frustration was worthwhile. Using a dry paint roller was helpful for smoothing out the overhead wallpaper as we adhered it.

Ok, we actually didn’t have quite enough wall paper to wrap around the 6″ wall to the left. Triceratops found it important for the brick to look like brick, and that meant creating the illusion of the thickness of a brick wall. Rather than buy a whole new roll of wall paper for a few inches of coverage, we found a fence plank in our crawl space and screwed it in. Then, we painted it to match the other “timbers.” Gotta love free!


In keeping with the masonry, lightweight cast stone left over from yet another project was used as facing for the shelf and hot-glued in place. It was too little stone to do us any good elsewhere and it felt good to put the remaining stone to use. Dr. Greg wants the world to know he is proud that he was able to notch a stone around the board on the right using a Dremel cutting wheel. He could have simply removed that pointless board, but we won’t tell him that.

What is a reading nook without a light source? There was no electric in the closet so we installed a chandelier and small antique wall lamp via an extension cord because, let’s admit it–sometimes we are lazy. The chandelier was $30 at IKEA and the porcelain reading lamp was also $30 from a local antique shop.


(Channeling O’ Brother Where Art Thou: Well ain’t this place a retail oddity? $30 for every thing!)

Dr. Greg cut down an empty bureau mirror frame and used the top as a pediment above the door. It adds even more height to the entry. Although we were conflicted about sawing the antique frame, the rest of it wasn’t nearly as ornate and it was over-sized for our tiny blog cabin.

The closet still had to function as a closet. A new hanging rod was built from pipe fittings for about $20. We have plans to add shelving above for shoes. We concealed this area from sight with fabric of Triceratops’ choosing. The fabric ($20 from Walmart) was suspended with clip-on curtain hangers which in turn were hung from decorative hooks that were screwed into the arched ceiling. Similar hooks can be purchased at the hardware store where the plant hangers are sold. The tie-back was created from leftover chandelier chain.

Finally, all accessories and finishing touches were things we already owned and re-purposed for the nook.

Success! Here’s Olivia putting her new nook to use!


3 Replies to “DIY Secret Book nook”

  1. What a cool reading nook idea! I’ve been working on creating a more inviting reading space on my back porch!

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