Creating Nooks and Niches

A home of any size can have cozy little nooks for quiet reading,or just ‘me’ time.

It is the same for many of us…we see a bay window that has been fitted with a cozy cushion and turned into a wonderful niche for daydreaming and reading, and we sigh because we know we cannot enjoy this same sort of space. After all, it takes that window or that carved out area into which the cozy furniture and dreamy cushions will fit…right? Actually, no, you don't need a dedicated and formal "niche" to create your own nooks and dreamy spaces.


Elegant kitchen breakfast nook


Of course, nooks and niches are not limited to large bay windows, and they can appear in kitchens in the form of breakfast nooks, in bedrooms in the form of unusual spaces into which a bed or desk might fit, or even as storage niches such as those tucked into or around fireplaces and studies.


The key is to use them in a way that suits your purpose and not the other way around. For example, that breakfast nook is not an obligatory feature, and you can easily forgo the cramped bench seats and table to turn it into the perfect work desk or café dining spot.


Choose Your Style

To create an optimal nook or niche, take a close look at the space. Some niches were included in a room in order to make movement simpler, such as the niches found at the tops of stairs. If your niche is suitable for use, feel free to begin making plans. However, if it seems as if it is more about function, aim only to decorate it in a way that is visually appealing.


Traditional hightop table in a residential breakfast nook


If you are creating a niche out of the space inside of a room, remember that you will need light and ample amounts of free space around the niche for movement. As an example, if you have decided to create a niche next to a large bank of windows, be sure that creating the area is not blocking doors, impeding the standard path through the room, or taking up an unnatural amount of space and forcing you to furnish the rest of the room in an awkward way.


Keep in mind too that an unused or out of the way closet can also become a wonderful nook or niche. Children in particular appreciate the conversion of a closet into a reading niche, but adults may find it the perfect spot to study or while away hours in a book. Removing the door, installing an overhead light, and creating a cozy hideaway behind heavier curtains is a simple way to give anyone a space of their own for daydreaming and you can even keep a small library on the surrounding walls.


So, identify the main purpose, and calculate the spatial needs. Pre-existing niches can be easily reworked or reconfigured to make them roomier or more functional. Removing paneling from the lower area of a bench, for example, and installing shelves or bookcases is a great way to improve the function. Upholstered cushions, new window dressings, and large throw pillows are also an easy way to make your niches more welcoming and workable.


Recessed nook in staircase with bench and pillows


Build Your Own

If you have no existing nooks to work with, the most common method for creating one is to invest in a daybed or create one out of custom shelves. A simple, three-drawer cabinet that is properly installed, and trimmed with molding can serve as a classic daybed. Fitted with cushions, it is the perfect foundation for a nook. Surround it with coordinating book shelves, or even use the shelves as the foundation, and you can create a large and reader-friendly niche.


If you have less room, a wide bench with overstuffed cushions can also become a wonderful niche. Even if you have no windows, a hall of book cases can be interspersed with window-style seats to create a nice array of niches.




Look at all of the spaces in your home, and it is likely that you have an area that can easily be turned into a nook or niche. Start by determining just what sort of use you want out of it, and then create a seat for one or two, fit it with shelves or storage, add a curtain for privacy or a light fixture for extra light, and you will find everyone gravitating to this appealing spot.

Images used with permission, courtesy of and

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