Beautiful DIY book nooks to escape to for a moment of calm

Posted by
Anna Brech
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Escape the pressure-cooker feeling of lockdown by building your own reading nook – all the inspiration you need is right here. 

Going a little stir crazy right now? You need a build a book nook: a small corner of solace to call your own filled with candles, cushions – and of course, your cache of favourite novels.

The beauty of building your own reading retreat is that it really doesn’t require a lot of space or effort to achieve the desired effect. Like childhood den-building, it’s more about flexing your creativity to transform an unused alcove or a stairway cupboard into a cosy hideaway for one.

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The best book nooks out there aren’t fancy, but they *do* offer up scope for pure indulgence. These are places you can escape to during lockdown for a little zen time devoted to pleasure reading (a proven happiness habit).

So, leave your nagging flatmates far behind as you plunge headfirst into the inspirational world of Instagram’s finest book nooks – and find style fuel for crafting your own…

  • Simple yet striking

    To create a calm, uncluttered feel in your book nook, opt for a white background. Then, add in a few choice pieces such as a pot plant, a floor lamp or a wicker chair for rustic appeal.

  • Pouffes and pops of colour

    You can elevate your reading den with sunny pops of colour and textural accents. Layering tactile fabrics adds to the feeling of an indulgent space, and you can use a stepladder or wooden crate to cleverly adapt your book displays.

  • All the romance

    Plush velvet drapes and a striking backdrop combine to make a theatrical statement out of this book nook. Achieve a similar effect by upcycling leftover fabric, wallpaper or a patterned screen around a chosen colour code. 

Minimal muse

At the other end of the scale, you can opt for a really pared-back space. A built-in seat dressed with neutral cushions and throws creates a wonderful sense of calm here, and we love the use of a signature mirror to enlarge the space.

Boudoir vintage

For those who prefer a dash more personality, vintage-style accessories can be very effective. This snug boudoir space features retro pieces teamed with fairy lights, flowers and hand-drawn prints – for an intimate, old-school Hollywood aesthetic.

Studio space

If you happen to have a garden shed or studio with window space, this can be a fun leaping off point for your nook. It’s simple yet effective, with the natural landscape adding to the theme of escapism.

Garden getaway

A small patch of courtyard or balcony will also perform nicely for a garden-themed nook. Stake your space by heaping colourful layers of fabrics onto a garden chair, surrounding by palms and foliage.

All the plants

You can go big on the tropicalia theme indoors, too. Even if you don’t own quite the jungle pictured here, you can still build up a tropical feel by draping your nook with vines, hanging planters and a cluster of larger floor plants, such as dracaenas, kentia palms or a bamboo tree.

Below stairs

It may not have worked for Harry Potter, but the cupboard below the stairs can be an excellent spot for your book hook, complete with twinkling lights, wall art and hanging vines. 

Candles and cocoons

To turn up the cosy vibes, candles are always a great touch – and if you happen to have a swinging garden seat like this, all the better. It looks beautiful heaped with tactile rugs and cushions.

Prints aplenty

This book nook really stands out thanks to its imaginative use of print: not just on fabrics, but also on the plant pot and art feature on the wall. Don’t be afraid to bring together different patterns in one place, and think about how you can reinvent old swatches or travel artefacts for display purposes.

Mid-century vibes

For a book nook that delivers instant impact, aim for Scandi chic. A mid-century chair teamed with bold abstract prints and a generous helping of greenery will get you where you need to go.

Nook with a view

So, building your nook out of your garden shed is one thing, but you can also opt for any window area with a beautiful view. There’s a subtle symmetry here between the wild outdoors on one side, and literary adventures on the other. The result? A gorgeous, relaxing space.

The gallery wall

A gallery wall is another great backdrop to a book nook, and one which allows you to go to town in terms of creativity. Combine prints of inspirational book quotes with family photos, paintings or bespoke illustrations, and layer them into your own micro-exhibition. It’s a powerful setting for the very personal act of reading.

Fabric fiesta

For that extra infusion of va va voom, fun fabrics always go down a treat. Combine vibrant splashes of colour with eclectic prints for a feeling of adventure and wanderlust that sets the stage for an afternoon of reading.

Images: Getty and Instagram

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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