Before and After: A $255 Redo Transforms an Awkward Alcove into Dreamy Reading Nook

updated Mar 7, 2023
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Before: apartment nook with unpacked boxes on the floor
Credit: Luke Lusk

Almost everyone has a space in their home that they just aren’t sure how to deal with. That space can be a corner cabinet, or an empty hallway wall, or even an overly wide window sill — in any case, figuring out how to use these not-quite-standard spaces effectively can be a head-scratcher.

The space in question for Luke Lusk and his boyfriend Tyler Batson was a little nook in their apartment’s living room. “It wasn’t really big enough for a couch and too big for a desk,” Luke says of the space. “We were stumped with how to use it.”

Credit: Luke Lusk

One idea they floated, Luke says, was turning that little alcove into a reading nook. “Originally we thought about doing IKEA bookshelves in that space with a chair in front of it,” Luke says. Slowed delivery times put a pause on that idea, though.

It was then that the couple made a game-changing discovery: An old twin-sized mattress they’d held onto fit perfectly into the weirdly sized spot. So instead of filling the space with shelves and a chair, Luke and Tyler started to plan their reading nook around a daybed that used the mattress they already owned.

Credit: Luke Lusk

How They Created the Reading Nook

There were only the teeniest bit of wiggle room on the sides of the mattress (just 2 inches!), so the trickiest part of this project was making sure that whatever frame Luke and Tyler ordered for the mattress would still fit the spot. (When they say the mattress fit perfectly, they really mean it.)

After much internet scouring, Luke found a daybed frame on Amazon that would work. And once they put it in place, he says, “it fit like a glove!”

The next piece of the reading nook puzzle was the shelving. Luke’s dad helped the couple install two wood shelves that extended the entire width of the nook. They used 2×10 lumber for the job, then painted those perfectly sized shelves with leftover white paint. Then, they mounted the shelves using modern, minimalist brackets from Etsy.

Credit: Luke Lusk

“It completely transformed the space!” Luke says of the newly added reading nook’s effect on the entire living room area. “It’s really easy to change the look seasonally with different pillow and bedding. It’s such a cozy spot to cuddle up and watch a movie or read a book.”

The Best Money-Saving Advice for DIYers

The best part, Luke says, was that the couple was able to upcycle something they already had for this project. “I’m glad we went with the floating shelves and then repurposed the twin mattress to make a daybed rather than buying another piece of furniture,” he says. And to top it off, the total for the project was just $255; in their original plan, the shelves alone would have been $300. All that saved money can now go toward buying even more books!

Luke’s advice for other DIYers is to be flexible. “Don’t be afraid to change your vision if products are not available,” he says. “Use what you’ve got! You’ll be surprised how rewarding it is to be creative with what you already have laying around.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.