This kids reading nook is the cozy, quiet space we probably all wished we had when we were kids. Heck, a small, enclosed mini-sanctuary like this would be pretty nice even for adults.
This cool little bedroom reading corner was created by Charlotte Smith, the DIY blogger behind Ciburbanity. It’s part of our DIY Challenge series in which we challenged some of our favorite decor and DIY bloggers to create fun, practical and clever DIY projects starting with a single material– in this case, plywood.
Charlotte has the full tutorial here for you, including a little help with the math and a suggested beverage to sip as you create this kids reading nook for your children or grandchildren (or yourself!).
There’s something about a nook that gets my creative DIY juices flowing. On a recent trip to our local children’s museum, they had a little corner area and my kids immediately settled in for some quiet reading and calm. Key word here is “calm,” so ever since I’ve had this idea percolating for a corner nook in my son and daughter’s shared bedroom.
Good news is that this whole thing took me one weekend and most of that time was spent waiting for paint to dry. Read: it’s not particularly labor intensive!
Here’s what you’ll need to build this kids reading nook:
- 1 – 4′ x 8′ x ¾” sheet of plywood
- 1 – 4′ x 8′ x ½” sheet of plywood
- 3 – 2″ x 2″ x 8′ boards
- Sand paper. Lots and lots of sandpaper.
- Wood screws
- Paint of your choice (I chose aqua, yellow, and white)
- Carpenter’s square
Optional but SOOOOPER helpful:
Step 1: Some Simple Math
Before you start, get good and comfortable with your palm sander. You two will be besties after this project. Grab a couple of pumpkin spice lattes and find a quiet corner… you two are in it together.
Once your caffeine buzz from the latte kicks in, you’ll need to do some measuring and some math. Basically you’re building a quarter circle so you’ll need to bust out your headgear and channel your freshman year of high school because I’m going to throw around some geometry terms.
Measure how HIGH and how WIDE you want your nook to be. It’s going to be easier if you can make this the same measurement because then you’re just dealing with the radius of a circle. If you remember, 2πR will give you the circumference. And…. ¼ of this circumference will be the length of your nook’s arched roof.
Still with me?
Let’s talk real numbers then… Our fort is 42-in. high, 42-in. wide and 42-in. deep. SO… 42 is the radius. In mathematical terms: 2 * 3.14 * 42 = 263.76. That’s the circumference of a circle with 42-in. radii.
But I don’t want to build a full circle. (I mean I DO… that would be AWESOME… but for this, I just wanted the quarter circle.) So, 263.76 divided by 4= 65.94, or rounding up to 66 in. That means the arched roof of this nook is 66 in. long. Which is great, because that means I can get 11 strips of plywood cut to 6 in. each.
Math for the win!
I had Lou at The Home Depot cut the ½-in. plywood into eleven 6-in. strips for the nook’s roof (each strip was 42 in. long).
To make the curved supports, I needed the thicker ¾-in. plywood. Lou cut the full sheet of plywood in half so it could fit in my car, but I did the actual cutting at home with my jigsaw. My boy Oliver went with me to supervise as there was a LOT of cutting at the store.
Remember that palm sander and latte you prepared? Well now’s the time.
Step 2: Sanding the Wood
Sand down each strip of plywood really well. We all know that the one inch that’s rough will be the ONLY inch your child decides to grab… I timed myself and was able to sand one strip in under 5 minutes, so it’s not THAT much time, but it’s still a lot of sanding. (Below you see the sanded boards on the right, unsanded on the left.)
Step 3: Priming and Painting
Once your strips are sanded, it’s time to prime and paint.
I brought in subcontractors for the painting portion of this project.
Step 4: Building the Supports
Time to build the supports. Lay your ¾-in. plywood out flat and create a compass for yourself using a nail and some heavy twine. Tie one end to your nail and the other end to a pencil.
We already know that we want our quarter circle to be 42-in. high and 42-in. wide so… that’s how big we’re going to draw our arc.
Measure 42 in. of twine and draw a circle. Go back over a few times to make sure you have a consistent line.
My finished support is 3 ½ in. wide, so I made a second line with the twine 38 ½ in. long.
Then use your jigsaw to cut along the arc lines. I hope your jigsaw skills are better than mine, because I wield a jigsaw like a 15 year-old at driver’s ed.
You’ll end up with a curved piece of plywood that’s 3 ½ in. wide. Use this as a guide to trace two more.
For the L-shaped piece of the support, use your 2 x 2s. One will be 42″ in. long. The other will be 40 ½ in. long because you need to subtract the 1 ½ in. of the first one (wouldn’t it be amazing if the dimensions of wood were the ACTUAL dimensions of the wood?!).
Here’s where that optional Kreg Jig will come in handy. I used mine to make two pocket holes on the bottom side of each L where the 2 x 2s attach.
Before I tightened up my screws, I was careful that the L was 90 degrees.
If you’ve done your math and your cutting correctly, the three arches should fit perfectly onto the L pieces… Cue the Whitney Houston music because for this one moment in time, all three of mine lined up.
Screw these into your 2 x 2 with the finishing screws.
Step 5: Assembling the Pieces
Now comes the fun part. Assembly.
Set this up in the spot where it will live because it won’t fit through a standard doorway, and you’ll need a second set of hands for the first part of this. Once you attach one or two of the plywood strips, you can go solo again.
Set up your three supports, and attach one plywood strip across the top. I was glad to have a nail gun to quickly secure the strips, but if you have a patient helper, you can go ahead and screw these in right from the beginning. I nailed either end in place, then measured for the middle and attached this last. The ½ in. plywood is thin enough that it can bend slightly so even if your arches are (hypothetically) a little uneven… you can still attach the plywood pretty easily.
I didn’t do this next part at first, but you should. Cut two pieces of wood to fit between the three support corners at the floor to keep these from shifting in. You want your Ls to be right angles with the floor so these corner braces will keep them aligned.
The rest is smooth sailing… keep attaching the plywood strips along the ‘ribs’ of your nook. After I’d nailed them in place, I went back with the finishing screws. It was easier for me to hammer them all in slightly and then go back with the drill.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Because who doesn’t like a little ambiance, I finished the nook off with some rope lights wound around the inside edge. Rope lights come with a few little clamps for attaching, but I needed extra, and I luuuurve me some copper… so the copper pipe clamps helped secure the rope lights at the corners on the offhand chance that little fingers get curious. I’ve also plugged the lights into a power strip with a switch so the kids can turn them on and off without having to plug them in. I also added a furry white rug to the inside to make it even more cozy.
Do the kids like it? Um… if the current hoard of toys and books is any indication, then I’d say this is a SMASHING success. They wake up in the morning and have a little quiet time in there with dolls or trucks or books. In the afternoon, it’s been a wonderful place for my daughter to escape to when she needs a little downtime after school. And I LOVE that they have a little nook/fort area right in their room for imagination to run amok!
See more photos of this kids reading nook on Charlotte’s blog.
Charlotte Smith’s DIY and decor blog is called Ciburbanity— a mashup of “city,” “suburb” and “sanity.” She and her husband and four children are former residents of New York City, now enjoying the peace and quiet of Connecticut. Charlotte blogs about fixing up their historic home, wrangling children, and decorating, all with fun and humor and on a budget.
See other DIY Challenge articles here on The Home Depot Blog, and follow our Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest for more DIY projects. Our Building Materials Department carries plywood, lumber, and just about anything else you need to make your home better.
Charlotte received a Home Depot gift card to complete her DIY kids reading nook. The ideas and opinions she expressed are her own.