Lu is 8 years old, but she doesn’t play with toys. Never has, never will. When her birthday rolled around this year, I knew we had to create an experience instead of buying her something that would just collect dust in a corner. She is a voracious reader, so we knew books were a good bet. But we raised the bar a little and decided to get her a couple of books, and create the perfect space to read them in. We transformed the tiny, underutilized closet into her room into a cute reading nook where she can curl up with a book in peace. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so consulted Pinterest and then adapted all of those perfect ideas into what we could accomplish with less time and money. Here’s how to create a reading nook on a budget.
Image of reading nook

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How to create a reading nook on a budget

Step 1: Find a space

We live in an 80-year-old house with terrible closet space. Instead of using the built-in closet in her room, Lu has a big cabinet from Ikea. We were using the built-in space as a game cabinet, so all we had to do was move the games downstairs and we had the perfect spot for a reading nook. It’s big enough to fit an 8-year-old, but small enough that it feels comfy-cozy inside.

Cost: $0

Step 2: Paint

The walls inside the closet were white and very scuffed up from years of miscellaneous storage. We pulled out the shelving inside and found leftover paint from when we painted the walls in Lu’s room. A couple of quick coats of paint later, it looked good as new.

Cost: $0 

Step 3: Hang shelves

A book nook needs shelves! Since we were working with a small space, I bought these hanging shelves with a front-facing display. I bought two, but we decided to stick with one to avoid making the space feel too crowded. This shelf fits A LOT of books, and is reserved for books that Lu is currently reading.

Cost: $22.99 full price (I got it on sale)

Photo of hanging book shelf

Step 4: Make it cozy

We wanted the reading nook to feel like a cozy hideaway, so we hung this canopy from the ceiling using an inexpensive hook. The canopy itself was actually the biggest investment we made, but we think it’s what makes the space feel special and closed off from real life. The perfect space to escape into a story!

Cost: $39.99 full price (I got it on sale)

We planned on building a raised platform as we had seen in several Pinterest posts, but quickly decided we didn’t have time for that. Instead, we purchased this fluffy bean bag chair. Pro tip: This chair was FILTHY after being tested by many shoppers. I asked for an additional discount, which Target happily gave me. Then I washed the cover and reassembled. Good as new, and saved me some money!

Cost: $49.99 full price (I got it on sale + with an additional discount)

Step 5: Personalize it!

We added a few non-essential items to the reading nook to personalize it for little Lu. We started with this letter board, which gives Lu a space to share what’s on her mind (and gave us a space to say Happy Birthday for the big reveal!). Lu is a huge Frida Kahlo fan, and she already had this cute greeting card. We added her here because who wouldn’t want to write with Frida?

Cost: $15.99

Speaking of Frida, we ordered a little handmade doll for Lu to snuggle with while she’s reading. This one was made in Romania and it arrived in perfect condition despite its long travel.

Cost: $35

We bought these battery-powered cactus lights to make the space twinkle. They don’t provide enough light for reading, so we also repurposed a floor lamp from my office to keep the nook well lit.

Cost for 2 strands: $11.98

Step 6: Let it breathe!

We wanted the reading nook to feel open and airy, so we removed the closet door leading into the space. That way, Lu can always see the nook (we don’t want it to become ANOTHER birthday present she doesn’t use!) and the space doesn’t feel cramped. Plus, it looks so nice now, why would we cover it up?

Total cost

All said and done, the total cost of the reading nook was about $176, and that includes quite a few optional add-ons and assumes that we purchased everything at full retail price (which we didn’t). It’s a little more expensive than the average birthday present, but it’s one Lu will be able to use and make her own for years to come. A pretty good investment if you ask me!
reading nook photo
P.S. Of course, I stuck a copy of our MY READING ADVENTURES reading journal in the pocket of Lu’s new bean bag chair. I always want it at arm’s length when she’s reading so she can record her thoughts right away!

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