Old Closet Becomes a Reading Nook With Built-In Bench

Jennifer Maker
by Jennifer Maker
9 Materials
5 Hours
Have a closet you don't use anymore? Turn it into a reading nook! I gutted an underused closet in my house and made my own reading nook with a built-in bench inside it. I also added pretty shelves above it to store books.

Get the full tutorial here.
First, I cleaned out my closet. I removed all the shelves and even the track doors and the track hardware. Some of the shelves were made of wood, and we saved those after we removed them.
Next, we re-used the old wood shelves that were in the closet to make this higher and smaller set of shelves, intended for book and knick-knack storage. We used the existing supports in the closet for the bottom shelf, and added our own for the two shelves above that.
The next task was to build a frame for the bench. We simply used 2" x 4" wood to create two identical frames that were held together with vertical pieces at the right height. The width and depth of your bench will depend on your closet, but the height should be about 18" high for comfort.
Next we added side panels made of 1/4" thick plywood. On top of the panels, we added 1" x 3" boards around the edges as a frame. Inside the frame, we put in shoe moulding to give it a more refined look.
Finally, our bench needed a top to so we could sit on it. You could just put some 1" thick boards over the top, but we choose instead to make a hinged top so we could use the interior for storage. So we nailed a 2″ strip of 1" thick wood onto the left side of the top frame. We then nailed a 5″-long strip of 1" thick wood onto the back of the bench frame top, forming a sort of frame for the hinged lid. We attached (aff link) three 12″ piano (continuous) brass hinges to the side of the back strip and the seat lid. This way the lid is hinged securely, but also rests on three parts of the bench frame (a bit of left side, all of the right side, and all of the front) for maximum support.
I bought 4" thick foam, cut it to size, and covered it with old sweaters to finish the cozy nook. Here's a photo of the completed reading nook in the former closet. (The desk next to the bench was a later addition!)
Suggested materials:
  • 2" x 4" wood (16 feet)   (Home improvement store)
  • 1" x 3" wood (10 feet)   (Home improvement store)
  • 1" wood tabletop   (Home improvement store)
See all materials
Jennifer Maker
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Ann Ann on Jun 14, 2017

Join the conversation
2 of 54 comments
  • Ethel Kirkpatrick Ethel Kirkpatrick on Jun 29, 2017
    Great idea! Nicely done! Love the dog... did he/she take over the little bed as soon as he/she saw it?! :)

  • Johanne Palange Johanne Palange on Apr 10, 2021

    If one has an extra closet to sacrifice (never happened to me) this is a clever way to use it. I like the colors, and I like the arched piece in the middle of the shelving. But what I especially like is the idea to have a lounging bench in there. Of course your dog will want to follow you around and that makes a great place for him/her to while away the time while being near you. Really nice project.