How to create a cozy nook in your home for reading, relaxing and retreating

Transform an unused corner or crevice into a comfortable and inviting reading, dining or hobby nook with these interior designer-approved ideas

how to create a cozy nook in your home
(Image credit: Studio Duggan / Wendy Labrum / Photography Heather Talbert / Plaster & Patina / Photography Amy Bartlam)

As a cozy space dedicated to you and your hobbies, a nook is an intimate area to escape within that can offer a sanctuary for resting and resetting. If you find yourself craving a snuggly spot for curling up, perhaps carving out a nook is the perfect project for these colder months.

Coming in many guises, a nook can be a small-scale nook bed (perfect for small guest bedrooms), a dining nook for solo or date-night meals, coffee nooks, reading nooks, entryway nooks, and even listening nooks. The one uniting characteristic is that they all serve as a conscious step towards self-care, and a reminder to slow down.

Make the most of every unused niche, alcove, corner, crevice, or under-stairs space by creating a nook you'll never want to leave. We've spoken to a few expert designers to gather their thoughts on the transformative power of nooks.

What is a nook?

A nook is a tucked-away area that is designed to be functional, but also feel cocooning and safe. They should be inviting and make you want to spend time within its walls, reminding you to prioritize relaxation, thinking, reading, writing or even eating. That's the beauty of a nook, it can truly be whatever you want it to be.

Linda Hayslett of LH. Designs says: 'Having a nook in a home can help create a cozy space to take a mental break from the day. They can also be an intimate space to help focus on ideas, projects, or what's in store for the day,' she explains. 'You can have a nook anywhere if you carve out the right space.'

'From a built-in bed that can create a cozy atmosphere, to a built-in bench for quiet moments to read a book or banquette seating in kitchens where you can lounge and do work or eat and chill,' explains Linda. 'A nook can be anywhere that makes an area feel somewhat closed in to give you that comfy, hug feeling.'

dining nook with rustic antique wooden table and upholstered bench seat

(Image credit: Cathy Nordstrom)

How To Create Nooks In Your Home

Having a nook in your home provides a designated space where you can relax and retreat from the busyness of everyday life. 'It's a place where you can focus on activities that bring you joy, whether that's reading, enjoying a cup of coffee, working on a hobby, or simply taking a moment for yourself,' says designer Lauren Lerner, founder of Living with Lolo. 'Nooks can also serve as a sanctuary for introspection, meditation, or quiet contemplation.'

Easy to carve out in any room of the home due to their small footprint, there are a few things to consider when starting to plan for a nook.

'Who doesn’t love to cozy up like a cat? A nook is a perfect perch for so many things - reading, coffee, napping,' says Kristen Pena of K Interiors. 'Think about it what matters to you. Is it having your back against a wall? Your feet up? Sunlight streaming? The ability to close off the world? Whatever it is that speaks to you is what you want to do with your nook. Find a spot that fulfills those wishes,' adds Kristen.

With the right styling and a little interior know-how, you can transform a small niche into a functional and fabulous space. These ideas for creating a nook will help you to elevate the most underrated areas of your home.

1. Consider location: corners, alcoves, windows and eaves

dining nook in corner with plush banquette

(Image credit: Studio Duggan)

Selecting the right spot is pivotal to creating a nook that feels comfy and slightly hidden away to emphasize that feeling of escape. Look for underutilized spaces like corners, alcoves, under the stairs, or perhaps below a large bay window. Consider the natural flow of your living space and how a nook can seamlessly integrate.

Take the opportunity to transform overlooked spaces into cozy retreats within your home. 'A well-positioned nook can create a beautiful vignette as well as being a useful place to rest or store your essentials, from a cozy reading nook to a practical shower nook!' says designer Tom Rutt of TR Studios

'When assessing the plan of a home, we look for opportunities where the creation of a nook can help spatially by freeing up the main room or adding to a space,' says Tom. 'An upholstered window seat within a bay can provide an inviting area to recline and watch the world go by. For more practical nooks, we like to build in bespoke joinery to maximize usability and decorate with books, sculptures, and art.'

Tom Rutt
Tom Rutt

Tom Rutt has worked in the offices of Norman Foster and Michaelis Boyd before founding TR Studios in 2015. 

bathroom nook carved out to fit a freestanding bathtub with shelving

(Image credit: Mansfield O'Neil Interior Design / Photography Paul Dyer)

Existing, quirky architectural features of your property really come into their own here. If you have a funny-shaped sloping ceiling, or a little niche next to a fireplace, consider tucking a small seating area here. Alternatively, it can be as simple as setting up a lounge chair in the corner of a family room or adding a daybed to your home library or home office.

Think about how you intend to use the space, for example, if it's a cafe-style coffee nook, you're going to want to ensure you select a spot where you can easily access your favorite coffee-making equipment and enjoy a peaceful moment. For a desk or 'WFH' nook, choose a well-lit area away from distractions, or in a reading nook, you're going to want your favorite books within reach.

'Leave no space behind,' says designer Tiffany Mansfield of Mansfield O’Neil Interior Design. 'It’s wonderful to find a use for an unusual niche anywhere in the house, but in the bathroom, it’s a special opportunity. A bath alcove creates a sense of privacy and intimacy, and treating the nook with beautiful materials helps you treat yourself to quiet moments,' she advises.

 Mansfield O’Neil Interior Design founders Tiffany and Lisa
Tiffany Mansfield and Lisa O’Neil

Mansfield O’Neil is a creative collaboration between principals Tiffany Mansfield and Lisa O’Neil. Together they bring the spirit of a home to life, designing for the way people live with approachable, comfortable interiors that richly reflect their clients’ individual tastes.

2. Think about color palette and wallcoverings

red built in nook area with shelving and a sofa

(Image credit: Wendy Labrum / Photography Heather Talbert)

Creating a relaxing ambiance starts with a thoughtful consideration of colors and wall coverings. The color scheme you pick can greatly impact the way you feel in the space, so you're going to want to opt for the most calming colors on the color wheel

Again, this will depend on your intended use of the space. For a nap, bed, or reading nook, opt for warm and comforting hues like rich earthy tones, soft neutrals, or deep blues and greens. But if you're looking to re-energize a breakfast nook, working or craft space, an uplifting yellow or verdant green might be more your speed.

'I like to embrace the smaller confines of the space with strong color, wallpaper, or a moodier vibe,' suggests Tiffany Duggan, founder of Studio Duggan. 'It’s often the juxtaposition between these saturated, smaller spaces and larger, brighter rooms which adds a certain drama and energy to a nook.'

Decorating with red is a huge color trend for 2024 and works great in a nook – whether in an unexpected way by using red in a room full of neutrals or taking in a deeper, more grounding way like in the reading nook by Wendy Labrum Interiors seen above. If bold color isn't your thing, look to textured wallcoverings like grasscloth or subtle wallpaper patterns to add depth, elevating the coziness of the nook. 

3. Add curtains to a bed or reading nook for a cocooning feel

bed nook with leopard print curtains

(Image credit: Cathy Nordstrom)

Bedroom nooks, cabin beds, and built-in beds look to be trending in a big way for 2024. In fact, some of our most liked Instagram posts of 2023 featured nap nooks. Great for space-saving, a nook can be carved out of the smallest of spots to provide a sleeping or resting spot for yourself, your guests, or even your kids and can make any bedroom feel cozier

To enhance the cocooning effect, introduce curtains to enclose your nook. Sheer fabrics will allow soft light to filter through, creating a serene atmosphere for reading, or thick curtains will of course provide additional privacy and block out light for a more secluded snooze. 

'When designing a nap nook, I typically build them into a recess in a wall at low bed height so you can perch on them like a sofa should you want,' explains Peter Spalding, co-founder of interior design marketplace Daniel House Club. 'I have a long twin mattress-sized cushion made and covered in fabric that is soft and cozy on the skin, and I like for the walls to be upholstered in the same fabric to both create strong architecture and a true cocoon.'

'It’s nice to include a reading light and a good pile of big pillows to prop one’s self up on. Lastly, I always put phone chargers and a little “drinks table” nearby so things are within reaching distance' adds Peter.

4. Prioritize comfort with throw pillows and snuggly blankets

blue paneled reading nook with throw pillows and vintage art

(Image credit: The Misfit House)

'There are two things to consider when designing a nook – comfort and practicality,' says Guillaume Dupre, senior designer at Bakes & Kropp Fine Cabinetry. 'If it’s not comfortable, you’ve missed the point!' 

Comfort is paramount in any nook, whether it's designed for sleep or socializing. Layer cushions and blankets generously, mixing textures and sizes to create a tactile and inviting space. A well-cushioned nook encourages you to unwind and indulge in a few moments of relaxation.

'Nooks are all about comfort,' agrees Alexandra Azat of Plaster & Patina. 'Layering a nice, cozy throw and some pillows makes for a relaxing feel. Adding a small table or stool is also nice for depth and the ability to put drinks or glasses down,' she adds. Don’t forget something warm and tactile underfoot as well, like a deep pile rug. 

Upholstered banquette seating is a great way to add comfort to a dining or breakfast nook. 'Breakfast nooks always add such a comfortable and cozy element to a kitchen,' says interior designer Kristi Will. 'They encourage people to gather and are a warm and relaxing alternative to a table and chairs. I love them because of the casual ambiance they create – encouraging conversations between family and friends to linger a little longer after the meal has finished.'

plaster and patina founder alexandra azat
Alexandra Azat

Known for her attention to detail and sophisticated aesthetic, Alex possesses a keen ability to deeply understand her clients style along with their hopes and dreams and cares to always surpass them. Her designs, although creative and unique, are always rooted in an old-world  and timeless overall feel.

5. Create plenty of storage opportunities

home library with a dedicated reading nook and comfortable ottoman

(Image credit: Bakes & Kropp)

Integrate storage solutions tailored to your nook's purpose. For reading, consider flaunting your bookshelf wealth with built-in bookshelves or floating shelves, while a bed nook might benefit from hidden storage drawers beneath. Strive for a blend of aesthetics and utility, ensuring your nook remains both comfortable and purposeful. 

Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors, is an avid reader, and whenever possible,  loves to carve out a reading nook in her projects. 'A special, cozy place to relax with a good book. Comfortable seating, adequate lighting, and a bit of storage for books are all you need to create the perfect reading nook,' advises Molly.

If you're considering a desk or office nook, designer Lauren Lerner suggests incorporating storage solutions such as shelves, drawers, or organizers to keep your workspace clutter-free. 'A desk nook provides a dedicated area where you can focus on work, study, creative projects, or hobbies without distractions. It promotes productivity, organization, and a sense of accomplishment,' says Lauren.

Molly Torres
Molly Torres Portnof

After moving next door to the Empire Stat Building, designer Molly Torres Portnof founded DATE Interiors (an acronym for ‘Designing A Tiny Empire’). Her design style brings together her background of fashion, pop culture, and music to nearly every space she designs. 

6. Don't forget task lighting

yellow wallpapered nook with task lighting for reading

(Image credit: Daniel House Club / Photography Christopher Dibble)

Lighting can make or break your nook's feel and function. Pendant lights, adjustable wall sconces, or a well-placed floor lamp can all provide focused illumination. 

For a reading nook, you’ll want to use task lighting such as a reading lamp to avoid eye strain. 'A nook denotes coziness – a perfect place to unwind and curl up with a book,' says Dan Mazzarini, principal and creative director of ARCHIVE and BHDM Design. 'Outfit your nook spaces with lighting fixtures for a warm and intimate space. You can add sconces to bring the scale down for that quaint feel and expand the look of your nook into the rest of the room so it doesn’t feel too cramped. Mirrors are another nice addition to help reflect the light for a reading space,' he adds. 

One thing not to overlook is the importance of natural light, too. Of course, if your nook is tucked neatly underneath a window, you're all good. But if you're looking to build a bespoke niche, make sure the walls or drapes of your nook don't block out any light from adjacent windows.

7. Finish with additional furniture like a table, stool or ottoman

window seat nook with striped upholstery

(Image credit: Peter Dunham / Photography Sam Frost)

To add versatility to the space, consider additional accent furniture pieces like a small table, stool, or ottoman. These extra pieces not only enhance the look and functionality but also provide flexibility.

A small table can serve as a convenient space for coffee and a lamp or to place your book, knitting, or games. Stools or an ottoman both offer additional seating or a place to rest your feet if you don't build in a bench or banquette. The key is to choose items that complement the nook's purpose and add to the overall comfort and utility of the space.

'I love a good nook! Creating a cozy reading nook is a great way to make use of small spaces that might otherwise go unused,' says designer Kathy Kuo. 'All you really need is a comfortable chair, a lamp, and maybe a side table and ottoman if you have room. Add plush decorative pillows and luxe cashmere throw blankets to create a truly relaxing little corner of your home.'

'Always important is a great light, cozy fabrics, a warm blanket, and a surface for coffee and candles,' adds Kristen Pena of K Interiors

As a final touch, ensure to bring in personalized accents and decor to make your nook a reflection of you. 

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry. 

A nook serves as a reminder to prioritize your well-being, offering a moment of solace amidst the demands of home life. So, embrace the art of carving out a space dedicated to your favorite pastime, whether that's sitting down with a coffee, a good book, taking a nap, or a cozy banquette spot to eat the entire family – complete with a few extra chairs and stools for any flying visitors.

Essentially, a nook can be whatever you desire it to be, all that matters is taking an unused corner of your home and turning it into a comfortable and safe space for winding down. And making it look beautiful in the process.

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome