Published on February 27, 2020
This dramatic reading nook before and after features an unused dry bar that was transformed with shiplap and floating shelves. See how this vestige of the 90’s has been reworked into a cozy spot to curl up with a book in this reading nook before and after.
Dry Bar to Reading Nook
If you’ve been with me since the beginning of this project, you know this did not go as quickly as I had hoped and was nowhere near as easy as I assumed it would be. Nevertheless, the reading nook is done!
Let’s take a look at what this little space used to look like.
And here’s what it looks like now!
Reading Nook Back Story
If you missed how this project started, my sister and I demoed the dark, dated dry bar when she was out here for a visit. We also partially demoed the kitchen on a whim. After her visit ended, I was left with two unfinished projects on top of the loft project that’s been in the queue for over a year. Then my uncle began building shelves in Noelle’s room when he was here over Thanksgiving. By the time the holidays were over, my half-finished projects were really stacking up.
So, when Jeff and I sat down to plan out our house projects for the year, we made a deal…no new projects until I finish all of the unfinished ones. I laid out all of those unfinished projects in this post. I’m happy to report I’m right on track with the projected timeline for finishing the “dry bar hole,” so that means unfinished project #1 is done with three more to go.
My original plan was to simply create a built-in bookshelf in this little niche, but design fate stepped in when a former neighbor of mine saw my Instagram stories asking for opinions about what to do here. She suggested a reading nook, sent me an inspiration picture, and I was sold. I really have her to thank for this idea!
The Design Plan
As soon as I knew this was the direction I was going, I started looking for inspiration on Pinterest (here’s my Reading Nook board). There were of course, several good ideas, but when I found the brilliant reading nook G.P. Schafer designed, that was it for me. I was smitten and had my jumping off point for the design.
I knew I wanted vertical shiplap and some shelving, so after cladding the walls with planks, I created floating shelves the same way I did in four other areas of our home…tutorial here.
Painting the shiplap green (Farm to Table by Sherwin Williams) was just an idea that came to me, but I wasn’t sure it would work well in our home. I bought three different green paint samples, then decided to go with a safer choice of tan, but ultimately came back to the green because it’s what I had in mind all along. I’m in love with this paint color, and I’m so happy I saw my vision through. It’s just beautiful!
Styling the shelves was just a matter of raiding my treasure trunk full of vintage books and thrifted/antiqued goodies.
Reading Nook Lighting
One of the first decisions I made was this cute rattan wall sconce. It was beautiful, affordable, and had switch operation. This was important to me because I knew I wanted to hardwire this light into the wall. I’ve installed my own light fixtures and fans for years, and when we moved into this house, I learned how to change out outlets and switches, so I have basic electrical skills. This project took my skills to the next level. I shared the whole process of converting a plug-in wall sconce to a hardwired sconce in my Instagram stories because so many of you said you wanted to learn how to do this. It’s very doable and I encourage you to try it!
Reading Nook Cushion
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that my original choice for the cushion fabric (another DIY) was a beautiful tiny tan stripe. I was so excited about it until my fabric supplier informed me it has been discontinued and is no longer available. I’m pretty scrappy and can make the best of almost anything, so I picked a textural, linen-like fabric from Joann’s and got to work on plan B. I needed to keep up my DIY momentum so I could cross the finish line, and I wasn’t about to let fabric choice stall me out. I can always create a striped cover down the road if I want. When it was finished, it seemed like it was meant to be…the whole family loves it!
Project Cost Breakdown
I really thought this would be a quick, inexpensive project, but my costs really surprised me once I added up the receipts. I thought it would be helpful to share the cost of materials for every single thing from lumber to electrical wire so that you can get an idea of how to budget for something like this.
- Contractor work to cap off pipes in the wall $100
- Electrical work to ensure my connections were good and I had installed the sconce correctly $60
- Sconce $109
- Lumber, shiplap, trim $206
- Paint, brush, tray $35
- Electrical wire and box $10
- Cushion materials $120
- Decorative accessories (blanket and pillow) $50
Total Cost: $690
I’m always amazed at how a project turns out despite, and oftentimes because of, all the changes you inevitably have to make. It’s just design magic, and the more I experience it, the more confident I am when obstacles arise during a project.
I’m truly over the moon with how this turned out, and now that it’s photographed, I fully expect a smooshed cushion, flattened pillows, and shelves full of more than just decorative books. I may even secretly be looking forward to finding Noelle curled up asleep in this sweet space (she is the only one who could physically do that anymore). It’s just so perfect, and now I don’t have to hide this little area or crop it out of photos when sharing our family room with you.
I would LOVE to hear what you think about our reading nook before and after in the comments below! Have you ever tackled a project like this or dreamed of adding a charming reading nook to your own home? Let me know below…it means so much.
Okay, onto unfinished project #2!
- Green Paint: Farm to Table by Sherwin Williams (Satin finish)
- White Trim Paint: Swiss Coffee by Sherwin Williams (Satin finish)
- Stain on Floating Shelves: Briarsmoke by Varathane
- Rattan Sconce: Rowlett Bronze Rattan Shade Plug-In Wall Lamp
- Block Print Pillow: Bastideaux Laurette in Chalk/Cement
- Tiny Striped Lumbar: Home Goods (Similar one linked here)
- Vintage Dalmatian Print: Purchased from A New Wall Decor but no longer sold anywhere that I can find.