Make a Cozy Stair Landing Reading Room

Cozy Upstairs Hall Area For years, this space at the top of the stairs has been a collection point for all the stuff that didn’t have a place of it’s own – boxes of papers, books, craft paints, spare furniture – you name it. I’ve always felt it had the potential to be ‘something’ but never got further than that.

The inspiration for this makeover came from my new partner who immediately imagined it as a place to relax, read or crochet in a Big Comfy Chair.

Built-in Bookcases

I’ve often thought this would be a great place for built-in bookcases – so that was the starting point for this upstairs hall makeover. We had a few obstacles to work around – a sloped ceiling, 10 inch high baseboard and a hot water radiator running along the window wall.

Built-in Bookcase above baseboard radiator Built-in bookcase below sloped ceiling

I came up with a design that raised the bookcases above the baseboard and radiator with an open kick space below to allow for air circulation. I also left enough space below the sloped ceiling to display some of our favourite things. The MDF bookcases feature a v-grooved back, adjustable shelves and are painted the same white as the woodwork throughout the house.

Distressed Wooden Chair

This old chair was a little-used piece of furniture that had been mostly buried under the pile of stuff that gathered in this space over the years. It had too many bad paint jobs to count and was crying out for a classic ‘distressed’ look rather than the sloppy white finish it was wearing. My partner decided basic black was the way to go.

Distressed side chair Distressed side chair detail
We sanded some of the key wear spots down to the wood and discovered hints of a nice green from a previous era. Then she gave it a coat of black craft paint. Once it was dry, she used 220 grit sandpaper and distress the logical wear areas around the seat, on the legs and revealed the beautiful carved detail on the back rail. Finally,  she went over the whole surface with a fine scrubbing pad, blending everything to a dark chalky finish.

Coke Crate Ottoman

Upon arrival of our new Big Comfy Chair we determined we needed an ottoman of some sort. After discarding a dozen different ideas, I took a look around the basement for inspiration. I’m pretty sure this Coke crate was in the basement when I bought the house almost 25 years ago and I’d been tossing tools and parts in it since forever. It was perfect!

Coke Crate Ottoman I cut four legs from a weathered 2 x 3 along with a couple of stringers to connect the legs in pairs. I glued the leg assemblies to the bottom with plenty of carpenter’s glue and let them dry. I also cut a top from a piece of 1/2″ plywood.

While my partner was sewing pieces of salvaged jeans together for the ‘upholstery’ I stapled a rather decrepit old pillow to the plywood base for stuffing. We wrapped the top with the denim covering and stapled it to the bottom, added a couple of cleats to keep it from sliding off and we were done.

Finishing Touches

Vintage Better Homes and Gardens MagazinesTo bring everything together, we placed a small half-round table that had done time in this under-utilized space off and on over the years next to the chair.

We also found the perfect floor lamp for a decent price at Home Depot.

The basket of vintage (1957) Better Homes and Gardens magazines adds the finishing touch to our ‘new room’.


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