10 alcove ideas to help you maximize every inch of space

Alcoves are often tricky spaces within the home – those awkward recesses that seemingly serve no purpose and are often a logistical nightmare for arranging furniture. But don’t despair and write them off as a waste of space just yet! Alcoves can in fact be rather handy spaces and can work in your favor with some creativity.

Whether it’s a drab alcove in a living roomkitchen, or even a bathroom nook, you can design some really clever, creative, and stylish spaces. ‘Alcoves offer pockets of extra space in living rooms and bedrooms,’ agrees Rachal Hutcheson, National Retail Manager at Sharps. ‘Where it can be tempting to add off-the-peg furniture or create nooks, bespoke shelving and fitted storage offer the perfect solution for maximizing available space and creating a focal point in a room.’

Firstly, it’s important to plan what purpose your alcove will have and be used for. You also need to consider proportions and make sure you get precise measurements for any units or desks. ‘The proportions within the space are so important,’ agrees Interior Designer Naomi Clarke. ‘You don’t want it to look too tall and thin or short and wide – it has to be proportional to space’.

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1. Mini home office

dulux's simply refresh onecoat range
Decadent Damson, Simply Refresh Feature Wall, Dulux DULUX

Working from home is becoming the norm, and more people have had to think creatively about workspaces. For those without a spare room or those living in compact spaces, the idea of an alcove office is more appealing.
There is no doubt that 2020 has shown us the importance of individual and adaptable living spaces,’ agrees Stuart Dance, Director of InHouse Inspired Room Design. ‘Today’s interiors must accommodate the multiple needs of modern life and should still seek to create a real sanctuary.’

Just ensure your measurements are right to fit a desk and comfortable office chair, as you’ll be spending most of your day there.

2. Chic cocktail bar

alcove ideas, architecture, interiors, design, interior design
EMMA GREEN DESIGN/CHRIS SNOOK PHOTOGRAPHY

It’s wine o’clock time! While we may not have a private wine cellar, a great alcove idea is to create a mini bar instead. Alcoves are not just useful storage spaces but can be great for entertainment. Adding bespoke cabinetry to display your wine collection, glassware, or cocktail-making kit, can add much fun to space.

This really adds a sense of luxury and glamour to the living room,’ agrees Interior Designer Emma Green. ‘I created a bespoke build-in navy blue cocktail cabinet for my clients in their alcove. The bar has an antique mirrored backing to bounce light around the room and reflect the lovely glasses. The handles were specially sourced to add interest while the deep navy color is bold. This provides a glamorous space to entertain for adults.’

3. Create a library

library alcove idea, inhouse inspired room design  next125
INHOUSE INSPIRED ROOM DESIGN

Whether it’s classic built-in cabinetry or contemporary floating shelves, a library is a traditional solution to an alcove. Not only can you display your favorite books but also magazines, family photos, or stunning artwork.

You could fill an existing alcove in a living room with books and ornaments,’ agrees Naomi Clarke. ‘Similarly, ensure you have considered the lighting. You might put a downlight in it to create warmth or you may prefer LED strips which illuminate the shelves or feature wall lights fixed to the joinery.’

4. Cosy reading corner

alcove ideas, mustard yellow armchair in nook of living room
Poppy armchair in Mango brushed linen cotton, Sofa.com

An alcove can be the perfect spot to get away from the rest of the home, armed with a good book or cup of tea, so a really useful alcove idea is to create a cozy reading nook. Add a statement armchair or comfy seat that is proportionate to space, and layer with cushions throws beanbags or a rug. You can also style this area by painting the walls a calming hue or including statement lighting.

Style an alcove with a unique floor lamp to draw the eye’s attention around the space,’ suggests Ally Dowsing-Reynolds, co-owner of home décor brand Dowsing & Reynolds. ‘Combine this with a dimmable wall light to create additional pockets of ambient light.’

5. Scandi log feature

croft small slimline wood burning and multifuel stove
LUDLOW STOVES LTD/TIM PESTRIDGE

Log storage features work well for slim or narrow alcoves, and really make a nice feature in a room. This scandi styled design is proving more popular in both traditional and contemporary living spaces, and you don’t even need a fireplace! Top tip: always use dried logs for decorative purposes to avoid mold build-up or insects.

6. Savvy storage

storage and shelving alcove ideas, sharps the home collection shaker in dove home living range

We can never have enough storage, and alcoves provide essential space to store and hide away all the clutter. You would be surprised at how much you can fit into an alcove,’ says Athina Bluff, Interior Designer and Founder of Topology Interiors. ‘They can really enhance a space, great for drawing the eye “up” and making space feel taller.’

If you’re considering built-in cabinetry, why not display your favorite hobby? For music connoisseurs, you can display any artist memorabilia or perhaps travel memories.

7. Snug seating nook

alcove ideas, seating nook area
Hampton Dove Bedroom, Sharps SHARPS

Another great alcove idea is to create a seating nook to relax or even nap in. Simply design a sturdy bench or ottoman, or buy one to fit within the alcove, and throw on some big cushions, throws, and all the soft furnishings to make it warm and cosy. It’ll become your new favorite spot in the house!

8. Kitchen alcoves

alcove ideas, simple wooden table and chairs in modern white kitchen with black white chequerboard flooring
ELIZABETH WHITING & ASSOCIATES / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

If you have little nooks in the kitchen and don’t quite know what to do, why not use it as a wall display? From stylish accessories and cookbooks to mini succulent plants, an alcove can make a nice wall feature. ‘Kitchen alcoves are the perfect spot for tall and pretty oil bottles,’ suggests Naomi Clarke, a great place for herbs or houseplants that don’t mind the shade or even pretty sweets in a sweetie jar can look charming.’

9. Make-up vanity table

dressing table alcove ideas, baltimore low stool, velvet upholstered, charcoal grey
cult furniture
Baltimore Low Stool, Velvet Upholstered in Charcoal Grey, Cult Furniture CULT FURNITURE

A useful and practical alcove idea is to turn a hidden space in your bedroom or spare room into a dressing table area. If you don’t have enough space to tuck in a vanity table, you can fit a bespoke, floating drawer into space. Remember to leave enough room for a small chair or stool to be tucked under. You can also add a stylish mirror, wall lighting, or modular floating shelves to display your cosmetics.

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10. Bespoke wardrobes

wardrobe alcove idea, sherbourne dove bedroom, sharps
Sherbourne Fitted Bedroom in Dove, Sharps SHARPS

Alcoves in bedrooms are always convenient for extra storage space. Freestanding wardrobes are often bulky and won’t always fit snugly into alcoves. Professional built-ins are a much neater and stylish option. ‘Fitted furniture should be looked at as an investment,’ agrees Rachal Hutcheson at Sharps. ‘Blending the cabinetry in with the existing wall color or complementing it with a natural wood creates an elegant finish. This works particularly well if you are looking to create a focal point, inject personality into your scheme, or to zone a space.’

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