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What to do with a sweet but slightly awkward dormer window

In two of the upstairs bedrooms, there are dormer windows.

I have always loved how dormers look on the exterior of a house – it gives a traditional cottage feel that is charming and welcoming. The dormers on our house were what initially caught my eye while perusing real estate online (see the exterior here and here).

When there are dormers on the exterior, it likely means that there are little nooks carved out of the slanted roof. This is the case in Audrey’s room and the boys’ room.

Here’s the tricky thing about these dormer nooks: while completely charming, they are slightly awkward. These particular spaces are identical in each bedroom and quite narrow. My original idea was to build a bed for Audrey in her window nook. It is just barely wider than a twin size bed and the idea could be so cute. We’re still considering …

In the meantime, and to make the space as practical as possible, we’re using the nook as a reading corner.

One night when I should have been making dinner, I found three old picture ledges from IKEA and hung them up on the wall. I used a stud finder and level and popped those things up all by myself in under 30 minutes.

The picture ledges are perfect for displaying picture books. We had them in the kids’ old playroom when they were little (see that room here). I’m such a lover of illustrated children’s books – someday I will write one! – and adore having the covers displayed.

Should we talk about that piece of fabric tacked to the window? Yes, let’s talk about that. This is what my decorating process looks like: I try things out in very un-permanent ways and see if I can live with it (in this case, I can).

This is the same fabric that we used in Audrey’s old bedroom for the window and I loved it so much in there, I thought we would try it in this room as well. It is fabric from Minted and I’m crazy about it. My mom said she’ll help me sew proper roman shades so someday soon I’ll untack it from the wall and sew them into lovely roman shades with black pom pom trim.

Also unfinished? The trim. We still need to caulk and paint it all. The trim inside the window and the rest of the newly installed pieces will be painted the same white as the walls (in a semigloss sheen) and the seams and nail holes will be filled. It’s going to look amazing. Someday.

That sweet bench was a happy find at HomeGoods. I spotted two of them from across the store and was going to buy both. I wasn’t sure what for, but if there is anything I’ve learned about shopping at stores like HomeGoods it’s buy it now, return it later. Because if you wait to think about it, it will be gone.

Anyway, when I was heading over to get the benches, another shopper walked by and snagged one of them. You better believe I was very quick to grab that second one and claim it :)

Once home, I tried the bench in Audrey’s room and it tucked under the window perfectly. That scallop detail on the brass tacks is just the cutest and I’m a big fan of having a touch of black in every room – even a sweet girly room.

As we were unloading the picture books, we only made a dent in our collection with the three shelves.

So the next time I brave IKEA, I’ll pick up three more picture ledges for the opposite wall.

I think the reading nook idea works very well for her little dormer. I’ll keep you posted as we continue to finish her room out.

SOURCES

picture ledges – IKEA | bench – HomeGoods | pink throw – Target | linen pillow + insert – IKEA | fabric – Minted | Carpet | Wall Color – Shoji White by Sherwin Williams


For your reading pleasure, here are a few older posts with our favorite picture books:

3 Must-Have Picture Books For School-Aged Boys (according to my 8 year old)

Our Favorite Children’s Picture Books

Favorite Books for Boys

Favorite Books for Girls

Favorite Books for Baby

20 Responses to What to do with a sweet but slightly awkward dormer window

  1. Brandy May 20, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    This is wonderful! I am super picky and opinionated about home decor and organization and, as such, you are THE only blog I like enough to follow! Thanks for all the great ideas, and for being so generous with the details of how you pull off the looks you put together!!

  2. Judie May 8, 2017 at 6:33 am #

    What possibilities you have with that space, I’d do a built in bench with storage, cushions & pillows, it’ll be her favorite place. I know that Home Goods dilemma, if you like it get it, because it won’t be there when you come back!
    Thanks for the reading list for boys, always looks for a five yr. old who will be going to school in the fall.

  3. Deanna May 6, 2017 at 8:50 am #

    A chaise of some sort would look adorable in that spot to keep your idea of a reading nook alive .

  4. Candice May 3, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    Hi Emily! Love what you did with the space! Just curious, but what color paint are you going to use for the trim?

    • Candice May 3, 2017 at 9:47 pm #

      Never mind, just reread the entry and noticed you said that you’ll use the same color as the walls, but in semi gloss. What sheen did you use on the walls? And does it touch up well?

  5. Lonna May 3, 2017 at 4:56 pm #

    Great use of space! Re the unpainted window trim inside the window – at first glance I thought you had painted that bit of trim in gold…and I liked it!!!

  6. MINA MILEY May 3, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!! I do love a good reading nook :)
    And, I totally agree with your “buy it now, return it later” philosophy!!! I always say, “If I wait, I’m too late!” LOL!
    The black is very CoCo Chanel in a way (to me). I love your eye ;)

  7. Dusti May 3, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    Adorable space! Love reading about all your updates – you’re inspiring!
    On the same topic of odd and challenging window spaces, I noticed from the exterior pic of your home you have “half-moon windows.” Will you be (or could you) sharing amazing solutions to those difficultly awkward shaped windows? I’d love to see what you are going to do! Thanks :)

    • emily May 3, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

      Well, our long-term plan is to remove the half-moons and raise the bottom rectangular windows up. In the meantime, I’ll be making some updates to the living room with the windows and will show it soon!

  8. Maree Gauper May 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    Yes, it’s adorable!!
    And your enthusiasm is contagious! Makes me want to start a project….hmmm

  9. Lesley May 3, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    Great fabric choice, works well with the bench. Don’t sweat the roman blind, I followed these instructions to make my sister’s hideous mini blind into a beautiful fabric blind and we were thrilled with our DIY skills (first time too!).
    http://www.allparenting.com/my-home/articles/967403/easy-no-sew-roman-shades

  10. Sharon May 3, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    Instead of a built-in bed, a simple twin bed frame on casters could be pulled out for sheet-changing and bed-making. If a headboard is needed, it could be attached to the wall under the window…just tossing out ideas.

    • Gina May 3, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

      I have a super cozy chaise in one of my dormers and use it as a reading nook. It is so calming to listen to the birds in the tree outside.

  11. Meg May 3, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    I love the idea of a reading nook. We’ve been debating a cute hanging swing/chair for a similar space in our house. The bench is sweet, and the book ledges look amazing now with picture books, and as she gets older, they can be used for plenty of other uses– pictures, little plants, jewelry-hanging boards, etc.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth: I vote NO for a future built-in bed in that dormer….. only because my practical side is imagining how tricky it would be to change the sheets on a bed that is walled in on three sides! : )

    • emily May 3, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

      I know! We pushed her bed in the nook for a few months and it was a pain to make the bed and kiss her goodnight :)

  12. Rachelle May 3, 2017 at 11:15 am #

    My bed was in a dormer at one point when I was younger and I absolutely loved it!! It was so cozy and I loved having the window right there too!! :)

  13. Debbie C May 3, 2017 at 11:03 am #

    Your mom is going to make you some roman shades? You are very lucky! If I could have custom roman shades on all my windows I would! But, oh, the cost…

    • emily May 3, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

      I’ll document the process and share – let’s see if we can make a diy version.

  14. Lily May 3, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    Can you give a source for the “Audrey” book in the upper right corner? It looks as if I would love the illustrations <3

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