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Our Cupboard to Magical Kids’ Den Transformation

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Last year we embarked on a ‘quick and easy’ transformation of a walk in cupboard to a magical den for our kids. Well, predictably, it wasn’t quite as quick and easy as we imagined! In fact it took absolutely ages. I first wrote about the work in progress kids den here… roll on several months and it’s finally finished! I’m really pleased with how our magical kids’ den turned out, and so are the girls. It was worth all the hard work! Read on to find out how we transformed a dull, dark wardrobe into a cosy, welcoming reading nook for our children. And the best part? We did it all using materials we already had, so it didn’t cost anything but our time and effort!

Kids den with an internal window made out of a cupboard

How Our Magical Kids’ Den Started Out

Our den started life as a cold, dark, badly wallpapered walk in wardrobe over the stairs. We’d been using it to store Christmas decorations, winter coats, and lots of junk since we moved in nearly six years ago.

It had sagging shelves, peeling yellow wallpaper and yellowing gloss paint. There is a small area of floor, with a hanging rail and shelf, and a large platform which is higher up. It had a horrible old orangy brown chipboard door through to the girls’ playroom, which you can read all about here. But it’s big, and had lots of potential. So we set about stripping the wallpaper, removing the old shelves and repainting. The girls helped with this but got bored quite quickly!

Stripping wallpaper in the cupboard above our stairs

Adding Natural Light To Our Magical Kids’s Den

The best idea we had for our wardrobe to kids’ den transformation was to add a ‘window’. The wall between the girls’ playroom and the wardrobe is just plasterboard so it was actually really easy (but VERY messy) to knock through. Please take advice from a professional if you want to do something similar yourself!

I painted the frame in some white Frenchic Al Fresco eco-friendly paint. It covers beautifully, dries really quickly and has minimal fumes. And voila, here we have a little window peeking into the magical kids den.

A look through a window into a magical kids reading den

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Small space DIY - how to make a magical kids' den and reading nook from an underused cupboard

How I Decorated Our Kids Magical Den Using Leftover Materials

I was really keen to only use materials we already had, to make this a cheap and eco-friendly project!

Step 1: Paint with Leftover Paint

Once I’d stripped off the wallpaper and washed down the walls, I used leftover white emulsion to paint everything. It took three coats as there was bare plaster, and old satin finish paint. Even though it’s a small space, it still took ages to paint, but immediately, it looked so much cleaner and brighter.

Step 2: Add An Old Cot Mattress and Cushions

Because our kids reading den is a wardrobe, it doesn’t have any heating (though luckily there is an overhead light in there!) So it was important to make it cosy and comfortable so the girls would want to use it.

Once the pain was fully dry, I added an old cot mattress, covered in the matching old sheet. It was almost a perfect fit. I added a few old pillows down the side, and cushions from various places in the house.

I added an old cot mattress and pillows to make it cosy.
Kids' den with lots of pink and yellow cushions, books and cuddly toys, cloud shelves and gold wall decals
Magical kids’ den with lots of pink and yellow cushions, books and cuddly toys, framed post cards, cloud shelves and gold wall decals.

It’s now really cosy, thanks to an old cot blanket the girls have always refused to part with.

Step 3: Add Decorations

I made my own wall decals using DC-FIX gold sticky back plastic which you can find here. I’d bought for another project but never used. I also used it to cover the front of the shelf for a more luxurious look. I cut discs out of the metallic film using a jumbo hole punch which you can find here.

If you don’t want to make them yourself (and it is a pain to do to be honest) you can find some lovely metallic wall decals here which you just peel and stick!

I also put up some nice framed postcards, and strung up some fairy lights from our bedroom. I bought the cloud-shaped shelves years ago, but never found a home for them – I think they are perfect here.

Cosy kids' reading nook with pink and yellow cushions and a Clothkits doll

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How to transform a walk in cupboard into a magical kids' den and reading nook

Making Our Magical Kids Den Practical as Well as Pretty

So the cosy reading nook part of the kids’ den was complete. Next I wanted to make sure we made the most of the rest of the space. I painted the old door that led to the main playroom using pale pink Frenchic paint. I also used this paint on the old IKEA stool. We use it instead of a ladder to allow the girls to climb up to the reading platform.

Through the door of our built in wardrobe transformed into a magical kids' den

You can see how I made their upcycled jam jar lights here.

How to make jam jar lights with LED string lights

We kept the old shelf and clothes rail so the girls can use it for clothes when they get older. I added a velvet curtain at the front of the hanging section to add another touch of cosiness. It was part of a pair I bought from Asda. I used the other curtain length behind our front door to keep our house cosy, you can find out all about it here.

Cupboard made into a kids' den with white shelves and a book case and a velvet curtain

As you can see, it’s quite a tight squeeze! We have the IKEA step stool on the left, leading up to the reading platform. On the right I’ve moved in the girls’ book shelves, which fit perfectly.

Inside our magical kids's den with pink curtain, step stool and bookshelves

We screwed some painted IKEA spice racks in above, and again these were repurposed from elsewhere in the house. We can store stuff behind the velvet curtain. The girls’ board games go on the shelf above, easily accessed thanks to the stool.

Inside our magical kids' reading den with gold accents
Kids reading den made out of a built in wardrobe, with book case and shelves

The girls love closing the door and shutting themselves in to their magical reading den. I moved the neon rainbow light from their desk to add more light. The girls added a few of their favourite photos and art work to the little spice shelves.

Kids' den with an internal window, made out of a cupboard
How to make a magical kids' den out of a walk in wardrobe above the stairs

More Views of the Magical Reading Den

And this is what the den looks like when you’re sitting in it.

How The Girls Reacted to Their Magical Reading Den

So do the girls like their magical den? You can judge for yourself!

So I hope you’ve enjoyed the mini tour of the girls’ magical new den and reading nook, why not Pin it for later?

Cute ideas for a kids' den and reading nook, created in an underused wardrobe


  1. Stephanie Rutledge

    11th February 2020 at 1:38 am

    This is the cutest thing! The little window with the lighted rainbow is genius!

    1. Becky Pink

      11th February 2020 at 10:59 am

      Thanks so much Stephanie, we had a lot of fun putting it together! xx

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