I made my own bookshelf insert from a miniature kit in the past, and talked about stores selling them before, but what if you want to make them DIY?
Well, today I am going to try and walk you through on how to make these fantastic pieces of mini art that look amazing on your real-life bookshelf, so let’s just dive straight into things!
Which Materials Do You Need?
Here’s a little list of the things that you could need to build a book nook, but it’s not restricted to/or you could want to use fewer materials:
- For the base, any of these basic materials could do the trick: cardboard, PVC board, foam board, or wood.
- Glue ( a glue gun, wood glue, crafting glue, tacky glue, etc.).
Some blogs mention super glue, but I would never use that again for miniatures (unless for metal or plastic), it is a total disaster for the skin of your fingers, and it doesn’t always need to glue instantly.
(that is unless you want your fingers to glue together haha)
If you want it to stick together fast, I would use Tacky glue, but the “grab fast” version, as I use for my miniature kits.
- Miniature lights, preferably battery-operated LED lights.
- Anything you could use to make a (street) scene more “real”-looking, like twigs, little stones, fake sand, etc..
- Cutting materials, depending on what you will use for the base, and/or interior. A table saw, a craftsman hacksaw, a crafting knife, scissors,..
- anything you can use to craft miniature furniture, windows, doors, walls, etc: popsicle sticks, balsa wood, egg cartons,..
- If you would like to add curtains, cushions, etc then you need all kinds of fabrics.
- acrylic paint and paintbrushes (for obvious reasons)
- You could use polymer clay to make stone brick walls, or use:
- Plastic sheets for the windows
- ( You can also produce book nooks by using laser cutting machines, but that is a totally different story )
How To Make The Base For The Bookshelf diorama?
You can make the base for the book nook out of wood, which I still prefer honestly, but why not craft them out of other materials, such as cardboard, PVC board, or foam boards?
- Whatever material you use, always start with cutting out the walls, one by one, followed by the ceiling(s) and floor(s), and glue them together in the end.
The measurements for all of these are basically totally up to you, as they are all made in different sizes and shapes, mostly dependent on the theme.
For example, if you make a street, this will usually be smaller than let’s say a “hobbit home”.
- Now, I get that figuring out the measurements of a book nook can be a tricky part, as with all dollhouse plans.
First, you need to figure out how large you actually want to make it, and then using building plans tools can come in handy.
Or you could just find an example made by someone else, and take the exact same measurements.
But I can hear you say now: ” How can I even find these examples of measurements, Lizzy? “.
Well, you can search on Etsy, for example, what book nook makers use as measurements for the base.
A good example would be the seller called ” RoRcrafts” on Etsy, if you click on “select an option” on his product page, you can see all the different sizes that he can custom make.
- The sizes of the windows and doors, etc, I’m afraid that you will need to figure those out yourself as well. Maybe my blog post on making these can help you out.
Before you assemble the entire box, I would first glue the windows and doors to the walls, otherwise, it would be too difficult to glue these on afterward!
- Add any roofs (on top of windows, etc..) as well before assembling.
- Another thing you need to do before assembling is doing all the painting jobs because some parts will be hard to reach afterward.
- And, of course, adding any bricks or wallpaper, will have to be done first as well.
- The floors could be done after assembling, but still, it would be easier to decorate them also beforehand. Especially if you want to create something special, instead of just using a print.
After you have your floor and walls decorated then assemble in three steps:
- glue one wall to the floor, let’s say the right one
- glue the back wall next, and add any accessories/picture frames, etc..
- glue the left wall, with added windows and such if you have made those
If you want to add miniature lights (battery operated), now is the time to glue the threads to the wall, cover it with wallpaper, and then glue the battery itself on the roof or walls.
- You can either create a double roof, and hide the battery there, or hide the battery in another way.
- And then finally, glue on the top cover or board.
This can have a print or not, depending on what you want or even depending on the size of your real-life bookshelf.
(If it is as high as the shelf itself, it doesn’t make much sense to add a print that you can’t even see).
- Oh, I almost forgot. If you are making a street scene, it looks a lot better to create some kind of arch in front and cover that with the same decoration that you used for the exterior walls!
Finish The Bookshelf Insert.
It could be quite hard to craft a very realistic scenery for your book nook, but if I gave one piece of advice: mind the details!
As these are quite small, meaning sometimes narrow but deep (like a real book), you need to get some insights first on how you are going to plan things.
So enough details, but not too stuffed either, because then the details get lost if one thing is behind another thing.
You càn partly solve this, however, by using an ( infinity ) mirror or mirror-effect wallpaper, so you can see what is in the back as well.
Plus while using reflections, you have the advantage of making it seem bigger than it actually is, like the street looks longer.
To see what I mean, take a look at the next video, where an infinity mirror is installed in a book nook.
A few more tips on things to add to a book nook.
So, the more details you add, the better the book nook insert becomes. A few tips:
- You can add downspouts made from plastic straws, as I explained here.
- Add some “hanging” signs
- Hang some printed posters on the walls
- Dollhouse plants look great in book nooks, especially creepers
- Add one or more miniature pets (cats look fantastic in book nooks 😉 ).
- I would advise adding several battery-operated LED lights. One or 2 on the ceiling, and behind windows and plants.
Paint or decorate the outside of the book nook.
Again, the choice is yours on how to decorate the outside walls of your book nook.
You can paint it (apply a primer first), wallpaper it (with a bricks-print), or even attach faux leather to make it look like a real book.
You could add plants again to the outside walls, make them look “dirty”, or you could even add a bird-nest, why not? Have your imagination run wild!
Lot’s More Fun Ideas For Your Bookshelf Insert.
Book nooks can have a personal theme, like from a particular book or a tv-show.
- For example Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter… Anything you can think of!
- Why not make a crime-scene, if you are crazy about crime novels? Every time you pass this book nook, you might re-live the exciting story of the book! 😉
- The ideas coming up in my mind are basically endless, especially if you look around on the internet, like this scene from the mad scientist: Dr Frankensteins’ laboratory.
- Something quite popular and a FAQ is: “how do I make a Diagon Alley“? The answer to that question you can find in this amazing Youtube video. (it is actually a series of videos):
- Create a street from Venice! This book nook was created by CoolkatzCraft and represents an alley with water in Venice!
The “water” is made with mirror paper, but maybe you could use water-effect products? Please let me know if you tried!
- Create an old tomb or temple! Wow, this video from Rachel Maksy is amaaaazing!
- Then, of course, a library is what you need! ;-). Have another look at this video, where “Trinket Corner” creates a book nook library in three parts, using mirrors to get an endless library illusion effect!
- June from “Junesbooknooks” creates breathtaking book nooks. If you have an Instagram account, go follow her!
She gives you a lot more ideas on different book nooks, like a hallway that ends in a garden, a Star Wars-themed book nook, a Christmas scene, and even a hardware store, etc. You can get lots of inspiration from her work!
- But you can also choose something quite personal, like the way I transformed “Simons Coffee” from Robotime into a “Cat café“. ( this is not a book nook persé, but I hàve put it on a bookshelf as well lol ).
Because I just am crazy about cats ànd because there are coffee shops out there that also have cats ready for adoption and you can get to know them before adopting, which I find a fantastic idea!
PS. Please have a look at my other blog posts as well on Book nooks:
- Get your book nooks on Etsy
- My book nook kit- a review
- Get your book nook shelf here.
- Thé best book nook stores.
- A book nook diorama-say what?
My Final Conclusion.
I hope that you enjoyed this blog post on how to make a bookshelf insert and to get some more ideas!
If you have any questions or would you just like to chat with me then please leave a comment below or join me on my Facebook group or other social media channels below.
I wish you happy crafting!