nook before

Photo: David Tsay

The Challenge
The Problem Area
A random square of extra space lurking at the back of a child's room, attracting toys and clutter.

Awkward nooks can appear more like construction accidents than feats of architectural genius. Behind Jeet Sohal's son Kieran's crib in the family's Santa Monica townhouse is a seemingly tacked-on square of floor space that enjoys lovely natural light, thanks to a south-facing window. It once held a dresser but is now littered with toys and a layer of pillows Kieran and his brother use for "wrestling."

The Fix
A cool, comfortable enclave for reading before bed.
reading nook

Photo: David Tsay

The Possibilities
Sohal, 32, has long harbored hopes of transforming the nook into a reading area with comfy cushions for her two boys to relax on. This would give their books—currently metastasizing throughout the house—a "home," and reinforce the importance of reading. It would also require time, and a other words, a commitment. Enter Walsh.

The Process

First, Walsh installs a large white bookcase with plenty of space to store the books currently littering the living room. "Educational, quiet-time toys," as Sohal calls them—an Etch a Sketch, for example—will live in wicker bins on the shelves. All other toys are banished to the playroom.


Photo: David Tsay

The Result
With the bookcase stocked, Walsh adds finishing touches like a folding foam floor mat covered with a soft linen fabric and a few pillows from Ikea. This will make the space more inviting and encourage the boys' nightly reading routine. Walsh observes that with a few more supportive cushions or even a chair, this type of quiet space could be re-created in an adult's bedroom or a den. Sohal, for her part, is delighted. "Everything in my house feels like it's always in progress," she says. "It's nice to have a finished space that we all know exactly how to use."

Next: Peter Walsh makes over other weird spaces