Bedroom alcove ideas – 11 clever ways to make the most of the often awkward design feature

From larger niches to shallower ones, find out how to elevate the recessed areas

hanging rail in childrens bedroom alcove
(Image credit: Future/Katie Lee)

If you just so happen to have an alcove – or several – in your bedroom, you might have found yourself stumped when it comes to making the most of what tends to be an awkward and oddly sized niche. But often underutilised and unloved bedroom alcove ideas can offer a whole lot of potential.

Yes, it might be a bit more difficult to fit furniture in or around them and it can feel like a waste of precious space if you’ve not worked out how to use them yet, but many of the best alcove ideas involve thinking outside the box.

While there are plenty of clever alcove designs for every room of your home, our bedrooms often need to serve multiple functions these days, above and beyond a place to relax and recharge. So, whether your bedroom already features some interesting alcoves or you’re in the process of designing your dream bedroom and are installing one as a design feature, we’ve got 12 ideas to offer plenty of inspiration no matter your style or budget.

Bedroom alcove ideas

1. Place the bed in the alcove

bedroom alcove

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you are planning small bedroom ideas or want to make the room feel as snug as possible, have you considered placing your bed in the alcove? While this might only be possible for single beds in smaller niches, larger alcoves could accommodate a double or a queen bed, depending on its dimensions.

‘Think about whether you want to position your bed inside the alcove or maybe just in front of it,’ says Clare Schifano, Interior Expert at And So To Bed. And it also gives you the opportunity to ‘create a custom headboard,’ according to’s Interior Designer, Ryan McDonough. ‘There are many ways you can do this, with wall murals or decals, wallpaper, or fabric-covered plywood. 

Upcycling old wooden planks or cupboard doors as a headboard are great budget ideas too.’ Additionally, placing the bed in the alcove could be a great idea to make the most of a small children's bedroom.

2. Create a cosy reading nook

Furniture Village alcove reading nook

(Image credit: Furniture Village)

‘For bedrooms with slightly deeper alcoves, I’d recommend creating a cosy reading nook,’ suggests Shelley Cochrane, Accessories Buyer at Furniture Village. ‘Simply place a snuggle chair or footstool inside the alcove and add throws, cushions and task lighting.’

Not only does this allow you to utilise space that would otherwise be wasted but ‘the small space actually works as an advantage as it feels cosseting,’ Shelley continues. Just imagine getting lost in a good book in your very own dedicated reading area.

3. Dedicate one to a vanity area

Simon Taylor Furniture - Soulbury - Luxury Bespoke Bedroom in a Victorian House

(Image credit: Simon Taylor Furniture)

If you find yourself struggling to find the space to do your makeup in the morning or to apply your skincare routine at night, why not start browsing dressing table ideas and turn your bedroom alcove into your very own vanity area.

‘By adding a small mirror and various grooming essentials, you can totally redefine your alcove into a mini beauty centre,’ says Jamie Robinson, Installation Manager at Value Doors. If you have enough room for a shop-bought vanity table, this can slot in perfectly, or you could make your own by upcycling a shelf or smaller desk. Throw in a decorative stool or chair and you have the perfect grooming station.

4. Add a mini home office space

a desk and a chair and a laptop computer in a home office area in a bedroom

(Image credit: Future/Simon Whitmore)

In a similar vein, if you’re short on room elsewhere in your home or you’re looking to make the most of every part of your bedroom, you could make your bedroom alcove into a work from home space. All you really need is a desk space, a somewhat ergonomic office chair, a desk or wall mounted light and some storage to keep you organised.

‘This approach makes the most of your alcove space by leaving you with a productive work area that doesn't encroach on the main bedroom space,’ affirms Darren Logue, Director at Sliding Robes Direct.

5. Put in a storage bench

A dining room with a light grey and dark grey wall, floating shelves and a storage unit with baskets as a bench seat in an alcove

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Giving you both additional storage and a place to sit and put on your shoes in the morning, adding a storage bench can be another practical way to fill up bedroom alcoves.

You can either invest in a built-in bench or why not try your hand at an IKEA hack and convert an IKEA KALLAX unit into an affordable storage bench for a budget bedroom idea.

6. Utilise floating shelves or a bookshelf

design rules for small bedrooms, blue bedroom blue textured wallpaper, alcove shelving behind headboard

(Image credit: Zulufish)

Possibly one of the most popular ways to alcove ideas is to add floating shelves or even make the entire alcove into a bookshelf. If you happen to have two alcoves in your bedroom and you’re a big reader, imagine having one dedicated to a cosy reading nook and the other to a fully stacked bookshelf. Now, that is the thing of dreams for fellow book lovers.

7. Showcase your shoes

Daval Furniture Lugano New England Oak Shoedrobe

(Image credit: Daval Furniture)

For those of us with a passion for shoes, a la Carrie Bradshaw, consider turning your bedroom alcove into a shoe storage idea.  ‘A shoedrobe is a great way to make use of a shallow alcove as it only needs to be as deep as your largest pair of shoes,’ says Simon Bodsworth, Managing Director at Daval Furniture

‘Plus, it can be designed from floor to ceiling so you can display everything from your designer stilettos and dress shoes through to flats, boots, and trainers.’ You can also add a door, if you’d rather have them hidden away but we love the idea of having a fabulous wall of shoes in our bedroom.

8. Add fitted wardrobes

My Fitted Bedroom Elle in Blush

(Image credit: My Fitted Bedroom)

If your alcoves are deep enough, one way to instantly make a bedroom look more expensive and luxurious is by adding fitted wardrobes. And it can be particularly beneficial in period properties. 

‘It’s often difficult to fit freestanding furniture around the sought-after original features of period properties and the result can feel cluttered and mismatched. Built-in furniture, on the other hand, can be designed to work around any shape and size of alcove - meaning original fireplaces and original features can stay put,’ says Megan Baker, Head of Design at

‘I think the ability to add super size doors – that fill the alcove from floor to ceiling and encompass hanging rails, drawers and shelving for storage – is very attractive to homeowners who want to create clutter-free ergonomic rooms,’ Megan continues.

9. Put in a hanging rail

hanging rail in childrens bedroom alcove

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

Depending on the depth of your alcove, you could even fit a hanging rail and turn it into a chic bedroom wardrobe idea with a curtain hung across instead of a traditional door. While ‘the depth of the alcove will ultimately determine what you can hang but if it’s not deep enough for your clothes use the space for accessories like handbags, belts and scarves,’ Ryan adds.

If you are in a rented bedroom, you can still use this idea by adding in a tension rod you can buy at Amazon instead of permanently attaching one. 

10. Create a feature space

Bedroom with double bed, headboard, wall lamps and shelving alcoves

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jody Stewart)

Our bedrooms can be one of the most, if not the most, personal rooms in our homes, ‘so it should reflect your taste and style,’ says Lena Gierasinska, Head of Product and Displays at Barker and Stonehouse. ‘I’d suggest using the recessed space of a bedroom alcove to create a focal point within the room and put your favourite pieces on display.’

Whether that’s sentimental photographs, some of your favourite decor pieces, a beautiful vase of flowers or house plant ideas, this can turn the underutilised area into a feature instead of something to ignore.

11. Install mirrors

blue bedroom with fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC / Caroline Mardon)

Some alcoves aren’t deep or wide enough to fit an item of furniture into but don’t let that put you off giving it a bit of a makeover, instead think about using them for a bedroom mirror idea

‘If your goal is simply to make the alcove, or your room in general, appear larger than it is, I encourage you to dot some large mirrors around your room and in your alcove,’ Jamie remarks. 

‘If placed correctly, these mirrors can create the illusion of visual depth, resulting in a more enticing bedroom and alcove space.’


Should an alcove be painted lighter or darker?

If you’re not sure whether to paint your bedroom alcove a lighter or darker hue, the experts all agree that both have their own merits. ‘Lighter colours, such as whites, creams, and pastels, can make an alcove feel larger and more open, and they help reflect natural and artificial light, making the space brighter,’ declares Zlatka Dimitrova, Declutter and Home Improvement Expert at Fantastic Services.

On the other hand, ‘darker colours, such as deep blues, greens, or greys, can add depth and create a cosy, intimate feel, and they can help highlight and frame features or objects placed within the alcove. A darker alcove can provide a striking contrast to lighter walls in the rest of the room,’ Zlatka continues. So, it might be a case of personal preference and what works best for you and your personal style.

What to put in a shallow alcove?

If you have a particularly shallow alcove, it can be tricky to think what to do with it. But Zlatka has a few ideas. You could ‘install shallow floating shelves to display small items like pictures, candles, or collectables and place a tall, narrow piece of artwork or a framed photograph to utilise the vertical space,’ she admits.

As well as adding a mirror into this area, you could also ‘install a sconce, fairy lights, or an LED strip to illuminate the alcove and add a warm ambience,’ Zlatka concludes.

Don't leave the bedroom alcove as an awkward forgotten spot anymore. Turn it into a feature to be proud of.

Ellis Cochrane

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.

Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.