10 Ways to Decorate an Alcove & Make Use of Awkward Space

10 Ways to Decorate an Alcove & Make Use of Awkward Space

In the UK many of us have the mixed blessing of living in Victorian properties. While these properties exude character and history, they tend to lack in energy efficiency. Without the ability to whack on the central heating of a chilly winters eve, the Victorians all used fireplaces to heat their homes.

This means that many of our period properties have a central feature of a fireplace in a prominent position in the household. But the fireplace isn’t limited to older properties. In fact the fireplace is loved by modern architects and interior designers as well, so much so, that an obvious and bold central fireplace adorns the living rooms of new builds and modern homes.

The evocation - whether the fireplace is strictly functional or not - of families gathered around a roaring hearth of an evening is deeply rooted in British culture and heritage of the home. With fireplaces, however, come alcoves - the areas of set back wall either side of the chimney breast.

Alcoves can be awkward spaces in homes given their size and shape. In smaller properties in particular there can be a need to maximise every space in the home. Knowing how exactly to make use of an alcove so that it’s both functional and aesthetic is a challenge. This blog explores 10 ways that you can maximise your alcove space so that it is not longer an awkward spot in the room but a symbol of your personality, an eye-catcher or an innovative site of functional design.

Have an alcove that you don’t know what to do with? Read on for the top list of design ideas!

Alcove floating shelves

Perhaps the most obvious use of an alcove is to hang shelves. The tricky thing is that alcoves come in all shapes and sizes and off-the-shelf shelves (excuse the pun!) have fixed dimensions. At Roomix our paintable alcove floating shelves are custom-made to your exact dimensions. We cut them to size, you slot them in and voila the glove fits! They offer a professional finish without the price tag of a carpenter and they’re easy to hang too. The beauty of alcove paintable shelves is that you can paint them the same colour as the rest of the room, and look as though they were truly designed with the space. They blend right in so that the items you dress them with stand out and become the true stars of the show.

Scaffold shelves with brackets


The other shelving aesthetic that can suit an alcove is to make the shelves themselves (try saying that 10 times fast!) stand out.Scaffold shelves with brackets can add a modern, industrial look to a room. When paired with the traditional fireplace you get a mix of old and new design. A deliberate and delicious clash.At Roomix our scaffold board shelves also come cut to the size you like so get them to fit snugly to the alcove with a couple of centimetres space either side.The metal bracket adds both support and style. Ty decorating with bold modern prints or showcase your record collection.

Alcove storage

Another obvious choice is to build alcove cupboards or alcove cabinetry. Awkward nooks can be some of the best places to store the bits and pieces that you could do with stashing away when your guests come over or the things like Christmas decorations that have their time and place once a year only.Choose a style that suits your room and your shelving choice. Shaker style cabinetry can work well with paintable floating shelves for a more traditional, farmhouse aesthetic.It can be hard to imagine how to instal alcove cupboards without the help of a carpenter but at Roomix our alcove storage is handmade for your exact dimensions. With everything cut to size the installation becomes much easier. Our step by step guide and essential installation kit mean that you don’t need to figure out the tricky bits yourself.

Billy bookcase hack

One of Instagram’s most loved uses of an alcove is to adorn it with the much loved IKEA Billy Bookcase.Many creators and home renovators alike have added their flair to the humble bookcase, taking this piece of basic freestanding furniture and installing it so that it looks like it was custom-designed for the space.The most common method is by first affixing the freestanding bookcase to the back to the alcove. Then getting strips of MDF, cutting them down to size, and attaching them to the sides of the bookcase so that it gives the appearance of being built into the space.Additional flair can be added through creative use of handling or adding dowling to cupboard doors. Whatever your style we love a good upcycle and could spend hours scrolling these ingenious Billy hacks on Pinterest.

Big mirror

One way to enlarge a room is to add a large freestanding mirror to an alcove. Not only does the reflection make the room feel bigger and more open but it ironically focuses the brain on the rest of the room rather than the corner.Go ornate and eye-catching for a traditional look or sleek and simple for a more industrial aesthetic.If your alcove is in the room closet to the door when you’re heading out this can be the perfect spot for a last minute outfit check as well.

Tall lamp

Alcoves are corner spaces in rooms which can be dark and unusable.A tall lamp not only serves as a beautiful design feature but can also add a warm lighting to an oft gloomy corner.


A lot has been written about the mental health benefits of bringing the outdoors in. Especially for those that live in the city it can be important to share our space with our green friends to improve our air quality and our mood.An alcove, as an otherwise dead spot, can be the perfect place to house your plant babies.Most plants do better in sunny spots so depending on the light quality of your alcove you will need to consider the plants you select carefully.We recommend getting plants of a mix of heights to frame the corner. If you have a shelf above a hanging vine from the shelf above can be a beautiful compliment.

Traditional panelling

Traditional wall panelling which is made up of rectangles of pinewood mouldings is the most flexible style of panelling for awkward shapes and sizes.You have ultimate control of how wide or narrow each rectangle is so you can design your pattern to fit your alcove to perfection.The traditional style is also most in keeping with the traditional fireplace and can be found in many period properties as having been built with the house itself.If you have alcoves of two different sizes on either side of a fireplace, you may have to adjust the size of your panelling on each side. Rather than looking disjointed it will flow along the wall naturally.

Upholstered armchair

Have a bigger alcove? Why not create a reading nook? Combine your favourite upholstered armchair - we recommend a standout colour or print. Combine it with an upright lamp.Grab your favourite book and enjoy! You have turned an otherwise unused space into a cosy and relaxing corner for a bit of me time.

Console Table

Console tables are most commonly found in hallways but can be helpful for an alcove as well.They can be found in narrower designs to fit the space and can be used for storing smaller bits and pieces or decorated with a tall vase.This can be the ideal spot to showcase a favoured piece of vintage furniture. The one you picked up for it’s beautiful detail versus strictly for its functionality. The one you might be worried you can’t find that use for!A decorated alcove is so much better than an empty one so fill it with a statement piece in prime position in your home.
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