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DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook

A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The forces of nature were totally against my latest furniture makeover. Literally.

Back in July, when Robert, Olivia, and I were vacationing on our annual summer trip to Myrtle Beach with my side of the family, my mom and I went on an antiquing adventure in this little backroad junk shop. It was one of those places where you had to dig to find the “good stuff”.

And then this hand carved beauty whispered to me from across the store, “Take me home!” Because furniture talks if you really listen, you know.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The best part, this baby was only $260, which was a total steal considering I’ve seen carved wardrobes sell for around $2,000-$3,000 in Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware.

Friends helped Robert and me wrap her in layers of plastic wrap and duct tape and loaded her in the back of our pickup truck to haul home in the pouring rain.

I had no clue what I was going to do with this gigantic wardrobe, but I was too in love to care. (And Robert is so used to my off-the-cuff finds and wild ideas at this point that he cheers me right along and gets excited with me. A man who will haul a wardrobe 200 miles in a thunderstorm for you is a keeper, am I right?)

Once we got it home and dropped it in our garage, it hit me. A Narnia-inspired reading nook for Olivia’s playroom. Oh. my. stars!

I finished it just in the knick of time for this month’s Trash to Treasure Transformation Tuesday. (All of my blogger friends’ awesome thrifty creations are at the end of this post.)

If you have a wardrobe / armoire (which is it, really?) you don’t know what to do with, but a little one who would go nuts for a reading nook, here’s how I whipped up this one…

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook

(Some affiliate links are provided below for convenience.)

The wardrobe was already pretty nice painted white, but there were still some deep scratches and the paint job itself was uneven. And I wanted to make the carved floral details stand out more.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

1. So I used wood filler on the scratches, let dry, and sanded smooth for a clean slate.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

2. I gave the entire piece two coats of the Fusion Mineral Paint Sterling first (if you’ve never painted furniture before but want to learn how, this post is a great place to start with the basics).

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

3. Then, using the 1.5″ angled brush I started on the grooves using some of the Fusion Mineral Paint Casement color.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

4. For the carved leaves and flowers, I spent close to 3 hours painting on the Casement color on all of the little details using the medium sized artist brush. It was tedious but SO worth every minute!

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

5. To antique the wardrobe a little bit, I used the Homestead House Espresso Wax, brushing it on in 2-3 foot sections and immediately wiping it off with a dry rag. All of the wax collected in the corners and crevices of the carved flowers to make them stand out even more.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

6. Then for the inside, I had Robert use his drill to remove the back panel for me, which was really just like a piece of plywood. And from there, I measured the panel to cut two strips of this birch tree wallpaper I found on Etsy, brushed on some wallpaper adhesive, and smoothed it in place on the panel.

It has a shimmery pearl finish on it that is so beautiful in person.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

7. The wardrobe already had this wooden box inside with 6 drawers, so I took 4 of them out to create a bookshelf instead and painted the remaining 2 drawers with a coat of Casement.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

8. Since this is a reading nook, it needed a light… and I mean, anything Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe Narnia-inspired needs a tribute to the famous lamp post. So I found this seeded glass lantern pendant light and converted it to a plug-in light using these steps from Maison de Pax.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

9. Robert and I removed the wooden top of the wardrobe, and, after we hauled the wardrobe into Olivia’s playroom, I drilled a swag hook into the ceiling to hang the light in the center of it. (You could leave the top on and just cut a hole to run the cord through too, but we chose to keep the top off to keep it semi-open even when Olivia chooses to close the doors.)

10. Anchor the wardrobe to the wall using an anchor kit to keep from tipping over. SO important!

So now, when the doors are closed, It looks like just a regular wardrobe.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Well, actually a really fancy regular wardrobe.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Then, you open the doors and BAM! Secret hideout reading nook.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I found this absolutely perfect pillow that reminded me of Aslan from Narnia. His sweet flower crown makes him look not so scary to little girls. 😉

This crown pillow was just too fitting for the four children as the kings and queens of Narnia too.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

And I snagged this faux fur rug for $15 at Marshall’s the other day to serve as a nod to the fur coats the kids wear in the forest. Olivia loves snuggling up with it.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I had to photograph this finished wardrobe practically in the dark as a storm was pounding outside, so pardon the fuzzy, grainy, weirdly-lit pics. But I couldn’t wait to share this small labor of love.

Maybe one day, when Olivia eventually grows out of it, she can convert it to a regular wardrobe to hang dresses in instead.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

But I’m really hoping this precious young reader phase lasts a long, long time when she still believes in magic and fairytales. Even when she grows out of it though, I hope she carries the allegorical meaning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with her always.

DIY Narnia Wardrobe Reading Nook | blesserhouse.com - A plain, thrifted armoire gets a sweet, fairytale-like makeover as a reading nook based on the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

If you want to see the rest of this month’s Trash to Treasure Transformation projects, you can find all of the thrifty flips from the T2T crew below:

 (Clockwise from top left):

Prodigal Pieces | Confessions of a Serial DIYer | Artsy Chicks Rule | Girl in the Garage

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you affected by Hurricane Irma and by Hurricane Harvey. So many have lost their homes and all they hold dear, and my heart goes out to all of you sorting through the aftermath and rebuilding. It all starts with each of us loving and giving all we can.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” – Isaiah 43:2

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149 Comments

  1. Oh, my gosh – you are absolutely brilliant. This is so amazing I don’t even have words.

    Just WOW. Holy lion this is a wonderful transformation.

    And the award goes to Lauren at Bless’er H♥use!!!!!!!

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. This piece was truly amazing, Lauren, before you added your special touch too it, but the after is absolutely over the moon and exquisitely beautiful!!!!!! You ALWAYS amaze me with your furniture re-dos. You truly have a gift, and I love getting your posts to see what new project you will unveil next. Olivia is one blessed little girl to have a mom and a dad, can’t leave out dad who brought this beauty home, that are leaving hand prints of love on her little heart. 🙂

  3. Made me misty eyed. You thought a teacher always you would be of English in a place of hallowed halls. And now you teach a little girl but also all of us!! We are to look at stores and catalogs and get ideas. But then wait for inspiration to hit in back alley shops. The labor of time you spent looking for wallpaper and pillows and paint and a lantern as well as a fluffy throw makes me appreciate the final product even more. I can’t believe it’s already finished. You were just doing a living room!!! And laundry room!! Idea–you may have to find another armoire the same height and connect it to this one. They need nomatch exactly. Just stand side by side. Then magically when your child opens her door she will grow into the other wardrobe and continue to have her reading nook?? ?

  4. Lauren! This is absolutely my favorite post I’ve seen anyone do all year!!! I mean, the creativity abounds and it was soooo beautifully executed. We love Narnia, but seriously, this is amazing!!! Gorgeous! I love it! ❤️ Cheryl

    1. There must still be some teacher left in me too. 😉 The second the idea popped into my head, I couldn’t WAIT to make it happen.

  5. LOVE IT!! I know for a fact that my 16 year old daughter would still love to sit in this and read the day away!! I’m sure she will love this like it is for a very long time!

  6. Lauren, I could not love this more if I tried. What a gift to your child! Labor of love to be sure from both of you. Chronicles of Narnia was a childhood favorite series that I nearly wore out, along with Little House on the Prairie series and The Borrowers (nothing like the badly done move that came out 20 years ago–precious books)
    This deserves an award! EVERY award! The Grammy Tony and Oscar of DIY awards, and parenting awards. Love of books, love of learning, a really special place all her own, wonder, magical mystery, and of course, the fact that it is rooted in CS Lewis’s work about Christ and Biblical truth is the star on top. I adore it, and you, not in that order. Bravo little mama!!!!!

    1. Your comment just made my day, Lisa! Thank you! I totally agree that the story of Christ being in CS Lewis’s stories just makes me melt all over again.

  7. That is one of the most creative and beautiful transformations I’ve ever seen. Kudos to you for giving that beautiful piece of furniture new life! You are inspiring. Great job!

  8. The best wardrobe I’ve ever seen. You must’ve had a lot of fun planning this, and I love the idea that you can hide in the wardrobe but with the (beautiful) light still on! Maybe something similar would make a great sensory space for children on the autistic spectrum.

    1. Oh my gosh. I was just giggly and dancing all over the place when I had the idea for this thing. That is a fantastic idea for autistic children! How amazing would it be to round up wardrobes from thrift stores and use them as projects in special education classrooms?

  9. What a GREAT idea. It’s adorable. Olivia is a lucky girl to have this beautiful place to read and created by her mom with love!

  10. This is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a blog! It’s a beautiful armoire to start with but you had such vision Lauren.I bet your little princess spends many an happy hour in there. You need to paint the stool now……

    1. Wow! Thank you, Shirley! I’ve been meaning to buy another one of these IKEA stools because this one gets hauled all over the house. Maybe a flower stencil would be pretty on it. 🙂

  11. Oh my goodness! I absolutely LOVE. I would’ve loved this as a little girl! Loved the Narnia series, great job Lauren, I think this is my fave post of yours 🙂

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