Anna is a crafter, sculptor, painter, miniaturist, props magician, soap maker, animator, production/ events, and interior designer.
How to Make a Harry Potter Book Nook or Bookshelf Insert
Harry Potter's Cupboard Under the Stairs is one of the most iconic scenes in the Harry Potter books and movies. It is where we find Harry in a sorry state, not knowing that a lifetime of adventure awaits him. The cupboard was small and dingy; it was loud and lacked privacy. It was where he dreamt of his parents and spent the first few years of his life. He had minimal possessions, and he was always bothered by his cruel cousin Dudley. He shared this space with tools, boxes, and cans. A few small toy figures littered the shelves, and that was all he had.
When making a Harry Potter-inspired book nook or bookshelf insert, one might usually go for the more famous scenes like Diagon Alley or Hogwarts Dining Hall, but I wanted to make something a bit more somber, before Harry was the great "Harry Potter." So, choosing the Cupboard Under the Stairs scene made a lot of sense.
It is important to do a lot of research before starting this project. The first thing is to watch the movie scene and look for the Cupboard Under the Stairs pictures. Recreate the scene and find similar materials that need to be printed, like the carpet and wallpaper. Surely, there isn't one that's completely the same, so my advice is to find something that is closest to it.
Let me share how I made this book nook and how you can too. It is a fun little project that can be finished in a minimum of 1 1/2 days, depending on your speed and access to materials. This piece can be a stand-alone piece, like a dollhouse, or use it as it is intended as a bookshelf insert or book nook.
Materials You'll Need
- PVC board or cardboard
- Board paper
- Battery-operated LED lights
- Acrylic paint
- Board cutter
- Beige and brown fabric
- Rubber-coated wires
- Air-dry clay
- Paper straws
- Acrylic sheet or plastic cover
Step 1: Begin Making the Book Nook Walls
For the walls of the Cupboard Under the Stairs book nook, you will need to use either PVC boards or cardboard. Measurements are indicated below.
You would need to print out a wallpaper pattern. The one that I used was taken from the internet. I looked for wallpaper with a beige or ecru background and a light blue floral pattern. Use at least 200 gsm for the board paper printouts. Cover each wall on one side with this pattern. Take note that the R (right) wall has a cutout shape of the stairs. You can cover this wall later once you have made the stairs. If you are using cardboard for the wall, cover the cutout portion with white stock paper.
Set these aside, for now, to work on your stairs next.
Step 2: Cut Pieces for the Stairs
To make the stairs, you would need to cut:
- 5 pieces of 2 1/2" x 3/4" for the riser
- 4 pieces of 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" for the tread
- 2 pieces of 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" for the top and bottom tread
- 1 piece triangular tread - 1 side is 2 1/2" x 1 1/2"
- 1 piece 3" x 3/4" riser for the triangular piece
- 2 1/2 (10 pcs) paper straws (baluster)
- 1 piece 5" large paper straw (newel)
- 2 pieces 9" x 1" stringer
- 2 pieces 1" x 1" stringer (top of the stairs)
- 1 piece 6" x 1" sidewall
- 1 piece 5" x 1/2" baseboard
- 1 piece 3" x 6" door
Step 3: Glue the Stairs Together
The key to making the stairs is to glue the tread and riser directly onto the stringer to keep it straight.
Steps to Make the Stairs
- For this staircase, you would need to make the 4 treads with risers first.
- Attach the square tread to the top of the staircase.
- Attach the triangular piece at the bottom; add the riser under it after.
- The last tread is another square piece.
- Glue the 1" x 1" stringer to the top on both sides.
- If the stairs do not turn out perfectly even, there might be some gaps. This is fine as long as it sits perfectly straight onto the stringer. We will be covering this with a carpet print out so you won't see the board underneath.
- When gluing the pieces together, dab a few drops of superglue. Do not saturate the entire board with glue. You may need to fix the angle if you make a mistake.
Step 4: Create the Cupboard Under the Stairs
This is what the final staircase should look like. To see if the staircase is made correctly, sit it against the right wall. It is where you would be attaching the stairs to permanently.
You should add a piece of board at the bottom of the stairs and onto the back, to keep it upright. It will also create the "room" or "cupboard" under the stairs. Make sure everything is straight.
Step 5: Add Shelves and Wiring
Time to add the shelves and the wiring.
- Cut out 3 pieces 2 1/2" x 1/2" for the shelves.
- Cut out a triangular groove to fit the wires.
- Make a small box for the electrical box - 3/4" x 1" x 1/4" thick. You can add a few more boards on top to create a more robust box.
- Glue the wiring first; I suggest you get 3 or more thin, rubber-coated wires. You can use old wires for this. Tape the ends to keep them in place and use superglue to glue them at the back of the vertical board.
- Glue the 3 shelves onto the back as well.
- Add the electrical box.
Step 6: Add Carpeting
- For the carpet, try to find an aqua-colored rug wallpaper or background.
- Print out 2 pages.
- Cover the stairs.
- Cover the floor.
Step 7: Add the Right Wall Electrical Panel
- The right wall electrical box or panel is similar to the first one on the rear wall—only this time, make two boxes. They should both be rectangular, only different sizes.
- Color one box a dark grey.
- Add a few more rectangular pieces on top to make it more robust.
- Cut out a backing for the two pieces; paint this a dark brown.
- Attach wires onto the smaller box.
- Glue the box directly onto the main R wall.
- Print out a perforated panel 1' x 1 1/4" and glue it next to the panel.
- Make a bed 2" x 5".
- Glue cardboard rectangles onto the side.
- Place the bed inside before you attach the R wall.
Step 8: Attach the Walls
- At this point, you can already attach the R wall and the Rear walls. It should sit directly on top of the floor and the stairs should be attached directly onto the R wall.
- Print out a 2 1/2" x 7" door. Look for a textured glass image for this.
- Cut out 1/4" strips and run it around the door like a door casing.
- Attach the door to the Rear wall.
Step 9: Attach the Left Wall
For the left wall:
- Cover it with floral wallpaper.
- Add a chair rail with a strip of the board - 1/4" x 11."
- Print out a white traditional looking wood door with a measurement of 2 1/2" x 7".
- Add trim all around.
- Cut out the door entirely using a box cutter. You should be able to detach the entire door from the wall.
- Reattach it with a tiny hinge, or in this case, I used a 1/4" strip of sticker.
- I attached one side of the door with the sticker on the outside. Don't worry; once you cover the other side with a door print, you will not see the sticker anymore.
- Attach the Left wall onto the floor and rear walls using superglue.
- Add the handrail with baluster, newel.
Step 10: Create the Front Wall
This is altogether a separate piece.
- Cut out a board 5" x 10".
- Make a rectangular hole 2 1/2" x 4".
- Attach a piece of acrylic sheet or transparent plastic sheet or cover using superglue.
- Make 45-degree lines on both sides to create a diamond pattern on the plastic sheet.
- Add trim and paint it brown.
- Cover one side with the floral paper
- The other side with a brick pattern.
- For the bricks and the house's exterior, I looked for a picture of Dudley's house. I looked for a brick pattern on the internet that would look similar and printed them out.
- Add the bricks on the front side of this wall.
- Add a 2" x 3" wood paneling below the window (to mimic Dudley's house)
- Add another round of trim to the inside of the window. This time, leave it white.
Step 11: Add the Awning or Extended Roof
This is a small piece of the extended roof with a size of 1 1/2" x 5".
- Cut out the base of the roof.
- Attach squares with a size of roughly 1/2" x 3/4".
- Glue these on top of the base in a roof tile pattern.
- Add a strip of board on top to cover the edge.
- Paint the tiles
- Attach the roof an inch above the window. Add a few pieces of board below to support it at an angle.
Step 12: Make Harry's Pillow and Comforter
We all know that Harry was never treated well by his aunt and uncle—so it just makes sense to give him not-so-nice bedding. You can use old fabric for this. Use a beige or ecru fabric for the top layer, brown for the bottom (3" x 6" fabric). Sew these together and fill them with fiberfill. Make a small pillow using just the ecru fabric.
Paint a Design for the Bedding
I painted a dotted pattern on the ecru or beige fabric to give it a bit of a design.
I also glued one side of the comforter to the top to show the underside.
Step 13: Accessorize!
To add details inside the cupboard, print out some can labels, cereals, book covers. Make different sizes ranging from 1" x 3/4". Print to wrap around a cylindrical material like a straw or glue stick to 1/2" x 3/4 inch for a cereal box. Make things that you would ordinarily find inside a cupboard. You can also add a toolbox, a dustpan and rag (attached to the door), and knick-knacks.
Step 14: Complete the Exterior Walls
- Cover all the walls with bricks.
- Print out a 2 1/2" x 7" wooden door to be placed at the exterior door of the Left wall.
- Add a small "Pull" on top or the bottom of the door so you can pull it open. I used duct tape for mine.
- I also added a nice Cupboard Under the Stairs poster on the internet and added it to the side. It explains the entire diorama.
- Add brown trim around it to complete the look.
- The rear wall also has a Cupboard Under the Stairs sign glued onto it.
Step 15: Add Lighting
- For the lights, I used a battery-operated LED light. I placed one inside the cupboard. This is not fixed onto the wall, so it will be easy to replace once the batteries have died.
- I also made a small pot, covered it with jute sack material, and added a LED light inside.
- For the ceiling board, cover it with ecru-colored paper or paint it a light beige.
- For the ceiling light, I found a circular rubber cover. I painted the sides gold and glued it on the ceiling.
- To attach my LED light, I punctured a small hole on the top, inserted the bulb to light up the inside. The LED's body juts out at the top, so I added a small box cover you can flip to open and close.
- Cover the ceiling with a slate or tile print as well as the box.
© 2020 Anna Javier
Anna Javier (author) on November 09, 2020:
Thank you, I hope to see what you have created once you're done. It can be a little bit overwhelming sometimes but I find that creating one small piece one day at a time helps helps. Once Ihave the smaller pieces together then it is much easier to create the bigger items like the room itself. Some people do it the opposite way, they do the house first then furnish it. But, I find creating the house itself a little bit simpler than doing the smaller details, I also wrote another article on my Haunted Kitty Meow Manor, that doll houses for my cats but it's all exterior. That one was easier to make. If you have any trouble making anything, just message me, I can give you a few tips, if you eed any. I do not or rarely use any ready-made items or kits because they are just expensive or unavailable where I am so I tend to use materials that are just lying around or recycled materials. I think once you've gotten a hang of it, you will definitely find yourself creating a lot more!
Trish Paquette on November 08, 2020:
I don't know the answer to your question, Anna, but I have to say that I am more than blown away over the quality and quantity of the material you have put together to answer our questions about how to do a simple thing!! I'm fairly new to mini's, and I have collected things to do a nice bedroom room box, but everything is stuffed in a box and I can't seem to even get started. I've never had a dollhouse or anything. I have just participated in individual little project at Group Workshop/Meetings!!!. I am learning new skills all the time, and it's drop-dead gorgeous the quality of work that the Assoc. on here do. I'm just in awe!!! Thank you so very much for all your efforts!! :)
Jeremy Esguerra on November 06, 2020:
Honeydukes in hogwarts express! Loved seeing Harry and Ron eat all the snacks
Gerald on November 06, 2020:
The troll attacking in the bathroom scene was one of the most exciting scenes for me!
Mina Gareza on November 05, 2020:
Dining hall feast with floating candles
Paula Dehesa on November 05, 2020:
The Burrow! It’s such a nice place full of happy memories for Harry and the gang. Plus, it would be interesting to see all the details in a book nook ✨