Tricks of the Trade

Tips for Designing a Little Nook With Big Impact

October 30, 2019

New York-based architect Randy Correll is an expert on carving out the perfect little space to do just one thing: eat, read, write or relax. A quick look through his sparkling portfolio (he is partner at Robert A. M. Stern Architects) reveals countless nooks, and no two are the same. So we picked a few of our favorites and asked Correll for his top tips to create tiny areas with big impact.

Design a Distinct Mood and Palette

This is an intimate study for the wife’s personal use and is tucked behind the much larger library used by the husband, as his office, and by the family. The tie-back curtains, crystal chandelier, country French desk, chair and stool are all very different in character from the furnishings in the rest of the house, giving this room a unique personality (specific to the wife’s tastes).

Think Outside the Box

A nook like this provides a special moment both inside and out. Outside, it is expressed as bay window, which provides a break in the façade of the house. Inside, it provides a cozy reading or napping spot as well as a visual break in a hallway, larger room or staircase. Generally, clients don’t request a nook but are very appreciative when they appear.

Tuck Into Small Corners

This nook gives a sense of repose even if one is just passing by it: it has a great water view and helps to refresh one after climbing the staircase, which has a couple of turns.

Err on the Side of Casual and Cozy

Our client specifically asked for a place in the kitchen to chat with friends that might drop by during the day. This bay window takes advantage of the beautiful view of Lake Michigan, with French doors that invite one to take a stroll outdoors on nice days. A built-in window seat integrates the decorating and architecture. Just like in a restaurant, some prefer a banquette, and others a chair.