Don't waste the space of a skinny or wide alcove in a room. It can function like an open closet, a mini-library or exhibit space to display favourite art or collectibles. An alcove in a dining room is the perfect niche for a cabinet or cupboard to hold plates, napkins, flatware or serving platters. It doesn't take major carpentry skills to make good use of alcove space.
Mixed Use Storage Alcove
An old cupboard that fits an alcove is the beginning of an attractive storage area. A straight-sided cupboard with doors that swing outward will make the most accessible storage, but a cabinet with drawers can work as well. Paint it to match the wall to increase the impression of space in a small room. Leave the top of the cabinet clear to function as a shelf and add shelves, beginning a foot or so above it, to the ceiling to maximise use of the space.
Alcove Wine Cellar
If your alcove is about 12 inches deep, it can become an instant wine cellar with a few flicks of a saw. Heavy cardboard construction tubes come in a variety of diameters. Choose 6-inch diameters to hold your wine bottles or vary the sizes for an interesting pattern. Just cut the tubes all the same length to fit the depth of the alcove (and securely cradle the bottles). Fit tubes snugly into the alcove, stacking row upon row to the height you desire. You can drill small holes in the tubes and fasten them together with plastic cable ties if you are concerned about stability. This is an easy-fit solution that breaks down instantly when you change your decor or move. Cardboard tubes are a good way to display and access a casual wine collection, but don't try it in place of a temperature-controlled cellar for a serious and valuable collection of vintage bottles.
A slim alcove becomes a library with little effort by the addition of a few angle braces and cut lengths of painted pine. Measure the heights that will accommodate your books and screw metal angle braces into the wall at either side to hold the shelves. Slide pine boards you have cut-to-measure and painted onto the braces. Because the shelves are not long, the weight of the books will not cause bowing on the short lengths of wood so you don't need further bracing. You can make the braces disappear by painting over them to match the wall--the books will hide them as well.
New Life for Old Wine Crates
Stack wooden wine crates on top of each other to use as shelves in an alcove. They can fit horizontally or vertically, depending on the width of the alcove. For an especially wide alcove, use two, three or more next to each other for each level. For stability, you can attach the crates together with straight metal braces.