7 Tips to Keep Your Book Nook Kits Pristine - Bookshelf Memories

7 Tips to Keep Your Book Nook Kits Pristine

Ever since 2018 when Japanese artist, Monde unveiled his illustrious book nooks styled like Japanese alleys, bookshelves around the globe are a-changing! Now, instead of rows of monotonous book spines, bookshelf inserts act as dividers with an opening that reveals a miniature world within. Themed kits range from bookstores on bookshelves to travel mementos like our Tokyo Alley book nook kit that showcases a typical alleyway in Tokyo city, complete with LED lights making it more specific to alleyways at night. These are gorgeous bespoke pieces of bookshelf décor that’s terrific at adding a personal touch to your book collection. Assembling these though is not a set-and-forget project if you want to keep them around for a while.

The 7 Essential Care Tips to Preserve DIY Book Nook Kits

1. Dusting: The first line of defence!

woman cleaning a bookshelf

Dust dulls the appearance of everything it lands on, obscuring the natural beauty of finely crafted book nook kits, and every miniature within it. There’s no way to eliminate it. All you can do is keep on top of it, being careful when you do to avoid any scratches from abrasive materials like paper towels. Use microfiber cloths on the outer casing and a soft-bristled brush for the inside. When dusting, treat it like the mini room that it is, starting from the top to knock dust to the base board, then use the paint brush like a broom and sweep it from back to front.

If your shelf gets dusty regularly, the book nook will too. To minimize dust, consider enclosing it by attaching a sheet of acrylic glazing over the front. Some are UV-resistant, others are anti-glare. Although the intent of a book nook is to use it as a bookshelf insert by sandwiching it between books on your shelf, there’s nothing to say you can’t make it a standalone display piece. If you wanted to do that, consider things like a ball display case. Some could likely fit the book nook and a curation of miniature collectibles if you wanted to enhance the display.

2. Seal wood to prevent warping and buckling

illustration of wood that has warped, buckled and bowed.

By Dforest via Wiki Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Book nook kits are primarily made with an outer wood casing and inside them are any number of miniatures made of either wood, or plastic resin. Any wood is susceptible to warping and buckling. The cause is moisture seeping into the wood and the only way to prevent it is to use a sealant. If you buy a quality DIY book nook kit, the wood used should already be treated with a sealer to lock out moisture. That sealer can degrade over time - although that is likely to take years. For those building your book nooks from scratch using unfinished basswood / plywood sheets, always remember to finish it with a preservative sealant to prevent any warping or buckling.

3. Cleaning and Handling Delicate Miniatures

person cleaning an action figuring using compressed air

Miniatures used for furnishing the interior of book nooks can be all manner of materials. From clay miniatures, wooden doll house furniture, and highly detailed 3D fantasy miniatures made with resin. Many miniatures are made with resin simply because it’s easier to create intricate patterns/designs and paint them. The downside is that the articulated details come at the expense of durability. Resin miniatures are SO easy to break. When handling these, pick them up from the base and for dusting, use either a can of compressed air to blow the dust away or  a soft-bristled paint brush and be delicate with it.

4. Maintaining color vibrancy by protecting against UV rays

bookshelf with the rays from sunlight beaming directly onto the books

Every type of ink, and paint can deteriorate when exposed to direct sunlight. The UV rays contribute to yellowing. The cause is pigment degradation. To maintain color vibrancy, resins can be protected by a sealant that has a UV inhibitor additive included. Some sealers are for the wood, others are for epoxy resin, and others designed to be applied to vinyl, such as vinyl decals used as wall décor in a book nook kit. Companies that supply quality book nook kits with pre-painted miniatures, and custom printed decals are likely to have been treated during the manufacturing process. For resin models you buy or build yourself to customize a book nook kit, always clean the resin before applying paint. Once painted, apply a UV-resistant clear varnish to maintain the color.

5. Control Humidity!

book nook with moss included as part of the design

Humidity is never a good idea on a bookshelf because it contributes to the growth of mold - a fungi that damages paper, contributing to the destruction of books - quite possibly, your book nook too. When selecting a DIY book nook kit or building your own design, consider its placement once assembled and the materials you’ll use within it.

As an example, in fairy garden book nooks, it’s not uncommon to use living moss as the forest floor. The problem with moss being used as an accessory for any bookshelf décor is that it holds a lot of moisture, raising the humidity directly around it. If you want to use plants in a book nook, consider using succulents. They hold water in the leaves, but they don’t release it, so humidity remains stable. If you do find that humidity is high, or causing problems, use desiccants in the book nook and around your books.

6. Storage and Display Considerations

book nook with succulents plants included in the design

Once you’ve assembled your book nook kit, naturally, you’ll want it to take pride of place on your bookshelf, or any other area you want to showcase it for your enjoyment. Three things need to be considered to protect its longevity and keep its beauty intact. Humidity, temperature and exposure to direct sunlight.

The best environment for wood décor pieces is in a room with stable relative humidity of 40% to 60%, and a constant temperature that’s away from direct heat sources. This is of particular importance with wooden 3D puzzles because of compression shrinkage that can ruin puzzle pieces. Beneficial is to place it on a shelf that’s on an interior wall because exterior walls have wild temperature and humidity fluctuations.

If your shelf is exposed to a window where direct sunlight can dull the wood, add a clear varnish that has a UV inhibitor. If you’re sentimentally attached to one of your creations and want to preserve it for as long as possible, consider using Renaissance Wax. That’s the wax used by museums around the world for preservation because it is acid-free.

7. Inspect it regularly and make repairs as necessary

person inspecting a book nook on a bookshelf for signs of wear and tear

Nothing lasts forever, but most things can last longer with some regular maintenance. The only way to know if your book nook is need of some TLC is to regularly inspect it. It’s not enough to enjoy its view from a distance. Any wear and tear will likely be spotted when you’re dusting. The only obvious sign of a repair being needed is when an LED light fails. It’s LEDs that’s used to light up book nook kits, and they do last for years. For recent builds with lights failing, it’s more likely to be a battery needing replaced. If you do need to replace parts that are glued in place, things are tricky. Depending on the material, you can use something thin like dental floss. Tuck it into the seam and use the floss like a saw to sever the bond. Remove it, replace it, power it back up! An alternative is to use isopropyl alcohol (IPA), but... do be aware that IPA will dissolve the glue, varnishes and surrounding paintwork so use this with caution.


Some images are generated by A.I for illustrative purposes.