Wall niches, also called nooks or nichos in Spanish, are recesses in the walls that create an interesting design element at no cost. They’re used to display art, handicrafts, photos and other objects. You could build one or two wall niches or add lots of niches throughout the home. There are curved niches, niches with shelves, niches with tile accents… the possibilities are endless. Let’s look at two main methods of creating wall niches – full depth niches, and shallower niches.
The crew at Canadian Dirtbags (see photo above) built deep niches that extend through the whole wall. Here’s their building process: build a form and set in the wall in the desired location; build the earthbag wall around the form; remove the form; cut insulation board to fit snugly on the exterior and nail in place; cover insulation board on both sides with plaster mesh; plaster the wall.
You can also make shallow niches that are recessed a few inches into the wall. These can be added after the wall is built. No forms are needed. Follow these steps: mark the niche on the earthbag wall; cut the bags away; chisel away the soil until you’ve obtained the desired size and shape, and then plaster the wall.
Alternatively, you could use the Candian Dirtbag method described above and then fill in the back of the niche with mortared stone or salvaged brick, additional layers of scrap insulation board, and so on. You could fill it the back with most anything, really. Extra insulation would be best in cold climates.
Image 1 source: Canadian Dirtbags
(top rated earthbag blog… make some popcorn and enjoy)
Image 2 source: Su Casa Southwestern Homes (an excellent source for southwestern design ideas)
Search tip: For hundreds of design possibilities, search Google Images using search terms such as wall niche, nicho wall, wall nook, arch nicho, etc.