Whether you prefer to read books or to listen to them, and whether you love digital or physical versions, being able to curl up with a book in a cozy, comfortable spot in your home is a deeply luxurious experience. If you love reading as much as I do, you understand the importance of creating an inviting space that's perfect for relaxing with a book or magazine. When creating a perfectly appointed reading nook in a client’s home, here are all the key elements I make sure to include.
Peace and quiet
The first decision to be made is where to set up the reading area. Of course, it’s ideal to tuck it into a spot where you're not likely to be disturbed, and with few distractions in terms of sights and sounds. If that just isn’t possible, you can employ creative solutions like beautiful room dividers (you canread more about that in this post) and/or noise-canceling headphones to help create a bit of quiet where walls and doors can’t.
Lighting is essential for any room, but it’s especially crucial for reading. The ideal lighting setup should include a mix of natural and ambient light using multiple fixtures. A combination of floor lamps, table lamps, sconces, and overhead fixtures provides flexible layered lighting throughout the space and lets you adjust lighting levels as needed. If possible, create your reading area where there’s at least one source of natural light. This not only helps prevent eye strain when you’re reading for long periods of time but also lets you benefit from exposure to a bit of in-direct sunlight and a view of the outside world.
When designing the perfect reading spot, you want to be sure the area is warm enough that you won't get chilled while curled up with your book, but also cool enough so that it isn't too stuffy or uncomfortable. Whenever possible, I like to include multiple seating options around the room to allow my client to move around and adjust if needed depending on what season or time of day it is. Whether you’re limited to just one seat or not, be sure to include a soft, cozy throw blanket or two, as well as a basket or drawer within arm's reach stocked with a few pairs of clean, soft socks at the ready should you need them.
Whenever I create a reading nook in a client’s home, I make sure to include some type of table within reach of every seat. This is absolutely essential. Who wants to have to get up to set their cup of coffee or tea down?! Plus, it allows you to keep your phone, glasses, etc. close at hand. Depending on the space, I may opt for a table with drawers so my client can tuck away their books, magazines, device chargers, and aforementioned cozy socks. Whenever I specify a lovely little cocktail table or another drawer-less option, I always include a lidded basket or another form of closed storage that can sit beneath the table instead.
Having truly comfortable seating is arguably the most important element in your reading nook. But what makes a seat comfortable is unique to each individual. How do you sit when reading? How do you comfortably hold your book or device? Where do you like to rest your arms?
You may have lovely chairs that look comfortable and inviting but aren’t what you gravitate to when you want to curl up (or stretch out) with a good book. As a designer, I obviously prefer certain seating options over others in terms of aesthetics, but I always consider what my clients crave when it comes to seating for their reading spots. For example, while I'm not crazy about recliners as a rule, I also understand that some of my clients are most comfortable in them and they’re grateful when I include them in their home’s design. Yes, it can be challenging to use a chair like that without losing the level of sophistication we’re going for in the space, but it is doable. For me, my client’s comfort is of the utmost importance and I seek to honor their individual needs while elevating their designs.
You may not think about it this way, but I believe finding a comfortable reading chair or sofa is just as much a matter of ergonomics as finding a good desk chair. Because you’re likely to sit in one spot for long periods of time while you read, it’s important to have proper support for your back, arms, and even your head. I’m not saying you need a space-age design that’s more a feat of engineering than it is a beautiful piece of furniture. But when choosing a chair or sofa for your reading nook, it’s an absolute must to take those factors into careful consideration.
Something else to think about is that our comfort needs change as our bodies change over time. How and where you used to love to sit when you read might not be comfortable for you now. If you notice this, it may be time to think about replacing that formerly comfortable seat with something that meets your current needs.
Elevating your feet–or at least having the option to–also plays an important role in comfortability, especially if we want to be able to go from reading to napping just by closing our eyes (and what a wonderfully luxurious experience that is!). As long as you have the space needed, I personally love pairing a lounge chair with a good ottoman or footstool for this reason.
If you want to elevate your reading time even more, here are a few nice-to-have amenities I love including when I read:
A book weight that holds your book open while you read it hands-free
A scented candle (bonus points if it’s a literary-inspired fragrance!)
A vase full of fresh flowers (flowers elevate just about any space, after all!)
Soft background music or a soundtrack from nature
Creating a comfortable and luxurious reading spot in your home requires a bit of thoughtful planning and design. Make this special space perfect for getting lost in the pages of your favorite book or magazine with the elements I’ve talked about here to suit your personal needs and preferences. You won’t be able to resist taking time out to read every day in your ultimate relaxation spot! If you’re in San Francisco, Marin County, Sonoma County, or anywhere in and around the Bay area and want to learn how we can design a custom reading space for you, just reach out to us here.