How To Design A Reading Nook Perfect For Curling Up With A Good Book

Take a leaf out of these designers’ books.

Little girl reading in a nook

Anna Routh Photography; Design by MA Allen

For any true bookworm, or even the casual reading hobbyist, a cozy, quiet corner to relax with a good book sounds like heaven on earth. Picture this: a blissful paradise of your own to get comfortable, leave the day’s worries behind, and dig your nose firmly into a thoughtful, new literary world.

Sure, you can whip out your e-reader or present paperback in any old place, but wouldn’t it be oh-so much better to do so in a comfortable spot where you can lay back, prop your feet up, and immerse yourself in your favorite author’s words without distraction? If just the idea has you itching to unwind with your next chapter, then we can read you like a book. Read our lips: A book nook is exactly what you need.

Reading nook corner

Laura Negri Childers Photography; Design by Whitney Durham

Every Trick In The Book

If your home has a crevice or a built-in window seat, you’ve already got a prime spot to build into a reading haven. You don’t need to have a reading nook practically built into your home’s architecture to have one for the record books, though. You just have to get crafty.

“I think you could create a reading nook anywhere,” says Atlanta, Georgia-based designer Whitney Durham, “but you need to define the space.”

If you’re synthesizing a reading nook in a pre-existing room, it’s all about separating the area, Durham says with Raleigh, North Carolina-based designer MA Allen in agreement. This is even the case for a built-in nook where a curtain to block off the hall or room outside can transform the space into a sanctuary.

“If you want to carve space out of an existing area, I would say to pick a corner and use comfortable and grounding elements like a large daybed to flush out the vignette and to give it have this new purpose,” Allen says. “Then, that's a cozy reading nook because that's a cozy corner.”

Reading Nook

Lauren Chambers Photography; Design by Whitney Durham

Decorating By The Book

As Allen said, coziness is top priority when it comes to building a reading nook. If you’re not keen on curling up there for a good, long while, what’s the point?

To maximize comfort and coziness, Allen suggests starting with your base: where you’re going to sit. If you’re working with a window seat or daybed, Allen advises splurging for 30-36 inch cushions that will be comfortable for hours at a time. 

Durham insists that the key to coziness is layers and textures. Incorporate as much texture and as many layers as you can, she says. With that in mind, set your sights on throw pillows—as many of them as your heart desires to kick the coziness factor of your nook up a notch in terms of both the look and the function. Allen especially recommends a lumbar pillow, but don’t stop there. Grab a throw blanket or two and lie down in your, at this point, half-baked nook to take stock of where your gaze may wander while you recline and read.

“When we design a reading nook, I think that what makes it cozy and interesting is if every single corner of that space is designed,” Allen tells us. “Look up, what do you see? Look down, what do you see? No detail is left unfinished.” 

Reading nook furniture

Laura Negri Childers Photography; Design by Whitney Durham

In addition to your perch, other furniture and features such as a Turkish rug, upholstered ottoman, or accent chair will work wonders for a makeshift reading nook. The real centerpiece though, is a bookshelf. Whether you’re in the market for a floor-to-ceiling piece or a more compact one, a bookshelf not only indicates a reading oasis, but acts as a stylish way to display your favorite reads and always have a book close by.

Another thing to keep in mind, lest you throw the book at yourself in retrospect, is lighting. Make sure you include sufficient lighting to support your reading habits any time of day without straining your eyes. Durham especially loves having lights on a dimmer in reading nooks.

Reading Nook

Anna Routh Photography; Design by MA Allen

Read between the lines of your literary taste to find decorative inspiration. By designing your reading space to match the mood of your preferred genre, you’re making literary immersion that much more seamless. If fantasy is your genre of choice, style your nook with bright colors and whimsical patterns. Romance novel devotees may prefer romantic reds and pinks or perhaps floral patterns to set the tone, while the thriller-reading literary equivalents to adrenaline-junkies may prefer bold, bustling patterns and exciting pops of bright primary colors. Or, perhaps a moody atmosphere set with rich jewel tones and lots of texture is more up your mystery-loving alley. 

In our books, the possibilities are endless.

Reading Nook

Anna Routh Photography; Design by MA Allen

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