Where do you read? For many of us, it’s wherever we can. We listen to audiobooks while we commute, we swipe our kindle screens in waiting rooms, and we retire at the end of the day with a good book in bed. But what if you could design your own space just for reading? Your very own reading nook. What would it look like? What elements would you be sure to include? Forget money. Seriously — forget that. This is about dreams. How would you decorate your dream reading space? That’s the question design retailer Arhaus issued as a challenge, and we’re here to deliver an answer!
What Design Aesthetic Would You Use?
The very first step to any decorating project is figuring out the big picture. What design aesthetic do you want to use?
These days, it’s easier than ever to have a design aesthetic for interior decorating. Even if you don’t know what your personal tastes are necessarily called, it’s a snap to find out, thanks to the internet. There are so many different aesthetics out there:
- Shabby Chic, Boho, French Provincial, Modern, Minimalist, Nautical, English Rustic, Eclectic, Scandinavian, Transitional, Southwestern, Gothic, Farmhouse, and so many more!
It’s useful to dial down what your design aesthetic is called, because then you can do some research to understand it better. You can grow to understand the fundamentals behind the design scheme and get a handle on all its details. You can see what other people have done with that scheme, too. All in all, when it comes time to start assembling pieces, you can make decisions with more confidence and knowledge!
Note: You may have more than one design aesthetic! I know Joy, our blogging pal from JoyousReads, loves minimalist design, but I think she adds some Gothic touches to her house, too.
My personal design style is a mix of Eclectic and Boho. I’ve always loved to mix and match different prints, colors, and textures. For me, “busy is better!”
I didn’t always know the name to my design preferences, but after I found that out, I was able to research and discover a lot about these interior design schemes. For instance, I learned that Boho design traditionally calls for potted plants, and lots of them! Plants — hanging, dropping, climbing, sprawling… everywhere! Knowing that helped me incorporate new elements into my space that I hadn’t before considered.
More than that, I learned that the turmeric yellow hue is an important element in Boho styling, as are woods, wicker, and rattan. Of course, these aren’t rules to live by, but all of these factoids gave me more direction when it came time to go shopping.
I’m confident that it will be the same for you.
How Would You Plan Out Your Space?
Some people love planning and detailing. I’m not one of those people. I’m a creature of impulse. But one thing I’ve learned, though, is that planning can save you tons of time and money. So it’s better to do it.
First, ask yourself questions.
- What will your design aesthetic be?
- Where will your reading nook be located? How much space is there to work with?
- What pieces will you be needing? Which ones do you want?
- How will you decorate the peripheral space? What will go on the floor? What will go on the walls?
- And et cetera.
Also list your specific needs for your reading space!
Perhaps, like me, you can get bored with being in one aspect for a long time. You like to sit and stretch out in turns! Plan for that. Along with an armchair, get a soft, comfy rug with some floor pillows for when you want to move down and sprawl.
Or if you like to kick your feet up and be warm, get a cushy ottoman and a blanket chest to keep a bunch of fuzzy throws.
Perhaps you need tons of light to read. Plan on getting multiple lamps! A floor lamp and a table lamp. To start!
Really design the space to fit your needs.
How Will You Budget For the Reading Nook?
I know, I know you guys. I said to forget about money. I know I said that. And indeed, this post is all about dreaming. But one of my favorite sayings of all time is this:
A dream is just a wish without a plan.
So, I’m going to spend a little — just a little — time on budgeting. So that one day, your beautiful dreams can become reality.
First, come up with your preferred, yet realistic, total budget.
If you need help in knowing what’s realistic for your project, I suggest you do this. Write down all of the things you want and need to buy. Go to a decorating website with top quality (read: expensive) products and write down that website’s average price for each of your items. Add it all up, try not to hyperventilate, and circle that number. Congratulate yourself, because you won’t be spending anywhere near that much.
Next, go to a website for a low-cost, low-quality store like Wal-Mart and Goodwill (read: inexpensive) and do the same thing. That total will be your bottom budget number.
I recommend deciding on a total budget in between those high and low numbers. That way, you can get some high-quality or unique pieces you really adore along with more affordable products. If you need to drop that total budget lower, take off some of the “wants” from your list, leaving the “needs.”
Now that you have a total number, you can divide that amount with the number of items on your list. Then, you have a budget for each item! Of course, a lamp won’t cost as much as an armchair, so you can take money away from certain items and put them into others. These totals will help you enormously when you start shopping, both in making decisions and in not overspending.
And that’s that. Let’s get back to the dreaming.
You’ll Need an Armchair
Quite obviously, for the ideal reading nook, you’ll need something cozy to sit down on. For that, what’s better than a well-upholstered, well-sprung armchair? Or, in the case of rattan — well-spoked and well-woven… Take a look at these beauties and imagine sinking into them and settling in for a good read.
Now, I love to sprawl when I read, but I think I’d give up my recline habit for the Arden 31″ Upholstered Tufted Chair in Etruscan Bronze. Holy moly, what a chair. It has a high, swooping back to it, but it’s upholstered in velvet. The arms are sloping and generous; its legs are adorably eccentric. It has a purposefully aged and shabby look to it, but it’s brand-spankin’-new. Let me say it again. What. A. Chair. This is a piece that you’d plan around. It is the statement.
But, if you love the texture and smell of leather, perhaps the Alex 29″ Leather Chair in Bidford Cadet would be up your alley. This chair blends classic attributes with timeless lines, without sacrificing comfort. With this chair, you can put your statements elsewhere, because the Alex is subtle. It will go with the flow of your design scheme.
As for the Tansy 28″ Upholstered Chair in Tibetan Ivory Sheepskin… this is an adorable chair. It would go perfectly with a Boho or Eclectic style, and it could even sneak into modern rooms. I can’t imagine that the Tansy would ever go unnoticed or without remarks. I can see kids fighting over it when it comes time to sit down. This kind of chair gives a room spunk.
The Venice Rattan Chair. You’d think, at first glance, that it would not be comfortable, but I’m telling you, rattan and wicker are deceptively cozy. This may not be my first pick for a really comfy reading chair, but rattan furniture can add such a distinctive pop to a space. Don’t count out rattan!
And the Benedict 37″ Leather Swivel Chair in Brooklyn Moondust… it looks like a pouf that grew a torso and is now giving you a hug. If you want to feel enclosed and cozy while you read, I can just imagine that this chair would give the perfect embrace.
If you want to browse more styles of armchairs, Arhaus is a great place to start. Their collection of Chairs and Chaises is impressive, and I do not say that lightly. Browsing through their online catalogue, I had to reach up and shut my jaw because the quality of their pieces are staggering. Looking at those leather and velvet chairs had me feeling the way I do when I walk through a fine art gallery — this is so beautiful, I wish I could touch it, I wish I could touch it, I wish it could be mine!!
Here’s the link to their collection »
Do with it what you will, readers.
Alternatives to Armchairs
Maybe though, you want to branch out from armchairs and spread out a little with your space. So, I picked out some great, alternative pieces that would fit with any reading nook — sofas, sectionals, hanging chairs, and even daybeds.
Can you just imagine how adorable the Clancy 86″ Upholstered Tufted Sofa (in Van Gogh Fog) would look with an assortment of colorful, funky throw pillows? Then, when you want to lay down to read, you’d just toss the throw pillows away, save one for your head, and just relax. As for color, the shimmery grey color of this sofa is a neutral that is basically standing up and doing the can-can. You pass over it once, then double back immediately and go, whoa there! It’s the perfect example of how simpler pieces don’t have to be boring.
As for the Avalon Daybed, good god, I want this. I grew up with a daybed, and it’s fantastic how it can become a couch so easily when made up and properly pillow-ed. But then, when you want to get snuggy-wuggy, just pull the covers down, and slide into the sheets. For me, a daybed would be an ideal element to a reading nook, because I love relaxing into a good book. And the fact that it’s rattan? Just, where can I sign?
And the Rattan Hanging Chair? I think we’ve established my love for rattan and wicker, primarily because they’re important to Boho design schemes. But did you also know that ‘hanging-things’ are a crucial design element in Bohemian style? It’s true! Hanging lamps, hanging decorations, hanging plants… Boho is there. With indoor hanging chairs, you bring a touch of Boho whimsy and create a swinging, soothing sitting-space for your reading.
If you want to further browse a collection of sectional sofas, Arhaus has so many clever options that aren’t lumpy, clunky eyesores like the monolithic sectionals in our parents’ basements. In fact, several of Arhaus’s sectional sofas looked so refined and well-designed that I hesitate to call them “sectionals” at all. Honestly, I’ve always kind of thought of sectional sofas as the sweatpants of furniture, but trust Arhaus to class up the concept. You can check out what I mean here:
Table, Floor, and Pendant Lighting
Every bookworm has had someone beg them to use more light when they read. I get this all the time, from hosts and hostesses, when I’m reading in their houses — Do you want more light, dear? — and from my scolding granny — It’s so dim! You’re going to ruin your eyes! I’m getting you a lamp!
Funnily enough, I read so many ebooks on my Kindle Paperwhite and on my backlit laptop and phone that whenever I pick up a physical book, I always marvel at how much I want better lighting.
Well, with your reading nook, you should have at least one of three lighting options handy — table, floor, or pendant lights.
The Taza Large Pendant is a fine looking fixture, but it comes to life when turned on in a dark room. Little beams and patterns of light cascade from it, creating an alluring ambiance. I think that aspect of this lamp would be ideal for a reading nook, because you’d want to create an atmosphere with your space, be it funky, cozy, otherworldly, or exotic.
Likewise, the Leyland Table Lamp refracts light in such a pleasing, eye-catching way. It looks like a mini-chandelier, which is adorable. This lamp would create fabulous ambiance.
I actually own the Areclia Arc Lamp, and I’m very happy with it. Because it arcs above you, you can position it directly over your head or your book for ideal lighting. I think it looks better in person, too. It reminds me of a graceful tree branch, heavy with fruit.
The Flower Pendant is basically an art piece. It’s so lovely to look at. Functionality is merely a bonus, in my book. You could make this lamp into a piece of jewelry.
As for the Bulldog Table Lamp, Target is selling this lamp right now in the Kid’s Decor section, and I adore it. It really is so cute. It may be… immature for a woman of my age, but we ought to be filling our reading nooks with things that delight us, right?
Arhaus has an extensive lighting selection on their website, full of lighting methods I honestly didn’t know existed! Here are three collections for you to browse through.
Rugs Are Pretty Important
It’s possible to get away with no rug in a reading area, I suppose, but I think it would improve a nook tremendously. Rugs help to soften, close in, and define a space. Wouldn’t all of these things be perfect for a reading nook? Here are some great rugs I found to help tie in your area.
The Nourison Bloom Hand-Tuffted Teal Area Rug is so whimsical and pretty. I can see it fitting in as a statement piece in a lot of design styles, too. At 3′ in diameter, this rug is a touch small, but it makes up for that in its sheer uniqueness. It’s a flower that will never wilt! I would love to own this rug.
For a fuzzy wuzzy delight, the Marciano Grey Shaggy Rug looks like it would take you to heaven. I love the design of it, too. It looks like a mathematician got drunk and decided to doodle. Okay, maybe that’s a kooky way to describe it! I just love how it goes for a geometric style, but it gets all wavy and bendy in every place. Just perfect for a squishy rug.
I love the Yiska Hand-Knotted Rug, too. The design seems so… archetypal, in the sense that it’s ancient and repetitive. It could be snakeskin, but it could also be lace. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s a wonderful, visual texture.
As for the Ultra Plush Rug in Pool, I feel so juvenile for having picked it out… out of all the rugs on the entire internet. But I will never not be drawn to bright, unrepentant colors. I could see myself taking blissful naps on this rug, pretending I was floating in a swimming pool. For as often as I slip off of my bed or chair to read on the floor, I can see this rug being a good choice for a reading nook.
- Here is the link to Arhaus’s Rug and Draperies collections. It’s worth browsing through. They have many trendy pieces of the moment, like sheepskin and faded oriental-style rugs, but there are unique and unexpected designs, too!
Side Tables Upon Which to Rest Your Tea or Coffee
So, the Boracay 24″ End Table With Marble Top In Platinum… Let me tell you, I always thought diamonds were overrated. If this table came in miniature, I would have it made into a ring. It already has bevels in its design, so it’s not that much of a leap, right? This little table is so gorgeous. I promise you, it looks just as pretty from other angles, but I wanted to show you the top. It’s the best part, in my opinion.
The Isla Mirrored Side Table just delights me. I love how the designers used such unusual materials — mirrors! — in the place of wood. They even aged the mirrors just a touch, making them cloudy, so it looks less like the outside of an 80’s closet and more objets d’art.
As for the Moroccan Inlay End Table, what can I say? It’s beautiful. Those milky, shimmery pieces of inlay are like jewels, set in that dark wood. The table cut is wondrous in its whimsical curvature, but it culminates in straight, pert lines. I love this table.
I love it when I come across an unusual piece of home decor. So often, we see the same-old over and again. I think Arhaus took some leaps with their collection of end tables. There are some really quirky, yet quality pieces there, and I admire that. You can look through the rest of their collection here:
Throw Pillows Are Not Throw-Away
I don’t care who you are or what your’ve done and seen in your life. Every space that you typically lie down or sit upon should have some throw pillows. They do amazing things to a space! If you don’t believe me, go to your couch, remove any and all loose pillows, and snap a picture. Now… slap some throw pillows on there! (Snap.) Compare the pictures. Do you see what I mean now? Your couch, without throw pillows, looks like a cold, blank abyss, doesn’t it? But with some squat, little squares of stuffing, brightness and joy cometh. So what if you have to toss them aside to sit down properly? They are ‘throw’ pillows. They can take it.
The great challenge with throw pillows is actually restraint. Even with Eclectic styles, with discordant pillows, you can get a bad look. For instance, with The Unicorn Is Reading Throw Pillow, you’d have to get some plainer pillows to go with it, because that pillow is quite the statement.
One thing important about throw pillows, too, is texture. Many of the above pillows have great, varying textures, but my favorite among them is the Tibetan 16″ Square Longwool Pillow in Navy. I’m lucky enough to own a similar pillow, and if I had nothing better to do, I’d just sit there and stroke it.
Height is also important, when you’re stacking up lots of pillows. You don’t want them all to be square, 16 inches! That’s where pillows like the Boho Black Fringe Rectangular Pillow come along. It gives your eye a different variety of shape to see, and that’s pleasing.
Here is Arhaus’s collection of pillows, throw and otherwise.
Their selections tend to be more restrained, but honestly, I’m learning that it can be a good thing to not go too crazy with lots of bold designs on throw pillows. It can make your space seem immature quickly if you throw too many different, out-there throw pillows together. Little pops are okay, but you’ve got to have some neutrals and pillows that match.
To dream up the perfect reading nook, we’ve been over design aesthetics, planning, and budgeting. I’ve blissfully discussed armchairs, sofas, daybeds, lighting, rugs, end tables, and throw pillows. During this process, I’ve learned a few things. Dreaming only makes for indistinct impressions. To really bring those fancies to life, you need to research, write, and think things over. Then, your dreams start to solidify and become something entirely better.
I mean, you wouldn’t think that budgeting would be very romantic, but it actually gave me some hope that one day I could make my reading nook dreams reality. I love decorating and making my space functional and beautiful. But so often, I don’t act on those dreams, because I don’t have the courage to plan.
Readers, I want to paint my kitchen turmeric yellow. I do. I want to own a decadent armchair one day, made with butter-smooth leather. I want to fill my house with potted palms and keep them alive. I want to crowd my walls with framed art that I created.
All of these dreams are possible. We’ve just got to make plans.