Everything You Need To Create Your Very Own Cozy “Reading Room”

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on November 1, 2021

Every book lover has that one spot specifically reserved for their favorite activity. From a plush armchair near the fireplace to a full-on home library, reading nooks are some of the most cherished spaces in a home (we speak from experience). 

If your love of reading is only rivaled by your love of interior design, we invite you to embark on a fun new challenge: designing your very own Reading Room. From the armchair and lighting to the throw pillows and blankets, there’s an art to designing the perfect reading nook that anticipates our every need.

To help, we enlisted the expert guidance of our lead designer Melissa Wagner. Her tips for assembling your own Reading Room are real page-turners…

Piece 1: The Armchair

cozy reading chairs

Armless Chair / Sven Chair / Harmony Chair

While we’ll never completely sacrifice form for function, a reading chair must be comfortable and practical — this is not the time to invest in a cane Pierre Jeanneret chair or a classic Wassily. Consider how you best enjoy reading in general — for example, do you like to read with your legs curled up in the chair, or propped on a footrest or coffee table? The former requires a large armchair with a deep seat, while the latter is better suited to something with a higher back and arms to allow your legs to stretch. 

Next, consider the upholstery. “Many retailers have countless choices from linen and cotton to synthetic weaves to leather,” notes Wagner. “While the choice is ultimately yours, I’d suggest something synthetic or easy to clean if your reading routine includes a nightcap or morning coffee.” Finally, if possible, it’s best to buy a chair with a removable cushion. “That way, if your chair is well-loved or becomes an heirloom, you can have it re-cushioned or re-upholstered down the road,” adds Wagner.

Piece 2: The Shelving

reading room bookshelf

 White Oak Etagere / Retro Bookcase / Acrylic Bookshelf

Depending on the amount of space you have, you’ll want to invest in a bookcase, hanging shelves, or storage cabinet for your tomes. “Always take measurements first and select something that makes sense for your lifestyle,” notes Wagner. A classic free-standing bookshelf is a tried and true favorite, and there are so many height, width, and style options to choose from. Floating shelves look very clean, plus you can go wall-to-wall to create a built-in look. Finally, a sideboard or bookcase with doors can house your books and keep them dust and clutter-free. “Some unconventional favorites include baskets with books stacked inside, a deep window ledge, or even a bar cart for limited space where hobbies (mixology of course) can co-exist,” adds Wagner.

Piece 3: The Trusty Side Table

reading room side table

rattan accent table / nesting tables / wood side

A functional yet stylish side table could be considered an unsung hero of any top-notch reading room. “This piece is easily forgotten but incredibly essential,” says Wagner. “A trusty side table will keep your comforts at hand: your current read, preferred beverage, and a candle of your favorite scent.” Because the only thing better than diving into a great novel is doing so with a hot tea in hand.

Piece 4: The Lighting

reading room lamps

table lamp / task floor lamp / floor lamp

Arguably the most essential design element (besides a chair), lighting is the one piece of the puzzle that can make or break your early morning or late night reading habit. “The key here is layers that go beyond overhead: I’m talking floor lamp (bonus point for a task floor lamp), table lamp, pendant, wall sconces, or even candlelight,” says Wagner. “Layered lighting sets a tone and invites you to embrace a reading vibe, sinking into your chapters and forgetting everything else (except who turns up dead at Will and Jules’ wedding?!).

Piece 5: The Textiles

reading room pillows

tassled pillow / throw blanket / striped pillow

Speaking of layers, you’re going to want pillows and blankets, plural. Not only are these pieces essential when curating a cozy, relaxing space, they can assist with the non-contact sport that is reading a page-turner. “I don’t know about you, but I twist and turn a lot when reading an exciting book, so I usually pile up two to three supportive pillows and drown myself in warm blankets,” says Wagner. Her pro tip? “House your extra pillows and blankets in a nearby baset so you can pick and choose as your mood, and the season, changes,” she adds. “Because you always need that one pillow for the small of your back, and that blanket for the can’t-put-it-down moments.”

Piece 6: The Foot Rest

reading room foot rest

leather pouf / stripe pouf / woven pouf

While the reading chair may get all the attention, don’t sleep on the foot rest. Nothing says “relax” and stay awhile like a devoted place to kick up your feet with your latest page-turner. But really — whatever your literary pose, a foot rest can provide more than just physical comfort. “It’s where you can rest your book, open-face down, to keep your page while you sneak away for a second cup of coffee,” suggests Wagner. “Or, like a trusty side table, it can hold a tray for that mug you just topped off, and maybe even a candle for all the cozy vibes.” If you can’t tell, we’re very into reading time alongside coffee, tea, and candles. It’s all about that self-care.

Want your own reading room? Start with our style quiz and select “Reading Room” to create a space that tells your story, your way.

Words by Kelsey Clark