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How to Create the Snuggliest, Cuddliest Reading Nook

Queue up your favorite book and a cup of tea.

October 18, 2021
Photo by Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

Whether you’re purely a lazy Sunday afternoon reader or make it a priority to squeeze in a few pages between each and every Zoom call, you deserve to have a reading nook in your home that makes your heart sing. Sure, tearing through that mystery novel under the covers or on the sofa can be nice sometimes, but don’t we all dream of a charming little spot that makes curling up with a book feel ultra cozy and zen? Thought so.

Well, the good news is that even if you’re relatively short on space (and who isn’t?), it’s more than possible to design a quality reading nook in your apartment with just a few key essentials. We spoke with home experts to gather tips on how you can start carving out a petite, bookworm-friendly spot today.

Pick a Spot, Any Spot

It doesn’t matter where in your home you choose to set up a reading nook—no, really, no space is off limits! “In all of the homes we’ve lived in, creating a small nook for reading has been a priority,” home Instagrammer Debbie Mackenzie says. “You don’t need a fancy spot for a reading nook—I’ve created them in an empty corner of my office, in our bedroom, in our living room, or even in a little closet that wasn’t being used” (Harry Potter vibes, anyone?!). And Mackenzie has realized that carving out a petite spot to unplug for a few moments is critical to her daily routine. “I have found that beginning the morning by pouring myself a hot cup of coffee and moving to that spot in our home is the nicest way to start the day on a relaxed note, rather than a rushed one.”

If your home or apartment features a fireplace—in which case, we’re envious—you may wish to look to this spot to create a reading nook, too. “Many fireplaces in a family room usually have empty space beside them or have built-ins,” designers Sharon Falcher and Sherica Maynard of Interior Design by S&S share. “This type of space is great to convert into a reading nook by adding storage bench seating and a beautiful upholstered back.”

Take a Seat

Once you’ve determined where you’ll set up your makeshift reading space, it’s time to think about seating. The good news is that the options here are limitless—so long as they’re comfy! “Whether it’s a plush lounge chair in the corner of a bedroom or cute little bay window seat that’s been built-in, you want to make sure it’s comfortable enough for you to sit for an extended period of time,” designer Brandi Wilkins of Three Luxe Nine Interiors advises. “I also encourage making the seating area super cozy by adding plenty of soft accent pillows and a nice throw to snuggle up to.”

Shine On

“Natural light is wonderful, but you’ll also want to add a really great task lamp for reading into the late hours,” Wilkins shares. After all, the days of staying up past our bedtimes reading by flashlight are long behind us. “Put a little thought into selecting the right light bulb as well,” Wilkins suggests. “The bulb should illuminate the nook enough for you to continue reading without struggle, but not be so bright that it appears fully daylight again.” A LED bulb below 3000K is your best pick.

No space for a table lamp or standing fixture? Don’t fear! “Adding sconces to your nook will help to create a cozy environment, all while ensuring you have adequate lighting to read with,” designer Kate Smith notes.

Tidy It Up

While some bookworms like to keep tall piles of books accessible as motivation to plow through their neverending TBR list, others prefer storing titles in a tidier fashion. If that’s you, Wilkins offers a simple solution. “Not all reading nooks have a ton of space for storage, but if we can fit in a small bookshelf or perhaps a little side table with a drawer or even a small basket, then we add easy access to and storage of reading materials,” she explains. “It’s great to be able to bookmark a spot in your favorite novel, pop it back onto a shelf or into a little reading basket sitting beside your cozy chair then pick back up where you left off next time.”

If you’re worried about things feeling cramped, designer Natalie Papier offers another approach. “If you don’t have a ton of space, a couple floating shelves are a great way to not take up too much space with an extra piece of floor furniture,” she comments.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Consider this your excuse to snag that delicious smelling candle you’ve had your eye on for the past month. “A bonus add to any reading nook is to stimulate your sense of smell,” Wilkins shares. “A lavender candle or diffusing your favorite essential oil will only add to the calming and relaxing vibes of any reading nook.” Evenings in just got way more lit.

Do you have a cozy little reading nook in your home? How did you set it up? Tell us below!

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Sarah Lyon

Written by: Sarah Lyon

Freelance writer and interior design enthusiast


Author L. December 7, 2021
Reading every inch of this made me glow with happiness. Lovely curated tips from reading nook experts. It's true: to slip inside the expansive world of a book, you only need a few creature comforts and good lighting. Space is internal, as vast as imagination. Cheers!
Liz S. October 18, 2021
I am fairly sure that it was a Food52 article some time ago ... about having a cozy chair in the kitchen ... that inspired my kitchen reading spot. I have a smallish house and work from home (for 35 years ... not just COVID) so a room off the kitchen is a home office. I used to read there, but have been so much happier with the kitchen spot as now the office is the office and work stays there. **Despite it being a smallish house, the kitchen is a med-large country kitchen. As a 1 human household, I eat at a kitchen island and the reading nook is where an unused kitchen table used to be :)

So, I started with a wing back chair and ottoman plus a small side table and floor lamp. Then, 3.5 years ago when I was waiting for a new puppy, I thought ... that baby is going to want to be up with me and my cat, not on the floor like my older dog was. So, I found a small corner chair/ottoman that I put together like a little sofa ... "tied together" by a puppy friendly quilt on the seats and a quilt and afghan on the back, pretty pillows, a smaller ottoman for my own feet, a plant stand masquerading as a spot for a small lamp and retained my kitchen reading area with room for the puppy who is now a grown dog. I love it!