Most people enjoy summer for the entertaining – the backyard barbecues, pool parties, and long summer evening spent outside with friends and family. Most outdoor furniture reflects this: big dining or bar sets and outdoor sofas or sectionals designed to seat a crowd. But for those of us who would rather stretch out in the sun with a good book than host a potluck, big, sprawling outdoor furniture is often overkill. So if you’re looking to spend some quiet time with a good book on a sunny summer afternoon, cozy outdoor seating for one might be more up your alley.
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The vast majority of outdoor chairs fall into one of two categories: practical or sectional. Practical chairs are usually made of plastic, metal, or sometimes acrylic, and are designed with straight backs and no cushions. In other words, these chairs are purely functional, and work best placed smack dab in front of a table. Sectional chairs are bigger and comfier with thick cushions, but are usually only sold as part of larger sets or are designed to be pushed together to form a sectional. Unfortunately, neither of these make great reading chairs. Instead, you want to look for a third, rarer type of chair that’s more like a classic indoor armchair.
These armchair-style chairs are perfect for curling up in, with cushioned backs and seats and comfortable arm rests. They’re also usually paired with matching ottomans that give you a little room to stretch out and put up your feet for long reading sessions, making them ideal for a reading nook. Outdoor arm chairs can be made of resin wicker or metal, and usually feature heavy duty weather and water resistant fabric on the cushions, meaning they’re durable enough to leave outside, and in some cases even use right after you’ve taken a dip in the pool.
If you want to soak up a little sun while you read outside, a more traditional pool lounger might be more up your alley, as they let you stretch out fully and make the most of a sunny afternoon. That said, these too come in a range of qualities, from your classic slatted, strappy plastic lounge to cushier seats that are better for prolonged lounging. For me, I prefer a big, plush lounger for comfort, but if you plan on doing your reading between dips in the pool, you probably want something that can handle drips a little better, like plastic, resin wicker, or mesh.
Recliners and rockers are a little more difficult to get your hands on, but are absolutely perfect for an outdoor reading nook. Old fashioned rockers are made for sitting, relaxing, and reading, while more modern outdoor recliners make it easy to put your feet up without sacrificing a lot of your outdoor space with a bulky ottoman. If you’re looking for an outdoor chair that’s both compact and comfortable, one of these is definitely the way to go; they can usually even fit on a smaller porch or patio.
Making a great outdoor reading nook isn’t just about the chair, though. Any good reading nook, indoors or out, has to have at least a small table – a place to put down your book, an ice cold glass of something, and maybe a pair of glasses or a snack. Indoors, that might mean an accent table, but outside I prefer a Chinese-style ceramic garden stool. These sturdy, colorful pieces have come into the limelight lately, and are petite enough to stand next to a chair in even the smallest spaces while offering just enough surface space to hold the necessities.
For marathon outdoor reading sessions, you probably also want to consider investing in a patio umbrella to protect you from prolonged sun exposure. If you’re going to set up your reading nook under a patio awning or inside a partially enclosed porch, this step is a little less crucial, but for a chair that’s out in the open, sun protection is an absolute must-have. Some lounges and outdoor beds come with their own built in umbrellas or canopies (some of which are more effective than others at actually blocking the sun), but a basic patio umbrella will do the trick regardless of your setup, and can be used elsewhere in your outdoor space when you aren’t using it for reading.
What amenities do you want for your dream outdoor reading nook? Let me know in the comments!