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Stay At Home With A Book: 6 Ready-To-Steal Reading Nook Ideas

I’ve never been a big winter person. Cold weather, snow, and ice have never particularly agreed with me; I’d rather spend a gloomy day curled up with a good book than hitting the slopes or strapping on skates. So if you’re spending a lot more time indoors this year and aren’t 100% sure what to do with yourself, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re hitting the books, experimenting with handheld games, picking up knitting, or just looking for a quiet spot to unwind on your phone, we’ve got six ready-to-copy reading nook ideas (and a full set of lookalike products) to make staying at home this winter a little more enjoyable.

The “Sun Spot”

A sleek chaise by a sunny window is a simple reading nook setup that will please most book lovers - if you have a good spot and the space to spare (by Regan Baker Design Inc.)
A sleek chaise by a sunny window is a simple setup that will please most book lovers – if you have a good spot and the space to spare (by Regan Baker Design Inc.)

When I think of an ideal reading spot, there are a few basic requirements. You need a seat, but not just any seat. I like to stretch my legs out, but want good support for my back. A long chaise is an ideal choice if you have space; one with a prominent back at one side will be a little more supportive, while ones with sloped backs on the long side are more multi-purpose. When you’re trying to decide where to put it, think like a cat: pick a spot that’s warm and sunny during the day – bright enough that you shouldn’t need added light when the sun is up. Add curtains if you want to close the space off for warmth and privacy at night. Top with an adjustable reading light for after-hours, and a tiny table for your book, and you’ve got a basic, enticing setup.

Get The Look: Comfy chaise, bendy reading lamp, tiny table, and curtains.

The “Clear My Schedule”

An armchair and ottoman combo offers the comfort of a recliner or chaise, but with more customizability in size and style (by Bernardo Pozas Residential Design)
An armchair and ottoman combo offers the comfort of a recliner or chaise, but with more customizability in size and style (by Bernardo Pozas Residential Design)

Not everyone loves a good chaise quite as much as I do, though. Especially if you want 1) more back and arm support or 2) the ability to put your feet on the ground comfortably, you might want to look for an armchair and ottoman combo instead. Having two separate pieces will make your setup a little more customizable (and easier to move into your house in the first place!) without losing the ability to recline. Why not a recliner? Those certainly have their place, but I typically think it as in front of the TV; a hefty chair with lots of mechanisms can feel adrift by itself in a corner. Two-piece sets can range from huge and cushiony (like above) to surprisingly petite (see: “two birds”). Either way, most are designed with both style and comfort in mind – as opposed to recliners which pretty much always look like recliners.

Get The Look: An armchair/ottoman set, a side table, and a good adjustable floor lamp.

The “One Size Fits Most”

You don't need a huge chair or chaise to build a good reading nook - just a comfortable one (by Tim Barber Architects)
You don’t need a huge chair or chaise to build a good reading nook – just a comfortable one (by Tim Barber Architects)

That said, full-sized chaises or oversized armchair/ottoman combos aren’t a one-size-fits-all option, not the least because of their literal size. If you’re trying to sneak a new spot to read into your existing d├ęcor, a big piece of furniture might be out of the question. If that’s the case, you need to think a little smaller – like a standard, smallish chair without any add-ons. I’ll admit, a straight backed chair with arms and no ottoman is a puzzle I’ve never quite figured out how to sit in. But if you’re someone who sits with your back straight and feet on the ground, this is a great, compact option. Choose a chair with good padding (optional: on the arms, too, for added comfort), and you’ll have a ready-to-go setup that will cost you less than most chaises or ottoman/armchair combos, and fit just about anywhere.

Get the Look: A small (but maybe slightly more comfortable-looking) armchair, adjustable floor lamp, and a tiny table.

The “Do Not Disturb”

If you want a little extra privacy in your reading nook, look for a dome chair, which can help keep you a little bit isolated even in a room with other seating (by Lenore Callahan Interior Design)
If you want a little extra privacy in your reading nook, look for a dome chair, which can help keep you isolated even in a room with other seating (by Lenore Callahan Interior Design)

If the reason you’re hoping to add a personal reading nook is that your home is feeling a little crowded and you could use some me-time? Skip traditional chaises and armchairs; go straight for a dome chair. Also called bubble chairs or balloon chairs, these have high, rounded, upholstered backs that curve around your head, dampening sound and keeping anyone from peering over your shoulder. This little bit of added privacy can make all the difference if you need some distance for your family, but your house isn’t big enough to provide it on its own. Just make sure you have enough light to read by – that big dome can make the inside of the chair a little shadowy.

Get The Look: A modern or traditional dome chair (per your taste), and a stylish side table. Bonus: add an extra chaise and an open bookshelf.

The “I Need A Minute”

Replace a little-used bedside chair or ottoman with a sleek, comfortable chaise or lounge chair - you'll get more use out of it than your average clothes-catcher (by SHOPHOUSE)
Replace a little-used bedside chair or ottoman with a sleek, comfortable chaise or lounge chair – you’ll get more use out of it than your average clothes-catcher (by SHOPHOUSE)

In a similar vein, you might want to consider where to put your reading nook in the first place. Lots of reading nooks are tucked into some public part of the home, usually in the corner of a living room or family room. But if opening up a book is part of your “me time,” you want to set it up somewhere you can be alone. And I don’t just mean tossing any old chair in your master bedroom and calling it good. Instead, choose your piece intentionally. A sleek leather lounge will let you get comfy and unwind when you need to, but is upright enough that you can use it for dressing or putting on shoes as well. Pair with a tiny table for your book, and a leaning mirror for getting ready in the morning.

Get The Look: Leather lounge chair, petite table, and matching mirror.

The “Together Time”

A reading nook is often a solo affair, but they can absolutely be designed for family time (by Duet Design Group)
A reading nook is often a solo affair, but they can absolutely be designed for family time (by Duet Design Group)

On the other hand, if you like spending reading time together with your family, you might want to build your reading nook accordingly. This adorable reading corner for 2 to 4 is hands-down the best use of modular sectional sofa parts I’ve ever seen. A one-armed chaise piece might not be the most elegant lounge you’ll ever find, but there are three things it absolutely will be: sturdy, comfortable, and cheaper than any actual freestanding chaise. More importantly, you can buy them in pieces or in pairs – aka, you can get a matching mirrored set perfect for a reading nook for two. Add some ottomans if you want extra storytime space to get the kids involved. Bonus: you can push the chaises into one piece for more together time. Just don’t forget to pair good over-all lighting and a shared lamp with individual reading lights!

Get the Look: Matching mirrored chaises, ottomans, reading lights, a lamp, table, and chandelier.

The “Two Birds, One Accent Piece”

Comfort and style aren't mutually exclusive - so be sure to look for a reading chair that has both (by Gina Sims Designs)
Comfort and style aren’t mutually exclusive – so be sure to look for a reading chair that has both (by Gina Sims Designs)

Last but not least, I’ll acknowledge: no reading nook exists in a vacuum. Regardless of how much space it takes up – the size, style, placement, or configuration – whatever reading setup you choose is going to exist somewhere in your home, likely in a public area, and almost certainly somewhere visible. So while the biggest, smooshiest, comfiest setup might be the one that speaks to you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you and your household want it permanently occupying your living room. If that’s the case, keep the peace by designing your reading nook from fun accent pieces. Choose a stylish, colorful chair (think midcentury lounges) and pair it with a fun-looking reading lamp and a showy bookcase (like this ladderback, or something else unconventional). Together, you’ll have a nice statement piece with extra storage, but all the functionality you need to sit down and read a book, too.

Get The Look: A hip lounge chair and ottoman in your favorite color, a mod floor lamp, and a stylish bookcase

Whether you’ve been a lifelong bookworm or are cracking a spine for the first time in a while, having a comfortable, peaceful spot to do it is a great way to reduce stress and unwind – either by yourself or with your loved ones. Just make sure to choose a chair you won’t mind spending some time in, a spot in your home that’s a little bit soothing, and a bright-but-cozy light to spare you any added eye-strain!