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How To Style A Reading Nook

ginny_macdonald_living_room_nook

Sometimes in a home we come across an awkward little corner – it has shelves that face nowhere with windows that open on to those shelves, and on top of that they don’t even have enough room to fit in anything useful…or do they? Now that we all have computers in our hands 24/7, we rarely take the time to sit down in a sunny little corner, sip a cup of tea, and crack the spine on a good book. But isn’t it a nice thought? With just a few pieces of added furniture and some well placed accessories you can help your awkward corner reach its full potential as a sophisticated reading nook (which is every awkward corner’s dream).

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1. Grab a smallish-reading lamp – Obviously a chair will be important, too, but placement of that lamp will provide the perfect light and should have first dibs on the shelf.

2. Sprinkle around your books & magazines – This is a reading corner and those shelves are just begging for your entire collection of Jane Austen novels. Stack your books both horizontally and vertically to create movement on the shelves.

3. Pop in your art – Now that you know where your bigger items are going, you can place in your artwork.

4. Fill in blank spaces with sculptural objects – Vases, plants, trinket dishes, decorative boxes, etc. Small collections of items (like your vintage collection of miniature brass shoes) are perfectly displayed on a reading nook shelf.

5. It’s time to bring in your big furniture – A comfy chair, an ottoman to hold up your tired feet, and a small accent table are all you need.

6. Make it cozy – Imagine a leisurely Sunday morning, rain gently pattering on your window, while you curl up in your reading nook. Would it be complete without your sheep skin or wool blanket? I don’t think so, oh…. and naps are highly encouraged.

So, with all the rules in place, let’s see how Ginny put together her little living room reading nook:

There you have it, folks! No more awkward corners, just cozy reading nooks that are pretty to look at. And here’s a secret books don’t want you to know – iPhones and Kindles still work when used cuddled up in reading nooks. Happy reading!

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*Photography by Zeke Ruelas, Written by Sara and Me.

**Want to see more of Ginny’s Makeover Takeover? Check out her intro, her living room reveal, and her dining room reveal.

***Want MORE Makeover Takeover? See Sara’s bedroom makeover, & Brady’s living room reveal.

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  1. My perfect reading nook includes me, curled up next to a stack of interesting books. Add a cool beverage (or hot depending on season) and I’m in heaven…

  2. Love Ginny’s chair and room. But it’s “its full potential.” It’s is a contraction meaning “it is.” Its (possessive) never has an apostrophe.

      1. I actually agree with Patricia and Emily. It would be so amazing if you could find room in the budget for a copy editor, who’d review posts before going out :). I know this is free entertainment for me, so I’m not complaining (honestly Emily I love your blog and the more personal posts lately have been EVEN BETTER), just… making a suggestion!

  3. I’m on a serious hunt for a reading chair so I can set up a corner in my bedroom just like this. Right now I’m hunting around all my local places for a vintage one, but I’d love a reading chair round up from you guys!

  4. I wish I had a nook that adorable. Emily, what I do have is a credenza in my dining room I can’t figure out how to style. I have used your techniques for shelves and media consoles to much success (thank you!). The thing about the dining room, other than a lamp and a vase, I can’t figure out what to do that gives some height without looking contrived. Right now I have a tall lamp (CB2 Ada II) and a Sonos speaker just staring at me.

  5. I still love love love her living and dining rooms, and love this reading nook.

    It makes me giggle when I consider if this is truly a one-word-title-books-only zone:
    POLPO
    HABITAT
    HOME
    ROBUCHON
    JERUSALEM

    Multi-word titles need not apply!! hee hee

    Seriously though I could stare at those shelves and all the other spaces in Ginny’s place all day, learning from every little thing.

  6. This has nothing to do with this post, BUT I’ve been meaning to tell you for months that you are officially of international fame. Back in March, your book was featured on a French design blog I follow. (Your last name is wrong on the post title, but correct in the copy). Here’s the link if you want to check it out.

    http://www.planete-deco.fr/2016/03/08/le-style-selon-emily-anderson/

    The site has a ridiculous number of inspiration spaces, too, including TONS with the black trim you’re considering. Enjoy!

  7. I love the reading nook featured here, and I always incorporate reading (or lap crafting) areas in my design decisions. That window is great for daytime reading or knitting, but I think that the mood lamp you have added to the space would not be sufficient for reading or handcrafting in the evening or night. It looks great on the shelf though and I would leave it.

    For reading, you would need light that is more focused on the area where the book would be held. I realize that the space is small but a thin floor lamp might fit, or a floor lamp with a built-in table/tray to take the place of the side table. This makes me think that you really don’t spend much time reading….you are a busy lady. LOL 😉

  8. It’s a lovely nook designed for e-readers only. I don’t have time to sit and read a book by that lovely bright window during daylight hours. At night, that cute but stubby lamp placed on a shelf behind my head would cast shadows on my book and could never provide the correct lighting for a cozy read. (I second the motion for a proof reader)

  9. I love this post. Oh how I dream of a beautifully styled place like this to sit and read, oh, and the time to sit and read…..

  10. This is gorgeous! I am sure everyone dreams of a reading nook of their own, but some great tips here for making space in the home as it is. Even in a small space, with some thought and imagination it can be done. Having a comfortable space to read and journal is paramount to me, and making it as beautiful as possible makes sense.

  11. Love this. My only thought is to keep aware of sunlight on those Austens. Worst thing in the world would be to fade them!

  12. I love the reading nook! So warm and cozy, that chair is to die for, i love the carmel color!

    Burning question I’ve had for weeks as we’re transitioning into a new rental (if you need a blog post idea):what do you do to draw attention away from less desirable flooring or paint options you can’t change? i find myself scared to do an opposite color scheme for fear it will all clash, but don’t necessarily want to tie in elements of the colors for fear of drawing attention to it. For example we have horrible tile in our new living room and I am going to throw a rug over it. Do I stay away from the colors in the tile so they become less noticeable? It is a dark grey/taupe/brown with slight greenish undertonesand you will be able to see the edges around the rug. Or Should I worry about it clashing? Is there a secret? This aspect of renting is so incredibly frustrating…

  13. This isn’t relevant to this post (although I do love good reading nook!) but I was wondering if you could do a post about how you got into the design industry and how you got to where you are today? I’m just curious because I’m a college student now (not majoring in a creative field) and I have been so hesitant to go into interiors even though I spend most of my free time obsessing over them. I would love to hear about your journey!

  14. I LOVE the look of that Dwell chair. They didn’t have it at the store in Manhattan to try, but I wound up finding it randomly at the Filson Store. Not that comfortable. But then again, I’m really picky that way. Wound up getting an Ekornes.

  15. Love the reading nook, but annoyed by the people critiquing your grammar. This is a blog about homes and design, not grammar. It’s okay to be human and make mistakes. We all do. Thanks for all you do. I am a fan and look forward to reading future blog posts.

  16. Wow! how sweet reading nook ideas.I like it. I think this inspire kids reading and increase reading time. Kids feel relax while reading. I need this sweet kids nook for my kids. They must like it.