It’s finally starting to feel like fall. I’ve been dreaming for months of curling up to read under layers of cozy blankets with a cup of hot tea, with candles burning and maybe a fire going, and that time is here. Establishing a dedicated reading area is one of the best ways I know to cozy up your home for fall or any season. Want to set up your own? Here are 7 things I’ve learned to pay attention to.
1. Pick the right spot.
This might mean a sequestered corner or room; maybe it means the middle of the action. Pick what works for you. We fall into the latter category around here. Two favorite places for reading are right at the front of the house, in rooms we all spend a lot of time in: the living room and the adjacent library.
2. Establish your foundation.
A substantial sofa, a plush wingback chair, an upholstered bench—these are the bones of your reading area.
If you love your foundation pieces, fantastic: it’s easier to build on a beautiful foundation. But back when I first moved out on my own, I loved the colder months because they were so forgiving to my furniture, which had seen better days—especially our hand-me-down leather sofa that literally had giant gaping gashes in the cushions. In the summer, this was unfortunate, but in the winter we just layered on a few blankets and it looked beautiful and curl-up-able, gashes and all.
Bookshelves also create the bones of your living areas. Ours are custom; more ideas here.
3. Make yourself comfortable.
Once your foundation is in place, add the elements you need to enjoy your reading area. Do you have someplace to set your cup of tea, or set down your book when it’s time to get a refill? Is the lighting good, or do you need to add a lamp?
At my house, we like versatile pieces that can be easily moved around as needed—a variety of small tables that can hold a glass of wine or propped-up feet or a tower of possible reading selections. I’m especially fond of the handwoven pouf that serves as a step stool to the higher library shelves, a comfy seat (especially for a kid), or a table for a handy tray, depending on the day.
4. Add interesting texture.
A variety of textures look inviting and feel cozy. The easiest ways to bring in texture for the cooler months are to choose accents that contrast with your foundation pieces, like a faux fur throw that looks like it’s begging to be touched draped on a shiny leather sofa, and pillows in a variety of textures and fabrics. Sometimes when a room feels “off,” thinking about the balance of matte versus shiny helps me right things.
5. Add a pop of color.
Some people love the look of a monotone palette, and I’m one of them—but I wouldn’t want to live with it everyday. I feel most at home when there’s a nice punch of color in every room, whether it’s a pretty vase, a pillow, a big bunch of flowers, or a great piece of art.
As a reader, I’ve always left books lying around for practical purposes, but you can strategically use them to pretty up your home space as well. Whether you choose a single title or a big stack, those books add visual interest, a pop of color, and—if you choose them right—will make you happy every time you look at them.
6. A little (or a lot) of storage.
Choose smart storage that fits the needs of your space. Maybe that means a tall bookcase to store lots of books, or an end table with a shelf that can hold a few books-in-progress, or a concealed ottoman that can hold extra blankets and pillows.
I love the way a simple basket full of books or blankets cozies up the space. A square living room basket holds books I want to read next; a round basket holds folded blankets, ready to be cuddled up with. We have a big library basket that holds books in limbo—ones that I’ve pulled off the shelf (to loan to a friend, to talk about with one of my kids, to donate to the Little Free Library down the street) and ones I’ve previously pulled down that need to be re-shelved. It’s a little thing, these baskets, but they make the room feel a little more friendly and a whole lot neater.
7. Signs of life.
Homes feel cozy and inviting when it looks like people actually live there, so work some signs of life into your decor—fresh flowers, houseplants, a snuggly pet. (We don’t actually think of Daisy as home decor, a dog curled up at my feet while I read sure does make me feel cozy.)
Light the candles. Don’t be afraid to leave a book lying on the coffee table; it’s evidence that there’s a human being somewhere nearby, and that’s a good thing.
Another good way to show signs of life is to live with the things you love, whether that’s a carefully selected stack of books, a funky succulent, a meaningful photo, or a pretty piece of pottery. Fill your home with things you love, and it will feel—and look—like home.
What are your cozy reading area decoration tips? Please share in comments.