Dec 16, 2023

How to create a snug reading corner in a small space

By Marilena Pitino

How do you create a perfect reading corner when you live in a small home? Here we share tips and inspiration that we have gathered from several experts about how to create a truly relaxing and cosy reading corner, regardless of any space constraints.

Only three elements are essential for a small reading corner: a comfortable armchair, a lamp, and a small table. "This applies to all reading spaces regardless of size", explains interior designer Sarah Balivo. "Even if they are small, the so-called visual triangle rule still applies. You can create a sense of harmony very easily by having three elements at three different heights. If your lamp is already on the wall—as with a sconce—having a bookcase or a cabinet beside it can be practical and also aesthetically pleasing. It creates that dynamism that triangles provide and guarantees a harmony to the composition."

In the living room, next to the Togo sofa by Ligne Roset, an Occhio IO Lettura LED lamp with a spherical head moveable in any direction. On the wall, a Mito Sfera lamp.

"As architects, we have the responsibility to design spaces for everyday life that positively influence the lives of the people who use them," explain the architects of Studio Wok. "We largely don't believe in spaces with very narrowly defined functions; sometimes an unexpected use of certain spaces can be interesting. Designing with the unpredictable in mind is a challenge to pursue. In a home there should be not merely one good space for reading, but many ‘quality places’ where we can spend time with a good book."

"First of all, you have to select an armchair that is not only beautiful, but also and above all else comfortable. Truly great design combines form and function," explains Balivo. "The choice of a seat for a reading corner in a small space goes beyond just size. A small armchair can actually be much more comfortable than one that is larger but not ergonomically designed."

By Devyani Jayakar

By Vaishnavi Nayel Talawadekar

By Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

In this room overlooking a garden, a two-tone velvet armchair from the 1950s and a print of a Frida Kahlo collage. On the wall, vintage black-and-white photos (artists unknown).

A beanbag can also perform this function remarkably well. Buy a soft model with generous and comfortable proportions.

Also read: 6 small room decor ideas to maximise space in your home

To bring some warmth to your reading corner, you can place a set of small vases or candles on a coffee table, the former to be lit when you need to create a relaxing atmosphere. With just a few accessories and some imagination, you can decorate your corner and make it inviting.

Many designers are revisiting the tradition of Murano glass, but in playful new ways. Case in point: La DoubleJ's jewel-coloured vases. These fresh takes on Murano glass are one of the most popular trends right now.

"Seek out an intimate and personal corner of the house, away from any household chaos and outside noise. This will help assure that the time you dedicate to reading will lift your spirits and your mood."

By Devyani Jayakar

By Vaishnavi Nayel Talawadekar

By Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

A full-height custom bookcase and a 1919 Armchair with plate, designed by Renzo Frau and manufactured by Poltrona Frau.

There is another element that is key to creating an ideal reading corner. "A rug, preferably round, helps to define the space. Even if it is small, it gives it the right importance," Balivio explains. A carpet also helps to create a warm atmosphere while providing a feeling of softness to your reading corner.

The Bubbles rug by Amini, designed by Joe Colombo, helps to define the space dedicated to reading.

"If space is very limited, a staircase or other unexpected corner can be co-opted, losing its function as a passageway as it transforms into a reading corner," Studio Wok says. "The depth of the steps and their shape must be intelligently designed" to pull off this feat.

A house on Lake Lugano in Italy, designed by Studio Wok, where the staircase became a space for reading.

By Devyani Jayakar

By Vaishnavi Nayel Talawadekar

By Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Also read: A Thane family home for three generations of women uses clever design to maximize a small space

"Imagine being able to pause as you read, look up, and see the view out of a window. A landscape or an urban scene can be made even more special with a functional element such as bench within a deep window frame that can be used as a seat," Studio Wok adds.

An Io reading lamp next to a Barcelona armchair by Mies van der Rohe.

"The light should be soft and relaxing and it is essential to be able to control it with curtains (if it's natural light) or dimmers (if artificial)," concludes Studio Wok. "In a small space, it is always best to select floor lamps or ones with a swivelling arm."

In a house in Bormio, Italy, designed by Studio Wok, this reading corner is washed by natural light during the day.