What Is A Reading Room And Why Should Your Home Have One?

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TV didn’t kill radio and TikTok hasn’t killed books. In fact, the popular social media platform has more than 55 million videos with ideas for creating a reading room in your home. And reading rooms showed up as a 2024 Houzz emerging 2024 summer trend. “With searches climbing for terms like ‘library wall,’ ‘reading corner’ and ‘book nook,’ it seems that many homeowners will have the perfect space to check off their reading lists this summer,” wrote the popular home improvement platform in its report summary.

Wellness Benefits Of Reading

As Houzz also noted in its report, wellness features continue to trend on its site, and you can easily make the case that a room that lets you calmly relax with a good book enhances physical and mental well-being. According to Healthline, a medically-reviewed site for health information-seeking consumers, reading can strengthen your brain, prevent cognitive decline, reduce stress, aid sleep, alleviate depression and lengthen lifespan.

Reading Room Trend

“Initially tied to fashion, the trend has moved into the home with searches on Houzz jumping 3x in the first quarter of this year, compared with Q1 2023. Searches for the British style ‘snug’ also grew 2.5x, as homeowners may be looking to wall off a cozy area for reading or solitary relaxation,” Houzz reported. This fits into a larger trend of leisure spaces. “Listening room searches have more than doubled, and searches for ‘living room pianos’ have increased by 39%, indicating a desire for dedicated areas to enjoy high-quality music experiences.” Homeowners with smaller properties often combine leisure and reading pleasures. (My future home will have a library/music room for sure!)

The Blended Reading Space

Combined spaces reflect one design team’s reading-related projects: “We have not designed any dedicated reading rooms, but we have a ton of clients that have requested spaces designed for reading within another room,” shared San Francisco and Newport Beach-based interior designer Cecily Mendell. “For a San Francisco project, we built out a huge bay window that had a view of the Golden Gate Bridge to include a giant window seat covered with a custom cushion to lounge on, as well as a dimmable reading light and auto drapery to adjust for sunlight and privacy,” she added. The space was located in the client’s primary bedroom.

Dallas-based designer Joy Maier is in the process of creating a large reading room in a client’s infrequently used entertaining spaces. “Because we are repurposing the formal dining room and an adjacent formal living room, a table that will ‘grow’ for the annual holiday dinners will be included, but will function as a library table for everyday research and homework. The formal living room will include hidden storage under the staircase to house extra seating for larger groups. We will be opening up the dining room wall to flow seamlessly with the formal living room where we will have a more intimate seating arrangement.”

Siting The Reading Room

One of the key questions in creating a reading room is its location. That may be constrained by other home needs, but Nashville-based interior designer Debbie Mathews described her ideal. spot: “Away from the kitchen and family room and usually offers peace and quiet!”

Chevy Chase area designer Christine Lindsey Abrams recently designed a reading room for a busy mother and her tween daughters to read. She described it as “conveniently located just off the front entrance on the main floor, tucked behind double doors, providing both accessibility and privacy.

Interior designer Jenn Feldman in Los Angeles has sited reading rooms in multiple client homes. “Most often in the front of the home or tucked off of a primary retreat, we find that these spaces are never about size, rather about the feeling they invoke – a place to recharge and reset,” she shared.

Rochester, New York-based interior designer Lindsay Lucas sited one reading room project in a former home office. It was located immediately off the main entry, she commented, and was completely reimagined for enjoying books.

Outfitting The Reading Room

“Now rather than a desk in the center of an expected home office, you step onto a hair-on hide area rug, topped with a coffee table,” Lucas described. “The table sits between the leather sofa and velvet lounge chairs, offering perfect places to settle in after selecting a book from the bookshelves lining the walls. This room is now cozy enough to get lost in a compelling book or indulge in an afternoon nap.”

Feldman incorporates floor to ceiling millwork and a homeowner’s collectibles in her reading room projects, she said. “These rooms often tell a family’s story, layered with items from past and present mixed into a space for today.”

Abrams’ recent reading room project featured “bespoke built-in bookshelves lined with cream and green grasscloth wallpaper, complemented by a whitewashed wood desk, swivel chairs, nesting tables, ottomans, and original art. The color scheme incorporates spring green to reflect the client’s love of nature,” the designer added.

When you envision a reading room, elegant floor to ceiling bookshelves are always in the picture, but Maier emphasizes one detail she likes to include that may not be so obvious: “Closed storage is vital, due to the family having books that are not ‘pretty,’ but are needed for their occupations.” Closed storage can also hide a sound system, liquor or files you might not want to display. Layered lighting for ambiance and reading are also important, the designer added.

Conclusions

“Reading rooms have become desirable spaces for clients for both entertaining and relaxing at home,” Feldman commented. Separated from a home’s hubbub and not focused on a television, “these spaces also are great retreats to curl up and shut off, and when needed, a quiet space to give flexibility for at homework as well,” the designer observed. And who doesn’t need an oasis at home from time to time?

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: All interviews except Abrams and Maier were conducted by email in the last two weeks. Those two were conducted in an interior designer’s group on Facebook.

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