This Dorm Room Staple Is a Treasured Part of My Living Room, and It Could Up Your WFH Game, Too

updated Jun 3, 2021
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Credit: Julian

It’s been over a decade (!!!) since I started my freshman year of college, and I’m proud to report that I’ve ditched most of my dorm decor habits. I’ve traded in my treasured “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” poster for framed prints, swapped the fairy lights for trendy globe lamps, and kicked that foldable butterfly chair to the curb. The one trend I can’t seem to shake off though is keeping around what’s typically called a husband pillow (though they’re also called reading pillows). You know what I’m talking about; with its firm back and plush armrest, it’s the pillow that’s made for sitting up while laying down in bed. It’s as though every college puts one of these on their dorm room supply list though. All of my friends had them.

My boyfriend originally bought these bedrest pillows to keep us propped up and alert when watching movies in bed since I tend to fall asleep. We’d occasionally use our reading pillows when it was just the two of us but always made sure to throw them in the closet whenever we’d have guests over. After all, their clunky silhouettes take up a lot of space on our sectional, and they’re just so college to me.

Here’s the thing though. When San Francisco issued its first shelter in place order last March, and we began to spend an unprecedented amount of time at home, our reading pillows took on new meaning They were no longer just convenient cushions for our movie marathons; they became true living room staples, and I’m not mad or embarrassed by this dorm room style, and here’s why.

Though I typically work from my dining room table, I occasionally want to get up from my desk and work from a comfy spot on the couch. Problem is I suffer from chronic back pain. Spending too much time in an awkward position — or craning my neck over my keyboard — can leave me feeling like a twisted pretzel for days. I know that I don’t need to work from my couch. However, a change of scenery can do wonders for my productivity. Plus, it’s been a year. Don’t we all deserve to get a little cozy midday if we want to?

Since my throw pillows weren’t cutting it for sofa work sessions, I decided to give the reading pillow a try, and it’s made a huge difference. For starters, the sloped backrest props me up at the perfect angle so I don’t have to crane my neck or compromise my posture. The designated armrests give me somewhere to put my elbows and double as gentle reminders to stop scrunching my shoulders. Since my reading pillow is filled with memory foam (fancy, right?), I can comfortably work from my couch for hours on end if need be.

Credit: Kelsey Mulvey

I know what you’re thinking: The collegiate cushion might’ve been perfect for all-nighters or watching Netflix in your Twin XL bed, but it would stick out like a sore thumb in a grown-up apartment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of buying a reading pillow in a bright, can’t-look-away hue, I opted for a color that’s similar to my couch. Sure, it doesn’t match perfectly, but the pillow looks a lot more subtle than it would in, say, neon yellow. We also keep the reading pillow in the corner of our sectional, where its curve mimics the sofa’s bend, creating the illusion of a streamlined setup. I have no doubt that you can find one of these in a material and colorway that will work with your sofa, too.

If you are spending more time on the couch (aren’t we all?) these days, don’t let the optics stop you from adding a reading husband pillow to your cart. When it comes to working from home, comfort will never go out of style.