7 Bookstagrammers On How to Create a Cozy Reading Nook

updated Apr 7, 2021
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Credit: Javier Díez/Stocksy

If you’re a reader, then you know the importance of creating the perfect spot in your home for curling up with a good book. You need comfort, light, a spot for a cup of coffee… and a few other essentials, at least according to these avid bookstagrammers. Whether you live in a house or a 400-square foot apartment, take inspiration from these women on making a cozy corner that fits your home.

Credit: Morgan Hoit

Morgan Hoit at @nycbookgirl

Currently reading: “Winter” by Ali Smith and “Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Morgan Hoit lives in a three-bedroom apartment in New York City with two roommates, and so she had to make space for her personal reading nook within her bedroom—and honestly, every element is envy-worthy. From the mural wall (that she painted herself!) to the neon sign of her Instagram handle, Morgan worked hard to make the space feel distinct from her “sleeping space” (AKA her bed). She knew she wanted three elements when crafting the space: light, “a chair you could sit in for hours,” and pink, her favorite color.

The mural wall is her favorite part of the space. “I don’t think I would have endeavored on such a project in a non-pandemic time, but I’m so glad I did,” she said. “It took one day to paint…I started at noon and finished by eight p.m.” Her unique and cozy space is almost complete — the last thing on her wishlist is a side table, “because at the moment, any beverage I’m drinking has to be balanced on my knee.”

Credit: Suzie Bangoura

Suzie Bangoura at @asbthebookworm

Current read: “The Hundred Wells of Salaga” by Ayesha Harruna Atta

Suzie Bangoura’s bright reading corner, or “lounge” as she calls it, allows her to enjoy morning light and evening sunsets — so if you have a big window in your living room or bedroom, that might be the perfect spot for a reading chair. She has thoughtfully curated the objects on her shelves — every item has a story or meaning, from the orchid she received as a goodbye present, to the family photos, to the artwork by a friend.

As for her book organizing system: “I mainly try to keep my read and unread books on different shelves,” she explained. “On my unread shelves, I like to keep my fiction and nonfiction books separate.” She creates dimension on her bookshelves by layering titles in front of and on top of each other. And if you love the pillow (who can blame you), there’s a similar, customizable version available on Etsy.

Credit: Sara Hildreth

Sara Hildreth at @fictionmatters

Current read: “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers and “The Book of Tokyo“, a short story anthology

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Sara began working from home, and eventually transitioned to full-time blogging and podcasting, so she needed a functional space that was also a spot where she could read, write, and be creative. Adding the armchair and lamp made the room “instantly cozier and more inviting,” she said. The lamp, from Lamps Plus, fits perfectly into this adaptive space — Sara chose it because she can lift, lower, or swivel it to fit whatever project she’s working on.

Similarly, Sara wanted a chair that wouldn’t overwhelm the room, because the space is fairly small, and yet would let her shift around a lot while reading (can relate). The comfy chair she chose is actually West Elm’s Book Nook chair. “I know it’s a touch on the nose, but it’s too perfect for this space!” As for the books — and book overflow — Sara organizes by shelving books she’s read and leaving unread books for the floor (along with some extra already-read overflow). “Yes, it’s difficult to get a book that’s at the bottom of a stack, [but] I like that when I do, I end up touching and looking through the books that were stacked above it,” she explained. “It reminds me of all the great reading I have to look forward to!”

Credit: Lupita Aquino

Lupita Aquino at @lupita.reads

Current read: “The Five Wounds” by Kirstin Valdez Quade

As a book curator for BESE Media and co-founder of Lit on H Street Book Club, Lupita spends a lot of time reading — and has crafted an ideal space for herself on the top floor of her Cape Cod-style home. The custom shelving in the space is incredibly special, and like all decorating wins, are thoughtful, personal, and functional. “They were supposed to be a wedding anniversary present from my wife but with quarantining it was hard to keep them a secret,” Lupita said over email. “She reached out to my father who I remember, built me my own baby desk and furniture when I was little. The shelves he built remind me that no matter what, my father has always been there for me in his own way.” Once the DIY shelving was in place, Lupita’s wife designed the rest of the space as a quarantine project —the two were inspired by jewel tones they spotted in Tracy Ellis Ross’ home during an Instagram Live video, which became the central color for the wall and shelves. The raindrop wallpaper isn’t actually wallpaper at all — they used a stencil from StencilsLabNY to create the pattern. 

Credit: Katharine Scrivener

Katharine Scrivener at @readwithkat

Current Reads: “The Drowning Kind” by Jennifer McMahon, “Sabrina & Corina” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, and “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga on audio

“My decorating style tends to be focused on cozy and welcoming,” says Katharine, a bookstagrammer and cystic fibrosis advocate. “I love having various textures and warm colors, like golds, greens, and blues.” Her cozy space sits in the corner of her living room by the window, underneath floating shelves that host her favorite editions or gifted books, as well as family photos. When designing the space, Katharine looked for “soft fabrics, ones that are perfect to snuggle up in,” and her reading chair is a hand-me-down from friends, whose size and soft cushioning make it perfect for a long reading session. The Crate and Barrel pouf (similar one here) adds extra texture and comfort and her new snake plant adds “a little life” to this corner of the room. 

Credit: Alanna K

Alanna K at @shelf.help

Current Read: “A Lover’s Discourse” by Xiaolu Guo

Alanna’s bohemian style is accented by bright colors, and her book nook is in the heart of her California bungalow in the living room, which also functions as her home office, home gym, and home theater (we know the drill!). The books are the center of her space so she is committed to organizing them by color, and sometimes separates them by “read” versus “TBR,” but that system “quickly devolves as I lend, buy, or move things around.” The most unique piece in her space is the Adler typewriter — ”the same brand Jack Torrance uses in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’…one of my very favorite movies” — and the faux greenery livens up the antique.

“I am a terrible plant owner, and I think the only thing I have managed to keep alive is a literal cactus,” Alanna said. “I do accent with faux greenery (no shame!) and I try to buy myself cut flowers each week as a treat.” Most of the items in her space are from Target, HomeGoods, Target, or IKEA, and as for what inspires her shopping trips: “I live independently and on a budget, so sometimes the mishmash of colors and patterns are due to what I found on sale.” Relatable!

Credit: Sarah Coquillat

Sarah Coquillat at @bookishandblack

Current Read: “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” by Deesha Philyaw and “So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know” by Retta on audio

“I wanted to display my books and have a cozy area, but keep it organized,” says Sarah. “I’m a maximalist but I hate a mess, so those two things were super important to me.” To keep the shelf organized, Sarah splits her books between read and unread, and then within each category they’re divided between fiction and nonfiction and sorted alphabetically by author. To liven the space with greenery, Sarah sought out low indoor-light plants that she can keep in corners, like this one, that don’t get a ton of window light. Her chair, like any good book lovers seat, had to be something she could “sit in for hours” and wanted leather because “it transitions easily if I ever make decor changes.” Her chair is from a Pottery Barn sale (similar one here) and to complete the space, she’s saving up for a Moroccan pouf to serve as an ottoman.