Creating an ideal reading environment is like giving yourself a gift. Blessed with the perfect chair, lighting and accessories, you can...
Creating an ideal reading environment is like giving yourself a gift. Blessed with the perfect chair, lighting and accessories, you can create a haven that is all your own. The key? Make it comfortable and flexible, says interior designer Velvet Hammerschmidt of Santa Monica, Calif.
“Creating a reading space is making a permanent commitment to yourself,” she says. “You’re telling yourself, ‘I’m going to relax.’ “
The chair: Choose a style of chair first, then test five examples in a showroom, Hammerschmidt says. The designer discourages clients from making any choices based on pictures.
“It’s all about scale, proportion and comfort,” she says. “You can’t tell all of that from a picture.” Many materials may contribute to a chair’s comfort — foam, down, Dacron pillow.
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Pillows: They add to a chair’s comfort and flexibility. Place them behind your lower back, under your arm or beneath the book you’re reading. “You’re going to spend a good hour-plus reading, so you have to make sure you have the flexibility you need,” Hammerschmidt says.
Accent pillows are an aesthetic addition. “They’re the jewelry of your room, adding color, texture and pattern,” she says.
Proper lighting: Lighting can make or break a space. Multiple light sources are important, Hammerschmidt says.
“You have to have good ambient light as well as a task light — a floor lamp or a side table lamp,” she says. Hammerschmidt suggests an over-the-shoulder floor lamp, with an adjustable height and a dimmer.
Avoid popular torchier floor lamps, as they cast light upward; light for reading needs to shine down.
A dimmer is helpful because it allows the light in the room to change with shifts in daylight.
During the day, natural light should be behind you, Hammerschmidt says. Otherwise you’ll have a glare.
Side table: For a reading area, look for a side table that is simple and clean. “If it has shelves and storage, you feel obliged to fill it up,” Hammerschmidt warns. She suggests a table with enough space to put down a book and a cup of coffee.
Accessorizing: Try pairing a reading chair with an ottoman. Being able to kick your feet up adds to the comfort level, Hammerschmidt says.
If a reading chair is in the corner by itself, the ottoman needs to match the chair. “Think of it as a chaise,” she says. Consider adding an ottoman tray or a mohair throw.
“It’s decadent,” Hammerschmidt says with a sigh. “We don’t take enough time to treat ourselves to a place like that.”