Your own reading nook

Convert small spaces in your home to make them suitable for a perfect reading experience, writes Susheela Srinivas

Your own reading nook

A satisfying and fulfilling activity which all of us indulge in from time to time is the habit of reading: whether it is keeping up with the news, flipping through a glossy magazine, or devouring a favourite paperback. With such an important pastime imbibed into our daily routine, is it not prudent that we incorporate a home library or a reading nook or a personal den in our homes?

Even with the inclusion of e-readers, allocating a space where you can engage in a spot of reading unhindered is essential.

Owning a home library need not be reserved for the well-read or the scholarly, nor does a library call for a vast collection. “A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life,” observed Henry Ward Beecher.

Blend it in
Having said that, allocating space, organising books and looking into decor requirements are the common doubts that arise.  To allay your fears, let me start off by saying that books blend easily with the existing furniture; they are so versatile, that they by themselves add an instant element of interest and a classic touch to the decor.

Simple glass, wood or metal shelves are enough to hold books and create an elegant look. Dedicated bookcases, shelves and wall cabinets add additional glamour. They can be placed anywhere around the house: foyer, hall, dining hall, kitchen, bedrooms and even bathrooms!

If your collection is a vast one and you would like to proudly display it, then, choose exclusive bookshelves for all to see. The space under the stairs makes for an interesting library while a boring wall gets transformed by several notches with a standalone book shelf.

Pamper the reader in you
Big or small, a reading nook is essential for lazy afternoons or dedicated readings. Plan for comfortable chairs, settee or divans; throw in some cushions and a quilt for the wintry days. Keep books within arm’s reach by strategically planning for storage shelves. Make the best use of areas around windows to get the advantage of natural light as you read away. And don’t forget a small side console to hold the coffee and munchies.

Space-starved?
No worries! Existing spaces of walls, lofts and crockery cabinets come in handy. Under-furniture storage, retractable shelves and racks are other options. Reach up to the roof with a wall unit, and soon, the walls will have stories to tell. Plan a collapsible ladder or a dedicated spiral stairway up to the loft to create a mezzanine floor. Wider spaces or passageway lofts can easily turn into library rooms, with a little investment.

Alternatively, if your reading is interspersed with daily chores, then your home library becomes a distributed one, melding with the existing furniture, with a couple of shelves in the cabinetry
assigned for books. Take a cue from author Barbara Goldsmith who doubled up her dining space to a library by lining it with books. One golden rule to follow is to keep the area clutter-free, returning books to shelves immediately after reading, rather than strewing them around.

For big spaces
It is evident that if you have the luxury of a dedicated library at home, then you would want to splurge. Include comfortable chairs, sofas, rugs, desks and side consoles.

The laptop, writing desk and other paraphernalia go along well here. Also include arty additions: this space can exhibit some chosen art pieces like portraits, paintings, photo collages, a vintage bust and chandeliers; and not to forget the globe!


Organise them
Once the collection increases, books need to be organised for easy access. Arranging them alphabetically, author-wise or genre-wise is the usual method. Else, do it the Diane Keaton way: the actress chose to arrange her huge collection by colour coding them, creating a stunning rainbow effect to her library.

To stack more books, create a tiered space by placing a slim wood block at the rear end of a shelf; and lo! You would have doubled the capacity.

Whether it is a few books or huge collections, with these pointers in mind, set up your home library; and turn it into a cosy, classic and comfortable reading nook for the entire family. Soon, reading together may be your next family ritual!

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