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How to create a cosy book nook at home

Soho Home Lead Designer, Jessica Sims-Wilson, shares eight simple steps to update your space for the season

By Megan Murray

'If there's an opportunity for a book nook, do it. If there isn't a natural opportunity, create one,' says Soho Home's Lead Designer Jessica Sims-Wilson, who works across the Soho Home Design service.

Indeed, in our Houses, designers plan the space to include larger, sociable spaces, mixed in with more intimate corners to create a feeling of cosiness and privacy. And you can do this in your own home to help carve out some me-time, explains Sims-Wilson.

'It might feel like a luxury, but having a little corner to call your own can make all the difference. Utilise a space that doesn't have that much going on and give it new meaning with a comfortable chair, some textiles and soft lighting.'

The perfect project to get stuck into as the evenings get darker, experimenting with a reading corner can help update your home for the season. Here, Sims-Wilson shares every step to finessing that space like an expert for maximum comfort and relaxation.

Finding the perfect spot

'There are so many places you could experiment with to fit in your book nook. Sometimes, it's about utilising an unexpected space that isn't currently being used to its full potential. My favourite is underneath a staircase. It's naturally cosy and the right shape, so why not transform it?

'You could also paint a graphic onto a wall, such as an arch, to isolate a space and create a feature. Another option is to maximise a large window and the natural light coming through by positioning a chair underneath.

'From a design perspective, the ideal location for a book nook would be nestled in a corner, using something like a bookcase or large plant to section it off, but in a way that still feels part of the room.

'The psychology behind this technique is called prospect and refuge. To feel comfortable and relaxed enough to read a book, humans need to know that no one is coming up behind them. Ideally, it's about having a good view of the room, without anyone really being able to see you.'

Choose your chair

'My first priority is finding a chair big enough to tuck your feet up onto, preferably with large arms that you can swing your legs over, if that's your thing. Of course, choose an upholstery fabric that's soft and comfortable for you.

'Personally, my favourites are the Theodore armchair for a classic look, the Audrey loveseat if you have room, or the Garret - it's a Soho Home classic and it spins, which gives it something extra.

'I ask my clients to also consider whether this space might help them repurpose spare chairs they have elsewhere. For example, if you have an extendable dining table, does it help to take a chair from there? Or perhaps move this chair between the nook and bedroom when it suits. If so, you might want to consider those elements of its design, too.'

Consider a footstool

'If you have space for it, a footstool can take the comfort factor to the next level. I suggest this if clients have brought in a chair from another area of the home, as explained above, and need to make it feel a bit cosier.

'The Theodore footstool comes in a mix of fabrics - both velvet and boucle are satisfyingly tactile. The Sofia footstool looks great from a design perspective, and for something a bit different for autumn into winter, the Lyla footstool in obie printed velvet is a mix of beautiful colours for the season.'

Zone the space with a rug

'This step makes an impact because visually the space feels different and you can start to create the association that this area is specifically for relaxing.

'I would always choose something that's a high pile and feels thick, textured, and puts comfort first. If you can go a richer tone to suit the season or use pattern to differentiate, then that's great.'

Layer up textiles

'Accessorising with cushions and blankets is essential. Opt for cushions in tactile, woven fabrics with an element of continuity to connect them. I would pick a core colour palette that complements the other aspects of the space, then use one in a plain, block colour, and one in a pattern.

'I love our Maria throw, which comes in seven colours and is made from 100% alpaca wool, so it's really soft. For a wintery look, the cable knit of the Fionn throw or faux fur of the Kuma throw are also perfect.'

Somewhere to place your drink

'Once settled in your seat, all comforts should be on hand. Use a small side table to rest your drink, book and phone so that you can really sink in and relax.

'A small surface area will do, but ensure that the style is raised high enough to meet your reach easily. If you're looking for that wow factor, the Nelson side table is crafted from solid, honed Calacatta Viola marble in an ivory-toned Italian stone with maroon and red veining.

'Or, the Arlon side table with a solid Fantasy Brown marble top sourced from India, with a thin brass frame and base is a more accessible choice.'

Opt for task lighting

'Lighting is such an important tool for creating a relaxing ambience, but because this space has been created for a purpose, I would advise my clients to include some task lighting.

'Task lighting usually has a hard shade, so that you can direct the beam of light where you need it. The Selina multi-head floor lamp is great for this.

'Smaller table lamps still play a role. Pop one on a side table next to you, and if using a shelving unit, then that's an opportunity to display some there as well. Use a soft, fabric shade in a neutral tone to ensure that the emittance is flattering.'

Use scent to set the tone

'Scent helps us activate emotional cues. I suggest choosing a fragrance that makes you feel relaxed, and only use it in that area so that you come to associate it with a specific time and feeling. Position a candle or diffuser on the side table next to where you'll sit down to read.

'For me, this would be something like Soho Home's Leather & Oud, Fig Verde or Sicilian Thyme.'