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Making Myself at Home {& The New Reading Corner!}

by | Sep 2, 2014 | Decorating Inspiration, Entry, my house

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Making Myself at Home {& The New Reading Corner!}

Our front room is always changing. It started out as a living room, but we realized a living room with a bigger sofa and chairs was not necessary since we had a family room and a TV room. So then we decided that what we really needed was more breathing room. Our entry and dining room are small and this room is almost like a pass through, so instead of setting it up to be used like a living room, it seemed to make sense to use it more as a “gathering space.” We wanted to enter the house with room to breathe, as well as have more room to expand from the dining room when we have extra guests.

The multi-purpose use of this space made sense to us, but at the same time it’s a very small room that has essentially only one full wall (but very tall ceilings!), so the options for how to arrange it are limited.

Making Myself at Home {& The New Reading Corner!}

We’ve gone through several evolutions of this room but none of the variations were considered the final version. We are getting closer, but is a room ever done? Not at my house!

For the past several years we’ve been thinking a lot about our house and how we could best utilize the space we have. We are always very mindful of our limited budget and the unknown aspect of our future plans for this house.  One thing I really wanted was built ins, but I’ve hesitated on that commitment. Since we have a past history of moving to new houses every few years, we are cautious about our decisions in this house.

On the other hand, we have no plans to move so it’s really important to me to make THIS our home! If this was the kind of house that made sense to invest money in and we were positive this was our forever home, I wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever we could afford to make ourselves at home. But if there are less permanent options that also work, that seems to make the most sense.

Making Myself at Home {& The New Reading Corner!}

We had decided this year for our “2014 home goals” we were going to really get organized. I really want to feel at home. So after declaring this the year we would concentrate on organization and add furniture if necessary to make that process easier, we starting searching for new storage pieces/furniture for several rooms in the house. Even though I had dreamed about a built in cabinet and bookshelves for this room ever since we moved in, this is one of those cases where we decided a free standing piece would be best for us.

I really wanted to love it and not just settle for something, so it took me a long time to find just the right piece. After searching for quite awhile and not seeing anything that fit our space quite right, we were happy to find this one from Restoration Hardware (and we loved it so much we ended up with a similar one for our family room). First and foremost, it was the right length and depth for our space. Size was the biggest challenge and what eliminated most of our other options in our price range. We also loved that it was functional. It could hold books, dishes for entertaining and also serve as an extra buffet surface for larger parties. We love that it has glass doors for display and enlarging/brightening the room, but also that the glass keeps the dust down since our entry and front door is right across from it.

Since I have rarely bought furniture except second hand and inexpensive, committing to a few new pieces of furniture this year mixed in with my flea market finds was a big deal. But I knew the right pieces would make a real difference in how our house functioned. In a house with smaller rooms, it’s extra important to make your space work for you. It’s amazing how one piece can anchor the room and make it so much more functional.

We originally had a different bookcase in this room that also had glass doors, but it was much smaller so it just didn’t work as well on this wall. This one is really long so it is making much better use of our space (we moved the other one to our bedroom which you can see here!).

Scale is so important! In this case, bigger is better in a small space!

Making Myself at Home {& The New Reading Corner!}

Once we got the cabinet, it inspired a comfy little reading nook! I originally pictured a built in window seat here but as time went on, I decided against that. Indecisive much? Sheesh. I should win an award for most indecisive, slowest decision maker person who thinks way too much and then still changes her mind person ever (see my post about the slow process of decorating here).

I didn’t want a big sofa in here due to how small the space is and how flexible we need this area to be. We also didn’t want to have to walk through a conversation area to get to the dining room or kitchen, so we avoided that! We decided a nice cozy settee would be exactly what this space needed to be functional yet not feel too crowded.

We found the settee through Birch Lane (I actually fell in love with it when I went to the Birch Lane event in NYC last spring, thanks Birch Lane!).

I loved that it was flexible and allows us enough room to bring in another dining table for overflow dinner guests, but still is functional as a spot to sit and put on your shoes or chat with guests during a party or curl up with a book or a laptop! I also loved that the settee has a high back (and the wingback makes you feel like you are so snug and comfy curled up in the corner!), which works better than a shorter piece with our extremely tall ceilings and large window.

Making Myself at Home {& The New Reading Corner!}

The lamps were a bargain from Target and the little round table was from Lamps Plus. The flowery felt pillow was from Joss & Main and the gray zig zag pillow was from West Elm. The Turkish towel/blanket came from a local flea market. And of course, the Plush Pumpkins are from the LoveFeast Shop!

Making Myself at Home {& The New Reading Corner!}

I’m contemplating adding a comfy round ottoman in front of the settee. And for now, Jack is our rug.

And that’s where things are right now! Don’t blink. Check back with me in a few months and we may have changed our mind again. And at our house, furniture is always free to move around with our needs. But now that we have that cabinet in place it feels like we have a great start on more structure and function in this room. The cabinet feels like a real grown-up piece of furniture so I’m happy to finally have something that’s likely going to stay in one spot for a long time!

We still have dreams of someday adding more white planking on the walls and the big dream is to have it on the peaked ceiling in this room, but for now we are taking this room one step at a time and enjoying little bits of progress.

So, are you ready to do some Fall Nesting? ;-)

*This settee was provided by Birch Lane. As always, all opinions are my own.


  1. Heather Townsend

    Lovely use of space. Absolutely love the colour scheme.
    Looks sooo nice and cozy! : )
    H x x

  2. Marilyn

    I love everything about this room. Lovely!

  3. Debbie

    Perfection, really! My favorite spot in our home is my reading corner — this is really beautiful. I really love how versatile this area is and you have inspired me today. Thank you :)

  4. tina

    I’m not inspired to do fall decor yet. We are getting our hottest weather of the summer last week and this week! 80’s next week. It will be a while before it feels like fall and besides, I’m getting every last drop of summer I can! LOL


  5. Kay

    I love those Target lamps + think they’d be perfect for my pair of red-ticking-stripe lampshades from PB. I always say: pairs = good! Kudos for the Restoration Hardware cabinets — nobody loves RH more than me! Is that adorable wingback a chair + 1/2, a.k.a. “grandmother chair”? I used to have one of those. TY for the groovy post, as always.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      They don’t call it a grandmother chair but I love that :-)…yes, it’s a great size. Not huge like a sofa but not small like a chair. It’s just right :-).

  6. Laura D.

    I’m officially obsessed w your house and your website! Can’t wait to see what’s next! BTW, doggie is ADORABLE…

  7. Patty Day

    I love your thinking process. It’s hard to know what to put into a home and what not to. I think you are making wise decisions. I love what you have done with your space. I have learned that when you add things to a home, the next buyer might not want what you have added. Do things that you can enjoy while you are living in it and feel it’s worth the time and effort.

  8. teresa

    I’m so ready to start nesting! I need you next door =) I have a room I want to change so bad…but have no ideas! it’s one of those rooms where you don’t have many ways to arrange it….
    I love your reading corner…I think every home should have one.
    Thanks for the inspiration…I just need to get busy and change things up.

  9. Mindy

    Any space you can curl up with a book or a steaming mug of tea is a good one in my book. Your space is lovely, as always : )

  10. Shelley Beckes

    The free standing piece you chose is great. It serves many purposes. The glass doors are wonderful for a small area, helping the space feel more open.

  11. Pam

    I love the cabinet. It’s so functional and allows for controlled clutter of all the necessities. I need that! Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. sandyc

    Absolutely no award for “most indecisive, slowest decision maker person who thinks way too much and then still changes her mind person ever”!!! There should be an award for people who LIVE to “angst” – I would never have won it but I used to do it. But that’s not you and it’s no longer me. Rather, I think you have an inner voice that smiles from ear to ear over and over again because you let it do its thing. I’m totally, firmly convinced that if one hesitates, it’s not right, and when it IS right, there is NO hesitation. Patience is required and good monetary support is a blessing, but otherwise, it’s really a world of exciting possibilities and a state of gentle bliss all rolled into one. Would love to share a cup of coffee with you in this room!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I love how you put that. I agree. :-) Thank you!

      I would love to have you over for a cup of coffee! :-)

    • Ann C

      You said it so well. Waiting and following your instinct, “inner voice” makes for fewer mistakes or regrets. I love the idea of using this room in so many ways, rather than filling it with living room furniture and not using it. I could see a long rectangular storage ottoman in front of your loveseat so two might snuggle and put their feet up and have storage for afghans or magazines. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Debie Bannon

    I like the neutral wall color that you used! Would you mind sharing the name and company that made it?

  14. Jeanell Green

    Love your blog. Love your ideas. Can’t wait for the book! You Mentioned the “plank walls”……had not found you when you discussed. Can you give me where to find or briefly tell me how you did it? May be my favorite in your home.

  15. Jann from Newton Custom Interiors

    Melissa, I think your reading nook is adorable! Everything looks so cozy, a wonderful place to read a good book. Love the new couch too.

  16. Autumn Leopold

    I love the light coming into this space! I love the blue highlights around as well. You took the words out of my mouth when you said you needed an ottoman. I was thinking maybe a pillow for the pup too! :)

  17. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    It’s probably no surprise to you Melissa….but my good friend reminds me all the time…”Diane you over think things.” It’s not all bad….in home decor anyway. Other things….I’m probably left in the dust. Haha!!

    I love the new arrangement and the new furniture and the rug name Jack! [wink]

  18. Karen on Bainbridge Island

    This room really would encourage me to sit, read a magazine, sip tea, work on needlepoint. The palette is soothing, relaxing and pretty. A rug would warm up this space, especially for the coming autumn and winter months. Although, I could sink my toes into Jacks fur.

    My opinion on built-ins is that they are overrated and costly. While they seem like a good idea, once in place, you cannot move them. I prefer furniture for it’s diversity and it’s flexibility. That said, I do have built in seating in my breakfast nook, but also occupying that space is a table and chairs. I also have built in bookshelves in my bedroom, in a recessed area that was too shallow for a furniture piece.

  19. Sarah

    I LOVE the wood floors? Do you by chance know what color stain that is?

  20. Colleen

    I have been following your blog for a long time now, and I’m finally commenting. I have the same
    Target lamps! I love them. I bought 4 of the floor and one table lamp. They look just so perfect in my beach house, and they were such a great buy! Thank you for sharing your ideas. I am “inspired” by your style.

  21. Jody Jensen

    Good tips for buying accessories. I am gradually trying to change the style of my home and I don’t have a lot of room for items specific to only one season. Thanks love your blog!


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