Since the arrival of the television set into Irish homes in the 1950s - followed by games consoles, music systems and Wi-Fi routers - our living space has largely been planned around technology.
For many, the TV became the focal point, at least in the living room, and if we were in the kitchen or the bedroom, we had some form of digital companion. Now, with the rise of social media, and our mobile phone addiction being referred to as a growing problem, there's a counter-trend emerging that wants to get away from it all. A trend that takes our interiors focus away from the screens in our homes, becoming more about socialising and restorative time spent relaxing. In response to digital overload you'll find the return of one interiors feature in particular: the reading corner. Here's how to style a screen-free space in your home, and best of all, it's particularly well-suited to a smaller area.
The lead character
While corner couches offer an element of luxury, there's something special about choosing one armchair in which you alone would happily spend a few hours. As this is your ultimate chill-out zone, you have to put comfort right up there with aesthetics. Are you among the recliner-inclined? Or do you want to get your feet up on a snuggler - big enough for two but ideal for just you? This is an entirely personal choice. The style you opt for here doesn't have to match the furniture elsewhere, but it shouldn't clash. If you have a mid-century-style room in every other way, an ultra modern recliner will stick out like a sore thumb. If you fancy a particular chair that isn't big enough to really curl up on, consider the addition of a foot stool. This allows for a further mix of texture. The 'It' armchair is one purchase that doesn't have to suit multiple people.
Once upon a time…
Whether it's a novel, a cookbook or a glossy magazine that tickles your fancy, you'll need to start by finding something practical and stylish on which you can display your material. This could be a statement piece such as a shelving unit, a floating shelf or two, or - if space is really limited - a wall-mounted magazine rack. You need just one key furniture piece or styling feature to mark this space as your dedicated reading nook. Once chosen, you can style your books with chic bookends. Whatever decor trends may come and go, a well-stocked bookshelf will always look good.
Setting the scene
We don't all have the luxury of a separate reading room - your reading corner might even be in the kitchen - but, thankfully, there are rugs. Not just for adding warmth or keeping your feet warm, rugs have a very practical role in that they can help to divide a room into distinct zones. To separate your nook from everything else, lay a rug under the armchair/footstool/coffee table combination and you've created a room within a room. It's ideal for apartment living. Choose something cosy and comfortable with a colour palette that doesn't pull your attention; something that soothes your screen-weary mind. Remember your aim: a relaxing read.
The plot thickens
Every reading corner needs a lighting plan that's conducive to focusing on the page in front of you while at the same time not so bright that it creates an urgent, stressful atmosphere. This is a place to unwind. One option is to fall in love with a feature table lamp that takes care of your aesthetic needs, and then opt for a small bendable spotlight that can be moved to suit your position, shining a light on what you're reading. This light should be very discreet; when you're not actively reading, you shouldn't even notice it. However, with more functional lighting becoming more popular for their design, you might find a task lamp, such as this one from Harvey Norman (right), that fits the bill.
The final chapter
Lastly, you need to consider the decor details that complete the look. First and foremost, try to find a home for a floor plant as this will energise the space and give you calming colour. Long leafy green plants are big in 2018, giving spindly succulents a run for their money. A luxurious throw will be worth the investment while a statement cushion may pull everything together. For the cup of tea or coffee - or even the glass of wine - that enhances your experience in your very own nook, you'll need something on which it can rest. You don't need anything big because, remember, there is no need for a medley of remote controls here. A small console table or a nest will work. And don't forget the most important part of all: the candle.