Creating an Outdoor Reading Nook

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As the weather continues to push toward summer, we find ourselves spending an increasingly large amount of time outside. It’s truly wonderful to bask in sunshine, the fragrance of lilacs, or in the shade of a big old maple tree. This article came up when I was researching seasonal elements for our literary lifestyles, newsletter, and blog, and was immediately inspired. Aside from reading and working in this space, my other main hobby includes gardening. I’m sure you’re at least somewhat aware of this, as most all of my photos in spring, summer, and fall are taken outside around my home. I have a rather large and beautiful garden space that backs up to a forest on one side and an open space on the other. I’ve spent countless hours in my garden, have thrown a dinner party in it (a few actually, but this was our favorite), and can be found reading there when the weather suits. Now, this is not the case for everyone, but visiting a garden to read in, or just having a small balcony, courtyard, or yard, are all viable options for creating a reading garden space.

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One of the most helpful concepts when creating a space for living, for an event, or for any other intended purpose, is to create small vignettes within the whole space. By focusing on smaller areas throughout, you create interest, a focal point (or many), and with a few simple shifts, can give theme, seasonal touches, or a holiday focus to the room/space without a big makeover. This is a favorite aspect of ours, and it makes for more affordable and manageable decorating. This is truly our number one tip, and I can’t recommend it enough.

First thing you need for an outdoor space is need shade. It’s difficult to read from an actual book with blaring sun, although it is easier with an e-reader. Regardless, a shady spot is beneficial in many ways. Tuck yourself beneath a tree, between rows of shrubs, up high or down low. If you’re the planting type, consider a high (tree), medium (shrub), and low (flowers, herbs, veggies) trio section off a little corner of your space for maximum appeal. Nestle a chair right in to make yourself cozy and right at home. If you’re up for a little more work, adding structure is also visually appealing, like a birdbath, trellis, fountain, or statue.

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It’s really important for me to stress to you that this entire idea can be as simple or as complex as you want it. But even more than that, I urge you to take out a little time and effort to make this happen, because I guarantee you’ll be happy you did. Whether you’re putting some plants in the ground, coupling some potted plants, or sitting beneath an old tree, you can do this. I once heard a fellow gardener say that the best thing for a garden is to have a space dedicated to the gardener. I’ve learned just how true this is.

On creating a reading garden:

  1. Tuck yourself under a tree or near some plants and dedicate it yours. Bring a blanket and beverage with you for maximum coziness.

  2. Place a chair that you don’t mind leaving outside and place it near a tree, your garden, or other cozy area in your yard.

  3. Plant the previously mentioned trifecta for a cozy garden spot: tree, shrub, flowers (think: high, medium, low. The label on the plants you purchase will have the expected mature height of said plant). This could also be done with pots in the yard, or on a smaller scale for a balcony or porch.

  4. Repurpose a bench or pick up a cute bistro table and chairs, and find a good spot for it in your yard. Pick out a cute pillow or blanket to take out with you to read.

My space is pretty set up for this, but we’ll be working on Michaela’s new space this summer, so stay tuned for more details on how we’re doing that.

Do you have an outdoor reading space that you love to use? We’d love to hear it about in the comments below. Or, if you have further tips, please share!